The latest form of spam
Recently, I was contacted directly by someone announcing that I should check out RTBot (Real Time Bot) a new search engine, dare I say, yet another. So I checked it out. The RTBot search engine promises Real-Time information, where you can enter a topic title and “instantly” get related digital contents from multiple sources (e.g. Wikipedia, Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Books, Newspapers, Magazines) “all at once.”
Curiosity killed the cat
Ever the curious guy, I did little playing around with the site. And the scoreboard says “NAH.” Initially, I did like the idea that you can have only the latest real-time results parsed into different categories (including Twitter, which is a little different from Google, etc.). However, not all the data was in fact the “latest” and, more importantly, this site clearly has a 1.0 mentality of wanting to keep you a prisoner of their site. When you click on a link, the pop up keeps you in its own RT Bot eco-system. FAIL. Then, I circled back and started getting suspicious. It started feeling spammy, if not a scam. Turns out that curiosity did kill this cat.
I then went back to the email to read it a little closer and saw a couple of spelling mistakes. Hum. Not very smart “community manager,” I started thinking. Secondly, the mail was not nominative, i.e. it was not addressed specifically to me. And, the last line spelled delusions of grandeur: “RTBot aims to be a global top reference site, enriching the way people research, explore, learn, discover and monitor their topics of interest.” RTBot is what I would call pure “spite,” a spam site.
The icing on the cake? Two days later, I received a copy cat email from someone else announcing the launch of yet another site (this one called SoSlang) about which my blog readers would apparently be interested to read…. The wording was exactly the same. For better recognition, the email contains a second line saying “I’m sure you’ll like it and your blog readers would find it very interesting and useful.” I hope you will not be surprised if I don’t deign to give their sites an honest link!
Lessons in digital marketing
There are a few interesting takeaways from this horrible initiative:
- Branding. Get a good name. RT Bot, sounds like a hoax. Not a promising start — and silly me for being duped. On top of that I associate RT more with ReTweet and Real-Time. But, bot? Oh boy. Anyway, pick a good name. I would have suggested RTSearch rather than RTBot, for example — but that already exists, of course.
- Set expectations. Aim to exceed expectations. By promising the world, you set high expectations. Disappointment will mean, at best, an immediate unsubscribe. At worst, a blog post slamming your effort (as is the case here!).
- Transparency. When you include an “About Us,” you should write something about us…as in, who you are! In this case, RTBot wrote again what RTBot is… Nothing about them. Lack of transparency, sacred rule broken.
- Functionality. The site design is simple (which could have been a plus), but the aesthetics are terribly wanting. Moreover, the small type face is an eye sore. A giveaway that it’s a cheap effort in today’s more sophisticated web world.
- Advertising. The site is loaded with advertising (infolinks and the like). Not appealing. First, provide value-added content and then you might prove your worth for advertisers.
- Email Marketing. Email is a tricky beast. If you want to be successful, you had better write mails that are more personalized, well crafted and, above all, without spelling mistakes. These folks are visibly lazy.
Anyway, aside from admitting my naive mistake and wanting to warn other readers and bloggers to this new form of spam, I thought at least I’d give some clues as to how to improve your own digital marketing efforts… From bad examples, we can also learn! Please share this among your blogger friends. It’s so unfortunate to waste our valuable time on e-toxic waste.