In my years of online marketing, I’ve heard more than my fair share of horror stories about good folk being scammed out of thousands of dollars.
I have also been the victim of scams, on more than one occasion and have lost thousands, sadly to say. That money is never coming back but I got to keep the valuable (and very expensive!) lessons.
Hopefully this post will show you how to identify and avoid online avoid scams so you don’t end up losing a lot of money like myself and many others.
Unfortunately, the online marketing scene is awash with crooks and con artists who will lie, cheat and steal your hand earned dollars from right under your nose.
BUT don’t let that paralyze or discourage you.
Thankfully, there are genuine internet marketing teachers and reputable vendors out there who actually care about you and deal honestly with their customers, and produce excellent courses and products.
It’s important to see the situation as it is, but not see it worse than it is.
And, thankfully, there is a way to identify a potential scam or utter rubbish product before you hand over your credit card details.
You need discernment when buying a product/training… and the 11 questions below will help you to make wise buying decisions.
1. Is This Product Going To Move Me Forward Faster Or Sidetrack Me?
This is probably the MOST important question you’ll need to ask yourself before you hit the buy button.
When getting started with online marketing, it’s imperative to have chosen a PROVEN business model that’s currently working and making other people money.
Choose just one model and focus on it until you succeed. Only when you have a taste of finishing what you’ve started, will you respect yourself.
Before purchasing any marketing course/software, you’ll need to decide if it’s relevant to what you’re doing. If it’s not, close the sales page and move on.
Too many beginners lose focus and get pulled in several different directions because they get tempted by claims of ‘quick and easy riches’. They want the ‘push button fortunes’ and ‘cash tsunamis’ which do not exist.
Their emotions get the best of them and they buy any and every infoproduct that promises them overnight wealth.
There’s a term that has been coined to describe this problem – it’s called ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’.
The truth of the matter is that one needs to be entirely methodical in their approach to an online business. Don’t let your emotions overwhelm and dictate your buying decisions.
2. Who Is Behind It?
It’s imperative that you do your research on the product vendor. The sad truth is that there are thousands of individuals who will lie and cheat and take moral detours just to make a quick buck – and many of them do so at the expense of the naive masses.
You have to be smarter than them. Check if the vendor is walking the talk.
E.g. If they’re selling an ecommerce course, do your research and see if they have their own ecommerce store that’s pulling in sales.
If they’re teaching Pinterest marketing, check if they have thousands of visitors to their own Pinterest boards.
Many dodgy vendors just rehash infoproducts and churn out untested theory that don’t work in the real world.
They make their money from serial launching shoddy and shallow products about marketing models that they’ve not tested themselves. This comically dichotomous situation is blatantly obvious if you do your research.
Check what products they’ve released and if they have tons of courses on several different marketing models, you can be almost certain that they’re a master of none. Close the sales page.
3. Do the Claims in the Sales Copy Sound Too Good to Be True?
If it sounds too good to be true, it almost always is.
- Software products which make claims of being able to drive millions of visitors to your sites…
- Or special hacks and loopholes that will rank your website to the top of Google in 10 seconds or less while you do nothing…
- Or how you can make $4,342.97 in 20 minutes while you’re sipping cocktails by the beach….
You’ve probably seen them all – bold, unrealistic claims designed to hook you by the eyeballs and reel you into the sales copy which is all foam and no beer.
These claims are as phony as a $3 bill. Don’t get taken in by them. Close the page.
4. Does the Vendor Have ‘Old Replicas’ of the Same Product?
If you do enough research, you may discover that some vendors continuously release several products which seem to be carbon copies of each other…
And the only thing that differs is the updated sales page and the new product name.
This practice is very prevalent in the ‘make money online’ scene.
Why would a vendor release a new self-hosted autoresponder when he already released three similar autoresponders over the past 3 years?
Why wouldn’t he just support and improve upon his existing products?
The answer is simple – the money is in the launching.
These vendors make their money when they burst on the scene with a new product and the clueless hordes lap it up…
Only for the unwashed masses to later discover that the product is unadulterated rubbish, and the vendor is no longer answering support tickets because he’s laughing all the way to the bank.
If you notice that a vendor has multiple products which resemble each other, you know what you need to do… Close the page
5. Where Are the Income Stats Coming From?
It’s common to see income stats and screenshots on many sales pages. Very often, you have no idea which dark hole these stats are being pulled out from.
The whole point of showing you these numbers is to whet your appetite for the product and make you ‘glossy eyed’ and believing that the product can easily generate these sums for you.
Here’s what you need to know – most income stats are usually fake and should be taken with a bucket of salt. The bigger the bucket, the better.
It’s possible to earn huge sums of money online, but it will take time, effort, sweat equity and a lot of studying and testing and iterating on your part. This is NOT an easy process, but it is an achievable one.
The only income stats that matter are YOUR OWN. Don’t get swayed by the ones that litter the sales pages like billboards of BS and vendor brilliance.
