The digital marketing industry is a quirky little devil. You spend years honing your skills, constantly learning form experience and making better decisions with every new project. But, just when you think you’ve got the marketing gig nailed, it bites back and puts you in your place once again.

Okay, so that’s a little overdramatic perhaps but when your marketing budget and profits are on the line, drama is guaranteed. The fact is, sometimes you have to forget everything you know about marketing to make that crucial decision between mediocrely and success.

 

Best practices don’t always work in practice

The best example of this would be when best practices fail. If you’ve ever done any conversion rate optimisation, you’ll know the rulebook only gets you so far when it comes to getting the best results. The fact is best practices are only guidelines – theories that often ring true but don’t always pan out in the real world.

Think about video content for a moment. Nobody in the industry would argue against the importance of video in modern marketing and countless studies support it. As with all marketing trends and best practices, though, there are times when tried and tested methods don’t work.

Explainer videos make a perfect example – widely considered the best way to generate conversions on a product page. As you can see from this study by ConversionXL, the common trend doesn’t always work out.

no-video

Image from ConversionXL article

 

This can be true for any given trend or best practice, even you’ve succeeded with it time and again. Here’s another test example from a different ConversionXL study where images without people improved results:no-people

Image from ConversionXL article

 

If you’ve done your own testing, chances are you’ll have seen similar results that buck common trends. The danger is you may not even consider testing these page elements that are often considered sure wins – especially if they’ve worked for you in the past.

 

Test everything, make no assumptions

The biggest takeaway you can get from testing your website is that assumptions are dangerous. More to the point, every situation is unique and your challenge is to pinpoint which elements break what you think you know about marketing. A 72% upturn in conversions from switching one image shows what kind of an impact wrong assumptions can have.

So the most important part of testing your website is understanding the need to question everything. That might sound pretty daunting – but only if you look at it as a disadvantage. If you look at it as an opportunity to spot conversion potentials, you’re quickly on the path to transforming your brand. The good news is this process gets easier with time as well.

The problem with best practices is they’re too general; they band users into one large group. This can make them unreliable because your audience is unique and their needs don’t necessarily follow the common trends. This is why testing is so important: the more you learn about your audience, the better informed you are to make accurate decisions.

You can also carry your findings from one part of your site to another and establish a kind of template for different elements. For example, your finding from one landing page could be a good place to start with your next one. You’ll still want test each landing page for variables like user intent, source of traffic and other important questions. But you’ll find each landing page becomes easier to create and the same goes for other parts of your site, too.

 

Marketing trends and best practices are an important part of getting your online brand up and running. Be careful of over relying on them, though, because you can only trust them so much. Nothing will help you make better marketing decision than your own insights into your target audiences and what makes them different. So don’t make any assumptions. Catering to those unique needs is what sets you apart from the brands simply following trends.