5 ways to sell more online courses with email automation and segmentation

5 ways to sell more online courses with email automation and segmentation
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The following is a guest post from one of our integrations partner, AWeber. Email Marketing Guru Sean Tilley from the AWeber team shares his insight into the top five ways to sell more online courses with email automation and segmentation. Plus, learn more about Aweber, an all-in-one marketing solution specializing in email marketing.

As a course creator you work hard day and night to ensure you create the perfect content to educate your audience. As you start scaling your business, your time is so valuable. Not only do you need time to create your courses, but also to live life, enjoy yourself. So if you could free up some time in your day, wow, that would make your life so much easier, right?

When you implement email automation and segmentation you actually can significantly reduce the time on your marketing emails, allowing you to focus on what you do best – creating courses. Think of email automation as your virtual assistant that works tirelessly to keep your audience engaged and informed.

Not only can you save time, but you can actually increase revenue. According to DemandSage, 75% of email revenue comes from triggered, personalized emails. And as a course creator, you’re always looking for ways to increase course sales.

So, let’s dive into the types of automations and segmentations you can use today to help you increase your course sales.


1. Start this amazing journey together (welcome email)

“Thank you for reading my blog.

I would personally like to thank you for taking time out of your busy day. My promise to you, as you continue to read, is to provide you with actionable tips that you can quickly and easily implement to help you sell more of your amazing courses to your audience.”

See what I did? Did I make you feel welcome?

Adding that section to a blog post is not nearly as impactful as it would be in an email, but the concept is the same. You need to show value and set expectations for future emails with a welcome email.

The welcome email is your chance to make a great first impression and let your customers know what they can expect from future email campaigns. There’s a ton of competition out there, while your courses may be great, it takes more than great courses to convince customers to come back.

And how do you build trust?

It’s like any relationship, you need to get to know each other on a personal level. Welcome emails are a powerful tool for engagement, retention, and conversion. It shows your students that you value their presence and are committed to helping them succeed.

The data supports it. According to Oberlo, welcome emails have an average open rate of 68.6%, which is significantly higher than the average open rate for standard emails (19.7%).

So if you take one thing away from this post, don’t underestimate the power of a welcome email.

Here’s a few welcome email best practices:

Introduce yourself: Take this opportunity to introduce yourself, get personal.

Set expectations: Let your customers know what they can expect from your email communications in the future. This could include how often you plan on emailing them and what’s going to be included.

Test and optimize: Monitor the performance of your welcome emails and use the insights to optimize your approach. Test different subject lines, CTAs, and messaging to see works best.

2. Build a relationship, not just a single sale (nurture series)

Your welcome email sets the table, now it’s time to serve the four-course meal. But just like a great meal isn’t over after the first course, your email relationship-building shouldn’t stop with the welcome email. You need to build or nurture that relationship.

A nurture series is like serving the remaining courses. Each email in the series builds on the previous one, providing more value and deepening the connection with your customers.

You might share helpful tips and advice, offer exclusive discounts or promotions, or simply share your story and your passion for what you do.

If a relationship with your customers is just sell, sell, sell, then you run the risk they will start tuning you out. A good sign that you’re not providing enough value in your emails is an increase in unsubscribes or decreases in open and click rates.

The goal of a nurture series is to provide ongoing value to your subscribers and establish a long-term relationship with them. By consistently delivering high-quality content and engaging with your audience, you can build trust and credibility, which can lead to increased sales and loyalty over time.

Here’s a few nurture series best practices:

Segment your audience: Create groups based on their interests, behaviors, or demographics. This way you can personalize each email, making it more relevant to each customer.

Provide value: Each email should provide value. This could be the type of content, industry insights, or tips and tricks that help them solve a problem.

Use a consistent tone and style: Keep your tone and style consistent throughout the series. This creates a sense of familiarity and helps build trust.

engaging content

3. Help them finish what they started (abandoned cart)

Imagine this: You just created the most amazing course of your life. You set up the landing page and (if you do say so yourself), it is absolutely perfect. People are going to be lining up to purchase this course. They add the course to their online shopping cart, they get out their credit card, then…nothing.

If this was an in-person transaction, you could put on your sales hat and give them that little extra nudge to get them across the finish line.

