Getting started with email marketing

Did you know that there are three times as many email accounts than the number of Facebook and Twitter accounts combined? Yes, email marketing is a really powerful marketing channel and has the highest return on investment out of all of the available marketing channels. But before we show you how you can use it to promote your online course, let’s first define what we mean by the term email marketing.

What is email marketing

Email marketing is the use of email to promote products and/or services. It is a way to execute your online marketing strategy. Email marketing is the same as direct marketing, except that it is sent electronically and it helps you build a stronger relationship with your customers

Creating your first email marketing campaign

Define your goals

Just like any other marketing channel, before you use email marketing you should first define your goals and know what you want to achieve. There are different marketing objectives that you may want to achieve through email marketing. You may want to drive more traffic to your website or blog, you may want to grow your email list, or you may want to sell a course. Defining your goal in advance will help you choose the type of email you are going to send, the people you are going to send it to, and the content of the email itself.

Choose the platform

There are many email service providers out there to choose from. Here are some things to look for during your selection process:

  • Easy to use – You should be able to easily manage your email lists, contacts, email templates, etc.
  • Tracking and reporting – In order to estimate the results of your email campaigns, your email platform should also provide easy to access and use reports and tracking.
  • Built-in social media tools – If your email platform is well integrated with social media, you should be able to easily add social media buttons and share your campaign on social media.
  • Training, resources, and support – Take note of the resources that the email platform provides. You will definitely need a lot of support during the start-up period and it will be great for you to choose a platform that provides free trainings and that has a blog, an informative section, and reliable support.
  • Free trial period – Most of the email platforms have free trial periods. We advise you to test two or three of them and use those trial periods to test the pros and cons of the provider.
  • Pricing – Once you grow your email list and start using email campaigns more often, you will have to convert to a paid account. Therefore, you might want to compare the pricing policies of other platforms as well.

Here is a list of the best email marketing service providers to look at:

Grow your email list

Once you have set your goals and have chosen your email platform, it’s time to grow your email list. Unfortunately, this is not that easy. If you want people to sign in and provide you with their email address, you should think of a strategy to earn this information. It will not work if you only put an optiоn form on your website saying “Enter your email for updates.”

Most people give something away for free when they start building an email list. You may want to offer them a discount for your online course, a free spot in your webinar, an e-book, or a PDF guide. But remember to have a clear call-to-action and make sure that your customers know what they are providing their email for.

Some of the best places to put an optiоn form on your website are:

  • In the header of your website
  • On a splash page
  • In a scroll box
  • On your about page
  • In your footer
  • Within your blog posts
  • In your sidebar
  • On a designated sign-up page
  • In an exit intent pop-up

The contacts you gather will automatically be stored in your email marketing platform. If you have emails that you have gathered offline, you can also add them to your email list after organizing them in a proper file format.

Remember to be creative in the call-to-action message, use your social media profiles to get people to sign up, and use all of your online tools for gathering email lists.

Segment your email list

No matter how large your email list may be, it will not be effective unless you use proper segmentation. Email list segmentation is the process of splitting your subscribers into smaller groups based on specific criteria. For example, you may want to use separate email lists for the different courses you offer, or you may want to divide the people who subscribed to receive promo offers from those who wanted to receive your monthly newsletter.

Segmenting your email list helps you deliver the right content to the right people. It will also help you significantly increase your open and engagement rates.

Select the type of email you want to send

Based on the goal that you want to achieve, you will have the chance to send different types of email campaigns.

  • Newsletter – This is a regularly distributed informative email campaign. It is usually sent out monthly and is devoted to a specific topic. It is the most used type of campaign when you want to keep in touch with your existing customers and inform them about interesting things that are happening around your business.
  • Marketing offers – As the name suggests, with this type of campaign you want people to take action and sign up for your online course. These offers can be a discount offer or a combined offer for one or more of your courses and should include a direct call-to-action for people to go to your website and sign up.
  • Event invitation – If you organize an offline event to promote your course, you may also send out event invitation emails to increase awareness and encourage people to attend.
  • Announcement – With announcement campaigns you can inform your subscribers about new courses that you are going to launch, new dates for an existing course, new course materials, etc.

Create your first campaign

After you have your email list ready and you have selected the type of campaign that you are going to use, you are ready to set up your first email campaign. Most of the platforms that we have suggested are really easy to use and with their drag-and-drop features you will be able to create your campaigns in minutes. However, there are several things that you may want to keep in mind as you go through this process:

  • Make an easy to read email – Even your most devoted subscribers will only look at your email for seconds. That’s why you should structure your email so that it is easy to read. Avoid writing long text articles. Instead create “pyramid model emails” that drive people to action. Pyramid model emails contain eye-catching headlines that deliver the key message, as well as key visuals and a short text; finally, the reader is presented with a clear call-to-action.
  • Send the right content to the right people – As we mentioned above, it is extremely important to send relevant emails and offers to your different segmented lists.
  • Ensure brand identity is met – Your email campaigns will also drive traffic to your website, social media channels, blog, etc. That’s why we suggest that your email campaigns are aligned with the colors, fonts, and branding that you also use on your website.
  • Make it easy to convert – Make your campaigns optimized for all devices, use a clear call-to-action, and avoid long paragraphs that are filled with text only.
  • Get whitelisted – Even if your subscribers personally signed up for your email campaigns, they may still not get your emails. This can happen because their email server blocks your emails or marks them as spam. In order to avoid this, you have to make sure that you get whitelisted. Simply put, this is the process that occurs when your subscribers add your email to their address book. This is the most effective way to make sure your emails are delivered properly. If you want this to happen, you should provide clear instructions to your subscribers so that they know how to do this. You can position the instructions at the top or at the bottom of your email.

Measure results

Just like with every marketing campaign, you also need to track the results of your email marketing campaigns. You can do this by using the tracking tools in your email platform and through your Google Analytics account. Some of the key metrics that you may look at are:

  • Number of unique opens – the number of unique subscribers who opened your email
  • Number of bounces – the number of email addresses to which your campaign was not delivered
  • Click-through-rate – the percentage of people who opened your email and clicked on a link in it
  • Number of unopened emails – the percentage of people who did not open your email
  • Unsubscribed customers – people who unsubscribed from future emails
  • Spam complaints – people who marked your email as spam
  • Shares – the number of people who forwarded your campaign to a friend

After going over the basic information that you need to know about email marketing in order to use it for promoting your online courses, we will talk more about how to create a successful email marketing campaign in our next article – do not miss it.

Resources used:

  1. A Beginner’s Guide To Successful Email Marketing
  2. Email Marketing Made Simple: A Step-By-Step Guide (UPDATED)



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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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For the past nine years we have been providing a platform purpose-built for education.
VEDAMO Virtual Classroom
For the past nine years we have been providing a platform purpose-built for education.