How To Win By Copycatting

It’s a well known fact that many copycats succeed online, but sometimes it’s a risky path to follow. I’d like to share an example or two with you today, and perhaps help you do a better job copy, err, I mean taking inspiration from others.

If you spend any time online in the tech blogosphere, you will have seen ads for free website building service Wix.com. One of their most successful ads is the following:

Wix ad featuring 4 circles

Wix ad featuring 4 circles

As you can see, they’ve got their message simplified, and contained in the first 3 bubbles or circles.

So too this Forex ad:

Forex ad 4 circles

Forex ad 4 circles

What’s the difference between the two ads, though?

Notice the different fonts used by Wix within each bubble? That’s missing in the latter ad.

You probably can’t read the second ad, but it’s call to action reads “start now,” while Wix’s ad says “Click here.”

I don’t have backend stats for proof, but I suspect that Wix’s ad is doing better for them than the Forex ad is doing.

Why? Wix’s ad is louder – the different fonts increase contrast and are more likely to draw eyeballs and clicks – and the ad is less risky – click here vs start now.

This exemplifies the risks in copying others’ tactics. We can miss details.

Shoemoney has discussed how people from affiliate networks he worked with essentially duplicated his campaigns and only made 50% as much. He explained that the difference was that he had different layers of ad targeting that his copycats didn’t know of.

On the other hand, it’s worth adapting from others’ tactics – or far better, their strategies.

The forex company probably saw, as I did, that Wix were circulating that ad far and wide and realized that the circles probably contrast strongly with traditional square and rectangular banner ads we see around. In itself, it’s a smart observation and worth testing.

Similarly, I’d encourage everyone with a homepage slider to copy Unbounce:

Unbounce does slider well - no auto scrolling between slides

Unbounce does slider well – no auto scrolling between slides, each slide’s description is clear

Their homepage slider is excellent.

First, it doesn’t move to the next slide unless you click. Such movement is annoying and gets in visitors’ way.

Second, each slide is clearly labeled, instead of how most sliders label each slide with a series of circles, squares or numbers that have no relation to the content on the slide they represent.

More broadly though, one can do even better by adapting strategies that work for others.

For instance, in association with Internet Marketing Ninjas, I’m giving away free copies of my new book, Blog Design for ROI. I got the idea from a free sticker campaign here in Israel that went viral. The big idea is to give away something physical. The execution is to give away a book, marketing on Problogger.net etc.

Strategies are different from tactics, and it’s important to explain the difference.

Strategies are high-level ideas. Like, we’re going to challenge the competition in their home market. Tactics are the execution of the strategy – how are you going to beat them in their own home?

Sometimes, particular tactics are very relevant to a given strategy, but not others. That’s why it’s easier, and likelier to lead to success, to copy strategies instead of tactics.

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Comments

  1. Interesting article Gabriel. It mostly shows it's good to be always looking for something. I tend to forget to observe when I'm not in "search mode" for a particular need, I think I miss some good ideas because of that.

    Comment by Mathias - December 14, 2012 @ 1:29am

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