5 reasons why you shouldn't copy a competitor's site, and what to do if you really want to
When developing a website, the simplest solution is to copy it entirely from the competition. Or take different solutions from several companies and combine them. But you can't do that. We will tell you why, and how to act if you really want to do it .
Reason # 1. You are promoting not yourself, but a competitor
Customers won't order from you. If you completely copy a design from a competitor's website, visitors of your resource may associate you with it. Even if you change the logo and provide your contact information, users still remember the corporate style of the competitor. And so they might buy from him next time.
Even if you copy a design from a little-known company, buyers may confuse you. And the next time they compare several offers, they will most likely choose another company.
They will be suspicious obout you. Let me give you a simple example - strong brands always have their own design, they don't copy it from anyone else. Look at the sites of Eldorado, Apple, Ozon and think: would you buy, for example, an iPhone on a site with the same design as Apple, but with a different domain name and different contacts? Most likely, you will go to the official site, while you will suspiciously squint at the copy
We are not saying that if you copy the design of a well-known brand, there will be no buyers. They will, but you will lose those potential customers who are alarmed because of your website.
For example, here is an almost complete copy of Apple's website at apple-x.me - would you trust to a such store your money?
The names will be confused. For the same reason, you cannot copy the entire name of a competitor's company or take a name consonant with him. The target audience will be confused and you may lose most of it. For example, if you open two hairdressing salons in a residential area of the city - "Anna" and "Alla" - with the same service, clients will choose between them practically without thinking, at random. If your business is like a hairdressing salon, chances are your clients can go elsewhere. Therefore, it is better to promote your brand, rather than look at how competitors called themselves.
In addition, copying the name or consonant naming may lead to legal proceedings. There have already been precedents. For example, the "KAMAZ" brand collected 500,000 rubles from OOO "Lottos". for using the domain name kamaz-nsk.ru. Another example is a court decision banning the use of the "Люди Дела" trademark: the two companies were named almost the same, but the plaintiff made sure that the defendant was no longer able to use the trademark in the domain name.
In any case, by copying a competitor, you can potentially increase the number of sales for him and still remain a "no-name". But if you create your own brand, you will get more recognition and loyalty from your target audience.
Reason # 2. Not Getting the Same Effectiveness
You can't copy a competitor's site and sit back and get the same stream of leads as his. Or as many sales as is enough for your business development. There are several reasons for this:
You do not know if the site is working at all, what is its conversion rate, and how many targeted applications a competitor receives from it. Maybe the company receives only 1-2 clients per month, and promotes mainly offline.
You don't know where the competitor is getting traffic. Maybe he does native ads, uses context or teasers, or only gets organic traffic. This can also be tracked, but you still will not get the full picture: for example, which source is more efficient, through which channels a competitor gets the cheapest leads, from which channels large deals come.
You have a different audience. The target audience of two companies cannot be exactly the same, even if you and a competitor are selling the same products. Accordingly, what the competitor's audience likes may not be liked by yours.
The success (or failure) of competitor sites has too many variables for you to know all of them. Therefore, the effectiveness of your site copied from another company will be different.
Let me give you an interesting example. The Amazon store has many full copies. But the American company Target decided to copy only the software for reviews from Amazon. Since the release of the last Harry Potter book, both companies have sold roughly 2 million copies each, but Amazon has received over 1,800 reviews, while Target has only 3. The book now has over 12,000 reviews on Amazon.
Here are the reviews of the book on Amazon, and Target's site is currently unavailable.
Let's take another very simple example - texts. If you copy them from a competitor's site, they will not be unique. Leaving SEO aside, let's talk about content first in terms of performance. Firstly, you don't know if the texts on the competitor's website work - maybe they are there "to be there." Second, you still have to change something for yourself to reflect your value proposition. Then it is better to write and test your texts, and not collect them, like a constructor, from different sources - so the conversion will be higher. And if you take all the content from competitors and do not publish anything else, there will be no organic traffic either.
Copied texts can negatively affect SEO. An old site, which has many pages in good positions, can still copy the content and go to the top with it. It is very difficult to do the same with a young website.
Reason # 3. There may be problems
A competitor from whom you copied a site, name, design or any other solution can cause a lot of problems. Especially if he has the rights to it - for example, if the design is the author's, and there is a contract confirming this with the performer.
Here's what a competitor can do:
- just write to you with a request to change the design, name, domain name or remove some solutions;
- write a complaint to the hosting provider, and in some cases the hosting providers can block the site;
- file a lawsuit against you and ask not only to prohibit the use of a unique solution, but also to pay compensation;
- there are many ways to simply take revenge, for example, with attacks on your website, negative reviews on social networks or false leads.
