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How To Create an Email Course To Build Your List and Launch Your Product


Jun 14, 2017
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Email is a conversion machine. Despite all of the social media behemoths out there, email is still the reigning champ when it comes to conversions. 3x more effective than social media at converting to be exact.

Pair that with the power of online courses, and you can see how powerful that can be for your business.

When someone opts into the course, they get the emails delivered to their inbox in a timeframe you set up. And if you pack your emails full of highly-valuable content, it’s a great way to build relationships with your audience, offer a delicious sampling of your paid course, and lead up to a successful launch.

Email courses are one of the most effective list building tools. They are simple to create. And they build a connection with people on a deep level.

Even if you haven't created a premium online course yet, a free course is still worth considering. Think about trying it out. Fire it up on your website to start collecting leads for you, even if you have no idea what you're going to sell your audience.

What is an email course?

An email course is exactly what it sounds like: an online course that's delivered to the customer through email. The advantage of an email course is that your customer always has it in their inbox, so they can access it whenever they want.

For course creators, an email course is a great way to drip out your teachings in an easily-digestible format. It's also not as resource-intensive to create as a video course.

Do email courses work?

Yes. Online learners have different preferences for how they want to consume their courses. Some prefer online videos and others prefer written text in an email.

There are so many benefits to emails courses.

Email courses condition people to open your emails.

I'm not saying this in a creepy, train people to do what you want kind of way. But when someone knows that opening your emails means getting their hands on some awesome value and information, they look forward to opening your emails. When you establish that connection, your emails are less likely to go straight to the trash.

Email courses build a strong relationship with your audience.

If someone brand new signs up for your email course, it is a great way for them to get to know you. You have the chance to familiarize them with your teaching style and personality, show people that you know what you're talking about, and help them with your knowledge from day one.

Email courses establish trust.

How does it feel to be hit by a pushy sales pitch as soon as you land on a website?

Not so great right?

Taking the time to warm people up before you start selling is always a great idea. Emails courses offer something valuable to people for free. Once they are warmed up and get to know you, they trust that you will deliver value and help them improve their lives. They know that they are more than a way to line your pockets.

Email courses can build a waitlist and validate your premium course idea before it’s built.

You can start implementing a free email course way before you start building a premium course. It’s like a sample that people can try out. If they like the free course, then they're going to love investing in themselves to purchase your paid course.

A free email course can also tell you if your premium course idea is going to take off. If it doesn’t get a whole lot of attention or results then you know to try something else before you invest a ton of time into a huge course idea.

What Type of  Email Course is Right For You?

Types of Free Course

Email courses can only be done with text... right?

Not necessarily!

There are a handful of other ways to deliver a free online course to your audience.

So if text emails aren't your thing, I want to help you find the style that fits you perfectly. Here are some different options to deliver your information to your subscribers.

Text email courses.

An email course doesn't have to be flashy with a ton of images or loud graphic design.

And I'm not saying that just to make you feel better, either.

On average, people actually prefer plain text email over emails that have a bunch of images and complex design. Doesn't that make you feel a little better?

Video email courses. 

If you normally build stronger connections by getting in front of the camera and talking, then you may have better results with a video email course.

You can even take existing video content that you already have and repurpose it into a course.

Here’s a quick tutorial on how to use videos in your emails with Kajabi. You can follow a similar process with the other options below.

Audio email courses.

If you love doing podcasts, then an audio email course may be a better fit for you.

Just like with videos, you can repurpose past podcasts or existing audio content, do some tweaking if you need to, and convert it into a free email course.

Powerpoint/Keynote slide video courses.

If you are a great designer and you already create awesome images in your content, you can design a series of slides for your email course. Add voiceover, and you can provide awesome value without writing a whole bunch of text.

If you’re having a hard time deciding, take a look back at your existing content.

Which methods of delivery have the most social shares, interaction, and traffic?

The type of content that has given you the best results is a good place to start. Most likely, it's not a coincidence that these methods of delivery have worked better for you than other methods.

Find how you connect with your audience the best and try that delivery method for your email course.

Deliver Excellent Value in Your Email Course

Value in Your Email Course

If you think slapping a free email course on your website without investing a little work and a lot of heart and soul into it will deliver the results you’re looking for… think again.

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but if you try to build your list with a mediocre email course, people aren't going to take you seriously. Or worse, they’ll see your business as a waste of time.

Yes, you're giving this away for free. Yes, it takes time and effort to create a valuable email course. But just because it's free, doesn't mean that you will not see returns on everything that you've invested emotionally, mentally, and physically into your email course.

If your free course is sub par and mediocre, your audience is going to think the real deal is sub par and mediocre.

And no one wants to buy a sub par and mediocre course.

Don't be greedy with your knowledge.

When you invest yourself into your audience without asking for anything more than an email in return, powerful things can happen.

If your email course is irresistibly valuable, it will blow their minds when you introduce them to your premium course. They will expect awesome value for you, so buying the full package will be a no brainer.

Now that I’ve covered the basics let's get in the trenches here.

What are the actual steps that you need to take to create an email course?

How to Find a Winning Email Course Idea

I'm going to break this part down into categories. So whichever one fits your situation, I've got you covered. I’ll help you develop your own strategy to build your list and gear up for launch.

