What Chaos Theory Can Teach You About Internet Marketing

by Peter Attia on March 20, 2012

Misunderstanding The Butterfly Effect

We’ve all learned the basics of Chaos Theory in school: mainly the butterfly effect. A common analogy for this theory is:

“When a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world it can cause a hurricane in another part of the world.”.

This is often misinterpreted as the wind from a butterfly flap can gain so much momentum that it can becomes a hurricane.


The actual meaning is that the wind from a butterfly’s wings can influence a hurricane in another part of the world. It’s more like a Rube Goldberg device, where every action causes a reaction. The difference is a Rube Goldberg device is set in a forced way with an intended result. A butterfly effect is random and (for the most part) not intentionally influenced.

How Does This Relate to Internet Marketing?

Whether you realize it or not, as a marketer, you’re creating several butterfly effects that influence your visitors: a funnel. However, like a Rube Goldberg machine, you have an intended result: you want people to convert.

Think of it like a PPC landing page. Sometimes even the tiniest change makes a huge difference. You need to find all those avenues and influence your desired outcome.

Find New Avenues

Focus on what your good at. Once it’s solid, branch out into a new area. Don’t try to squeeze the life out of one single marketing plan. There is more potential in a new avenue than in one that already performs well. By doing this, you’re creating a new source of traffic you can optimize: a new set of butterfly effects.

find new avenues

If you’re unsure which avenue to reach into first, I recommend Rand’s post for finding new channels.

Test, Test, and Test

You always need to test your strategies. Try new copy, banners, text ads, landing pages, etc. Otherwise, you won’t learn what does and doesn’t work.

Resources for optimizing conversions:

Hire The Right People

If you want your strategy to go in a certain direction, hire someone that will follow that path. Don’t hire someone just for their years of experience. If they don’t have the same goals or passion, you’ll end up veering towards a different angle entirely.

Resources for hiring:


Keep in mind that everything you do, no matter how minuscule, will have an effect. Sometimes that effect is tiny, like changing your CTR by 2%. Other times it can be much more dramatic (and accidental), like a video of your cat that goes viral. Always make sure you’re influencing your product in the right direction.

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