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Online Marketing: 10 Bad Tactics You Should Avoid

Just held a contest where I identified 5 deceptive online marketing practices and selected 5 more winners from submissions by online marketers. If you’re involved with Internet marketing, read the following to learn the 10 deceptive tactics. These are things that you should avoid doing in your online business and think twice before buying a product or service from an Internet marketer who uses them. While everyone can make a mistake now and then, the seller who applies one deceptive practice probably does others too.

I appreciate all those who submitted their complaints about bad
online marketing practices. It took several hours, but I read
every single one. Took a couple more hours to select the best from
a very competitive field. Here they are…

***The 5 Winning Submissions***

Here’s the five selected as the best and the names of those who
submitted them. The words that are not in quotes are my words
describing the ideas being each submission.

1. Deceptive earnings claims. Spin is one thing. Lying about
earnings is wrong. Just ask the guys who cooked the books for Enron.

“Photoshopping checks or screenshots to make their income seem more
impressive…Bragging about revenue with no mention of expenses.
Who cares if you make $1 million a year in PPC if it costs you $1.1
million to do it?”

Mike Collins


“Clickbank and Paypal Account Income Pages that date back sometimes
two years so have no bearing on what money has or could be made in
this economy”

Vivien Deighton

2. Deceptive e-mails. Good copywriting emphasizes benefits but
doesn’t lie to the reader.

“What REALLY frosts me is when I recieve emails with the subject
line ‘URGENT,’ when there is no urgency at all, or a falsely
created ‘urgency’ designed only to sell the mailer’s product.”

Gene Pimentel

3. Repackaging old products and selling as new products. Recycling
identical content without disclosure is deceptive.

“I have seen a group of friends (not my friends) run [offers] that
are nothing more than the same product sold over and over. Today
its a mentoring program tomorrow its a membership next week
I see it is now a home study course. The mentoring program failed,
the membership was closed and now its a home study course.”

David Smith

4. Promoting a product without reviewing it first. Just because
there’s a big affiliate commission or your buddy asked you to
promote to his list, doesn’t mean you should pike a product without
reviewing it first. Blind promotion is a disservice to your lists
and to your business’ reputation.

“[T]he REAL thing that gets me angry is when the ‘gurus’, or anyone
else for that matter, pitches me a product, claims they’ve reviewed
it, say “it’s the best thing since slice bread”, only for the product
to turn out to be…bad. Promoting their ‘mates’ products because
they owe them a favour when the product is blatantly flawed (or
poor quality etc.) is a BIG no no in my book.”

Ian Canaway
Manchester, UK

5. Piking everything to lists indiscriminately. Don’t promote
everything just to make an extra buck. If a product doesn’t match
your market, there’s absolutely no ethical reason to try to sell it
to them.

“What ticks me off is others promoting ANYTHING/EVERYTHING to their
list. Instead of using an actual example of how it really helped them,
they send out a copy and paste “this is the greatest” “buy from my
link” I think it really hurts their credibility.

Also, some of the BEST credibility building that I’ve seen is from a
marketer sending out an email saying why they are NOT going to buy a
product.  Out of thousands of emails, I can tell you TWO that have
NOT recommend a launch.  I found that to be especially honest and

John Mazzara


Each winner chose

(1) a free personal copy of the Website Legal Forms Generator
(2) a copy of my new digital guide “How to Create Your Own Internet
Business Without a Lawyer for Under $175” with resale rights,
(3) or a copy of Dan Kennedy’s No B.S. Time Management book

Thanks again to everyone who participated. By working exposing bad
marketing practices, you and I are taking a step towards cleaning
up ecommerce.

…AND, although the contest is over, if you have any additional
thoughts on bad online marketing practices, I’d love to hear them.
Simply reply to this e-mail and feel free to vent. 🙂

Best wishes,


P.S. To recap, here’s my personal list of five marketing peeves:

1. Spamming. No explanation needed.
2. Hidden continuity programs where you’re getting billed monthly
for something you didn’t know you ordered.
3. Nonexistent refunds. If there’s a refund policy, it should be
honored. Period. End of story.
4. Overpromising. If anything, marketers should under promise. Not
every product will make one millions or cure cancer.
5. Lack of support. Phone numbers and e-mails that don’t work…and
fifteen different hoops to jump through to get a response.

Mike Young, Esq.

Author Mike Young, Esq.

Mike Young has been practicing business and technology law since 1994 and is an angel investor in startups. He's been an entrepreneur since 1988. To get legal help from Attorney Young, click here now or call 214-546-4247 to schedule a phone consultation.

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