A client decided to run Google Ads on two products that they are trying to get some traction on. One of the ads stated:
Hair Loss Treatment | Hair Loss Shampoo
Free Samples. Reactivates hair follicle stem cells, causing a new cycle of hair growth!
Both started with Free Samples.
Interest was picking up, and of course, those that wanted more than two free samples started showing up with their shenanigans. They were being weeded out, and the client was happy with the response they were getting.
That was until Friday, April 12th around 11:00 a.m., when suddenly, on their Facebook page they started getting messages like the following:
I’m having difficulty accessing your sample offer. Please help. I’ve been trying for over 2.5 hours.
By noon, over fifty people had gone to their Facebook page and messaged them complaining that they couldn’t get on the website and get their free samples. The samples are 1.5 oz bottles of shampoos and conditioners.
At this point, they had no idea how many people had ordered the samples, as by now their website had gone down. And they were looking for me to find out what was going on, further whatever was happening, PLEASE shut everything down.
Once I was able to get into their hosting account, I found that their allotted resources had been maxed out, which is what took their website down. Making some changes to their hosting and disabling all of their plugins, I was finally able to get the website back up.
Activating the plugins one at a time, I found the culprit causing the problems, WooCommerce. Again, once I disabled WooCommerce, the website worked fine. I then took a look at WordFence to see what kind of live traffic they were getting. I almost fell off my chair, someone was hitting their website every second landing on the free sample page.
Speaking with some colleagues, we all came to the same conclusion that due to the amount of traffic, more than likely the WooCommerce plugin corrupted, and by reinstalling it that should fix the problems. No, that didn’t fix the problems. Our next theory was that a core WordPress file had been corrupted. Ugh, not difficult, but time-consuming, it was now time to uninstall and reinstall the entire website. Hopefully, this would solve the problem.
While I was going through the process, I went in search of finding who started all of this. I came across a website called, “Yo! Free Samples.” They had put one of the Google Ads on their website, Facebook page, and probably sent an e-mail blast to all of their subscribers. They have 52,000+ Facebook people who like their page alone. A call to the client went something like this,
“Ever heard of Yo! Free Samples?”
“What, what did you say?”
“Ever heard of Yo! Free Samples?”
“Uh, no, what is it?”
“Well apparently, you and I are the only ones who have not heard of it. It’s a website where they list all of the free samples they find on the internet. And they listed our free sample page. This is where all of the traffic is coming from.”
“Shut it down now.”
“I have, the free sample page has been changed to the samples, and the front-page popup now says the offer is over.”
Once I had everything reinstalled the website worked fine. In the end, they received 1,649 orders for the free samples within a couple of hours of Yo! Free Samples publicizing the offer. Over 100 people messaged them on Facebook complaining that they couldn’t get their free samples.
It is unbelievable to me, that so many people were desperate to get their hands on two 1.5 oz samples of shampoo and conditioner.
Be careful about what you wish for.
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