Zombie Business LeaderAre you a dogmatic, zombie business leader?

Or are you willing to massacre your best-loved ideas?

I usually avoid writing about conversion optimization tactics. I know there’s a large demand for those kinds of blog posts, but I find many people misunderstand them.

No matter the pains I go through to explain that a particular tactic may work in a particular situation and your mileage may vary, inevitably I’m labeled a “carousel hater” or “orange button lover” or “A/B testing fanatic.” (Ok, that last one may be true.)

That’s a misunderstanding. I love whatever works in the right context. But, I still run into labels and preconceptions like this.

Why do people need to attach labels to others? I think it’s an evolutionary problem. Bear with me for a moment while I explain.

We evolved as tribal creatures. It’s historically been much easier to identify who’s a member of one tribe or another through visual markers. If it wasn’t skin colour, it was a uniform, body paint or language difference.

But have no doubt, even without the same traditional tribal structures, we still try to put each other into tribe categories. This is true in every area. In marketing, there are the “big data advocates,” the “qualitative survey champions,” the “marketing automation supporters,” and the “personalization promoters.”

Tribes can be great, but they are also dangerous.

Tribes are great

Tribes aid in decision-making, give us a sense of belonging and camaraderie, and fill us with the feeling of friendship that only a defined enemy can provide. By all means, continue with your love of your favorite sports team, your snobbery about your chosen beer brand, your distaste for anything hipster, or whatever your particular tribe defines for you.

Having many of our choices determined by our tribe gives us decision-making shortcuts. We can use more System 1 decision-making, which is much faster than having to evaluate all the variables using System 2.


Tribes are dangerous

In anything other than sports, food and fashion, tribes have a tendency to seriously harm human progress.

I don’t hate carousels. Only when they don’t work. Unfortunately, they usually don’t, but there are some circumstances where carousels are the best option. (Never thought you’d hear that from me, did you?)

The real problem with tribes is when they lead to groupthink, which leads to “we’ve always done it this way” syndrome, and eventually dogmatism.

(Also, zombies tend to resemble tribes.)

zombie tribe
Tribes can be dangerous.

Image (c) Sony Pictures Digital Productions Inc.

The worst thing: dogmatism

One of the few things I genuinely can’t stand is dogmatic thinking. When ideas take on a morality, the discussion around those ideas tends to get dumber.

Dogmatism happens in all fields of thought, including business, politics, parenting, and conversion optimization.

Real optimization is dependent on the scientific method and is therefore incompatible with dogmatism.

At WiderFunnel we use the scientific method to support our three overarching goals for our clients:

  • First, to generate great insights for our clients to dramatically improve their profit.
  • Second, to identify patterns across all of the thousands of tests we’re running to do even better at the first priority.
  • Third, to consolidate those patterns into usable frameworks to greatly improve our efficiency at doing the first priority.

The moment we slide into tribal thinking about anything is the moment we stop learning, cease to improve, and lose our edge.

Even though we’ve learned a lot of things that work and don’t work, we are not advocates of a set of pet tactics. We may use surveys and sliders, focus groups and fonts, personas, personalization, big data, big buttons, analytics, A/B testing, and more, but only when we believe these tactics are the best methods to getting the best results most efficiently.

Your openness to learn can only happen if you’re willing to put your best ideas on the chopping block. Or, in the words of the marketing optimization manifesto, put your decisions into the crucible of testing.


So, are you willing to put your ideas to the test?

It may mean killing many of the common sense beliefs that seem obvious.

Website Redesign Horror Stories Nightmare black paper
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If that’s not scary enough, let me tell you some truly frightening stories from traditional website redesigns. WiderFunnel published a halloween “blackpaper” two years ago that still remains popular because it’s so terrifying!

Are you planning a website redesign? 

Or, do you know someone who is?

Watch out for the nine freakishly scary risks in this free halloween blackpaper: Website redesign horror stories to avoid.

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