Everybody loves shortcuts. This is the reason why we still see the “One weird trick” ads. As much as we know it’s not possible, we still want it to be true.
This is also why the conversion optimization / UX / UI people like the best practices. Or ask the questions like “How do you do X?”
- How do you optimize the checkout?
- Which types of forms work best?
- How do you make people give their email?
- Do you put the form on the left or on the right?
- …don’t even start with “How to make people buy?”
The answer to all of these questions?
If it were any other way, I would be replaceable by a smart algorithm. If x then y, and you’re good to go. It still may happen in the future but not yet. Until that happens it still… depends.
Depends on what?
On best practices? Nope. It’s a good start for getting ideas but it’s not the right answer. Your context is different.
On what your competition is doing? No. They are as clueless as you are. Maybe even more so.
On your hunch, your experience? No. You are not your customer. And you do NOT know your customer, even though you’re absolutely sure you do.
Without user research, you will not know what needs to be done. You will just be guessing what needs to be fixed. You’ll be missing your target much more often than hitting it.
Competitor analysis is a small part of the research process, yet often it is the only one businesses do. “They’re big and they do it this way. We’ll copy it and get the same results.”
That’s not how it works.
You have to give a relevant reason to buy your product or service.
Key concept: relevant reason. What’s relevant for your competitor is not necessarily relevant for you. They may have a different product, or a different process, a different user journey, different user segments, different acquisition channels, different levels of awareness, the list goes on.
So many differences. If you copy what works for them, you get a higher chance that it won’t work for you, most probably for multiple reasons.
The answer? Research
So do the research. On your own visitors, your own customers, your own traffic. Fix their problems, provide the solutions and the process relevant to them.
I have the whole category on research. Go through it and you’ll be able to start the right way. Let your competitors chase you. Let them copy you, instead of the other way.