When it comes to negative ad campaigns, Wix has taken the cake, slammed it to the floor, and stomped on it.
At least that’s what it feels like with their recent ad campaign, which bashes WordPress.
WordPress has been a staple in the developer’s toolkit for over 20 years. You can’t expect to win friends by attacking a company that has had loyal community partners for well over a decade.
Perhaps if Wix wasn’t an awful platform for SEO the ad may have been received differently.
Unfortunately, the ad campaign struck a nerve with the community.
Wix’s new SEO Mordy Oberstein has been working to transform their platform (and SEO presence) into something that can compete with WordPress. We can’t wait to see what he does to turn Wix into a serious WordPress competitor.
Unfortunately, it seems as though they’ve hit a snag with their current approach to publicity.
While some in the field may feel that any publicity is good publicity, this is proving not to be the case.
The recent spotlight on Wix seems to be eroding public trust in their brand.
The Ad is Out of Touch
The new ad attacks sore spots that professionals in the industry would rather not talk about.
For example, “you didn’t update the plugins?” Or, “people going through your things?” Poking fun at developers for favoring WordPress isn’t a good look.
While it is true that out-of-date WordPress plugins are a security risk, choosing Wix doesn’t magically prevent your website from being hacked.
This is doubly true if your site uses open redirects. It’s dangerous to publicly claim that Wix sites will never be hacked, because it’s just baiting hackers to prove you wrong.
The other problem with the ad is that it’s oriented towards existing Wix customers. If Wix really wants to target new developers, they first need to improve their platform.
Then, they need to launch developer-friendly advertising that speaks to specific devs who are tired of using WordPress or want to switch to a new platform.
Don’t launch a heavy, political attack ad that undermines the competition’s credibility. Most consumers are smart enough to see through that and call you on it.
Improve Your Platform, Then Advertise
Our advice to Wix is: improve your platform first. Test it. Make sure developers actually like it. Then start an ad campaign.
Make sure to tout the benefits of your platform without attacking a beloved competitor that has been serving the industry for more than 15 years.
You’ll never get anywhere by attacking trusted competitors.
Instead, the backlash you receive might look familiar:
Make Sure You Know How Your Campaign Will be Received
Yes, we know. Others have done it. Politicians run smear campaigns like this all the time. Most of us don’t respond well to attack ads unless we’re already fiercely loyal to the platform. And that’s what’s crucial for Wix right now: building brand and platform loyalty.
If we’re not loyal to your platform and you act as though we already are, you’ll miss the mark entirely.
This brings us back to our earlier point: not all publicity is good publicity. During a pivotal chapter for a brand, the risk of negative attention can outweigh the potential benefit of a successful attack ad. It erodes trust and makes your company look out-of-touch, which is the last thing consumers want when switching to a new platform.
How to Make the Next Wix Ad Successful
Critiques aside, we have some advice for Wix as to how they can make their next ad more successful and spread a positive message across the social media:
Don’t attack the competition. Instead, highlight your improvements and market them positively. What you perceive to be the biggest weaknesses in WordPress are often not a huge deal to WordPress loyalists.
Explain how your platform can improve a developer’s day-to-day and make their life easier. Most developers are looking to minimize their daily headaches and would love a platform that irons those wrinkles out.
Also, as developers, they want a platform that will help them achieve their goals, not make them harder. At present, Wix is often derided by the community, and is not perceived to be the solution to anyone’s problems.
This brings us to our next point: know your place in the community. If you run an attack ad, you’d better be able to back it up. From our perspective, Wix is not a misunderstood underdog standing up to WordPress, but a platform that needs fundamental improvements before it can truly challenge major industry players.
Ultimately this is where Wix went wrong with their latest advertising campaign. They could have done much better by improving their platform and highlighting the improvements in an ethical manner rather than making out-of-pocket digs at industry giant WordPress.