Behold the marketing genius of Timothy Sykes. A true, modern day PT Barnum that can sell ice castles to Eskimos.
Investimonials is part of the Timothy Sykes neighborhood of trading related websites and promotional products. A channel that allows ‘anonymous’ users to post positive or negative reviews about trading and investment related products and services.
Unfortunately, Investimonials is also known as “ShillVille.” Where a pay-to-play advertising model allows negative reviews to be removed, and positive reviews to be stuffed like starving refugees onto the promotional pages of whoever is willing to pay an aggressive advertising fee.
Before believing any of the reviews on Investimonials, readers should consider the advertising model that taints the legitimacy of the ‘user contributed’ reviews and content.
Thanks for reading today’s review of Investimonials
What is Investminonials? The Investimonials website is a trading review website. I am pretty sure that 99.9% of TradingSchools.Org readers are very familiar with Investimonials. Not a week passes where someone emails me and asks, “can I trust the positive or negative review on Investimonials?” Today, I would like to talk about Investimonials.
The website was founded by world-class, master marketer Tim Sykes back in 2010. In my opinion, this was the first ‘trading review’ website that really caught fire with the average retail investor. When Tim created Investimonials, it really touched a nerve and caught on quickly with users. Using SemRush Analytics, we can see that at one time, the website was extremely popular and typically generated about 100k to 200k monthly visitors. In the past four years, the traffic at Investimonials has been consistently declining and currently averages between 10k and 20k monthly web visitors.
In the past couple of years, the popularity of the reviews has also been decaying rapidly and the website is now poorly managed.
It is important to note that the reviews are ‘user generated’, in other words, anyone can create a free account and write whatever they liked or disliked about just about any trading product.
The purpose of this review is to take a closer look at the business model of Investimonials, to talk about the declining reputation of Investimonials, and discuss the loss of 90% of the site’s daily web visitors. I also want to provide details and examples of why the website is suffering from a crisis of legitimacy.
The Investimonials Business Model
At first glance, Investimonials appears to be a relatively clean-review website. The initial impression is that all of the content has been contributed by an anonymous user community. But with all review websites (including TradingSchools.Org), we have to ask ourselves about the motivations of the website owner. In this case, Tim Sykes, the originator of ‘trader porn’, there is one thing we know for sure about Tim Sykes–he loves money and he loves to show it off.
Anyway, I am not going to bash or trash Tim Sykes. But users should be aware that the underlying monetization method for Investimonials is ‘pay-to-play’ advertising. The following is a screenshot of the ad costs.
As you can see, there are a couple of different advertising options. The first option is a simple fee of $197 per month, which allows the trading vendor to list their trading product, and then the vendor has the opportunity to “interact” with whoever begins to write reviews about the trading product.
It is important that we take a moment and talk about the term “interact.” What exactly does “interact” mean? In short, for a monthly fee, Tim will allow select vendors to post rebuttals to negative reviews. And, it appears that Tim also gives the paying advertiser the additional opportunity to “pad the reviews” In other words, the advertiser can strategically solicit reviews, or perhaps create false reviews, in order to portray the trading business in a more positive tone.
In my opinion, allowing people to pad reviews and stuff a page full of positive reviews is highly unethical. Some might even call it, “shilling.”
But, what happens when a trading vendor begins to accumulate a massive amount of negative reviews regarding their trading product? What happens if page after page of these negative reviews from angry consumers create a ‘shit-storm’ upon the business of the trading vendor? This is where things get interesting.
In conversations with various trading vendors that have advertised with Tim Sykes, they describe a harrowing and perhaps unfair situation. In short, as negative reviews begin to pile up, the vendor becomes desperate to rescue the reputation of the trading business. And so they contact Investimonials in an attempt to have the negative reviews removed. And this is where Tim Sykes drops the bomb on the trading vendor. In order to remove negative reviews, or be considered for removal, the vendor must now increase the monthly advertising fee from $197 up to $497 per month. Sure sounds like extortion, but it is not. It’s perfectly legal.
If you pay a little more, then you get a better product review profile. Refuse to pay Investimonials, and your review becomes smattered with negative reviews and comments. As TradingSchools.org readers have discovered, the vast majority of trading educators are scams. And, they deserve a negative review.
In my opinion, allowing a trading vendor to remove negative reviews is a flawed strategy for a public review website for a couple of reasons. First, it propagates and perpetuates everything that is wrong with the trading educational business. By allowing a crappy, scammy vendor to simply pay to make the poor reviews disappear, then the trading vendor has no motivation to offer a better product. In comparison, at TradingSchools.Org, we try and motivate the vendor to cut out the crap marketing. We never offer to remove a negative review or a negative comment for a fee. Our primary goal is to ‘bend the arc’ and bring vendors back into a more honest dialogue. Often, we will write a negative review and encourage the vendor to pick up the telephone and see what we can do to improve the negative review.
