The Google-Directory fraud story broken by the Whale Oil blog and subsequently front page news on the NZ Herald is just another symptom of a massive growth industry where cowboys have been rife for the last 5 years causing ill will and confusion in the market.
The “Google Directory” owned by SMP marketing has been listed on the Dodgy business guide and is also currently under investigation by the NZ Police Fraud Squad.
SureFire has been helping businesses with their online marketing strategies for over 10 years and has seen a lot of “fly by night operators” looking to make a quick dollar from those with little or no understanding of Google, how it works and what they are actually getting for their money.
There are plenty of cowboys out there pretending to be Google, promising unlimited visibility and clicks for ridiculously low budgets and falsely reporting results
We have had a gutsful of these shoddy operators and believe its time the industry took ownership of the issues and fought back. We are therefore reaching out to others in the industry, including Google, to set up an online advertising network of leaders to look at the issue and find ways of dealing with shoddy operators.
We would also love to hear the stories of any businesses who have been ripped off by cowboy operators like the Google Directory scam so when we meet the other leaders in this industry we have some real ammunition to target the idiots that are hurting both our industry and the economy.
Scams like this Google-Directory can really hurt small business owners confidence in online marketing, as well as financially. So we are also prepared to assist businesses who feel they have been ripped off in this situation by setting them up with an online advertising campaign for free and assisting with the management of the campaigns for free for the first two months.
Online marketing is fast becoming the largest and most important form of advertising for New Zealand businesses with online advertising set to overtake newspapers by 2016. If you are running or thinking about running an online marketing campaign here are a few things to consider:
- Strategy before spend – don’t just advertise because you think you need to. Think about the buying cycle your customers go through and build a strategy around it. Some business have a very short demand driven buying cycle where as others have a longer buying cycle with lots of research. Build your advertising strategy around your customers behaviour.
- Social media is not suitable for every business and to do well takes a massive commitment. Think carefully about your strategy, the time you have available to commit to it and what your objective really is before jumping into it as a poor social media strategy can actually harm your brand.
- Display advertising (banner advertising) helps build your brand and create awareness. Do not expect to be able to directly measure the impact of this form of advertising on your sales as most people that see your ads will not click on them then but may come in store or search for you by name at a later date. Display advertising is a great way to build and re-enforce your brand while potential customers are researching and considering their buying options.
- Search Engine Advertising such as Google AdWords is a “Pay Per Click” form of advertising where you only pay for each visitor to your website. Running a Search campaign allows businesses to get in front of people searching directly for what they offer, control the message they see and direct them straight to their website. PPC advertising captures buyers that are further down the decision making process and actively searching for a product or solution online.
- Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of improving the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “organic” or unpaid search results. In general, the higher ranked on the search results page, the more visitors it will receive. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search.
- How important is the relationship with your advertising company to your success? Are you happy spending your advertising budget with an overseas company? Do you want to be able to eyeball your provider and be able to sit with them regularly to discuss results and upcoming strategy? How often do you want to meet and what sorts of additional advice are you after to make the most of your online budget?
- Do you want leads or exposure? There are plenty of companies out there promising to get businesses to “appear” on the front page of Google every day for a “small fixed fee” These businesses pay for clicks the same way as everyone else and just being seen does not mean you are getting visits to your site or leads. If you are contemplating using one of these services be very clear about what you are actually paying for and receiving.
- Get Google Analytics installed on your site and start measuring performance so you can understand yourself what you are getting for your investment. A good digital partner will be able to assist you in this area.