Email is an excellent channel for businesses that want to maximize the ROI from their marketing efforts. According to Econsultancy, 73% of companies rank email marketing as one of their top marketing methods.
Email is a great solution that allows businesses to collect email addresses for further contact. It also lets you deliver tons of value to your audience in a cost-efficient way. In fact, according to Wesley Cherisien, 90% of B2B marketers measure content success by email engagement.
One of the most effective ways for brands to use email in their marketing efforts is by offering an email course.
In this article, we take a look at seven simple steps to creating an effective email course for your business.
Should You Create an Email Course?
The simple answer to this question is: You probably should. By creating an email course, you will be able to help your subscribers solve a specific problem. Your emails will offer them exactly what they need just as they are looking for a solution to the issue they’re facing.
This means that with a well designed and well-timed email course, you will be providing the right message to the right people at the right time. This is one of the main reasons why email courses deliver such effective results.
It’s also why it’s a good idea to create an email course for your business.
Here are a few other reasons why you should consider creating an email course for your business:
Reason #1: You’ve Already Created Most of the Content
Creating an email autoresponder course for your business doesn’t have to be hard, particularly if you already have tons of content on your business website. There is no need to reinvent the wheel by trying to come up with some brand-new content that has never been seen before on the Internet.
You can make use of the content you already have on your blog because the truth is that most of your readers haven’t read everything that you have written. Even the ones who read a lot of content on your blog may not have read the posts in sequential order.
You can use your email course to group together important topics that are relevant and package them neatly for your readers’ convenience
Reasons #2: Keep in Regular Contact with Your Audience
When you send your readers an email course, the readers get to know you gradually, which means you won’t be forgotten.
Unlike offering something with a one-time connection, such as an ebook to download, where readers will download the book and then promptly forget who you are, an email course allows you to feed them high-quality content on a steady drip.
This keeps your business at the top of your reader’s mind.
Also, an email autoresponder is repetitive, which means that if you’re providing relevant, useful information, your content can quickly become a habit, and readers will grow comfortable (and eager) to hear your voice in your emails.
Reasons #3: Email Is a Great Place to Promote Your Other Projects
An email course will give you the opportunity to mention some of your latest projects that might be of interest to your subscribers.
Your course doesn’t have to be purely instructional. As long as you consistently provide your readers with great content, you will earn their attention, and they will be happy to hear about other products and services that can provide them with this much value as your course. On a side note, this post explaining how to price a service is very helpful if you’re in the midst of doing so.
The bottom line is that email courses are great and they work well to help you meet your business objectives, such as:
- Building a brand
- Generating leads
- Optimizing conversions
- Increasing sales
- Building brand advocacy
- … and so on.
Email courses are typically value-focused and free. They are designed to nurture your audience and guide them toward making a purchase. You can use your course in this way, but at other times it may make more sense to simply sell the course.
Oh, and email has a spectacular ROI:
Keep in mind, though email courses are great, choosing an online course platform and creating a course of any type is a great idea. Generally speaking, these courses are passive and allow your business to grow in revenue without your constant attention.
So without further ado, let’s get started on the seven steps to help you create an awesome email course.
1) Choose a Course Topic
Your first step in creating an email course is to choose a topic. There is a myriad of topics you can choose from, but do your best to choose something that you either enjoy or have experience in.
If you already know who your target audience is, then this part will be easy. If you don’t yet have a clear understanding of your ideal audience, here are a few different ways you can find out what your readers want to learn more about:
Get Insights from Your Analytics: A simple tool like Google Analytics will give you all the information you need about the specific people who visit your site. It will show you:
- How people find your website
- Why they visit your site
- How they behave on your site
- …and so on.
For instance, the metric that shows you how much time people are spending on each page on average (which you can find by navigating to Behavior > Overview > Avg. Time on Page) is helpful in helping you determine the type of content that your audience is most likely to appreciate.
Take a Look at Your Social Media: Your social networks are another great way to learn about the needs of your readers.
- Which of your blog posts are shared most often?
