Planning Your Next Product: How to ‘Test the Waters’ for Free

Lately I’m sending a LOT more email to the Simple Programmer list.

Most of our subscribers hear from us just about every day now.

One thing I’m doing with these near-daily broadcasts is testing out different topics to see what sparks the most interest from our subscribers—which in turn gives me a good sense for how a product on that topic might perform.

The backstory on this:

A few weeks back I launched a “learn to program in JavaScript” product.

The biggest takeaway I got from that launch was the HUGE gap in sales between the group that opened emails with the word “JavaScript” in the subject line vs. the group that didn’t.

If you opened an email with “JavaScript” in the subject line, you were 30,000% more likely to buy the JavaScript course than if you did not.

Not a typo—that’s THIRTY THOUSAND PERCENT more likely.

Maybe you can see where I’m going with this.

The typical approach when you send out a broadcast email, you try to come up with a subject line that’ll get you maximum opens.

For example, one of my best subject lines for Simple Programmer lately was just:


It’s a 100% curiosity play—you can’t tell as single thing about what’s in the email from that subject line.

Which is great for opens, but it doesn’t tell you a dang thing about the people that opened it.

About half the time now, I’m “tipping my hand” in the subject line and telegraphing the topic of the email.

I’m even thinking in terms of testing “keywords” and specific phrases.


The one product we’re considering for our next launch would show software developers how to take their above-average income and use it to make conservative, long-term investments in real estate.

My business partner John used this strategy to retire at 32—very interesting stuff.

And a slice of our audience is *very* interested in learning more.

Right now I’m sending one email per week with “real estate” or “investing” or “financial security” in the subject line.

After 4-5 of these go out, I’ll have a pretty good read on just how many people are interested in this topic.

You can even go so far as to test different product titles this way—just use the product title in your subject line.

When you do this, your open rates will naturally be lower by anywhere from 2-5%.

The information you gain is VERY useful though.

Well worth the tradeoff if you’re pondering what to offer next to your list.