Secondly, by charging vendors to remove negative content from posters, this creates the additional problem of verifying who is actually creating the negative review content. Example: the popular review website RipOff Report is alleged to have hired writers to produce massive amounts of negative content through an intermediary. The 3rd party content would then be posted on RipOffReport. The net effect is that the established business would eventually have to address the complaints by contacting RipOffReport and beg to have the negative content removed. Unbeknownst to the business, the creation of the negative content was actually commissioned by RipOff Report. Sounds illegal right? It’s not. RipOffReport hides behind the shield of a law named the CDA or Communications Decency Act, subsection 230, which grants broad immunity for web publishers.
Some readers might be shocked to learn that many review sites produce negative content, with the sole purpose of selling a negative content removal service.
In a nutshell, sites like RipOffReport have figured out a way to monetize the situation by charging a fee of several thousands of dollars to be “RipOff Report Verified.” Sure sounds like a sneaky hustle to me. As we compare RipOffReport to Investimonials, we can see the fingerprints and similarities emerge. One has to wonder if Tim Sykes is also employing the same strategy. Another glaring conflict of interest is that Tim Sykes also offers various trading products through Profit.ly and TimothySykes.com. I find it highly dubious that all of the vendors that Tim Sykes personally promotes, as well as his own trading courses, are practically devoid of negative reviews.
Finger prints of the hustle
One of my favorite websites is Archive.org. You can check the history of just about any website. It shows what content was being displayed at different points in history. Let’s take a look at a very strange situation…one of the trading companies that my audience often complains about is FousAlerts.com. TradingSchools.Org gave Cameron Fous a very poor rating. He is a hardcore ‘trader pornographer’. Pictures of yachts, nearly naked women, fancy vacations, $100k+ sports cars, outrageous claims of trading profitability…without any verifiable proof that Cameron Fous has ever made a nickel at actual trading. Individuals that are very unhappy with Cameron Fous have turned up in droves to complain on the message boards of TradingSchools.Org. You would think that the negative user comments on TradingSchools.Org would be congruent with the reviews at Investimonials.com. They are not. Something very fishy is happening. The following example is a screenshot of the overall reviews of FousAlerts at Investimonials. Notice how wonderful the ratings?
Wow, 70 user ratings. A nearly perfect score for all products of Cameron Fous of FousAlerts.com. And page upon page of glowing and positive reviews. Looks sterling to me! Based upon these reviews, I want to sign up and become the next day trading millionaire.
However, a review of archive.org, specifically searching Cameron Fous reviews reveals that over 100 reviews have been removed. Some of these negative reviews are a real gem of revealing information. Have a look:
I don’t want to solely pick on Cameron Fous. The truth is that if you compare Investimonials today with Investimonials over the course of the past few years, it is obvious that they are suppressing the vast majority of negative information from the companies that are heavy ad spenders. Not cool Tim.
In my opinion, the reason why Investimonials continues to suffer from collapsing web traffic is because the general public is finally starting to realize that Tim Sykes doesn’t really give a shit about them and that the monetization of reviews and comments is his first priority. It is really a shame because so many people have lost massive amounts of money trusting the information that they read on Investimonials. They believe that the reviews on Investimonials are legit and unbiased. Only after they purchase the various products and services being offered at Investimonials, do they later realize that the reviews were probably all hand selected and curated by the vendor themselves.
Obviously, TradingSchools.Org is a direct competitor to Investimonials. And yes, we do monetize some of the reviews. However, TradingSchools.Org gives a negative review to nearly every vendor. Not because we like giving negative reviews–but because we honestly and sincerely feel that the trading product offers very little in value, and is sometimes an outright fraud.
Wrapping Things Up
Managing a trading review website is not easy. Doing it honestly, and ethically is even more difficult. The temptation to take negative reviews down for payment is always looming and tempting. In all honesty, I struggle with the temptation every day. And I struggle with the temptation of writing positive reviews simply because I like the person providing the trading service. Some of these online characters are quite charming and manipulative.
Well that’s it for today. Thanks for reading. Just wanted to rant and express my irritation with Investimonials and Tim Sykes. As usual, thanks for taking the time to comment and express your opinion in the comments section below. And it would be greatly appreciated if the audience can tell me how to do a better job. Without your input, I am just ‘winging it’.