- Which hashtags do your social media followers use?
- What conversations are being had on social media pertaining to your business, industry, or competitors?
By answering these and other similar questions, you will be able to come up with a few more ideas for the types of topics that will work great for your email course.
Ask Your Readers: One of the absolute best ways to find out what your readers want to learn more about is to simply ask them directly if there’s a topic they want to know more about.
You can either ask them in emails or use a survey on your blog or on social media. Make a list of the topics that come up most often as possible topics for your email course.
I recently did this myself and had a very interesting outcome. On my blog, I teach people how to create and grow online businesses. When I asked my followers what business model they were interested in, many of them (surprisingly) stated that retail arbitrage would be a great topic.
Though I haven’t created a course just yet, I do intend on doing so in the future to keep my readers happy.
2) Decide on Course Outcomes
Before you begin outlining the course, decide what the course outcomes are. It’s good to have 3-5 main outcomes that you can convey to students and explain as a way to fix problems.
The intention of a learning outcome is to give learners a clear idea of what to expect to achieve at the conclusion of your email course.
So, you need to describe the skills, knowledge, and the application of the knowledge and skills that your subscribers will have acquired after successfully completing your online course.
The course outcomes that you decide on should align with the main course components of the content and learning activities. Basically, what will your students be able to do after going through your email course that they didn’t know before?
For instance, if you are offering an art course, then one of your learning outcomes might be: “Students will be able to identify the characteristics of art from other cultures”, or something like that.
And keep in mind that your email course doesn’t have to cover every aspect of your topic, so you can just stick with a few of the most important subtopics. Once you’ve decided which ones are vital to your course, you can then build your entire course around them.
3) Outline Your Course
Your next step is to create a detailed outline for your course so you know what’s needed from start to finish. Also, this will help you ensure that the sequence of your course will work well for your students.
Here are some rules to follow when creating a course outline:
- Rule #1: Use As Few Steps As Possible: Your course is a means to bridge the gap between your student’s starting point and their desired result. Do your best to do so using the least number of steps that you can so as to avoid overwhelming your learners.
- Rule #2: Don’t Overuse Supplemental Details and Background Facts: Some course creators try to establish their authority on the subject by including every detail they can think of. You don’t have to do that, otherwise, you risk overloading your learners with information, resulting in analysis paralysis.
- Rule #3: Start with the End in Mind: You’ve already set the learning objectives for your course. Now that you know the precise outcomes you want your learners to experience, you can use that information to create an effective outline for your email course.
When outlining your email course, you have to decide how long the course should be, as well as the intervals between the emails you send.
Many articles online advocate for a course length of between 5 and 14 days. For instance, “7 Days to Better X” (or something similar). You will then send the course out over a period of several days. This type of structure tends to work well for lead cultivation and information products.
The length of your email course may depend on your business’s typical sales cycle. If you have a particularly long sales cycle, you may choose to extend either the length or intervals of your emails (or both) to accommodate the longer sales cycle.
Another factor that might influence the length or duration of your course is the time required to digest its contents and take action.
If your course requires the implementation of time between email lessons (such as a course on how to use LinkedIn automation tools or packaging design), you will obviously have to give the subscribers enough time to take action on the previous lesson before sending the next one.
Below is an example to give you a general idea of how to go about creating a course outline:
Step #1: What Are the Major Steps Necessary?
Make a note of each of the major steps that are necessary to achieve the goal. For instance, if your course is designed to teach students about catching saltwater fish, some of the major steps in achieving that goal may look like this:
These are just the fundamental steps, and your next step would be to create the action steps that are required to help learners successfully achieve each major step.
Step #2: What Are the Action Steps to Achieve Each Major Step?
During this step, you need to create the action steps for each of the steps above. So, for instance, “purchasing the proper tackle” might include information on how to select the right tackle, as in the example below:
Step #3: What are the Knowledge Steps Needed for Each of the Tasks?
If you decided to create a lesson on the proper rod length to choose, you may want to explain the following:
Once you’re done with your outline, you are now ready to begin creating the content for your course.
