You’ll often hear brand and marketing experts saying, “If you want to be successful online, you have to create lots of content for your subscribers.”
If there’s one thing you’ll learn from growing a business from the ground up is that frequent communication with your subscribers is critical. But if you’re working a full-time job or have other things going on in your life, creating content on a consistent basis is really tough.
This post will show you an email strategy that will allow you to keep in close touch with your subscribers while spending less time creating content than you might think.
The mistake creators often make is the type of content they are producing.
Take creator and writer, Billy Broas, for example:
“You have to understand that the niche I was in at the time, home beer brewing, is an extremely technical field. My subscribers were engineers, IT specialists, and scientists. They just wanted the cold hard facts. At least, that’s what I used to think. As a result, my content was 100% hard-core teaching. Tutorials, step-by-step guides, demonstrations, etc.
Let’s put it this way: The words “How To” showed up in most of my email subject lines. But my strategy was flawed. I was putting too much effort into my emails, and it was holding back my growth. Here’s what I mean by that contradictory-sounding headline…One day, I had to send an email out (it had been too long), but I had no material ready. And I just didn’t have the time or energy to teach my subscribers something technical.
So what did I do? I told them a little story of something funny that happened while I was visiting a brewery the night before. That’s it. The story was pretty unremarkable. Plus it only took me 20 minutes to write, edit the email, and click “send.”
What happened after that?
I got one of my best responses ever. My inbox filled with replies from subscribers who I’d never heard from before. I couldn’t believe they loved such a simple email that didn’t really teach anything new.”
Readers don’t need hard-core tutorials all the time
Think about this in your own life. There are some subjects you where you have a deep interest, but do you really want to read a long, in-depth tutorial about that topic every single day? Of course not! It would be too much. You’d need a break.
Billy quickly realized that he was overwhelming his audience with too much content at once.
Now, when we help other course creators promote their courses, we see them doing the same thing. It’s no big surprise that course creators have a tendency to over-teach. Teaching is what we do! But it needs to be balanced with lighter material. It’s not enough to educate. You also need to entertain.
KLT emails—Emails that get your subscribers to know, like, and trust you.
After seeing the excited responses to that email, Billy began to sprinkle in more short, story-based emails. It didn’t take more than a month to notice a big difference in the engagement-level of his list.
Why do these emails work so well?
The best definition we’ve heard of marketing is this: “Marketing is about getting people to know, like, and trust you.”
Turns out, that’s exactly what these emails do. So we started calling these emails “KLT emails.” They create engagement and build relationships with your subscribers, which makes them more likely to buy from you.
We’d sprinkle in KLT emails at about a 2-to-1 ratio. For every longer, “how-to” type email (or blog post), I’d drop in about two KLT emails. It was the perfect rhythm.
We’d recommend you email your list at least once per week. That’s non-negotiable. Two or three times is even better. If you look at the most successful people in online marketing, most of them email even more than that. There’s a reason for it: It works.
One of my favorite things about writing these KLT emails is that they are quick to write, so sending two or three emails a week is no problem.
The most surprising thing
When Billy saw his increased response to emails, he was especially surprised to see that as he became better at nurturing my list, he started to earn more revenue!
But there was something else going on…
These more frequent, story-based emails kept his list warm. After all, it’s not the size of the list that matters, it’s the responsiveness.
25 ideas for emails that get subscribers to know, like, and trust you
1. A day in the life
If you’ve got writer’s block, simply write about your everyday life. Just think back over what happened today and then write about it. Even ordinary, everyday occurrences can make for interesting email fodder.
For example, let’s say you teach a course about internet security.
Your car broke down and needed repair? Write an email about how we often take our most important things for granted, just like how we take our internet privacy for granted…
You saw someone get too tipsy at an office party and embarrass themselves? Write an email about regrets, just like how you’d regret it if all your sensitive information were made public…
You found a hidden gem of a restaurant in your town? Write an email about how the best things are often hidden just under your nose, sorta like this little-known tool that makes it easy to protect your financial information…
2. Share a fable
Fables are email fodder served on a silver platter. These little stories are packed with life lessons you can weave into your online course emails. Plus, most people heard these stories as children, so they get a wave of the “feel goods” when they read your fable email.
Head over to FablesOfAesop.com and browse the deep archive for ideas.
3. The Yoda email
This one is super important because every single course creator should have a Yoda story. Why? It goes back to psychology. You’re asking your subscribers to learn from you, right? You want them to see you as their mentor.
The lesson is this: When people are unsure of what to do, they look at what other people are doing. And if your subscribers see that you achieved your results because you have a mentor, they’ll be more likely to accept you as their mentor.
4. The scavenger hunt email
Whenever possible, try to get your readers to do something. Train them to act in response to your emails. That’s important for when you ask them to buy something.
Most of the time, you’ll have some sort of hyperlink in the email for the reader to click. But a fun twist is to send your subscribers on a scavenger hunt!
