Website Success: Part Three

This is a followup to Website Success: Part One and Website Success: Part Two.

One of my readers is jumping ahead of me. I received the following comment:

I just have to say that your post are somewhat contradictory. You say, “If someone ever finds a better way to do search, Google will ultimately be crushed” In your last post you talk about peoples ignorance to better products. “For example, an incredible number of people use the actual AIM client because, quite frankly, they don’t care enough to look around for something better like pidgin or digsby.”

Alex has stumbled onto my next topic which is, what are the best ways to overcome user inertia? I talked about some general methods. Appeal to human emotions. Make someone’s life that much easier and better with your product. And so on. But there has to be a more specific list, right?

I’ve got some ideas, although I’m sure my list is far from complete. The following is my best list of specific ideas for how to make people use your website — you can have one, some or all of these ideas incorporated:

With a new idea:
1. Be the first to market with a unique idea (PocketFives rankings, thepokerdb)
2. Appeal to human curiousity and jealousy (Facebook, MySpace, Poker Forums)

With an existing idea:
1. Be better than the competition by a SIGNIFICANT degree (CardRunners, Google)
2. Offer something unique (PokerXFactor)
3. Appeal to human curiousity and jealousy (Facebook, MySpace, Poker Forums)

Works with any idea:
1. Take “equity” from someone in the process of giving them something (PSDollars, PokerSourceOnline, Rakeback)

Since Alex’s comment focused on the “existing idea” category, I’ll discuss that one in this post. As you can see, I think there are generally two factors for getting people to move from an existing product (#3 is more of a constant across all ideas).

Let’s study the poker training market for a second. I believe that Real Poker Training was the “first to market” in this particular niche. I’m not sure though. Either way, assuming RPT was first, why is it now an after-thought in the poker training market? Easy. It simply doesn’t have the big names doing videos on the site. In addition, it doesn’t offer anything unique. If it had done those two things, I am virtually certain that RPT would be profiting seven figures a year right now. So what happened for them to lose their spot?

First, CardRunners with a significantly better product. I’m sure there are a lot of people reading this saying “well duh, of course you want your product to be better” — you’d be SHOCKED at how many people ignore this! If people listened, I wouldn’t feel compelled to write it. Case in point: look at all of the crappy poker training sites popping up even in 2008! These sites are doomed to a bottom-feeding life. Everyone is just copying CardRunners because it’s so easy to copy. All you have to do is say: “well, let’s get a bunch of bloggers, put up some generic forum, get a bunch of TAGs to make videos at 2/4 NL, offer rakeback and maybe make an email newsletter.” And they think they’re golden. Okay, I’ll admit… they might make money. Some might even make decent money. But they’ll never come close to CardRunners, I’m sure of that. And the reason is they just will never offer a better product. I could list off a ton of unique/unused ideas for how to make a better poker training site, but I don’t see why I should give away ideas *THAT* specific. Who knows, one day I might actually try my hand at the whole thing (depending on a few factors).

Second, PokerXFactor. If CardRunners’ incredible list of names wasn’t enough to knock RPT off of its spot as the defacto market leader, PokerXFactor finished off the job. Note that none of this is meant to be a knock on sheets, bax, rizen or any of the other PXF pros. Those guys are all great poker players. But, in reality, we all know that the list of names at CardRunners is more impressive. But, for a long time, the CardRunners website looked like a 7 year old had written it. The fonts were all screwed up. There were a ton of errors. The forum software was awful. They didn’t have a hand history replayer. And PokerXFactor came along with a site that looked professional and a hand history player that STILL hasn’t even come CLOSE to being rivaled. The reason why all of these copycats can’t copy PXF is because it’s so hard to make something as good as the PXF hand history replayer. The copycats are thinking: “I’ll pay some offshore dude or a college friend like 2k to make a site, then I’m sure we’ll get some clowns to sign up and we’ll be in the black.” They can’t do that with PXF.

Getting back to the Google vs AIM client debate. Google took years to overcome Altavista. That wasn’t really because of lack of quality, it was because of inertia. People were used to Altavista. Any Google competitor would take a similar or longer amount of time to overcome Google. And only if the product is way better — similar to Google results being way better than crappy Altavista results. Personally, I think it’s almost impossible to be that much better than Google, but someone smarter than me will probably eventually think of a way.

In the AIM client situation, it’s simply a matter of the product not being THAT much better. The inertia present in the users of the real AIM client will stop most of them from switching to something that’s only marginally better — especially when they don’t know about the other product. But remember how I said users are “irrationally” stuck in their ways? I heavily believe that to be the case. The time required to download a new client, install it and start using it is, maybe, 10 minutes max. But, as a business person, you have to realize that is what you’re dealing with. You need to make it worth someone’s while and, to date, no third-party AIM client has really done that. Trillian and others have made some headway, but not with the masses. But if you want to look at a software client that has penetrated the mass market, look at Firefox in the browser wars.

Maybe I’ll pick up with that in the next entry.

2 thoughts on “Website Success: Part Three

  1. Pingback: Website Success: Part Four

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