But this is a digital transaction, it’s not like you could send someone to their house to help sell them on the benefits of the course. Or could you?

This is where an automated abandoned cart email can become your floor salesperson—to incentivize that individual to enter those credit card digitals and hit purchase.

Here’s a few abandoned cart best practices:

Send within 24 hours: Sending within the first day increases the likelihood that they’ll complete the purchase.

Remind the customer what’s in their cart: Provide a recap of the courses they left in their cart.

Use a clear call-to-action: The call-to-action should be clear, specific, and visually grab their attention. Use language that encourages action, such as “Complete Your Purchase” or “Get Your Course Now.”

4. The right course for the right person (segmentation)

Imagine you’re at a fancy restaurant, and the waiter comes up to your table and asks, “What would you like to eat?” You look at the menu and see that there are a ton of options. If you’re like me, the waiter stops by my table at least three times before I’ve finally made my decision.

Now imagine that the waiter comes up to your table and says, “I see that you’re a seafood lover, would you like me to recommend our catch of the day?” Suddenly, you feel seen and understood, and you’re much more likely to order something you’ll enjoy (and now the waiter only needs to come over once).

This is exactly why email segmentation is so important.

You need to be the waiter and make sure you understand your customers’ likes and dislikes. To get a great tip, you want to make sure that you’re sending the right course to the right person.

When you send emails that are more relevant to that individual customer, they are more likely to open and read it. And if it’s a course that is relevant to their needs, purchase it.

Let’s say you’re a cooking school, and you offer courses on everything from baking to grilling to vegetarian cooking. You could send out a generic email blast to your entire list, but that’s like asking everyone in the restaurant what they want to eat without taking their preferences into account. Instead, you can use email segmentation to make sure that each subscriber receives an email that’s tailored to their interests.

For example, you could segment your list by interest: one group of subscribers who love baking, another group who are passionate about grilling, and a third group who are all about that veggie life. Then, you can create targeted email campaigns that speak directly to each group’s interests.

But email segmentation isn’t just about making your subscribers happy—it can also help you achieve better results from your email campaigns. When you send targeted emails, you’re more likely to see higher open rates, click-through rates, and sales.

Here’s a few segmentation best practices:

Collect as much data as possible: The more data you have on your subscribers, the more effectively you can segment your list. The sooner you collect this data the faster you can begin delivering more personalized content. Consider using signup forms or surveys to gather information on your subscribers’ interests.

Keep it simple: You don’t need to create a million different segments right off the bat. Start with a few broad categories and refine as you go.


5. Get them back (re-engagement)

Have you ever been in a relationship where things started off great, but over time, things fizzled out? Maybe you and your partner got busy with work, or maybe you just got comfortable and stopped putting in the effort.

The same thing can happen to you in your business. Customers may start off excited about your courses and emails, but over time, you may notice less people opening your emails or even signing up for your courses.

That’s where re-engagement emails come in. Just like a partner who wants to reignite the spark in their relationship, you can use re-engagement emails to remind customers of what they’re missing out on and entice them to come back.

Re-engagement emails are important because they help bring back customers who may have forgotten about you or simply lost interest.

“It’s not you, it’s me”, that statement really is about them and not you. There are so many distractions in the world, it’s easy to forget about even the coolest of course creators. Sometimes customers just need a little reminder to remember how awesome your content is.

Here’s a few re-engagement best practices:

Be personal: Use the customer’s name and refer to their past purchases or engagement with your business. Show them that you remember them and value their business.

Keep it short and sweet: Nobody wants to read a novel-length email. Keep your message concise and to the point.

Timing: Six months—that’s your standard rule of thumb. If they haven’t open an email within the last six months, give them a reminder

Offer an incentive: People love free stuff. Offer a discount or a free gift to entice them to come back and make a purchase.

Create a sense of urgency: Give customers a reason to act now.

Time to make more sales

Email automation and segmentation are powerful tools that serve a series of valuable, engaging emails that deepen the connection with your audience over time. And that will ultimately lead to more course sales. And that is the goal.

By implementing email automation, you can focus on creating high-quality courses while letting your automated emails do the heavy lifting of promoting and converting your audience into paying customers.

So, what are you waiting for? Get cracking and start automating your email campaigns today!

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