When you descend into unethical and annoying marketing tactics, your desperation shows. You destroy your reputation in pursuit of questionable gains. And it’s permanent.
Today, I’ll share two marketing messages that are object lessons in how marketing can backfire. Each was an automated message directed at me in a personal communications channel, but in this age, every message you send is public. These are not mistakes, which are forgivable, or borderline cases. They’re the marketing equivalent of robocalls. Judge for yourself.
SEO gone rogue at Selectra
I got this alarming message in my inbox yesterday (last name has been changed).
URGENT: Amendment needed to page on your website
From: Ella Bxxx <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Oct 10, 2019, 8:21 AM
I hope this email finds you well.
It has come to our attention that your website contains a broken PDF on the stepping down of Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, the website no longer exists meaning the relevant information is no longer apparent as it was before. We have seen insight data and we are now aware that your website was included in the list of referrers.
As a matter of urgency, I would like to request that you update this link as soon as possible.
The link is located on – https://withoutbullshit.com/
under the anchor text –
The link that should replace this is:
Please let me know when this has been completed. A member of our team will be making a follow-up call to ensure this is handled effectively and efficiently.
Thank you for your collaboration, and have a great day.
UK | Selectra
44 (0) 203286 2193
I did indeed publish a post on the press release about Dick Costolo’s stepping down in 2015, and the press release link is indeed no longer working. But who is Selectra and why are they messaging me about it?
Selectra is a company that offers deals on energy, broadband, and telecoms in the UK. It has nothing to do with Twitter. Here’s what they did:
They noticed the Twitter press release had moved.
They found it and reposted it on their own site.
Then they found all the backlinks (including mine) and sent us automated threatening emails. It’s all in the name of SEO — more inbound links to their page means a higher page rank. Although why they’d want to rank for a press release on Twitter’s CEO from 2015, I don’t know.
Ella, who is listed on LinkedIn as a Link Builder, not a “Communications officer,” almost got her wish to have me link to her site, but I’ve deactivated the links in her email. But she’s got free publicity for her email address, at least. And perhaps this post will rank for “Selectra unethical,” “Selectra loser,” and “Selectra sleazy,” and Ella’s name (at least before I removed it from the post).
What Selectra has proven is that they’re willing to engage in pointless and questionable tactics. That reputation will be harder to escape than any tiny SEO advantage this stupidity would generate.
I received this direct message from Marylee MacDonald on Twitter.
Here’s what’s going on here: if you follow MacDonald, you get an automated DM in response. I sent my response to her DM in April after I received it; she responded in October.
I know nothing about Booktasters; it’s apparently a service for authors to get their books reviewed. A tiny link at the bottom of its site and some digging revealed that they’ll promise you 50 reviews for $500 — over a 12-month period.
That might be worth it, but I consider automatically sending a direct message to Twitter followers to be so annoying as to be out of bounds. “I do not have the time to research everyone on my followers list?” If you have time to set up a message to automatically spam me but not to research or respond to me for six months, then you’re doing it wrong. MacDonald is the Booktasters “brand ambassador.” How do you think she’s doing?
Act like everyone sees what you’re doing
Decades ago, I had a marketing idea that was a little over the boundary of propriety. I don’t even remember what it was. What I do remember is what my boss at the time said to me: “How would you feel if everyone knew you did this? How would you feel if your mom knew?”
I thank that boss for helping me decide not to go forward.
I think his principle is the best. When you are planning a marketing tactic, imagine that everyone knew exactly what you were doing. Would you still do it? Because today, everyone will know what you did.
SEO sleaze tactics: No.
What’s on your list of sleazy marketing tactics? Who’s doing it? And do you think their moms would approve?