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Why Copying Others is a Bad Strategy


Over the years, we’ve had a lot of clients ask us to copy features they see on other sites. Things like pop-up modal windows, newsletter forms, and navigation schemes. In some cases, even the whole site design itself! Or, they read a blog post or article about how effective a particular technique is and they wanted to try it too.

When we’re not sure what to do next or how to fix something, we look to others. Especially when they’ve done something¬†successful. It’s human nature.

But, the problem with doing things this way, is that you end up making decisions based on very little information. This is dangerous because, as an outsider, what you don’t take into account when you do this are the other factors that you can’t easily see. Things like the tolerance level of the other site’s audience, their industry, their values, their target audience, their personality, their own business goals, etc.

For that reason, when we take on a new client for dedicated conversion optimization, a site full CRO audit, or landing page optimization, we look at the factors behind the scenes like the business’s goals, their current inbound marketing strategy, their campaign strategy, their earlier test results if they have any, and their stats to help identify and explain visitor behavior.

This is what strategy is all about. Setting goals and looking at the whole picture including what happens before and after the point of conversion along with the point of conversion itself.

Without all this information, you’re only looking at a very small percentage of all the factors involved in making that site or landing page successful.

So, Why Case Studies Then?

Case studies and successful examples of tests are informative and interesting, but you should refer to them with the understanding that they work for that particular business and may not work the same way for yours. They are simply tips, not strategic advice.

That said, there are some best practices that will help you see improvements to your conversion rate in most cases. Some of these things are:

  • Usability issues. If your site is making it hard for people to use, it’s certainly going to see quick improvements by getting these things fixed.
  • Speed. The quicker you make your site, the longer people will stay.
  • Technical issues. If anything is giving errors or not working, it’s pretty much a given that it should be fixed. You’d be surprised at how often “small” errors get overlooked.
  • Readability. Making your site text easy to scan and read and keeping the language active and engaging.

As you might be able to guess, none of these things need to be tested using a scientific method. They just need to be worked on as part of the regular maintenance and attention a website requires.

As for all other factors, as always, it’s a good idea to make educated decisions, test them, measure the results, and test again until you’re sure it’s not worth the resources to test anymore.

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