6. Are the Testimonials Legit?
This is a tricky one. So, you’ll need to be extra careful.
A good product will have testimonials from REAL customers who are satisfied with their purchases and have seen results from applying the information given.
Often, these will be shown as Facebook comments, video testimonials, photo proof and so on. While all of these can be faked or bought, generally, you can sense if the testimonials are trustworthy. Be vigilant.
At the other end of the spectrum are sales pages with testimonials from people who are marketers too.
Often, these ‘kind folk’ are affiliates for the product and friends with the vendor… and by scratching the vendor’s back now, they’re ensuring that their own back gets scratched later.
They have each other’s back and nary a thought is given to the unsuspecting buyer who’s just another number in their income stats.
So, where does that leave you? – Easy! You’re closing the page
7. Does It Come With a Money-back Guarantee?
While you should never abuse a money-back guarantee just so you can get a free lunch – it doesn’t hurt to see if a product has a money-back guarantee.
Sometimes, products are sold with blind sales copy and what you get is not your cup of tea. In cases like these, having a guarantee will help to keep you risk-free.
8. Did I Look for Reviews?
Always look for reviews. Just Google “product name + reviews”. Usually, you’ll see several videos with people gushing about the product and singing its praises.
Remember your bucket of salt from earlier?
Fill it up again and take these reviews with salt. In most cases, the review videos are made by affiliates who are trying to make a sale.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to watch a few of these videos to understand more about the product. Some reviews may be unbiased and will mention the downsides to these products.
In some instances, you may find written reviews/videos made by people who totally dislike the product/vendor.
These reviewers usually feel an innate responsibility to educate others to make better buying decisions – and they may also feel a need to stymie the flood of disingenuous products infiltrating the market.
It’s a losing battle, but their reviews can be an eye-opening experience for you and aid in your buying decision.
9. Is the Vendor Looking Out for Me… Or Is He/She Trying to Suck Me Dry?
It’s very common to see marketers spouting ethics and claiming to want to ‘help people’ by ‘providing value’ … but what they say and do are worlds apart.
Wait… where’s that salt bucket?
The truth of the matter is that far too many marketers have questionable ethics, and the only people they want to help is themselves… and the value they wish to increase is their bank balance.
This is why the market is cluttered with online marketing courses and products that are abysmal, misleading and disappointing.
Do your research and check how many upsells and downsells a product has, if possible.
All you need to do is Google “product name + affiliate” and you may come across affiliate recruitment pages where you can see the product’s funnel.
If there are 10 or more products in a funnel, you can be almost certain that the vendor can’t give two hoots about your buying experience.
Very often, they use the McDonald’s ‘Would you like to upsize that?’ example as the paradigm of upselling. This is an example of false equivalence.
Marketers twist and turn a simple and effective technique until it’s disfigured and bastardized beyond recognition – and gets reborn as a grotesque ‘marketing hack’ that becomes the norm in the industry.
If the online marketing approach of ‘upsells & downsells’ was applied in the real world, by the time you left the McDonalds counter, you’d have bought everything from a cheeseburger to the signboard and even Ronald McDonald’s left boot!
Ponder on the vendor’s approach to business and ethics. How they make their money is far more important than how much they make.
10. Do I Have the Money to Spend?
Do NOT spend money that you do not have on any course based on promises of quick and easy riches – especially if you’re desperate to make money quickly.
It’s NEVER quick… and it’s NEVER easy.
Thousands have racked up debt on their credit cards by buying into the hype of ‘overnight wealth’ only to struggle with the bills later and not make a cent in return.
Be conservative in your spending when you’re trying to build your online business.
You can bootstrap your way to a thriving business. It is possible. I’d know – I did it that way.
11. Would You Still Want If You Waited Until Tomorrow?
Last but not least, give yourself a cooling off period for a day or two.
I realize this won’t work for products which have some kind of urgency or scarcity attached to it (supposing it’s real scarcity) – but whenever you can, tell yourself ‘you’ll think about it’ and close the page.
If you are very keen on it and think it’s a course or product that you really want and need, and it’ll still be available tomorrow, bookmark the page. If it’s still on your mind one or two days later, and it passes the other tests you’ve conducted to make sure it’s worth it, then you can feel good about purchasing it.
Always remember that almost all buying decisions are emotional. This explains why people can spend thousands on products that do not deliver.
This is a consequence and not a coincidence.
But once you stop impulse buying on emotion and start asking the questions listed above, logic will take over your emotions and put you in the driver’s seat.
No longer will the persuasive and hypnotic sales copy lead you by the nose like a cow being led to the slaughter.
No… you are in control now. You and your trusty bucket of salt.
While the online marketing scene is replete with scams and shady shenanigans…
The good news is that are several top-shelf online marketing training programs and courses on the market which can help you immeasurably.
You can definitely find gems in the rough.
Use this list of questions as a roadmap and you’ll find the training you need to build a solid foundation upon which your business empire will rest.
– Internet Marketing Sensei