Express Flux

Paid-for website traffic… too good to be true?

Published May 27, 2019 by 4 Comments

You betcha! Buyer beware.

The following is a personal review of Express Flux for Shopify.

Recently a client emailed me an offer they had received via their website form. The offer claimed that for the low price of $US14.95, they would receive up to 160 unique visits per day for a month. Visits would be generated from a variety of sources including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Their offer also stated the following:

  • Your website’s Alexa Rank will increase due to the increased constant traffic that you will receive after you place the order
  • Long-term SEO benefits for getting constant traffic
  • You URL is likely to get higher search engine results positions for the targeted keywords as well as for other long tail keywords

These are very bold claims indeed, and all for just $US14.95. Seems like a no-brainer right?

Well, given it was a Saturday morning and I was unable to attend my regular fitness Bootcamp due to injury… I decided to delve deeper into this offer from Express Flux, Shopify.

Now to protect the identity of the company offering this deal, I have decided not to name them. Lol… just kidding. Of course, I am going to call them out, they are a pest in our industry and are most likely scamming a scary amount of customers. So thank you for this opportunity to inform my readers – Express Flux Ltd (of Romania).

Here at Creative Digital, we run a small Shopify website selling print on demand t-shirts. We use this website to explore the increasingly popular Shopify platform and how it can benefit client projects, and it is a lot of fun!

So I signed up for Express Flux’s one month offer.

It is easy to see how someone could be fooled by their offering. Upon signing up, an email was received from Lara the “Shopify specialist @ Express Flux”, explaining the process and how I would receive an additional 5% visitors so that I am satisfied. Wow – thanks, Lara!

Next, I installed a script from the Full Story (www.fullstory.com) application that would track each unique visitor and their interactions with the website. This application is excellent for seeing how visitors use a website and where you are potentially losing them due to page layout etc.
We also navigated to the real-time traffic tab in Google Analytics. This function gives a lot of quick information about a visitor, including the referral source, location and number of page views.

Within the hour we were receiving new traffic. It must be noted that our Shopify website gets very little traffic currently, so any new traffic stood out dramatically. There was one referral source of this traffic – Facebook.

The locations appeared to be from 4 to 5 sources throughout the USA and Canada. What we also noticed immediately was that a large percentage of the IP addresses were coming from AWS servers (Amazon Web Servers).

Finally, the traffic came in waves each hour. Very consistent blocks, in fact.

Given we work a lot with Facebook advertising and know that it can take up to a day for an advertisement to be approved, it seemed very odd that they were able to generate this traffic organically via reasonable means so quickly.

The Full Story application gave us even more valuable information. Each “visitor” arrived at the homepage. They then clicked immediately on our home page banner – which is actually linked back to the home page (don’t ask). So in the space of up to 15 seconds, they arrived, clicked once and then left. Every single time. You could even see that the location of the actual mouse click was consistent… every single time!

The following article from The Wall St Journal outlines why the AWS origin mentioned above is relevant:

https://blogs.wsj.com/cmo/2015/06/05/fraudsters-use-amazons-cloud-to-create-fake-web-traffic/

“But topping the list of “bad” ISPs was Amazon’s AWS cloud service. Unlike the other companies, AWS doesn’t offer high-speed Web access to consumers. Instead, its cloud computing platform has been twisted by fraudsters to create artificial bot traffic and to disseminate it across the Web.”

So to cut a long story short, it was pretty evident that this was not legitimate traffic. It is effortless and cheap to obtain Task Automation Software these days. In this instance, all that would be needed is one Facebook post that included the url for our Shopify website. The automation software would then click this link and undertake actions set by Express Flux eg. clicking a banner.

The following response was received from Lara when we questioned their offering based on the above analysis:

“Thanks for reaching out! I have no idea what you are talking about, we never had any such issues with past customers. Either way, to keep everyone happy and since you’re coming up with such accusations, I’ll go ahead and refund the full order amount. The money should be back into your Paypal account soon!”

Again, thanks, Lara. But no, we will not be recommending your services to our clients.

We hope this might help someone who is looking to pay for such a service.

Be extra careful and do some research first.

Our next article will be looking at platforms such as Freelancer.com and Fiverr.com who offer ridiculously cheap web design (amongst other services).

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Comments

  • Hi! Thanks for this research. We got the same offer through our contact form and what made it suspicious to us was:

    *Lara uses a gmail address, not so professional……
    *There is no address or anything that mentions a business location or country on their website
    *The chat window that is mentioned isn’t there.
    *All ‘reviews’ have odd sender-names as if no one wants to fill out their real name.
    *The ‘recent sales windows’ pop-up at regular (high frequency) intervals. This is just an app that anyone can install and adjust as desired . All senders/buyers are anonymous which isn’t the case if they are real sales.

    Clearly these guys are running a fake business targeted to desperate unexperienced shop owners that can always afford 15 USD. I guess they are making a lot of money and there’s no one stopping them.

    • Mike Little says:

      Crazy that they are able to operate unregulated eh?! Good on you for doing your research. I’ve had several clients talk to me about similar services after reading this article so the experiment was worth doing! Nice site by the way and thank you for commenting.

  • Thank you for the leg work! I also just got the message and was looking into them first. Every little bit I spend as a small business needs to be productive. I will steer clear!

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