Let’s say you teach a course on wedding photography. Promote a scavenger hunt where your subscribers must find three types of wedding pictures from around the web:
A photo that’s overexposed
The photo that’s out of focus
A photo that needs color correction
Then, you give a prize to the first person who completes the hunt. You can get creative with the logistics, of course. But no matter what, make sure to show everyone’s “treasures.” Can you see the marketing strategy behind this?
If you sell a photography course and you show your subscribers a page covered with ugly wedding photos taken by amateur photographers, do you think you might make a few extra sales for your course? Which will show them to avoid taking such ugly photos? Absolutely.
5. Quote a famous movie
Everybody loves movies, so they give you something in common with your readers that you can use in your emails.
Take the cult class movie: The Princess Bride. It’s a cult-classic. If you’ve seen it, you know the quote I’m thinking of.
Vazzini: “He didn’t fall? Inconceivable!”
Inigo: “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”
That would be the “hook” at the start of the email, and then the rest of the email would be about how so many advertisers choose the wrong words for their ads.
6. The newsjack email
Newsjacking is where you inject your message into breaking news. It’s often used to get media coverage for yourself. That’s a good strategy as well, but since we’re talking emails, let’s focus on that purpose.
The first step with writing this email is find a piece of breaking news. You can find news stories anywhere these days, of course. So that part shouldn’t be a problem. Then, simply connect the news item to your message.
For example, Billy has a course creator client in England. When the Brexit vote occurred, he decided to do a “Brexit Sale” for his course. He wrote about the economic concerns and Britain’s uncertain future. It was written with a lot of humor, and the subscribers loved it. Best of all, he sold a ton of courses.
7. Show off your magic powers
Here’s one that’s not used often enough.
Have you watched any of the Harry Potter movies? You know how in those movies, Professor Dumbledore rarely performs any powerful magic of his own? Most of the time he’s giving guidance, not actually performing his craft.
So what is the audience waiting for during the entire movie? For Dumbledore to bust out his wand and blast away some evil wizards. It’s one of the most exciting parts of the movie.
Use this strategy in your emails. In your prospect’s eyes, you’re Dumbledore. And most of the time, course creators are like Dumbledore in that they’re mostly teaching and giving advice.
But every once in a while, it’s smart to pull out that magic wand and give your subscribers a demonstration of your powers.
Do you teach CSS? Build an incredible web page from scratch. Artist? Show your latest masterpiece. Do you teach guitar? Skip the chords for a day and instead, film a video where you solo like Jimi Hendrix. Trust me, your subscribers will love this email.
8. The herald email
A herald is a person who announces that something is about to happen. In this email, you’re predicting the future, warning of a coming event, or my favorite—you signal an upcoming opportunity (which involves your product, naturally).
You see this all the time in the financial industry. There is always some sort of bubble about to burst, so investors better load up on gold or whatever is being promoted.
But outside the investment industry, you really don’t see the herald email much.
To get you started, answer this question for your prospect: “Why now?” As in, why is right now the perfect time to buy your course?
Olen Kroff, the author of the phenomenal book, Pitch Anything, gives three types of forces that can serve to answer the “why now” question:
Think about how these forces are impacting your niche, and turn that into a reason for your prospect to buy from you.
9. A huge list of benefits
In copywriting, the secret to success is uncovering the one major benefit of your product that prospects desire more.
It can take a lot of research to uncover that core desire, so sometimes, you just need to get it all out there. With these email, send a massive list of every possible benefit of your product. Then, simply let your readers scan and find the one that resonates them. Sometimes, one specific benefit is enough to knock a prospect off the fence and become a customer.
10. Become a beginner again
Course creators often suffer from the curse of knowledge. The curse of knowledge is when you know so much about your topic that it’s difficult for you to remember what it’s like to not have that knowledge.
This presents a real problem in your marketing. Because the critical skill in marketing is empathy—the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes. If you can’t do that, you’re in trouble. So while you can’t unlearn what you know about your topic, you can do the next best thing: Become a beginner in another field.
Try a new hobby, then write down the key lessons. Share them with your subscribers and tie it back to your product. You’ll discover that it’s easy to transfer high-level lessons from one field to another.
11. Spotted in the wild
The camera on your smartphone is an endless source of email ideas. The next time you’re out and about, keep your fingers ready to grab your phone. Then, when you spot good email fodder in the wild, take the shot!
12. Myth busting
Every niche has myths. Think about your own niche. What do some people believe about your topic that is just not true?
List those myths in an email. Tell your subscribers you don’t want them falling for the myths. Then, plug your product.
Look, some of the ideas in this post aren’t for everyone. You may read one and say, “That’s interesting, but it’s not for my business.” We totally understand. But the myths email is a must. That is, if you want to make more sales.
13. Weird news
Who doesn’t enjoy a good “weird news” story? Simply head to Google and search for “weird news.” It’s an intriguing email starter to get your readers’ attention.
14. The holiday email
Want an instant stack of email ideas? Look no further than your calendar.
