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How to Grow an Engaged Audience and Sell to Them with Email Marketing

Amie Tollefsrud

| Jan 29, 2019

You’ve spent months (maybe even years!) of time, focus, and occasional tech-meltdowns getting your online course ready to launch. 

The modules and lessons are ready to go, the sales page is perfect, and IT.IS.LIVE!

But there’s one little problem…

Since you’ve launched, you’ve heard crickets.

Not only is no one buying, but you’re not getting any engagement around your launch in the form of e-mail questions, DMs, sales page chat, or otherwise. 

So now you head down the rabbit hole of self doubt with questions like:

“Maybe my niche is too saturated”

“Maybe I don’t have enough instagram followers yet”

“Maybe I need Facebook ads!”

“Once I get that ‘swipe up’ feature…”

“Maybe i’m not meant to have an online business”

I hear you, and these are the EXACT frustrations I hear from most of my students when they come to me. 

I also know this feeling way too well, because these were my thoughts during my first ever online-course launch. 

I’m Amie, a Nutritionist and online course creator who has been able to generate multiple six figures from my business in the past 2 years, thanks largely to the success of my online courses.

But the little known fact about online course sales is this: you can have the most high quality, results-driven online course content in your niche - but if you don’t know how to create an audience that is dying to open up their wallet and enroll - does it even matter?

This blog post will teach you a few of my fool-proof methods for how to grow an engaged audience AND sell them on your course organically (without ads), all using e-mail marketing

Here are my top 3 fool proof tips for selling your online course, without the use of ads OR a huge pre-existing audience:

Tip 1: Create a “lead magnet” 

A “lead magent” - also referred to as a content upgrade or opt-in, is a free piece of value based content that attracts, entices, and solves a problem for your ideal audience (your future student!). This lead magnet will not only position you as an expert on your chosen topic, but provide a few quick wins and actionable steps for your ideal student that will initiate the know, like, and trust factor with them (Step 1 of making the sale!)

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Examples of Lead Magnets on the Teachable Blog.

Keep in mind - this freebie shouldn’t be just some generic piece of content that your audience can find anywhere on the internet for free. 

Instead, it should solve a painful, stressful, annoying, or time-consuming problem for them that is RELATED to your online course topic, and it should be SO good, that your audience can’t believe it’s free. 

Now, in order to download and get access to your value-packed freebie, your student must provide you with their e-mail address, and this is the start of you building your e-mail list! 

But don’t worry - if your freebie provides them the solution they are looking for, they will GLADLY opt-in.  From here, you’ll want to integrate with an e-mail service provider like Convertkit or Mailchimp to ensure that the student receives the free download automatically (without you having to do a thing! #automation)

Tip 2: Nurture your e-mail list

As you start to grow your e-mail list full of potential students, you must be sure to continue to interact with them and build the relationship on a regular basis so they don’t forget who you are (the internet can be a noisy place!)

You’ll want to create a sequence of e-mails, spaced out over time, for EVERY new subscriber who joins your e-mail list. This sequence should simultaneously build more trust, provide more value, and allow your audience to get to know YOU as a person before asking for the sale (This is also referred to as “warming” up your audience)


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Here's an example of what your email schedule might look like!

This way, once you are ready to ask for the sale, or “launch” - the heavy lifting will already be done. Your e-mail list (your students!) should already know who you are, what your expertise is, and exactly how you can help them. All that’s left to do now, is PITCH!

Tip 3: Create a “launch” sequence

Once your audience is “warmed up” from your new subscriber nurture sequence and ready to buy, the next step is to actually “pitch” them on your online course (i.e asking for the sale!)

This can be one of the scariest parts of having an online course business - because you will have to overcome the fear of “selling” online. However, one of the best parts of having grown and cultivated an e-mail list at this point, is that your audience is already used to you showing up in their inbox weekly, providing THEM with value - and now is your opportunity to invite them to take the next steps (your online course!)

When creating your “launch” sequence, there are a few key things to remember: 

  1. Fuse storytelling, education, AND selling within your launch e-mails. Let’s face it - an e-mail that only talks about bells + whistles of your course and focuses ONLY on the price, number of lessons, etc. isn’t always the most enticing. Infuse your own personal story and WHY you teach what you teach and you will be much more likely to grab the attention of your audience and keep them engaged enough to click the “buy now “ button. 
  2. What does your ideal student need to know or understand BEFORE enrolling in your course? In these launch e-mails, provide more education if necessary to ensure that your future students fully understand the value of your course content. For example, if your online course teaches how to follow the paleo diet in order to heal eczema, your ideal student must understand WHY the paleo diet works first, before they are ready to enroll.
  3. Sell the dream - again, instead of focusing so much on selling what is inside the course - what can your students expect their life to be like, once the course is complete? Will they have clear skin? Run a 5k? Make more money? Become Instagram-famous? Focus on the END result of what your course offers, and your online course sales will skyrocket. Remember that most of the time, your audience couldn’t care less how many modules or lessons there are. They want to know what the outcome will be. 
  4. It’s not over ‘til it’s over - Depending on the length of your launch, I recommend sending out 1 e-mail nearly every single day of your launch. Yes this sounds like a lot. Yes you might feel like you’re being annoying. Yes you will get some “unsubscribes” from your e-mail list during this time. But the bottom line is: your audience needs multiple reminders and exposures to your offer, in order to feel ready to buy. Showing up almost daily with even more value, and inviting them to take the next steps with you (i.e ‘enroll before the doors close!’) is how you do this. Another benefit of e-mail marketing is that you can “tag” certain members of your audience who have visited your course sales page during your launch as “warm leads”, and more heavily target those people with additional emails before your launch ends (since you know they are really on the fence!)

Email marketing may seem old-school, but the truth is: if you are only launching your online course via methods like social media - you won’t have nearly the same amount of control of who will see your posts about enrollment into your online courses. 

You won’t be able to track who visited your sales page (without using ads), personalize your emails (using their first name) OR follow up with “warm leads”. With e-mail marketing, your audience  has already told you (via the action of them  downloading your freebie) that they are INTERESTED in your paid offer. So when you do start selling them on your course, these emails are far less likely to come off as “salesy” or “spammy” than they would if promoted only on social media. 

In my two years of  having an online course business and now having helped over 500 students with their own online businesses, I have seen effective e-mail marketing be the difference between an online course flop, and a life-changing launch.  

To learn more about how to 10x the growth of your e-mail list in order to make more sales, grab my free workbook here!

Amie is a full-time online course creator who transitioned out of her 9-5 job and teaches NTPs, Health Coaches, Nutritionists, and Wellness enthusiasts how to create, launch, and scale their own online practices through her free trainings, blog posts, and online courses.