- In any case, you will spend extra time, nerves, and, possibly, money.
There are many real precedents. For example, the Zaeltsovskiy District Court of Novosibirsk collected more than 500,000 rubles from the defendant. for copying content from two sites. A Pikabu user with the nickname Jorik1989 told how he struggled with copying the entire site: he sent a written claim and an email to the domain owner, and filed a complaint with the hosting provider. As a result, the copied site was deleted.
Reason # 4. Copying can be difficult
You cannot look at everything that happens "inside" the site of another company and predict possible problems. For example, let's say you decide to copy some coolly designed page from a competitor's site. But it turns out that it is associated with forms, other pages and some scripts. As a result, you will have to copy them too, and if they cannot be viewed, you will need to create everything yourself. Or modify the page without all of it.
Another example - let's say you decide to copy the chips from the catalog of an online store. Competitors have fun displaying photos, have a bunch of characteristics, the price is calculated individually, and so on. You can copy the design of the page itself, but some of the code will still be hidden, and it may turn out that unknown variables are used when calculating the price. Start sculpting something of your own - you will not understand what and spend a lot of money, time and effort. It will be much easier to create a directory template from scratch.
Of course, it is easy to copy texts and illustrations - the combinations "Ctrl + C" and "Ctrl + V" are enough. But there can be problems with copying online calculators, scripts, complex animated designs and other similar solutions.
Reason # 5. You get less reach and conversions
For this reason, you cannot copy not only sites or some individual solutions, but also promotions and discounts. With non-unique promotions - just like the competition - you'll get less reach and less leads if you work in the same media field or region.
Buyers, especially online, often first compare offers from several companies, and then choose the most profitable one. Therefore, unique value offers work better.
Let's give a simple example: there are six sushi shops in one area of the city. Five of them offer free shipping. And the sixth, in addition to it, offers an order for free if the courier does not have time to deliver it within an hour. What sushi shop do you think will get more customers if all six sites have approximately the same number of visitors?
For the same reason, it is worth constantly monitoring the marketing activity of competitors. But not to copy, but to offer the target audience something of their own: cooler and more profitable for buyers.
What to do if you want to copy : borrow ideas correctly
If you really like a competitor's idea, the main thing is not to copy it. You need to do something of your own based on it. Let me give you another well-known example. In 2016, the Ax brand launched an advertising campaign in the form of a series of videos called “Thoughts in the Soul”. At that time, there was already a section with this name on Reddit, and Reddit users were outraged that Ax copied a whole phrase from them. Later, representatives of the brand announced that they would collaborate with the authors on Reddit, that is, they found a way out of the situation. And if they did not say anything, a scandal could break out because of the copying.
A simple instruction will help you get away from blind, ineffective copying to developing your own unique solution.
Take an idea, not an embodiment of it
Do not repeat after competitors exactly: take the essence of the idea, not how it is implemented. if you like how competitors attract attention with stocks - calculate whether they will be profitable and launch your own. You saw a cool blog - do content marketing, but publish materials on other sites and pay promotions or cover other topics. Study your audience to understand what and where they are ready to read.
For example, you've used a competitor's ad tracking service and found awesome creatives. Make illustrations with the same message, but come up with different characters, draw them in a cartoon style or vector graphics.
In 2009, the carmaker Volvo invited a blind artist for a video to imagine the car Volvo S60. Later, in 2017, the same idea found another embodiment - the Volkswagen brand released the video "Can a car be art?", Which has now been removed from YouTube. In the video, the blind photographer did not represent, but tested the Volkswagen Arteon car.
Don't stop at just one idea
If you found a cool solution on the competitor's site and have already figured out how to quietly and usefully borrow the idea, do not rush to implement it. Go through all the competitors - you might see something even cooler. Take one idea there, another here, and make something of your own, radically different from everyone else.
You can search for ideas not only from competitors, but also in other areas. For example, "Dodo Pizza" made a ghost for their mobile application, suspiciously similar to the character of the computer game Pacman.
In the 60s of the last century, the manufacturer Alka-Seltzer launched an advertising video in order to double sales. Not one tablet of the product was thrown into the glass, but two. It worked. Later, brands in other industries began to use this trick. Remember how many chewing gum or small candies do the heroes of commercials put in their mouths today?
Evaluate the effectiveness of a solution before borrowing an idea
At first glance, it seems that everything is cool: you found a couple of ideas and even figured out how to implement them in your business. Don't be in a hurry to rejoice. First, check how they work and if you really need them. Maybe your competitors did not test ideas at all, but simply implemented them "just to be" or also borrowed from someone?
