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Our email marketing webinar with ConvertKit a few weeks ago was such a hit that we invited them back to create more content for you. In this post, Val Gleiser shows us 4 types of emails that every online course creator needs to know about to convert subscribers into customers. Take it away, Val!

When it comes to the laundry list of tasks that go along with “build and market a course”, sending emails is quite possibly the least sexy sounding of them all. But what if I told you that there are just 4 types of email marketing you need to be doing in your course launch sequence to see a massive impact on your sales? Selling more courses through your email marketing is, in fact, sexy because it means more money in your pocket and more people identifying YOU as the #1 expert in your niche.

Inside this article is not only an overview of those 4 types of email marketing plans but an actual blueprint of how to get it done. By the end, you’ll be armed and ready to tackle your next course launch email sequence and watch your marketing efforts go from so-so to sexy in no time flat.

Trust & Desire

When was the last time you bought anything from someone who you just didn’t trust? Probably never (or at least incredibly rarely). Trust is a crucial piece of any relationship and your relationship with your potential customers is no different. Before you do any selling, it’s time to build trust.

Now, trust building can be a slightly longer game so it’s time to plan ahead. If you run in guns blazing with a “YOU CAN TOTALLY TRUST ME BECAUSE I’M TELLING YOU I’M TRUSTWORTHY OKAY SO BUY MY COURSE PLEEEEAAAAASEEEEE”, it’s, um, not going to work. Depending on the length of your launch and your sales process, this could range anywhere from 3-5 (or even more) emails of trust building in your launch sequence.

Let’s use Nathan Barry’s book Authority as an example. Authority, if you aren’t familiar, is all about how to self-publish an ebook. Now this is a great example because Nathan doesn’t just sell an ebook with Authority, he has an entire package including video tutorials and interviews. Sound familiar? That’s right – Nathan’s “ebook” is actually a full-fledged course. But let’s start with the book.

So if you’re interested in Authority, Nathan offers a free chapter download right on the sales page.

email marketing for course creators

In that signup, there’s a pre-checked checkbox to get a free 30-day email sequence on writing and profiting from a self-published book. The likelihood is high that if you’re interested enough in Authority to download the free chapter, you also want in on that sequence.

Here’s the secret I’m going to let you in on now: within that 30-day sequence is the entire sales process for Authority. Ready to see how Nathan makes it happen? Let’s unpack it:

Remember that trust and desire bit? Well, Nathan starts off with it right away. His first 5 emails in the sequence are full of just that. He talks about how writing can be a lucrative career, pricing strategies for greater revenue, marketing your book, why launching matters, and more. Five entire emails dedicated to just helping, teaching, sharing with the reader.

email marketing for course creators

Are you more likely to buy from someone who has spent time sharing their hard-earned knowledge for free?

The Pitch

Since you’re setting up your email sequence to sell your course you’ve worked so hard on, it makes sense to actually pitch it. If you aren’t pitching your course, it’s just a hobby. To make a living off of your courses, you’ll want to sell to your email list and this part of the sequence is where that happens.

email marketing for course creators

The trick here is to not make it what I call a “ShamWOW sales pitch”. What I mean by that is it’s your job in this email to talk about your course, tell them what’s inside, and, most importantly, tell them why it matters. You can go several ways with this pitch – Nathan shares a sneak peek at the insides of his course by including a link to one of the guest interviews in his email sequence. Trust and desire? Check. Direct pitch? Yep. Here’s how he wraps the email:

email marketing for course creators


At this point in your course launch email sequence, you want to go back to providing value and educating. After all, if someone asks you to buy something from them and you don’t buy right away, do you want them to never talk to you again? I’m going to use my deductive reasoning powers here and assume that answer is no. The same is true for your audience. Keep educating and continuing to build trust and desire after you’ve done a hard pitch.

email marketing for course creators


A final piece that most course creators miss (but now you don’t have to!) is the down sell. This requires some more advanced automation but it’s the final piece of your email marketing puzzle.

First, a story:

About 10 minutes from my house is a strip of stores in a highly walkable and friendly area of town. There are coffee shops and bars, restaurants and condos. Mixed in with the food and drinks are some high(er) end boutiques. I recently popped into one of my favorite of these shops just browsing to see what they had in stock. I knew I loved their shop and they would certainly have something that would inspire me.

After talking to me a bit about my house and my style, the shop owner pointed me straight toward a Mid-Century Modern Queen bed frame I didn’t know I had to have. I fell in love instantly and texted pictures to my husband, all while planning how to fit it into my Honda CR-V and get it inside my house by myself. After saying “let me think about it” and then pacing around the store for a while, I left to get an iced coffee and walk around a bit more.

When I came back to the store, still undecided on my purchase, the owner grabbed a set of elephant shaped bookends and walked toward me. “I just unpacked these and thought you’d love them. No matter what you decide to do about the bed, these will work in your house either way. Oh, and these sheets with the subtle bamboo print carry that theme around the room if you use those bookends in the bedroom.”

He was right, of course, and I had my decision made for me. I’d leave the bed frame (since I already had a perfectly good one at home), and take the elephants and the sheets (which clearly fit quite well inside my CR-V).

So what does that in-person experience have to do with your course sales? Well, I experienced a down sell in that moment with the shop owner and your email marketing can do the same thing with your potential course buyers.

If you’re using a robust email marketing platform (like ConvertKit), you’ll have the ability to tag your customers as they move through your email sequence. You might have some people buy your course after email #1 whereas others will make it to #6 or #7 and still be wondering what they should do. Now’s your chance to swoop in with the down sell of your own version of bookends and sheets.

email marketing for course creators
tagging inside ConvertKit

After your launch ends, send a down sell offer to everyone who showed interest in your course but didn’t end up purchasing (those details will be indicated by tags that were created by clicks in the previous emails and upon purchase of your course). You could offer a lite version of the course, more payment options, or even a scaled back version of the full course.

Offering a down sell can add hundreds, if not thousands, to your bottom line. On top of that, you’ve now built a customer out of someone who wouldn’t have otherwise been one. And the saying in sales is true: It’s easier to keep an existing customer than to try to create a new one.

You better believe I’ve become a loyal customer of that shop with the ceramic elephant bookends and bamboo print sheets.

Now It’s Your Turn

Putting an email sequence together for your next course launch is simple now. You have the outline and the example, but more importantly, you know why it matters. With the four key elements in place – trust & desire, the pitch, education, and down selling – your email marketing for your next course will be off to a great start. And when you see your bottom line increasing because of your email marketing efforts, you might just decide to put email on the top of your list of favorite things for every course you launch from here on out.

Val Geisler is a yogi, mom, military wife, and avid podcast fan. She is ridiculously obsessed with sharing and creating content that actually makes a difference in the world, connecting with her fellow bloggers, and doing more with less effort.

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