Don't Get Ripped Off By Fake Marketing and SEO Consultants for Shoify eCommerce Sites, image of pickpocket

How to Avoid Getting Ripped Off by Shopify Marketing & SEO “Specialists”

We normally don’t get preachy, but thousands of Shopify merchant entrepreneurs get ripped off every day and it’s starting to make us mad.

We were helping a Shopify merchant last week. We have a couple of different marketing services that we offer. One of them is a one-hour strategy call. It’s a one-hour call, but we always spend an additional hour before the call researching the Shopify store, scoping out the competition, grabbing images and code snippets … in short, we prep and prepare and then cram as much value into a sixty-minute conference call as we can. We currently charge $125 for the service.

This is NOT a Commercial. 

At the end of last week’s call, the guy says to us, "I paid a guy a thousand bucks for help and he didn’t give me half of what you just did."

The point is that the other guy – whoever it was – took out a bunch of ads to hook our customer into paying him a grand for a bunch of recycled clap-trap, hype, and echoing.

Echoing is a trick of shady consultants to get the target to tell what he already thinks, then repeat back the same information to them – “validating” what he already believes.

In our opinion, our customer got ripped off by this other guy, and our customer thinks so too. The more we think about it, the madder we get. 

The Truth About All eCommerce Marketing

Truth #1 – Anyone Promising to Get You on Page 1 of Google Search is Lying

Yes, yes … I know that they have a pocketful of examples of customers that “they’ve put on page one” of Google Search. We have a few of those too. So yes … It CAN be done. BUT no one can guarantee it. Further, no one can even assure you that you will get anywhere near page one without doing a LOT of work – examining the market, plotting the difference between local search and global search, looking at all your keywords and the keywords of competitors, checking out your blog, checking out your existing backlinks, looking at the ads you’re already running, testing your page speed …. there are a LOT more.

No consultant in his or her right mind would do all of that work for free. What we all do know is that saying “get on page one” sells … you.

Bonus Truth – Here’s a guarantee for you. I guarantee you that I can get you on page one of Google Search … for a complicated set of obscure keywords that won’t really matter to your business. That’s freak’in easy.

Bonus Truth – You don’t have to get on page one of Google Search to be successful. 

Super-Duper Bonus Truth – Add all this together and what you realize is that your goal should be to improve your ranking on extremely targeted keyword sets that dodge the competition and find the target customers you have a chance of selling to.

Truth #2 – Great Marketing Does NOT Always Mean More Sales

There are a TON of mistakes the eCommerce entrepreneurs make that impact conversions. To use a baseball term, great marketing just gets you more at-bats. But if you haven’t spent enough time in the batting cage – if you’re a crappy hitter – all those extra at-bats are nothing but wasted opportunities.

Before we go on here, I wanted to mention that there is an upcoming online web conference called “Lead the Pack” that is for Shopify Entrepreneurs. You can watch it on your phone or computer and just pick the sessions you want to see. We’ve got one called “The Top 5 eCommerce Marketing Mistakes and How to Fix Them.” Take a look and register here: ... we cover some of these things in detail. 

How to Know if You’re Getting Ripped Off on Marketing Services

What Are They Telling You That You Didn’t Already Know or Suspect?

I heard a psychologist say once that people came to counselors in order to ask questions that they already knew the answer to. I don’t know if that’s true, but it is certainly not true of eCommerce marketing consultants. Not these days anyway.

Entrepreneurs are accustomed to experimentation. So, if you suspect that a bit more ad spend on Facebook or a tweak to your ad set might help conversions it is SUPER easy to experiment on those things for $20 and see if it works. You don’t need to pay $1000 to someone on the phone to tell you about it.

Sure … sometimes an entrepreneur needs to bounce an idea around or discuss a detail. But you use consultants for that on an hourly basis – you buy an hour of their time. If they do that AS A PART of an overall review, BUT they also tell you things and give you ideas that you’ve never considered, then you might be getting your money’s worth.

And if they only “echo” things back that you told them, just run away.

What Are They Telling You That You DON’T Want to Hear?

Here’s the deal … we genuinely want to help people succeed. Learning to walk requires falling down a bunch of times, and that can hurt. We have made a few entrepreneurs mad by telling them things that they didn’t want to hear. Sometimes that means telling them about problems with their product mix or pricing. Sometimes that means telling them why that hero image design at the top of the site – the one done by their girlfriend that they think is so hot – is hurting their business. Every once in a while it means telling them that their business model is just not competitive.

Nobody likes to hear stuff like that. A good consultation that is truly looking out for you and your business will tell you what needs to be said, even if they lose you as a customer in the process.

By the way … that session we mentioned at the upcoming Lead the Pack online conference starts with a listing of a LOT of the structural problems that eCommerce store owners try to fix with marketing … but they are not marketing problems.

Does Their Advice Mean Spending More Money?

It’s simple. Most of the BEST Marketing Advice in the World does NOT mean you HAVE to spend more money. Sure, sometimes you can add conversions by launching a retargeting ad campaign or taking out adds, etc. But there are tons of great things that business owners can do – should do – to make their site perform better across the board. And – in our experience – a lot of the time that means the owner doing some work. The smaller the business the more this is true.

Anyone can “buy” traffic. That’s easy. But – unless it’s doing something technical – some of the best and most valuable long-term marketing improvements come from the applied hard work of business owners. That’s just the way it is. A real marketing consultant might tell you to apply some cash to certain efforts, but a really good consultant will tell you a few things that you can do yourself by spending a few hours as opposed to a few more dollars.

Do They Tell You the Difference Between “Opinion,” “Best Practice,” & “Secret Sauce?”

There is an old military saying … “There’s the right way, the wrong way, your way, my way, and the Army way. We do things the Army way.” There is both a lot of humor and a lot of wisdom in that saying.

In eCommerce – and in EVERY business – there is what we call the “secret sauce.” This is the special and unique set of things that make every business unique. It is a combination of brand, technique, ethos, product, service, and style that is really indescribable. It works because it works because it works. But those same little bits often completely DON’T work in other businesses. You will have to discover most of these things for yourself. Sometimes customers will tell you. Sometimes you “just know.” Sometimes it’s because you personally can’t do business any other way that somehow comes out in your own “truth.”

Then there “best practices.” These are the basic, tried-and-true things that should serve as the starting place for everyone. An easy example is having a call to action that is easy to see. That's website and eCommerce 101. Often there’s social science research to back them up – for example, why the number of options available impacts conversions and revenue per sale. If you don’t know about these best practices, we’ll tell you all about it and why they’re important. It’s something that all of us agree with, but even with best practices there are exceptions.

Finally, there are matters of opinion and style. In other words, they’re just ideas. They might work better, they might not. If we tell you something is our opinion, it’s something for you to consider as an option. It might be valuable to you.

Any eCommerce marketing & SEO consultant will explicitly tell you the difference and which applies to which piece of advice they’re giving you 

Get Marketing Value, Don't Get Ripped Off

I could go on for another thousand words on this stuff – I feel that passionately about it. But hopefully this will start everyone thinking about it and avoid the rip-off artists. 

Some of those shady-brady marketing stiffs out there are going to be mad at us for this post. But we can live with that.

Thanks for reading, stay safe, and happy selling.

Again, if you want to check out that online conference just for Shopify, you can find Lead the Pack here: 


Back to blog