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email experimentHere are Blog Tyrant we place a lot of emphasis on getting email subscribers and building a mailing list that is engaged, happy and active.

We also like to share practical and tested strategies for bloggers to try out themselves, and sometimes that means sharing the things that don’t work so well.

Today we’ve got one such example.

A few weeks ago we changed the lead magnet from an eBook to a free training video and the results were way worse than expected.

Let’s take a look at what went wrong.

What did we change?

As you know, we advocate using a strategy whereby new visitors are encouraged to sign up to the mailing list by the promise of a free eBook.

We were using an eBook called My 5-Step Process to Profitable Blogging for a number of years and it was converting quite well in terms of people visiting the sign and signing up to the mailing list to get it.

As you can see below, sometimes the conversion rate was really excellent. I don’t share this to boast, but rather to help you see the mistake we made next in the hope that you can avoid it on your own sites.


But, it needed an update and so we decided to create a free training video that went over the whole process of how to find topics and write posts so that they rank well on Google and earn money through affiliates.

The graphic we used to promote this was an animated gif of one of the drawings that we did in the video.

And… it totally flopped.

The first day sign ups dropped by about 25%.

By the second day they had dropped by around 80% and never seemed to recover.

After two or three days of this I knew I had either made a technical error (like the sign up link was broken) or that the new offer just wasn’t hitting the mark.

What happened next?

After doing a big investigation I realized that it was not a technical error but that the new lead magnet was just not performing as well as the old one.

To my mind, there were a few possibilities as to why:

  • The promotion graphic was a gif
    We changed the promotional graphic from an eBook cover to a little animated gif. This might have been problematic as people seem to really like the feeling of a “physical” product and the book cover goes some way towards creating the vibe of something substantial.
  • The perceived value was less
    While the training video was quite useful in terms of the results you could get from watching it, perhaps a 15 minute video seems less valuable than a large eBook that people can keep. Especially as so many excellent videos are produced almost daily by many channels on YouTube.
  • The video target and topic was off
    Lastly, it was possible that the topic we talked about in the eBook was not the right one for the audience that was arriving on Blog Tyrant and looking to subscribe to the mailing list. Usually this is made up of beginners and, while the video was aimed at new bloggers, it might have been pitched a little too advanced.

After looking at all of this I decided to just change it to a new eBook that we were working on that was a 10,000-word guide on how to start a blog and build it so as to maybe craft a new career online.

I was really interested to see whether the simple act of putting an eBook back as the lead magnet would boost subscribers, even if it was different to the previously successful version.

It was.

After a few hours of replacing the training video with the free eBook we saw subscriber rates rocket back up to their previous levels. It was a complete recovery.

You can see the eBook we’re using now at the bottom of each page on Blog Tyrant, and click through to see the copy that the landing page is using to explain the sign up process.

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.

split test

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:


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.

Final thoughts

Our email subscriber list really is the lifeblood of a successful and sustainable blogging business and, as such, we should all try our best to build one that that is large, engaged and happy. This means doing a lot of testing and continually trying to improve the experience for readers.

Have you ever had any experiments that went really right or really wrong? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.

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