How to Hack 99 Designs and Facebook to Create a Top-Selling Book Cover (Part 2)

Last week I blasted out an email to the entire Simple Programmer list to take their temperature on the new book cover we’re having designed.

I linked out to a poll where subscribers could assign star ratings to each of 8 different cover designs.

There were a couple of things that really surprised me about the results of this poll.

The first was:

People LOVED it.

I sent the email to our entire list—including the inactive subscribers who I usually exclude.

Because of that, the open rate wasn’t all that hot, just barely over 20%.

The click through rate was an insanely high 5.7%.

That means that 1 in 4 people who opened the email clicked through to view the poll.

When I looked at the number of votes we got in the poll, I was even more surprised.

Because 2 out of every 3 people who clicked end up voting.

We’re not talking like click a button yes/no.

They each spent at least a minute or two to rate the covers and leave comments.

Note to self:

I need to do a LOT more polls and quizzes.

People enjoy them, and not only that, but involving the subscribers like this will help us sell more books by instilling a sense of ownership in the final product—because they had a small part in the process.

The second thing that surprise me though was the results of the voting.

I mentioned yesterday that I had a favorite among the designs—a really elegant cover featuring the book’s title in bold white-and-orange-on-black lettering.

It looked premium—like a best-seller.

Well when the votes came in, my pet design finished dead last.

Yep, #8 out of 8.


Even more surprising to me was the winner, which I thought was one of the weaker designs.

In fact I’m pretty sure I’d lobbied John to throw it out.

To my eye it wasn’t as attractive, sophisticate or “polished” as the one I liked.

Apparently our audience strongly disagreed.

This gets back to the points I made recently about how design affects response.

Design DOES dramatically swing response—but rarely in the way you think it will.

The most aesthetically pleasing design is often not what works best at getting people to take action.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself here though.

Because to this point, I wasn’t really testing what would get people to take action.

In the poll, I was asking them what they “liked best.”

And what people say is often at odds with what they DO.

It was time to roll into Round 3 of the Great Book Cover Deathmatch…

Part One

Part Three