Beware of Misleading Online Marketing

beware of misleading online marketing

For most small business people, day-to-day work life is busy and sometimes confusing. The online world is even busier and more confusing. It’s easy for busy people to be tricked by misleading online marketing campaigns.

Online scams vs. misleading online marketing

Some scams are more obvious than others. If you get an email from someone purporting to be the Royal Bank notifying you that they need your banking information but you don’t even bank with the Royal, you’ll delete the email and not worry about it.

Things get a little trickier when you receive an email from a foreign company claiming to be able to boost your online presence with affordable SEO services. It sounds attractive. And who doesn’t want more people visiting their website?

You might decide to use the services of a foreign SEO company, but personally I recommend using the services of a local SEO specialist.

My favourite misleading online marketing campaign

You might be able to list various misleading online marketing schemes that you’ve fallen for. But my personal favourite and one that has been around for years is the “Domain Name Expiration Notice” from iDNS Canada.

If your small business is based in Canada and you own at least one domain name (e.g. my domain name is “steadysites.com”), you’ve probably received the familiar brown kraft envelope from iDNS in the mail (the envelope might even make you think it’s from the government; it looks pretty official).

But it’s not. It’s a clever marketing piece.

Basically, iDNS is trying to get you to switch to their domain registration service. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this. I don’t see anything in the letter that is deceitful. It’s just misleading.

For example, the letter starts off with: “As a courtesy to domain name holders…” we’re letting you know that your domain name registration is expiring soon. Why is it a courtesy if they’re not even your current registrar?

They also claim that if you act now, “you can take advantage of our best savings.” True statement, but misleading. They’re not offering the best deal out there, just their best deal.

And their best deal is much more expensive than the best deal out there.

A one-year term for a dot-com domain name with iDNS will cost you $40. Most domain name registrars charge less than $15. And you can usually find specials through most hosting providers like HostGator or Siteground.*

Again, let me emphasize that this letter from iDNS is not a scam. But I think it’s misleading. True, they tell you things like “Review our prices and decide for yourself” and “This notice is not a bill.”

But I wonder how many small business owners are just too busy to do the research to save 25 bucks.

Companies like iDNS probably count on that.


About Steady Sites

Steady Graphics Services provides a WordPress maintenance plan to ease concerns like:

  • Is my website performing at peak performance so visitors get the best experience possible?
  • Do I have regular backups of my website in case something happens to my web server?
  • What if my website gets hacked?
  • How can I get up-to-date, professional training so I can use my website better?
  • Who can I trust to do the updates that are beyond my technical or creative abilities?

Tired of trying to maintain your own website? A WordPress maintenance plan might be the solution for you.


* Denotes affiliate link. If you a make a purchase through these link, I may receive a commission. You will not pay more by clicking these links; the partner company pays me a small commission for recommending them to you. There. I’m avoiding misleading online marketing! ; )

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