Kaizens and Tests of Change: My Blog and One of My Books

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I try to practice what I preach. I'm not perfect, but I do my best.

Writing is fun for me, but I'm also the primary technical administrator for this blog and my other websites. I do a lot of the technical work and administration for my blogs and self-published books because I'm geeky enough to enjoy such things instead of outsourcing it. I certainly do hire experts as contractors for specialized work, including the design of my paperback version of Measures of Success.

I mention this because doing this “behind the scenes” work gives me opportunities to improve my processes and systems from time to time.

New Post Emails

I have been using Mailchimp as a platform for email newsletters, as well as automated emails that go out daily (and weekly) with links to new blog posts (and podcasts) that have been published here.

I find myself using email marketing less and less in an era of social media, and I have questioned the effectiveness of my approach there. Mailchimp keeps raising their prices and I decided to look for alternatives.

Mailchimp said they are raising prices because they have added more features:

“We're making these changes because over the last 10 years, we've continuously improved our email product and added a number of new channels to our marketing platform so you can get more out of Mailchimp, but we haven't updated our legacy pricing plans.”

I'm all for continuous improvement, but I'm not getting more value out of their product, which now costs about $1000 a year.

I found a service that works as a WordPress plugin — Mailpoet.

This service will provide the daily (or weekly) emails to my readers at about 25% of the cost.

If you had been a subscriber, I've migrated you over and you should now be getting the new emails, which look like this:

I got an email from one reader the other day who said they think the new format looks better and works better (they use the Outlook app on their iPhone). I hope the email is not just cheaper, but also better (or at least as good).

The one challenge is that Mailpoet doesn't allow me to send an automated email with all new comments from the blog. But, I found a solution for that, as I explained in this email to subscribers. You can read that email for the details, but the free service called Blogtrottr will serve this purpose for you if getting all comments adds value for you.

Experiments with “Practicing Lean”

I've been very proud of the response to our collaborative book that I published called Practicing Lean. All royalties have been donated to The Louise Batz Patient Safety Foundation and that's almost $5000 at this point, so thanks to all of the authors and readers.

Sales had trailed off a bit, so I decided to do a “small test of change” by making the eBook available as an exclusive to the Amazon Kindle platform, through what they call the “Kindle Select” program. That means the book is (during this experiment), not available through Apple Books or Leanpub.com — the experiment will last at least 90 days and I'll evaluate how it's going.

The Kindle book can still be purchased in the traditional way (well, you technically don't “own” them), but Practicing Lean is also now available through the “Kindle Unlimited” subscription service.

If you're a subscriber to Kindle Unlimited, you can now read Practicing Lean for free.

Publishers / authors of Kindle Unlimited books get paid based on the number of pages read, which is an interesting model. It's about half of a cent per page (which will also be donated to the Batz Foundation).

I also now get data on that (I added the book to Kindle Unlimited on January 17):

One other thing I was able to experiment with through Kindle Select is the ability to make the book available for free for up to 5 days (consecutively or over time).

I ran that experiment on January 21st, as I blogged about here. I was curious to see how many people would take advantage of this offer worldwide. In the book, there is an appeal for people to donate directly to the Batz Foundation, so I hope happy readers will consider that.

A total of 628 free copies were downloaded in the following countries:

I was also hoping that the exposure and promotion about Kindle Unlimited and the free day would lead to HIGHER sales of the paperback book (and possibly of the traditional eBook for people who aren't subscribed to Kindle Unlimited.

I think the run chart shows a clear increase in sales starting on January 17th. Will this turn out to be a temporary blip or a sustained shift upward? Only time will tell. And maybe I'll create a Process Behavior Chart, but I think this is a case where 90 days of data on a run chart tells a clear story.

A different report shows that there seems to be an increase in Kindle book sales (orange bars) — but not a corresponding spike in paperback sales (grey and red bars):

Unfortunately, I ran two experiments at the same time, which wasn't ideal in terms of understanding cause-and-effect relationships. Given the chance to do it again, I would have waited for 30 days of the Kindle Unlimited period before doing the free book day.

I call this a “small test of change” because I can always go back to the old way of doing things after 90 days. Based on what I've learned, I could try to repeat one or both experiments with Measures of Success.

The traditional publisher of my previous books is probably unwilling (or unable) to run such experiments, which is one reason why self publishing is great for me.

What do you think? Do you have any “voice of the customer” feedback to share on any of these changes?

Please post a comment and join the discussion. Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

1 Comment
  1. Mark Graban says

    Reader feedback via email:

    “This version actually appears better in MS-Outlook.

    It is properly sized to the available window, whereas the older version was over-sized needing to be resized (especially the images).

    A move for the better,”

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