Heights Platform 18 Email Marketing Best Practices For Online Course Creators

18 Email Marketing Best Practices For Online Course Creators

9 minute read

Email marketing can be a powerful ally in promoting your online course. But for email marketing to work and drive results, it needs to be done right.

Your subject line, email copy, the way you gain your contacts and more can impact the success of your email campaigns. Making sure you get everything right seems like an impossible task.

Don't worry. Keep reading below to find out what are our 18 email marketing best practice tips for online course creators and learn how to use email marketing to your advantage when promoting your online knowledge business.

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#1: Send Valuable Content

Needless to say, email marketing only works when recipients actually open the emails and read through the content.

So you should give them a reason to open your emails. If you are an online course creator, your main selling point is your knowledge. This is what your business is built upon and the reason why customers buy from you: they want to learn what you know!

Offering valuable insights in your emails is so important, here is why:

  • It gives recipients an incentive to open your emails: if you make it a habit, your contacts will associate your emails with receiving valuable content and will be excited to read it!
  • It helps you prove your expertise: by showing off your knowledge you will position yourself as an expert in your niche and your customers will feel confident purchasing your online course in the future
  • It increases email deliverability and open rates: when your contacts open your emails and click on your links, it can improve your deliverability and show email providers that your emails are not spam.
  • You'll get better results when you send a sales email: even if you are not asking your contacts to buy from you, sending valuable content can help you prepare the ground for your next sales email.

#2: Be Transparent About Newsletter Sign-Ups

The way you add new contacts to your email list also plays an important role. It is good practice to make sure that your contacts know when they are signing up for your newsletter and agree to receive emails from you.

email marketing done right

If your contacts are happy to be part of your mailing list, you'll get fewer unsubscribe requests and you won't run the risk of being marked as spam, which can reduce your deliverability.

#3: Make it Easy to Unsubscribe

When contacts unsubscribe from your newsletter, it is not the end of the world. Instead, it can actually be better for you.

You don't want to have contacts on your list who are not happy to be there. So make it easy for people to unsubscribe by always adding the option in each campaign you send.

email marketing best practices online course

If you have multiple campaigns or automation set up, you might want to make sure that your contacts know what they are unsubscribing from. You can offer to option to unsubscribe from all emails from you, or from a single list and keep receiving other types of emails from you.

#4: Segment Your Contacts

Segmenting your contacts means diving them into groups according to what they have in common. Depending on what you are trying to achieve with email marketing, you might segment your contacts one way or another.

Why segmenting email contacts is important? By doing so, you can personalize your emails even more than simply writing their first name.

You can make sure you are sending content that is relevant to that type of customer and will resonate with them. Segmenting your contacts allows you to create better-targeted email campaigns and avoid bothering them with promotions that aren’t interesting to them.

Here are some examples of criteria you can use to segment your contacts

  • Demographics.
  • Purchase history.
  • Average purchase amount.
  • Browsing behavior/interests.
  • Engagement level, activity on your site or inactivity.
  • Email preferences.

#5: Keep Your Branding Consistent

Another tip to improve the user experience with your email marketing is to design your email in a way that is consistent with your brand style.

Don't forget to upload your logo, use the same colors and design style as your brand. This can help

your contacts immediately recognize their email and easily grab their attention.

Most email software out there lets you customize the design of your email newsletter and even create reusable templates with your logo, colors and fonts set up so you are ready to go!

#6: Grow Your Email List Organically

If you don't have any contacts on your mailing list yet, or you want to increase their number, you might think that purchasing leads can help you grow faster.

The success of email marketing depends on your open rate: if your contacts are bought, it will negatively impact your performance. Not to mention that buying email contacts goes against the GDPR regulations in European countries and the CAN-SPAM Act in the US, which require your contacts to consent to any future communication.

So buying contacts is not only a bad idea for your marketing performance and open rate, but it can also get you into trouble.

Instead, focus on growing your email list organically by promoting your newsletter, setting up a place for website visitors to sign up for your newsletter, offering lead magnets and rewards in exchange for contacts information and so on.

If you are interested in growing your contact list organically, check out this article from our blog: 7 Proven List-Building Strategies for Online Course Creators to Grow Your Email List

#7: Avoid No-Reply Emails

You want your contacts not only to receive and open your emails but to engage with you and start a conversation.

You can incentivize recipients to reply to your emails by letting them know how to contact you if they have any questions. So this means avoiding "No-Reply" emails.

Sending no-reply emails can potentially cause your email to be caught in a spam filter, which will block your email from being delivered at all. This practice also goes against GDPR and CAN-SPAM regulations, not to mention it can look bad in the eyes of the recipients and hinder any future interaction.

Sometimes businesses send no-reply emails because they want to streamline all communications to be sent to a specific email address. Depending on what email software you are using, you can set a different reply address, so if you send your email campaign from a certain address, customers' replies will automatically go to a different email address.

email marketing reply to different email

#8: Add CTAs to Your Emails

Call-to-Actions, most commonly known as CTAs, should be the primary focus of your email campaigns.

If you are not familiar with the term, a CTA is essentially a button with a link that tells people what to do next, and what actions to take.

In email marketing, CTAs are essential since they guide your subscribers to taking the next step (access your website, read a blog post, purchase your online course...).

Since call-to-actions are so important, you’ll want them to stand out from the rest of the email content. You can achieve this by placing CTAs strategically, giving them a different, attention-grabbing color and font (while still aligning with your brand style).

