5 types of lifecycle email marketing campaigns | Thinkific

Right now, we are witnessing some of the most incredible shifts in the field of education with the continued growth of online education. This increase in online course enrollment means that you, an online educator, have an incredible opportunity to grow your online teaching business.

But just because online course enrollment is up doesn’t mean that enrollment is your courses will be. Increasing registrations and boosting revenue is a process that all online course creators need to learn. Creating a great course is just step one. Marketing your course is step two. 

Without the use of advanced marketing tactics, you run the risk of being drowned out among a growing market of online courses. You need a strategy to attract, retain, and build relationships with your students. In this post, I’m going to look at how you can use a specific type of marketing – known as lifecycle email marketing – to increase your course registrations and engagement. 

How to use lifecycle #emailmarketing to increase your #onlinecourse registrations and engagement. @CJGiarratana Click To Tweet

An Introduction To Lifecycle Email Marketing

There’s a lot of untapped potential in email marketing for your online education courses. Lifecycle email is a massive opportunity that will help you onboard new registered customers, earn trust to build your brand, and increase engagement. 

Here are the 5 different types of lifestyle emails we’re going to cover:

  1. Onboarding emails
  2. Subscriber emails
  3. Promotional emails
  4. Transactional emails
  5. Behavioral emails

Lifecycle emails are automated emails that are sent based on appropriate, contextual position of your audience. Since these emails are triggered based on actions of your audience, they are a welcome presence in the inbox of your community. Instead of annoying your readers, your message is received and increases the desired action.

Here are a few ways you can use lifecycle emails to increase registrations, build a relationship with your customers, and boost sales.

1. Welcome Emails

Getting your audience to sign up is only half the battle because now you need to build a strong relationship with your customers through an efficient email onboarding strategy. As a set of automated emails, these messages have a few primary purposes:

  • Education about the course once registration is complete.
  • Introduce yourself to begin a personal relationship.
  • Set expectations about the upcoming course.
  • Provide additional materials like your blog, ebooks, and webinars.
  • Invite your audience to connect with you on social media.

Welcome emails are meant to kick-start the relationship with your audience and help them get comfortable with you and your course. Sent immediately after someone registers for your course, these emails usually have a call to action to encourage recipients to follow you on social media. This is important because you will improve retention rates and add value to your courses if you get your audience excited about your course and connect with them on a personal level.

Welcome emails are meant to kick-start the relationship with your audience. #emailmarketing #teachonline Click To Tweet

2. Introduce Users To Other Education Material

Once someone registers for your course, you should offer them additional materials that will help them excel in your online program. Since people who register for your online course already trust and respect your opinion on the topic, you should provide information about other content you offer outside of your Thinkific course.

If you are looking to maximize the impact of this email, then you should be sure to focus on the value for your customer. Don’t make this type of email too salesy and use core writing tactics, because people will see your intent and distrust you if you only look to sell them on your content.

Here are a few ideas for educational material that you could promote:

  • Your personal blog/website
  • Relevant eBooks you offer on the topic of interest
  • A published book
  • One-on-one/Skype consultation sessions
  • Online webinars
  • Q&A sessions for registered users

This email should be sent several days after someone registers for your online course because this gives them enough time to invest themselves into the coursework and trust you. The way you write this email depends on which products and services you are promoting. I recommend providing a “soft-sell” product or service for your first email.

An excellent way to offer additional value with your online program is to provide Skype consultations or webinars. These showcase your knowledge and help build a personalized relationship with your audience. In turn, your audience will trust you more and be more inclined to engage and purchase additional products/services from you.

3. The Targeted Offer Email

As you build a relationship with each one of your customers, you will begin to see patterns and interest levels in various subjects. Target your subscribers based on these patterns by customizing targeted offers based on their interests and needs.

The most common types of targeted offer emails include holiday discounts, sales email, and upgrade emails. You can send your customers promotional discounts around holidays through limited time discounts. I also recommend using emails to promote specific content that will encourage a segment of your subscribers to share your content with their friends. By offering incentives for sharing, you open new doors to their network of friends who are likely to be interested in the material you offer. This approach will increase registration rates and boost sales.

4. Post-Course Completion

Immediately after someone finishes your online course, you need to send an email with a congratulatory message. This email could provide a customized certificate of completion, and ways to share their achievement online with their friends. This email should ask them to share their success with their community, and invite them to ask you questions about the course. 

I also recommend sending a promotional email a few days after someone completes your course. The primary purpose of this follow up email is to invite the subscriber to continue learning about the topic.

Your call to action could include:

  • Sign up for the next course you offer
  • Download a guide on the course subject they completed
  • Schedule a personal consultation session
  • Buy your ebook or other premium content offered on your website

The post-course completion drip campaign is designed to get your subscribers to share your course online with their network and purchase additional services that you offer. Timing is key for this stage of lifecycle email marketing, so be sure to experiment to see what frequency produces the best results.

5. 2-4 Week Drip Campaign

Communication with your customers should be on-going effort even after they complete your course. Setting up a 2-week drip campaign will help you maintain your relationship and keep your services top of mind.

You don’t want to overload your drip campaign emails with too many call to actions, so make sure you kept them focused and specific in each message you send. A few ideas you can use for your drip campaign includes:

  • Send a satisfaction survey to gather feedback
  • Ask your customers to write a testimonial on your Thinkific course
  • Offer customized educational literature from your blog

I recommend sending out the first email in the drip campaign about two weeks after someone completes your course. This email should ask recipients for feedback through an online survey.

After the two-week email is sent, your subscribers should receive monthly drip campaign emails. These emails should focus on maintaining the relationship you worked so hard to build. Every month you can send your customers updates, exclusive deals, and notifications about new online courses you are launching.

By sending out consistent emails, you will be able to increase engagement and registrations for new courses you are developing!

Sending consistent emails to your students helps increase engagement and registration for new courses. #emailmarketing Click To Tweet

Leveraging Lifecycle Emails For Your Programs

Your online programs offer value and opportunities for your audience. Since you put a lot of time and energy to make each one of your courses, you should to use email marketing to increase your impact and grow registrations.

Lifecycle email marketing offers unmatched personalization to drive relevant content to your audience. Increase registrations for your courses, extend the reach of your brand, and boost sales of other educational material, products, and services you offer. Use every marketing tool you can to ensure your courses are a success!


Chris Giarratana is a digital marketing consultant who works with small business and nonprofits. He helps drive conversions and boost sales through SEO Copywriting, Email Marketing, and Landing Page Optimization.

Create and sell online courses with Thinkific

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