If you spend any time on the social web, particularly LinkedIn, you’ll no doubt be accustomed to the cult of failure. You know the kind of thing, posts featuring quotes from famous people recommending a more open approach to failure. Things like this:
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” — Thomas A. Edison
“It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” — Zig Ziglar
“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” — Henry Ford
As entrepreneurs, failure is something we need to embrace if we are to move forward. I personally have failed many times. I’ve written articles that nobody has read. I’ve organized events for which I haven’t sold any tickets. I’ve been left frustrated by technical glitches. I’ve dismissed opportunities and missed out on great success. But because I’ve been willing to risk failure, I’ve also been richly rewarded, earning a good living doing something I love, spending time with people who inspire me and having the opportunity to travel the world and share my passions.
This doesn’t make failure any easier. And let’s be honest, the more we fail, the more difficult it becomes to bounce back. Happily, I’ve found the answer to reducing the risk of failure — it’s called testing.
A test never fails. It simply tells us if something will work or not. If we factor testing into our working schedules and take the time to learn from the results, we will fail less.
Remember: Understanding what doesn’t work can actually be seen as a great success.
You Might Be Failing Without Knowing It
There is one thing worse than failing. That is failing and being completely unaware of the fact.
Sadly, too many email marketers do this on a daily basis.
They send campaigns that fail to deliver in terms of open rates, click-throughs, and conversions. They continue to accept these failings because (a) they see email marketing as a low cost (and therefore not that important) marketing opportunity, (b) they think that their campaigns are actually doing OK and © they never take the time to test.
Testing Best Practice
I was delighted to recently meet an iContact client who didn’t believe in failure. As such, they tested elements of every single email they sent.
Most of their testing time was focused on improving their subject lines. If you are unable to dedicate any more time to testing, I would urge you to focus on this area because the subject line is your first line of defense between active engagement and your subscribers ignoring/deleting/unsubscribing from your campaigns.
When time allowed, the client would also test their copy length, call-to-actions, images, and landing pages.
As a result of their testing, their email open rates and click-throughs were improving. Conversions were still a concern, but they were working on this through more active testing.
The moral of the story is don’t accept failure as an everyday occurrence. Take the time to test, learn from your results and start winning.