You can add multiple CTAs in a single email campaign, especially if your content is quite long. Generally speaking, it is good practice to make it easy for your subscriber to see and click on these buttons. So you might want to place it at the beginning of your email, so your contacts can click on it without having to scroll, and one at the bottom.

#9: Pay Attention to Subject Lines

One of the most important factors that affect the open rate is your subject line and it can make the difference between your subscribers opening or ignoring your email.

So you should pay extra attention to each subject line and try to write one that resonates with your contacts.

Here are a few guidelines for crafting the best subject line:

  • Avoid keywords or elements that can be marked as spam (ex: "free", all caps words, too many emojis, exclamation points...).
  • Keep it short (make sure your recipients can read the whole subject in preview, even on mobile - you might want to test the email before you send it)
  • Name the important things
  • Keep it related to the content in the email
  • Make each new subject line original

#10: Keep Your Emails Simple

There might be times when you want to add as much content as you can to your emails to let your contacts know about all the great things you have been working on.

Instead, sending simple and clear emails can be a better idea. You don't want to confuse your contacts with too much content and too many CTAs.

Make sure that you are clear about your message and that you are instructing your subscriber to take a few simple actions with each email campaign you send.

#11: Engage Your Subscribers

Email marketing can sometimes feels like a one-way conversation where you are shouting things to an audience that does not respond. Instead, it is a good idea to try to engage your contacts and start a conversation with them. This can be beneficial to your deliverability, increase open rates and create an overall superior experience for your subscribers.

Here are a few ideas you can implement to incentivize your contacts to reply or keep them engaged:

  • Ask a question in your emails
  • Be clear about how they can reach you
  • Allow them to reply to the email
  • Send them a survey
  • Ask them their feedback
  • Gamify your offers and promotions with contests
  • Always send valuable, informative content

#12: Leave Your Subscribers Wanting More

Another great way to improve your email marketing performance is to guide your contacts to take a specific action by teasing them with your emails.

For example, if you want your subscribers to check out a new blog post on your site, instead of summarizing the blog post in the email, you can invite them to visit the article by offering some information - but not all of it.

email marketing best practices neil patel

The picture above shows an email sent by Neil Patel where he is inviting his subscribers to read one of his blog posts. He is stating a problem ("there are over 200 factors in Google's algorithm") and offering a solution (learning the 5 skills he explains in the blog post).

This is a great strategy to both offer valuable content, but also improve your click-through rate and make sure that contacts are clicking on your CTAs.

#13: Prioritize Important Content

A good email marketing practice involves stacking your content by importance. Your most important message should be positioned "above the fold", meaning on the top part of your email.

This way your contacts will see it right after they open the email, without having to scroll down.

So make sure that you are placing your most important message at the beginning of the email copy, along with your most important CTA button.

#14: Optimize Your Email for Mobile Devices

Studies show that 47% of users prefer to open emails on their mobile device, while only 26.9% still open emails on desktop.

For this reason, you should make sure that your emails are optimized for mobile devices.

Most email marketing software nowadays automatically optimizes your email layout for all kinds of devices, however, it is good practice to test your campaign before sending and check that everything works both on desktop and on mobile.

Many recipients also prefer to preview the message they receive on mobile. Doing so opens the email in an even smaller view and it only shows a small portion of the message, usually the first few sentences. So make sure that the important messaging is in the first inches of your content and that your subject line is fully readable on mobile devices.

#15: Avoid Spam Triggers

As we already briefly mentioned in this article, certain words and behavior run the risk of marking your email as spam content.

If you don't want to ruin your deliverability and open rates, you should avoid this at all costs. Here are a few things that can be considered spam triggers:

  1. Using spam wording in your subject lines (words such as "free", "earn", "sale" and so on can be considered spam). Check out this list of spam trigger words if you are not sure.
  2. Using all caps in your subject lines
  3. Adding too many emojis or symbols in your subject line, including exclamation points or question marks
  4. Purchasing contacts instead of growing your list organically
  5. Writing a subject line completely unrelated to the email content
  6. Adding too many images or just images without any text
  7. Sending the same email over and over again
  8. Sending emails to contacts who did not agree to be on your email list

#16: Test Your Emails Before Sending

If you are not already doing this, it is a great practice to test out your email campaign before hitting the send button.

This allows you to spot any mistakes, check if all links are functioning, test the email appearance on mobile devices and so on.

Most email marketing software allows you to send a test email to yourself, so next time you ate about to send a newsletter, make sure to test it first!

#17: Check Your Email Stats

If your email marketing software offers you insights about your campaign open rate, click rate, unsubscribe percentage and so on, make sure to check it out after you send an email to your contacts!

Related article: Which Web Metrics Should You Track? Online Business Analytics Explained

This practice can help you understand how different campaigns are performing and correct any potential mistakes you are making. If you are segmenting your contacts, you can easily understand what type of content resonates better with different audiences, and use this information to craft better emails in the future.

#18: Set Up Email Automations

Email automation can help you keep in contact with your subscribers and customers at any point of their buyer's journey.

Depending on your business and needs, you can have different automation. The most common ones include welcoming new subscribers, thanking the for purchasing, sending birthday messages or keeping your contacts in the loop with regular updates.

More advanced email software allows you to create all kinds of automation with different triggers.

If you are using Heights Platform to sell online courses and run your online knowledge business, the basic automations are already set up for you. Plus, with online challenges, you can send automated emails every time a new lesson is made available for your students!

Your online course students will receive automated emails whenever they sign up for your program, purchase an online course or a digital product, receive a message from you and more.

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