For bloggers looking to make a profit from their labor of love, there's no better marketing staple than email.
Building an email list can be the key to turning a fun hobby side project into a full-fledged full-time income.
That's why over at Blog Tyrant, one of the foremost blogs about blogging, they put a lot of emphasis on the power of email marketing.
They send out a lot of emails themselves, including newsletters, offers for things like free ebooks, and more.
Taking a page out of their book is a smart strategy for bloggers in just about any niche.
But making email work means running some experiments. And not all experiments pan out.
When things go wrong, they can go really, really wrong.
And that's exactly what happened recently for the guys at Blog Tyrant.
They tried adding a free training video recently to their ongoing email promotion, which had previous revolved around a free ebook called My 5-Step Process to Profitable Blogging.
After all, everyone loves a great video, especially when it's free — right?
Their conversion rate, which had been solid for years on end, plummeted.
So what can we learn from Blog Tyrant's experiment gone wrong?
In a recent blog post about it, the authors explain that in the end, it all ties back into one key thing: the value of testing before you make radical changes to something that was working just fine before.
What is the takeaway from this experiment?
One of the main lessons for me was how important it is to test and track changes instead of just making big edits in the hope that they will work.
A great advantage about running an internet business is that you can split test almost everything – there are hardly any equivalents of a big billboard or radio advert where you can’t actual track whether your spend is converting or not.
[image source: Blog Tyrant]
For example, using a website like Visual Website Optimizer we can run a simple multivariate test.
This involves creating two landing pages that are identical except for one element and then seeing which one coverts best.
The thing that always surprises me about these tests is how often the successful version goes against what you would expect to be the winner.
Sometimes you will see really common bits of marketing wisdom completely turned on their head on your particular test case.
If you can’t afford a service like VWO you can always do your own mini-tests.
It involves a bit more work and is a bit less accurate, but can be achieved with a few WordPress plugins that give you new functionality in conjunction with your mailing list provider.
For example, if you’re using AWeber for your mailing list you can just create two sign up forms for the same list, call them Test-1 and Test-2, and then create two WordPress pages with the same content but the different sign up forms.
You then simply use a promotional plugin like Boxzilla which allows you to create some cool pop ups or slide out boxes and run send traffic to each of the landing pages for a set period of time.
You might do three days on one, three days on the next, and then see which gets the better results.
Here’s one I created with this plugin and a bit of Photoshop:
[image source: Blog Tyrant]
Of course this doesn’t give you the deeper data and the fast-paced feedback of a system where you are doing all of these tests simultaneously, but it can give you some good initial insights like which destination page and offer combination is more attractive to visitors.
You can read the full write-up about the failed email experiment over at Blog Tyrant.