You often hear marketers talk about something called “the reason why.” We’re always on the lookout for a reason why we’re…
Holding a sale
Launching this new product
Hosting this event
The “reason why” is extremely powerful tool. And holidays give you built-in reasons why! Now, most of us do a Black Friday sale or a Christmas promotion, but don’t forget some of the fun, more obscure holidays out there.
Like National Talk Like a Pirate Day, Friendship Day, and Wiggle your Toes Day. All are real, and all of them are a great source of email ideas.
15. Show an unbelievable stat
Citing a crazy, impressive, or unbelievable stat is a great ways to begin any piece of copywriting. Going forward, keep an eye out for how often stats are used to introduce persuasive writing. If you can name one impressive stat that ties into what you’re selling, it can win you more customers.
16. What’s your type?
Self-discovery is an extremely powerful persuasion trigger. We love to learn about ourselves. The “What’s Your Type?” emails are a perfect way to capitalize on this quirk of psychology. You see a lot of these today in the form of online quizzes, but you don’t need to get that fancy to reap the benefits of this technique.
17. Share your best tools
What’s one thing we online marketers can’t get enough of? Tools!
What tools and resources can you give your subscribers? Do you teach graphic design? How about a list of websites for beautiful fonts. Financial planning? Create a list of useful calculators.
18. Admit a big failure
Think about your favorite big screen heroes. What do they have in common? The best heroes have flaws. Truth is, we don’t trust people who appear perfect. We know that nobody is perfect. So don’t be afraid to share your flaws with your subscribers. Those blunders, missteps, and failures are what make you human. Human, just like your subscribers.
19. Direct pitch
Look, sometimes you’ve just got to sell. True, you can sell with any of these email ideas. But there are times when you should write a direct pitch email, which is exactly what it sounds like—a direct pitch for your course.
There’s nothing wrong with directly pitching your course via email. It only becomes problematic when this is the only type of email you send.
This isn’t an article about how to structure a sales message, but let me give you a tip we learned from our copywriting coach.
Here are four questions to answer for your prospect:
Why are you bothering me?
Why should I believe you?
Why should I do anything about it right now?
When you get stuck, answer the 4 W’s as if your prospect asked them directly to you. Do that, and the words will flow from your fingertips.
20. The survey email
The survey email should be in your regular rotation. Not only because people love to give their opinion, but because of the marketing insights you gain. If you do it right, you can tap into the mind of your prospect, find out exactly what they want, and then give it to them.
The key to writing a successful survey email is something we learned from marketing expert Ryan Levesque. He says to never call it a survey. People hate the word survey. Just tell them you’re looking for feedback or their opinion.
Notice how personal it sounds, unlike those annoying “please take the time to fill out this survey” emails you get from your cable company.
21. The poll email
The poll email is similar to the survey email. The difference is that it’s simpler. A poll is basically a single multiple choice question. For example, let’s say you teach a golf course. You could send a poll asking your subscribers their favorite brand of golf ball. Maybe you list ten options plus an “other” category. You could also make the poll open ended.
22. The “If I had to do it over again” email
Have you ever gone to a conference, watched a famous expert give a presentation, and then listened to the Q&A after? What question does somebody always ask?
“If you were starting from scratch today, what would you do differently?”
Your prospects are dying to hear your answer to this question. Why not write an email and tell them? Make sure to pitch your course at the end. This type of email is often a big seller.
23. The giant list email
People love to hate on list posts. You know what we mean: “The Top 10” this and “The 30 Best” that. Yes, they’re everywhere, but that’s because they really do work!
Just when we think people are sick of list posts, we give one a shot, and it almost always gets a ton of engagement.
24. The commandments email
Moses climbed Mount Sinai and obtained a list of principles, or commandments, for his group to follow. You can teach your own commandments, and don’t even need to do the grueling hike.
Ask yourself: What values guide your teaching? What beliefs should your subscribers hold about your topic if they want to succeed?
Turn those into commandments and then write an email.
25. Highlight a star student
This type of email is essentially a case study. Case studies are one of my absolute favorite ways of making course sales. When you have a student who gets remarkable results, share their success!
The great thing about case studies is that you can sell without being “salesy.” Simply showing your student’s results, and making clear that they got the results because of your training, is all the selling required.
Don’t limit this to just email
Although these ideas are intended for email, the new social media tools that have emerged in the past few years are perfect for using the ideas listed in this post.
You can use these ideas in:
- Twitter blurbs
Instagram videos and stories
Use Facebook Live
Facebook Video ads
That last one is actually getting great results right now. Choose one of these 25 ideas, record a quick video, and promote it as an ad it to your email subscribers and fans on Facebook. It will get you tons of likes, shares, and comments, which enhances all of your Facebook advertising efforts.
All we’re doing here is communicating with our prospects, so if writing emails isn’t your thing, there are plenty of other ways to get your message across.
The key thing with these emails is to not overthink them. As you were reading the list, there was probably one idea that jumped at you. Don’t wait, go write it now!
Before long, writing emails will get easier and become a habit. You may even wonder why you ever feared the blank page at all.
Looking to dive deeper into the benefits of email? We have an “ultimate guide to course creation” that’ll help you do just that. Get it free today.