Email marketing for Online Courses: 5 list-building secrets of the pros 🤫

♪ [music] ♪ It's every course creator's biggest fear You spend weeks or months pouring time and effort into building a course, and when you finally release it, crickets

Nobody buys It sucks and I know that because it's happened to me, too But as I learned many years ago, it's also completely avoidable with the right email marketing strategy When it comes to selling your online course, your email list is your number one most powerful asset Don't have one yet? No problem

We'll help you build one But first, I want to share something with you What is the number one best day of the week to send marketing emails? Think about it Take your time Have your answer? Great

I've asked this question to roomfuls of expert marketers, hundreds of them, and when I asked for the answer most of them will say Tuesday or Wednesday And it makes sense, right? On Monday, people are coming back in from the weekend and digging out a little bit, getting started By Thursday, people are in the full swing of things and they're productive They're not really paying attention to their inbox By Friday, everybody's checked out, and of course, you don't send marketing emails on the weekend

Well, let me show you the results of a study that HubSpot did on millions of marketing emails Here, the average open rates of those millions of marketing emails by day of the week That seems pretty crazy, right? Now, I don't tell you this to tell you to send emails on Sunday, that might not work for you I tell you this to give you an idea of how to take these "best practices" Take them all with a grain of salt because what worked for somebody else might not work for you

Sure, try the best practice, but try the exact opposite, too Play around with things The worst thing that can happen is that you learn from it, and the best thing that can happen is that you discover something that will transform your business And so with that, let's get into a few email list building tips The first thing you can do to build your email list is to create an irresistible lead magnet

Now, you've seen these when somebody offers you a checklist, or a template, or an eBook, or some kind of gift in exchange for your email address, in exchange for signing up for their list That's a standard lead magnet, but we're not talking about standard lead magnets We're talking about irresistible lead magnets I'll show you what I mean Back when I ran marketing at a company called Groove, we had an email signup form on our blog post that offered an eBook in exchange for an email address

Now, when we added this, conversions really increased We were converting 1% to 2% of our readers into subscribers before we put this form up After we started offering the eBook, conversions went to about 45%, so a really impressive increase, almost a three X increase in conversion rates However, that was a good lead magnet

What we tested next was an irresistible lead magnet You see, we created a blog post called <i>17 Email Scripts That Helped Us Grow Our Business For You To Steal</i> Now, the scripts in this blog post included everything from email outreach templates for marketing or hiring scripts, management scripts, really useful stuff Now, people could see the scripts They were screenshots

They were screenshots of the actual emails and people could see them, they could get inspired by them, they could even write them down by hand if they wanted to, but they couldn't just copy and paste them into their own emails, and so the lead magnet we offered on this blog post was this, "Grab all 17 email scripts for free in a PDF that you can copy and paste from" People were already getting value from this article, and this lead magnet offered to exponentially increase the value that they got from it Here's what conversion rates looked like on this lead magnet, 2169% Crazy

It more than quadrupled overnight just by creating a more irresistible lead magnet Now, the takeaway here is that your lead magnet should be directly related to the content that your visitor is already getting value from The more specific it is, the more irresistible it will be Some ideas for how you can do this include turning an old blog post into a PDF and offering that either on the same blog post, so the value add is you can take this blog post on the go, or you can offer it on top of another relevant blog post so that this PDF adds value to the existing blog You could create a checklist to help your readers execute on the strategies and tactics that you're outlining in the blog posts they're already reading

You could compile a list of related tips, you can use something like Canvas which lets you make it look good in a PDF or an image There are lots of ways to create added value with your lead magnets Just make sure to make them specific and related to the content your reader is already getting value from The second list building tip I want to share with you is to publish guest content You know, guest content can drive an incredible amount of traffic, if you do it correctly

And the reason it's so powerful is that you're exposing your business to an audience that may have never heard of you before, and you're doing it in the context of a publication that they already know and trust For us, that means that guest content is the number one source of new subscribers Now, this is important Doing guest content right actually creates value for the other publishers and their audience Nobody's doing you a favor by letting you guest post on their blog

A lot of people think, "You know, I feel bad asking" No, don't think that way because creating great content is actually really, really hard for publishers and they're under pressure to do it over, and over, and over again So, by delivering a piece of great content to a publisher, you're actually doing them a massive favor because that's one less piece that they have to create But success in guest blogging really just comes down to the pitch, and I'm going to show you exactly how to craft a great guest blogging pitch This is a real example of a pitch email that I've written to guest post on a massive, massive blog called Buffer

If you're into social media marketing, you've probably read their blog, and you might have even read our guest articles on it Let's go through this pitch and dissect it section by section so you can take what works and apply it The subject line is simple and the email goes like this "Hi, Courtney Hope all is well

I've been working on a blog post that I think will do really well and could potentially be a great fit for the Buffer blog I'd love to publish it there and help promote it to our 7K-plus subscribers We've recently published posts on the Kissmetrics and Shopify blogs Let me know if you want first crack at this one It's about some interesting results we found from testing story-driven posts on our blog

We tested two variants of the same article, one with a story-driven intro, the other without I expected the story-driven one to do better, but I was surprised by just how much better, 300%, it did This post tells that story and gives tips and strategies for easily weaving story and narrative into the readers' own content Mind if I send the post your way for review?" Now, what's important here? The first thing is that this is about them not you We're not opening the email with" Hey, I have a great guest post that I'd love to publish for you

