I couldn’t believe my eyes once I saw the newest scam on Instagram circling around. Just from a moral standpoint in business, this is one of the most ridiculous and fraudulent practices I have seen.
A Bit of Background On What A Funnel Is:
So there are these marketing tactics online called “funnels.” Funnels are so incredibly common that I am willing to bet the naming rights to my first child that you have already been a part of one.
The idea behind a funnel is to acquire traffic through a variety of different methods. PPC, SEO, Social Media, etc. Once you bring this traffic in, companies slowly move traffic through different stages of their sales process with or without you knowing. This is inviting you to a newsletter, following them on social media, joining a chatbot, signup up for a free e-book, becoming a YouTube subscriber, etc.
The idea of this is to engage you into their web of content and not have to pay to acquire your business but rather put enough content out there for you to engage with them and give them your business or more information so they can sell you more directly. This is usually through educational sell or something along those lines.
To Be Clear, Here Is An Example Of A Perfectly Ethical Funnel:
Because of my interests on Facebook, my internet history, and my previous engagement Facebook is now marketing Instapages to me. This is the PPC part I was talking about earlier. They are paying to bring me into their web.
Now, let’s say I want these secrets to “High-Converting Landing Page.” Because of how relevant it is, I click on it and they use what is known as a Facebook Form to quickly get my information and start marketing more directly to me. This is to get my email and to be able to start emailing me promotional content. They offer something just enough to get my interest. This is known as a “Trip Wire” offer. See below:
For this example, I’ll fill this out and give them a conversion for their ad objective as well as well as my email and the Facebook algorithm a success. Now, Facebook is going to start advertising similar content from Instapages for cheaper because it knows I am interested. Facebook gets paid off of showing relevant content to those who casually use the service. The more relevant, the better for them.
Here is how it all tracks:
You can see here that once you complete the form you get redirected to the Instapage site. The top image is what is known as a “tracking URL.” Essentially, you can build a unique URL to track where you are driving traffic from. You can see in the URL the source was Facebook and the medium of interaction was the lead form that I completed. Boom! Now they know how I was referred to their site and what brought me there.
You can also see that they have Google Retargeting set up as well as the Facebook Pixel to retarget me on now Instagram, YouTube, Google, Facebook, and the Google Search Partners Network. This is how they keep me in their web.
If we review they now have:
-Data To Keep Advertising To Me Other Products
It’s a perfectly executed funnel!
I’m sure their objective would be for me to become a paying customer but they are taking their time and slowly bringing me in further into their marketing efforts. I am sure that I am going to be receiving newsletter and promotional content as well as ads as I casually browse social media.
To me, the craziest part is that people freak out about companies having our data. Do you not realize that we totally just give it to them? This is a perfect example!
I will send updates if I end up using their service. In which case a perfect funnel.
Now, let’s talk about the most unethical funnel I have ever seen:
So, this happened the other night when I was browsing my Instagram. To my embarrassment, I follow a page called “No Chill.” It’s for the meme’s but recently they have become sparse. I am okay with the standard “FashionNova” advertisements and paid partnerships. That’s totally fine. Meme pages gotta eat too!
Here is where things got super dicey when I saw this advertisement:
Down 25 pounds? Thousands of people? A secret that we are not aware of? Is this person a modern day miracle worker? Let’s attack peoples insecurities to unethically sell weight treatment.
So, based on my previous funnel description, this is the acquisition of traffic part. This is a PPC Campaign that this page @sarah.c.skinny paid to advertise on this meme page. Which is totally fine. Nothing wrong so far. Until you actually go to her page and see her bio. Where this link is supposed to be.
Oh wow! She’s a nutritional scientist! She is a Stanford Master’s Student! Amazing! She is probably such a good coach and direction for me to take! I feel like this is a great way to lose weight. Oh, wow! Would you look at that, her link is right there! Let’s check it out! This is amazing!!
Oh wow! The Healthy News Center. This is amazing! So trust worthy!!
Look at some of the fine print on this page. “Stanford Masters Student,” “Viral Sensation” “a masters student at Stanford University was able to drop 25 pounds off her waist in 1 month without ever using a dime of her own money.”
Here is where EVERYTHING changes.
Before I address this page and this “news” site, I really need to review what part of the funnel this is. This, my friends, is that Facebook Form that popped up. Upon the smallest amount (I mean microscopic amount) of research, I was able to find that this is not a publication at all. When you go to healthynewscenter.com it re-directly right to this page. They have no other posts. No other articles, nothing. This is the bait. The same bait use as the aforementioned “Ultimate Conversion Guide.”
When you go on this site, it’s testimonial after testimonial. Results pic after results pic. It’s educational sell after educational sell. All over this page is links to what is called “Keto Science.” If you don’t know what keto is, consider yourself lucky. I, myself, am a former Keto guy. It also gave me the worst side effects of my life. But that’s not the point! Keto is a diet where you consume less than 20 carbs every single day and eat foods that are high in fat. I do not recommend this diet but it is for sure a fad right now. It’s the talk of the town and something that people are doing all over. But what is this link to “Keto Science?”
Oh my gosh would you look at that! Their sales page!!! (the equivalent of Instapage sending me to their website aka the right way of doing something)
I hope you can see the funnel I am talking about now. They got me the PPC, they are bringing me further down their marketing funnel pipeline, until BOOM. The sales page. I mean look at this thing! Look how happy she is!! The easiest way to burn fat!! Amazing!!
Here is where you find out how messed up this ploy is.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGES, ARE THE DISCLAIMER.
After hundreds of testimonials and results pictures, and how easy it is you have to DIG to find this thing. Look at just how glorious it is.
THIS IS AN ADVERTISEMENT, NOT A NEWS ARTICLE
NOT EVALUATED BY THE FDA. RECOMMENDED TO WORKOUT AND EAT WELL
NOT EVEN AFFILIATED WITH STANFORD
AND THE ICING ON THE CUPCAKE
“The story depicted on this site and the person depicted in the story are not real. rather this story is based on the results that some people who have used these products have achieved. The results portrayed in the story and in the comments are illustrative and may not be the results that you achieve with these products. The depictions on this page are fictitious and indicitive of potential results. Actual results may vary.”
They even have a typo.
Oh my gosh. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t believe it. They made up a news website to pretend that they are some prodigy. They push the links in this news article to try and give them validation. Then, they sell you once you believe them. AND NONE OF THIS IS REAL. Oh my gosh it’s as good as it get. I can’t believe this.
This is the most egregious use of marketing funnels I have ever seen. This is to attack people’s insecurities of their weight and figure and I just couldn’t believe it. People online need, need, need to fact check EVERYTHING before you post it. I couldn’t believe how little research I did on this.