Are You Optimizing the Way Homer Simpson Diets?

In our time of economic chaos, I hope you find a slice of comfort in the wit and wisdom of Homer Simpson:

    Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true.

And this sage Homerism is hard to beat:

    Oh, so they have Internet on computers now!

The lovable Homer Simpson can be held up as an example to the kids for many things, but probably not Homer on a diet. He isn’t the diet-and-exercise type. His strict regime of beer and donuts and babysitting day after day a nuke reactor does not a healthy lifestyle make.

So what does this have to do with Web site conversion rate optimization?

More than you would think.

Optimizing a Web site or campaign is shockingly similar to dieting and getting fit. Let’s spend a few moments evaluating how your conversion rate diet is going.

Are you having success? Or are you on the Homer Simpson diet? Doh!

Getting Fat and Tipsy on the Data

This is something we are seeing increasingly more of, as analytics tools are now mainstream. Data are flowing from a keg and everyone is taking a mug. Some take several mugs. Many companies are data happy and mistake data for insight or, even worse, for optimization success.

Data can be abused like a keg of Duff beer. To make sure you aren’t doing this, remember those numbers are people, not lifeless data. Learn to get insight into customer behavior, or those data will go straight to your midsection and not contribute fully to your ability to move more visitors to take a conversion action.

Sometimes, these folks don’t take their eyes off the scale, celebrating conversion rate increases that are well within the standard deviation (and thus likely meaningless). They are get depressed about minor losses (again, all within the standard deviation).

Chowing Down Empty Calories

Anthony Garcia, our lead consultant, likes to joke that he never met a donut he didn’t like. I can relate. Thing is they have little nutritional value. Donuts are the poster child for empty-calorie foods. (Sorry, Homer and Anthony, they aren’t one of the four food groups.)

A high-donut diet is similar to living on cheap (sometimes not so cheap) traffic. The high is temporary, and before you know it you need more and more traffic until you can’t survive without it.

The good news is you can work off some of that excess traffic by trimming the fat on your Web site and increasing your conversion rate.

Engaging in Lightweight Lifting

Can you imagine Homer Simpson at the gym? Can you imagine him jogging? He probably couldn’t make it out of the driveway without getting winded. Still, if he did jog halfway around the block or lift a small weight for one or two reps, he would claim an exercising victory. A lot of companies do this, too. They run a test, optimize a single landing page, or even give full-force optimization a try for a month or two. Then they stop, winded and weary.

Usually these companies say they don’t see the value. Well, how could they? Still, some expect a miracle conversion-rate increase with very little work. Or they believe that trying a few things will get them a huge return, and if it doesn’t come right away they give up. What a shame.

Homer on diet would do the same, saying he tried dieting and exercise and got no results. But was Homer every truly on a diet?

Optimizing and dieting are both simple in principle. Dieting is about taking in fewer calories and burning more. Optimizing is about getting customer insight, applying a change based on that learning, and starting the process over again, like running on a treadmill.

Optimizing and keeping off the donuts take work and a commitment to get results. Is a lack of work or commitment keeping you from getting the results you want?

I’m a big fan of dieting Homer’s way. I love food, and my exercise regimen consists of carrying my MacBook Pro from the desk to the sofa, then back again. Still, I don’t want to optimize Homer Simpson-style. If you want actual results you shouldn’t, either. Let me know if you need some additional diet or optimization advice.

Meet Bryan at Search Engine Strategies Chicago December 8-12 at the Chicago Hilton. The only major search marketing conference and expo in the Midwest will be packed with 60-plus sessions, multiple keynotes and Orion Strategy sessions, exhibitors, networking events, and more.

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