" It's here's why this is going to be valuable for you Second, we have a compelling teaser for the article We're not coming to them with an open-ended idea like, "Hey, I'd love to publish a guest post for you Do you have any ideas or is there anything you're looking for content about?" No, we did our research We know what the Buffer blog tends to publish and what tends to do well there, and we've crafted a story idea just for them

Finally, this email has a clear call to action and it's not, "Here's the article, check it out" It's "Mind if I send the post your way for review?" Now, this might sound like a subtle difference, and it is, but it's actually really important We tested a number of different calls to action in these emails, and what we found was when we offer to send a link, rather than just linking to the article in the first email, people were far, far, far more likely to respond positively Now, here's why Asking if you can send over a link is actually a really, really small ask

You know, the person only has to say yes or no They don't have to spend 10 or 15 minutes reviewing a link that you've already sent, and in a lot of ways, it's actually a lot easier to say yes than no, because if you say no, people feel like they have to explain why And so it's an interesting bit of behavioral psychology that helps us create a better call to action because when somebody says yes to this, now when you send them the article, they've essentially already agreed to read it The third tactic I want to share with you is one that so many people overlook and ignore Here's what it is

Every email that you send is an opportunity to grow your list Here's why Every single email software allows for you to add a signature to the bottom of your email Think about how many emails you send in a day, whether it's to customers, partners, peers, whoever it is That's valuable real estate

That's the kind of real estate that companies love to pay to advertise on You have that real estate available to use for free, so make sure you put a call to action to sign up for your email list in every single email that you send This is really easy to do In Gmail, you can just go to the Settings tab and add a signature right there This will go on the bottom of every single email that you send

That's dozens, or hundreds, or maybe even thousands of opportunities to get new subscribers every week or month depending on how many emails that you send The fourth list building tip is to join social media groups There are social media groups for just about everything under the sun and joining them gives you access to engage audiences that are interested in the topics that you are selling products about Finding these groups can be really easy Just go to Facebook and type in the topic that you teach about and look at the groups tab

You'll see lots and lots of groups that congregate around your chosen topic You can do the same thing on Reddit Reddit has SubReddits for just about everything, or you can just search on Google with the word community or forum That should turn up lots of interesting results, too Like I said, there are groups for just about everything, but this is important

Don't just run in there, guns blazing, spamming everybody with your content or your products, okay? That's not going to work That's just going to make people angry and get you kicked out Take the time to really become a value adding member of the group Participate, answer questions, ask questions Don't link to your content just yet

Then you can start introducing your email list in really small ways Once you've been a member for a little while, if somebody asks a question that you've written an article about, you can say, "Hey, that's a great question I actually wrote an article about this about a year ago Here are a few bullet points that might help you, but if you want to read the whole thing, just hop over to this link here" And if you've already established yourself as a contributing member of the community, nobody's going to fault you for that, but remember to take the time and get initiated first

Here's a script that you can use whenever you join a new community or group Just introduce yourself and start interacting with the community This isn't a shortcut or a silver bullet This is a long game, but just like other long games, it'll pay off if you're willing to put in the work over time Another great way to build your list is to run a giveaway

You've probably seen these already, people offering prizes if you join their giveaway contest or if you join their sweepstakes, and they can work really, really well if you do them right All right, typically, you'll see lower-value subscribers, but you'll get higher numbers And the reason for that is you're not actually telling people to sign up to get value from your list, you're getting people to sign up because they want a prize And then the hope is that they then find value in your list So, statistically, the subscribers will tend to be of lower value, but you'll probably get higher numbers quickly

You can use a free tool for this like King Sumo It'll run your giveaways for you automatically, and it'll generate a winner And here's some important things to keep in mind Get creative with your prizes, books, tech gadgets, and tools, gift cards Here's what's really, really important

The gift must be uniquely valuable to your audience What does that mean? We're not giving away Amazon gift cards, or Visa gift cards, or something that is useful to everyone because if you give away something that's useful to everyone, then everyone's going to want it We want to qualify our entrance We want to make sure that people who are entering for our giveaway are uniquely qualified for our list And so, make sure that if you are giving something away, that it is uniquely valuable to your audience

If your audience has designers, give away books about design or gift cards that only designers would find useful Or if your audience is writers, give away writing tools or books This is the number one way that you can make sure that your giveaway entries stay high value and have a high chance of converting to being great email subscribers So to recap, there are five really, really powerful ways to build your email list that you can start with right now You can create an irresistible lead magnet, publish guest posts by pitching them the right way, using up that signature real estate that you have at the bottom of every email that you send, joining social media groups and playing the long game by getting initiated and becoming a value contributing member

And finally, running a giveaway, but making sure that your prize is uniquely valuable to your audience And remember, don't get married to the best practices Don't just read best practice articles and assume that everything holds true for you Let yourself have some fun with it Play around

The best thing that can possibly happen from ignoring best practices and trying the opposite of them is that you find something that turns your business around in the best possible way And the worst thing that can happen is that you learn from it Email Marketing continues to be the most effective channel for selling online courses, and your email list is your most valuable marketing asset, but don't get discouraged Everyone starts with zero subscribers The sooner you get to building, the sooner you'll have an audience to sell to

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