10 tips for building a successful email marketing campaign for your online course

In our first article about email marketing we spoke about choosing the right platform, creating your email list, and the types of email campaigns you can use. Now we will go one step further and point out how you can build a successful marketing campaign in order to sell your online course.

1. Make your subject line stand out

Your subject line is the first thing your users see when they receive your email. It makes them decide whether or not to open the email You want to create an intriguing subject that will make your users both curious and excited, but don’t forget that it should be understandable as well. You can draw attention by asking a compelling question, including a deadline for urgency, or by using an enticing message. If you are promoting an online course about content writing, for example, you may want to make a subject line like: Make a Living through Writing. Even though you are selling an online course, you don’t have to sell the course in a direct manner. Try to be creative and state the value of your course in the subject line.

2. Personalize the body of the email

Remember that people do not like wordy or long emails. You should be concise; by doing so you can save some of your great content for your landing page. Use pictures, infographics, and icons to draw the attention of the reader. Try to practice creative writing before you send out your first email campaign. If you are an offline teacher, send your first campaign to some of your current students and get feedback. After you do this you will see how important it is to personalize your emails.

What do we mean by email personalization? Email personalization is done with several clicks from the email software that you use and it can make a big difference in your click-through rate. An example of email personalization is to address your users by their names. When you promote your online course and you want to send an email to say 200 students, you don’t need to type in the names of each one of them separately. With the right settings in your software you can easily send out personalized emails like, “Hello, John Smith or Hello, Jessica Wilson.” Through email personalization you can even send out different email content, offers, calls-to-action, etc. Read more about this great feature in this MailChimp blog.

And now we are back to the good old call-to-action buttons. No matter what kind of campaign you are sending out, you have to have a call-to-action button and send people to your landing page. Your CTA button should tell people what you want them to do with your email. One of the best places to put your button is at the point when your audience has read enough to be intrigued but doesn’t yet need to scroll down. Typically, placing it right after the intro paragraph leads to high click-through rates. Keep your reader focused on one action or choice and do not use multiple CTA buttons. Use bright colors that attract attention and that stand out from the rest of the email.

It is also good to use links that will direct your users to your website. Links help users access the information that they want. You can easily insert links to any word, call-to-action button, or word combination, no matter which email marketing software you use. However, it is extremely important to check every single link before you send the campaign and make sure that it leads to the correct place.

4. Pay attention to timing

As you will see once you start sending your email campaigns, your open rate will differ if you send them at different time periods. This is a normal outcome, but something that you need to know about. Once you get your email segmentation right, you will notice that you are targeting various types of groups. For example, let’s say that you want to launch an online course on business English. After you create your first email campaign for it, you will want to perform an A/B test to see when the best times to send it out are. With A/B testing you will be able to send out one campaign in two different time slots to see which one has higher open rates. A/B testing can be used for testing other crucial things such as email design, subject lines, call-to-action buttons, etc.

If you would like to gather some general information about the best time period to send an email campaign, check out these interesting results in a study conducted by MailChimp.

5. Automate your email marketing

Ok, we will admit that automating your email campaigns is a high level marketing tool, however, once you give it a try you will see how useful it is. As your online teaching business grows, you will have more and more customers and, respectively, more email campaigns to set up and operate. And here comes the time for an autoresponder.

So what is an autoresponder? It is a series of emails that are automatically sent to a specific segment of your email list triggered by a specific event that happened – newsletter registration, file download, browsing behavior, etc. You can create the content for these emails in advance and set up the autoresponder to send the emails whenever the event happens. The autoresponder helps you save time and turn your potential customers into real ones.

6. Optimize for mobile

According to studies, around 48% of the email campaigns used today are now being opened on mobile devices. You don’t want to miss out on this trend, right? One of the most important steps that you need to take in preparing your email campaign is to make it look good no matter on what kind of device it is opened. It is easy to do this with the use of responsive email templates, which every email software offers.

7. Add unsubscribe options

You should always include an unsubscribe option at the end of your email. Although people have personally signed up for your list, some of them may want to unsubscribe in the future and should have the option to do so. Including an unsubscribe option in your email campaign also decreases the chance for it to be considered as spam.

8. Preview and test before you send

Always preview and test your campaigns before you send them out. Most email software allows you to send out a test campaign to see what your users receive. Before you press the SEND button, go back and check every link, text, CTA message, etc. As you become more proficient and experienced with these tasks, you will be able to craft perfect email campaigns from the beginning and may not need to test them; however, until you feel confident in doing so, it is a good idea to test every campaign that you send out.

9. Be funny

Yes, no matter how serious the theme of your online course may be, you can inject some humor into your email campaigns. Humor is entertaining and it’s the best way to get something to stick in people’s minds. You don’t have to be a comedian to create something humorous; just think about what your users like or dislike. A simple way to use humor is to insert a funny picture into your email. For example, if you are just launching your course, you can include a cute picture of a crying baby.

10. Write like a friend

It is a fact that we live in a corporate world, however when you are addressing your users you should write like a friend. People want simple, yet personalized messages. That’s all they need to understand that you are not only doing business with them, but that you are also adding value to their lives.

That’s it! Email marketing is still one of the most successful marketing tools, so don’t underestimate it. If you are scared and do not know where to start from, here are some inspirational examples of successful campaigns.

Resources used:
25 Examples of Brilliant Email Campaigns
Insights from MailChimp’s Send Time Optimization System
14 A/B Testing Examples To Make Your Lead Generation Take Off (Updated)
5 Easy Steps To Creating Successful Emails

Related articles:

Tsvetelina Hristova is a marketing communication expert with over six years of professional experience. Her main focus is Digital Marketing and Brand Management. She has worked on diverse digital projects in the educational, entertainment and travel sectors. She has experience in managing marketing strategies and campaigns in Facebook, Google AdWords and MailChimp. Her passion is travel blogging.
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