4) Create the Course Content
Now comes the fun part – actually creating the content for your course. All you have to do is fill in your outline and add details to each point according to your lesson objectives.
As previously mentioned, you can use content that you already have on your blog. But, whether you are creating content from scratch or using existing content from your blog, you can follow the guidelines below to help you craft high-quality content that will provide your learners with tons of value.
Focus on One Part at a Time: When creating your content, focus only on one part at a time in order to avoid blending your lessons.
Meet Each Lesson Outcome: Each lesson should have an outcome and you need to focus on meeting that outcome for the student.
Keep Your Content Short and Snackable: When it comes to email courses, shorter copy is more powerful.
Longer copy is acceptable, but make sure you break up the copy by using whitespace and other formatting best practices, such as bullet points, lists, headers, short paragraphs, and images to help make your content easier for subscribers to digest. As you would with anything you write, make sure you check your grammar before you release the course into the public.
If you want to speed up the process, you can use an online proofing tool for a little help. I’ve done this myself and found these tools instrumental in my success.
5) Decide How to Deliver Your Course
As a course creator, you need to decide how to deliver the course by choosing a platform that works for you. You can either deliver your email course through broadcast emails or an autoresponder.
Broadcast emails are emails that you send to your main list where you are either nurturing the relationship with the subscriber or promoting something. You can send your business email course as a broadcast email to maintain regular contact with your customers and prospects and keep your brand top of mind.
Alternatively, you can use autoresponders. Autoresponder emails are emails that are sent to each of your subscribers based on specific triggers, such as when they signed up for your course, and so on.
This means that, unlike broadcast emails, everyone won’t be getting the same email at the same time. Instead, users will receive emails depending on when they signed up, or any other triggers that you choose to use according to their progress in the course.
Autoresponder emails are my preferred method of delivering an email course.
6) Sell Your Product/Service
Near the end of your course, you need to focus on the upsell of your course. This is where you will be selling your product or service.
If you have ever signed up for an email course, then you know that they typically have an upsell toward the end. If you intend to maximize the results from your course creation efforts, this is something that you should do, too.
But, keep in mind that you must save this for when students are nearing the end of your course.
Although you don’t want to miss this opportunity to transform content marketing funnel leads into warm, nurtured subscribers who are ready to buy your product, the last thing you want to do is to spend the entire email course selling your product or service.
So make sure that you spend the majority of the course selling you readers on your idea first, and moving them through value-packed content to build their trust in you and create demand.
You can then use the last two emails of your course to provide the solution.
So your email course structure may look like this:
Also, a helpful hint from my own experience, make sure that you have some type of live chat on your website. Doing so will give visitors someone to always talk to when they have questions and I promise you, they’ll have more questions than you think.
7) Continue Your Relationship
Now that everything is done, it’s time to relax, right? Wrong.
You have gotten this far, and you don’t want to waste the contact. You need to keep the momentum going. There are a few different ways you can go about this, depending on whether or not the user has made a sale.
If they have purchased your product, you can then push them into another path. If they are yet to become a paying customer, create a different path where you can nurture them and encourage them to purchase your product. The point here is to maintain contact and keep extending the relationship.
A way that I do this myself is by pushing them to my YouTube channel for them to continually engage with my content. Not only is this a great way to grow my relationship with them and build trust, but YouTube makes extra money for me because of the ad revenue, which is a pretty passive income stream.
And now we are at the end of this guide on how to create an email course in 7 steps. You now have everything you need to know to help you create an effective email course. Get started right now putting together a high-quality, informative course that your audience will love.
By following each of the steps outlined in this article, you will be able to enjoy the many benefits offered by email marketing to help you grow your business.
Explore how to create email newsletters with Get a Newsletter and start reaching out with your email cources.
Did I cover everything? Is there a step in creating an email course that I missed? Let me know in the comments section below!
Ron Stefanski is a marketing professor and online entrepreneur who’s passionate about helping people create and market their own online business. You can learn more from him by visiting OneHourProfessor.com