Email marketing tips to promote your e-learning course (With examples)

Developing e-learning materials can be costlier than preparing its real-world counterparts due to the extensive multimedia and interactive technologies involved. Nonetheless, e-learning can help you reach a broader target audience with a little help from the internet.

If you are independently running an e-learning course, you aren’t only the course designer-cum-tutor, but also responsible for marketing, lead gen and sales. I understand that email may not be your preferred marketing channel; it might even be your final resort. If that’s the case then it’s time we clear the slate for you. Let’s take a look at some tips and examples to help you effectively promote your e-learning course through email marketing.

Why does your eLearning course business need an email list?

Before we examine email marketing for e-learning, you might be wondering how you can reach a broad target audience if you don’t have a list of email IDs, to begin with?

The answer is straightforward, and it’s to build your mailing list from the ground-up. Although it sounds like a tedious process, you must know that it’s also fruitful and profitable.  Learn more about email lists.

When you build an email list, you can communicate with your audience directly, unlike Youtube, Twitter, Facebook, and other platforms that you DO NOT own. Even if you manage to build a massive interest in your course on these platforms, you need to redirect them to your website and, ultimately, communicate with them via emails. This is the foundation of permission marketing.

Seth Godin quote on Permission Marketing

(Link)

How can you grow your eLearning course email list?

1. Invest in an email marketing tool

Sign-up for an email marketing software to promote your e-learning courses. It helps you reach wider audiences faster and with little effort. And if you think investing in an email marketing tool is expensive, you might want to consider that it also has a high ROI. 

To give you an example, let’s say you have 1000 subscribers on your email list, and you send them 5 emails per month on average. If you have a budget-friendly tool, you’ll pay around $49 to send these emails.

49$ / 5000 = $0.0098 per email 

It doesn’t even add up to cost you a cent for an email. This is significantly lesser than spending on cost-per-click ads on Google or YouTube.

In a report by Direct Marketing Association, email marketing has an ROI of almost $41 per dollar spent which is far ahead of other channels like mobile($10.51), social media($12.71) and search($22.24).

2. Create lead magnets

A lead magnet is a valuable resource you offer to your audience in exchange for their contact information.

When visitors come across a resource on your website that’s extremely helpful to them, they will readily exchange their phone number or email ID for it. Lead magnets that are relevant to your course are a great way of capturing leads to send emails sometime in the future when you do intend to pitch your e-learning course. 

Here’s a lead magnet I came across on a photography e-learning portal. It asks visitors for their email ID in exchange for a 7-step training video on “How to never take a blurry photo again.”

Lead magnet example for a photography course

(Source)

The most common types of lead magnets that you can include on your website are:

  • Free tool or resource guide
  • Checklist or cheat sheet
  • White paper or industry report
  • Video training
  • Free course (video or email)
  • Case study
  • Ebook or PDF guide

Email marketing for e-learning

But, of course, an eLearning course sale doesn’t happen after a single email. You’d have to align email marketing with your buyer’s journey.

What is the course buyer’s journey?

Before your subscriber becomes your customer, they have to go through each one of the stages shown below.

Note: I wrote this blog from a photography course tutor’s perspective throughout the blog. Your course subject will most definitely vary, but the process of achieving conversions remains the same.

  1. Awareness– A subscriber realizes that they aren’t familiar with a subject. E.g., A prospect identifies that he isn’t familiar with professional photography techniques.
  2. Consideration– The person then considers various options to overcome this problem. He weighs differents alternatives- e.g., e-learning courses, private coaching, or real-time workshops.
  3. Decision– Finally, they decide on a specific solution to overcome his unfamiliarity. In your case, the student would pick your e-learning course on Photography for beginners.

How to align email marketing with your target buyer’s journey?

Sending out the right emails that are highly personalized is like having a one-on-one conversation with your prospect in the real world. Come up with an email marketing strategy for your business by considering the following- 

  1. The type of emails
  2. The total number of emails for each stage
  3. The email send frequency

Here’s a sample drip campaign I ideated for a beginner’s course on photography:

Email marketing strategy for e-learning course

Now, let’s breakdown the email sequence for my example:

Email 1: Getting your buyer’s attention

The first email in the awareness stage would get them to think about their problem, which could be an unfamiliarity or weakness in a(your) subject. 

  • It narrates a story, and humans love stories.
  • It highlights a problem and its impact on the reader’s life.
  • It gives them a hint that you are going to solve their problem for them.
  • It is extremely engaging.
  • It most definitely ISN’T a sales pitch.

Emotional branding can be over 50% more effective than a non-emotionally targeted advertisement. (Link)

Email 2: Gaining your reader’s trust

Now that your readers have identified their problem, you need to help them take the first step towards overcoming it while assuring them that YOU can help them solve it.

If you need your readers to trust you, write them an honest email that’s driven by insights. Throw in a bunch of personal experiences, some astonishing facts to craft the email. You don’t have to pitch your course yet. You could instead provide links to your work, which could be a blog, video, podcast, et al.

Email 3: It’s pitching time 

It’s the perfect time to land the pitch since your audience connects with you better and might have even replied to one of your older emails. 

Write an email about your course and how they can benefit from it. You don’t have to write it any different this time. As always, keep it personal.

Email marketing campaign #2 for e-learning

Email 4- Reading your readers’ minds

You just made your first pitch, and if one your prospects purchased your course, then that’s a big deal. Because most times, prospects would need a significant amount of time to make a decision. Put yourself on the other side of your first email. Would you immediately invest your time and money in the course without thinking it through? I think not.

Let’s get back into the writer’s shoes and create the fourth email. This one’s easy. You have to compile a bunch of questions your readers might be having after the previous email and then answer it for them!

Here’s what I would send:

Email marketing campaign #4 for e-learning

Email 5: The final act

This one last email is to give your readers the final nudge. If they haven’t purchased your course yet, there’s a good chance they are pondering over it. A good tip here is to write an email that builds a sense of urgency in your prospect. It’s to instill in them, the impact of the “problem” if ignored any further. 

So, here goes–

Email marketing campaign #5 for e-learning

And that’s the end of my five-step email sequence. I really hope this inspired blog inspired you to ideate a killer email marketing strategy that’s aligned to your course buyer’s journey.

And, while you are it, here’s an assignment for you: share some of the best email copies you have sent as a part of your email campaign. Mail them to me at angela.rose@freshworks.com.

Wait, what happens to those who didn’t purchase?

However convincing you are, not everyone can be won over. But, it doesn’t mean your subscriber might not end up purchasing your course sometime later when they need it. Create a list of “non-buyers” who haven’t purchased since your email marketing strategy went live. Include them in a drip campaign that nudges them every once-in-a-while, to keep your course on top of their mind. What do you have to lose as long as they don’t unsubscribe?