Unsolicited emails are the scourge of every business owner’s existence. But what about unsolicited emails that sound vaguely legitimate as they talk about your SEO or your marketing? Should you ignore them? Respond to them with a “no thanks” or take them up on their offer?

Here’s a quick run through of some of the many emails that you can happily delete.

What scam marketing emails have in common

  • You did not ask for them or request to be on their mailing list. This is called Spam and breaches the terms of the Spam Act.
  • Cookie cutter templated emails that you can tell have been sent to thousands of other companies.
  • Often overseas (India) or they pretend they are based in your country (Australia). They aren’t in Australia no matter how much they may protest or deny or call their operators Bruce or Charlene.
  • Often poor spelling and grammar. If they are that bad with their outreach emails, imagine how amazing they would be representing your business online through blog posts and forum comments.
  • Random capitalisations, highlighting, font changes and bold scattered like soiled confetti through their emails.
  • Unrealistic claims – “Guaranteed 1st Page Ranking on Google”. No-one can guarantee that now with semantic search.
  • Often make vague threats about bad links, broken links, duplicate content, technical errors without specifically giving any details.
  • Often offer free reports or consultations to try and suck you in. They are as trustworthy as the free consultations the Microsoft virus call centre operators offer.
  • Often sent using generic email addresses such as Outlook, Yahoo, Gmail and not a company email.
  • If there is a website, it looks dodgy and unprofessional.
  • May include your website URL in the email (usually taken from your email address). This is an automated action, so don’t think you are special.
  • No proper address or phone number to contact the person.
  • They often say, “we are not scammers.”

 If you get any emails with these red flags, chuck them straight in the bin without responding to them. Do not pass go. Set up a rule, so your email program does the trashing automagically for you if you have to.

Do NOT click any links as often the links can take you to malware or phishing-related locations. 

A word on responding to scam marketing emails

Do not respond to scam emails to ask them to remove you because then they have confirmed you are a legitimate email address, which will they will then sell to the “buy-a-list scammers.” The safest option is to simply delete and block the senders.

The SEO Company Emails

SEO company emails have replaced the male enhancement emails as the most annoying spam emails on the planet.

Most businesses get a number of these each week, with variations on the following. And if you don’t respond, you get a series of automated follow-up emails, to make you think that they are legitimate. Don’t be fooled!

No quality or legitimate SEO company would stoop to using these tactics.

If you get an unsolicited email from an SEO company, you can 100% guarantee that they are a dodgy brothers company who “may” get you an initial hit on Google before crashing your website into internet oblivion.

If you get an email from a company, it simply means you can instantly cross them off the list of preferred suppliers.

How do you find a good company? Ask for referrals. I don’t offer off-site or backlink SEO type services, and the SEO companies in Brisbane I recommend can be counted on one hand with a couple of fingers chopped off.


SEO Wall of Shame

The Buy-a-list/Lead Company Emails

The buy a list/buy a lead companies are less pervasive than the SEO scammers. They offer to sell you mailing lists or leads for your business which sounds sort of OK at first glance.

The problem you find with most list or lead generation companies is that there is no guarantee that people joined the lists knowingly, willingly and expected to be contacted into oblivion.

Yes, there are reputable list companies, but they are incredibly few and far between, and their services attract premium rates because of all the hoops they go through to do things the right way.

Most small businesses don’t have the budget or know the questions to ask to find out if the company is reputable, so it is safer to leave this marketing strategy to the side of the plate.

Want to know more? Here’s 8 Reasons Why You Should Never Buy an Email List.

If you want to grow your email list ethically and safely, then check out our tips!


Buy-a-list/Lead Wall of Shame

The Buy A Blogger Companies

There is a new round of spammers doing the rounds. These offer to buy you a blogger for Christmas. Sponsored content means you pay a blogger to say nice things about you and your business. The Kardashians do it, so it must be legit!

Sponsored content is an area the ACCC is cracking down on, purely because it sneaks under people’s advertising radar.

If someone who is Instafamous promotes a product, then people buy it in droves, without considering if the product really is that good or useful.

If it is glaringly obvious that it is an ad, then people’s defences go up. Hiding the ad means it sneaks through the defence shield. That’s why the ACCC and the AANA are taking a tough stand on sponsored content.

Read more about sponsored content requirements in advertising.

Sponsored content is a strategy to use with caution, and even more so if an unsolicited email (can we sing a chorus of Spam, Spam, Spam) offering to sell you a blogger lands in your inbox.

Sponsored Content Wall of Shame

The Mobile App Development Companies

The mobile app development company spammers have been making a resurgence in recent months.

These people offer to build you an app, for a teeny tiny fee.  Most small businesses will not get a ROI from their own personal app, so these emails can also head straight to the bin.

App Development Wall of Shame

The Web Developer Companies

Sticking my hand up here and declaring I am biased on this one. Yes, I build websites. No, there is no way on earth that I would spam the crap out of people I don’t know or have never met trying to get them to let me build their website.

If you get an unsolicited email about your website, then feel free to trash it.

If you want a new website, ask your connections for referrals and check out the portfolios of recommended companies to make sure they match your preferred style.

Web Development Wall of Shame

How do you find legitimate online marketing businesses?

If you want to market your business online, then start by looking for legitimate online marketing businesses that you can get to know and trust.

  • Get a referral from someone you know who has actually used and loved their services.
  • Check testimonials and recommendations. Don’t take them at face value.
  • Check portfolios of work. Review work they have performed and talk with past clients to get a sense of what the company is like to work with.
  • Shop local. Find a local business in your town or city as there are less likely to be language issues.
  • Know exactly what you are getting for your money. Don’t trust it when they say they are ethical, ask specifically “how” they will deliver results, and how you will be able to monitor outcomes.


Ingrid Moyle

Ingrid Moyle (BA - Psych/Industrial Relations) is the Chief Web Wizard at Heart Harmony Communications. A self-confessed multipotentialite, Ingrid shamelessly blends her passions of human resources, psychology, web design and copywriting. When not hardwired to her computer, she quests for the perfect coffee while chasing virtual reality creatures across the backstreets of Brisbane.