Most likely, you will not have access to the counters of Yandex.Metrica and Google Analytics of competitors, so you will not be able to get accurate data on conversion and user behavior. You will have to include logic. For example, if a competitor keeps a city map on the main page over several redesigns and makes it even more visible, most likely it works.
It is important to understand that two companies cannot have exactly the same target audience. What works great for a competitor may not work for you at all.
Think about what else you can offer
Add to the ideas of competitors something of your own, fresh and useful to your target audience. Think carefully about how you can improve the borrowed idea and make it a unique solution that no one else will have.
In 2011, the company Ogilvy & Mather San drew posters for Lego and came up with a scene in which a girl builds a spacesuit from parts, supposedly in space flight. This work won a Silver Award in 2012 at the Antigua Festival. Already in 2017, Ogilvy Bangkok released their poster, also for Lego. On the poster is illustrated a full-length spacesuit, but the idea is almost the same: the girl is building it from bricks.
The added value was that the suit was shown in full-length. This work also received awards - three silver prizes at the Cannes Lions Festival. It is not necessary to add something unique to a borrowed idea. The main thing is that people like this "something".
One idea, two different creative solutions.
One more example. The "Stories" format first appeared in 2013 on Snapchat. Then these were memories that were stored on the servers of the site. In 2016, stories came to Instagram, and even later - to VKontakte and Facebook. Every time social networks add something new to the format: masks, tags, music, and so on. For example, on Instagram, you can create stories only for your best friends, add geolocation tags, and even broadcast live.
At each stage, you should end up with something different: a solution that cannot be called copied.
Test the ideas borrowed from the competitor
The work does not end with adding something unique the idea, but it only starts there. Even the coolest idea in your opinion may not reach the target audience. After all, the concept of "like" is always the matter of taste: purple tones may be prettier to you, and turquoise to customers. Therefore, before doing a complete website redesign or gathering a team of authors for a content marketing project, test the idea.
This can be done in different ways. For example:
- create a separate landing page, give the link to it to 10% of subscribers from the base of email addresses and measure the conversion;
- gather a focus group and ask if people will like your idea and if it will influence their purchasing decision;
- run A / B testing if you want to know which version of the site or page is better.
Tests will show if the idea is really that good. If you see yourself getting more sales, signups, or better engagement, you can move on to implementing for a wider audience.
Let's give one more example. In 2005, the Guinness brewing brand released a TV spot called noitulovE - the word Evolution is reversed. He talked about how three men go back in time to understand how long their favorite beer was created. The video received a total of more than 30 awards, including the Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Festival. Bend Absolut (Swedish vodka) used a similar idea - in 2017 a video was released showing the development of the Universe from the "Big Bang" to the moment Absolut appeared.
Constantly refine your strategy, website, business processes
Don't stop there. Track website conversions, ROI, customer acquisition cost and other important metrics. And adjust the development strategy if necessary. Keep track of what is happening with your competitors - how they develop and change, what new customer acquisition channels they are mastering. This will keep you trendy.
Always tend to make your site more efficient and prices for attracting the customers lower. Borrow new ideas from competitors and companies in other niches. Develop, and you and your business will be happy.
Have no remorse
If you do it right, you can “steal like an artist”. Don't worry that you haven't come up with something cool by yourself. In fact, nothing absolutely new can be invented today. Nowadays any company , can be accused of plagiarism or borrowing ideas.
Let's give a simple example: one idea, but different implementations of "Dodo Pizza" and "Yandex". Once "Dodo Pizza" launched an interesting action for the delivery of pizza by a quadcopter. Yandex recently spoke about the launch of the unmanned robot "Yandex.Rover". Representatives of the company expressed the hope that in the future it will be possible to use it in the services "Yandex.Food" and "Yandex.Lavka".
The idea of food delivery using robots has been discussed for a long time in society and the two companies simply implemented it in different ways.
Checklist on how to borrow ideas from competitors correctly
- Refuse full copying - you can't do that. It will not bring you recognition, sales, loyalty.
- Take the idea as a basis, not its embodiment. Figure out how to do the same, but in a different way.
- Don't stop at just one idea. Study all competitors for other interesting solutions, or borrow from companies in other niches.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of an idea before implementing it. Analyze your competitor's website using special services and enable logic.
- Add new values to make your implementation cooler and more useful for users.
- Be sure to test before implementing. Gather a focus group, suggest the idea to some buyers, or do A / B testing.
- Don't stop there - strive to develop your marketing to keep up with the competition.
- Have no remorse: nothing new can be invented. The main thing is not to copy blindly, but to “steal like an artist”.