If you already have a premium course:

What better way to give people a taste of what you have to offer than to leverage content you’ve already created for your premium course? You get more mileage out of your content, without putting in much extra effort.

If you've already built your course and have your content ready to go, whether your course is live or not, you can repurpose your existing content within your course to build your free email course.

All you have to do is condense your existing content into bite-sized samples.

If you know what your online course is going to be about but haven't built it yet:

Email courses are a great way to validate digital product ideas. You can put your ideas to the test with a free email course.

Not only will it show you if your idea will be a success, but it will also give you some valuable feedback to build your course.

Think about the potential here!

Give your subscribers the option to sign up for a waitlist in the last email. When your course is live, you’ll have a segmented list of names who you know are interested in buying your premium course.

If you don't have a course and have no idea what it's going to be about yet:

Take a look back at existing content and comments on your website. Which topics performed the best? Can any of those subjects be expanded into a free email course?

Work smarter and repurpose what you’ve already created. Spruce it up a little, then set it up on your autoresponder.

If you don't have content or any interaction yet then think about what you want to share with the world. For your free email course, pick a topic that resonates with you and would be valuable to your target audience.

How Long Should Your Email Content Be?

How Long Should An Email Be

If you already deliver awesome content to your audience, your email course should take it to a new level.

This doesn’t necessarily mean beefing up your word count or making your content longer, but for email courses, you can go deeper on a subject than you normally would.

No matter what type of content you choose for your email course, think of how to deliver the most value without being overly wordy, rambling on, or adding a bunch of unnecessary stuff that doesn't add any real substance.

Look at some of your existing content to see what the best range is for you. Also, take note of what your audience responds to the best.

And if you’re worried about oversharing, don’t be afraid of going the extra mile when it comes to delivering value. You can include more content than you normally would in an email course without losing subscribers.

How to Find the Right Timing, Length, and Spacing For an Email Course

Now that you know where to look for email course ideas, and you know the content you want to include in your emails, let’s fine tune the delivery. I’m sure you still have a few questions.

Questions like, How many emails should I send out and how long should my email course run?

And, How far apart should I space each email?

You may even be wondering what time of day your emails need to arrive in your subscribers’ inboxes.

This section will help you find the answers to those questions.

Consider your timing.

Send your emails too early, and they could get buried under a hoard of unread messages. Too late and you catch people when they’re unwinding and trying to relax.

So what’s the sweet spot?

During the weekdays people normally open emails in the morning between 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. with peak times in the morning around 10:00-11:00 a.m., in their own time zone.

If you know what time zone the majority of your audience falls in, then you’re already ahead of the curve.

But what if you don’t know what time zone most of your audience is in?

If your audience is mainly in the U.S., try setting up your autoresponder to send the emails at around 11 a.m. Eastern. This is the sweet spot that works for most people across the country no matter what time zone they are in. European countries also fall into this category.

How many emails long should your emails course be?

How Many Emails Should Your Email Course Be

There is no hard-and-fast rule for how many emails long your email course should be. Here’s a basic guideline:

As many emails as it takes to deliver the most value and stay true to your topic without spreading it too thin or filling it with irrelevant fluff.

A good starting point is to aim for 5-7 emails.

If your audience prefers meaty, long-form content, you can go longer. If you connect with your audience better using shorter content, you can lean towards a shorter email course.

Deciding how far apart to space your emails.

Deciding how far apart to set up your autoresponder is another element to consider for your email course.

As a rule of thumb, most email courses run between 1-2 weeks.

You want to give your audience plenty of time to digest all the information. Especially if your email course is a series of challenges, give them a realistic amount of time to complete each challenge before you hit them with another one.

If your email course is informational and doesn't require a whole lot of action from your audience, you can send emails out on consecutive days.

Try and see things from your audience’s perspective.

If you were brand new to this topic, what would fit you the best? Something more fast-paced and consecutive or spaced out enough so you could put the content into action or just simmer on the information?

Email Subject Line Tips and Tricks

The subject line is the first thing people see when they get an email. The right subject line can mean the difference between your emails actually getting opened, sent to the trash, or worse… straight to spam.  

You have an advantage with your email course. They already know what to expect, and are most likely excited about getting their hands on your course.

Let's take it up a notch though. How can you make your audience even more excited to open your email and read the content?

There are three different types of subjects lines that you can use that have worked very well for other email marketers.


Questions are one of my favorite ways to capture someone's curiosity in a subject line. Good questions spark our natural curiosity and open up the mind to possibilities.


Is it possible to get 300 subscribers overnight?

Are you frustrated with your email marketing plan?


Solutions are to the point and tell people exactly what they can expect to get out of opening your email. Being specific is your friend here.

If your email course is about baking cakes and your subject line reads: “solving all your baking problems” that may be too broad.

But if it reads: “How to troubleshoot your cake baking problems” That tells your subscriber exactly what you can help them with in that lesson.

Vital Information

Sneak peaks and secrets are hard to resist. The idea of this type of subject line is that you have a secret or special tip that you want to share. To find out what the secret is, they have to open the email.

You’re looking for enough mystery spark someone's curiosity and still show what your email is about.


My secret marketing recipe for building a list from 0-1,000.

The biggest lessons I learned working from home.

Words to Avoid in Your Subject Line

There are certain words that trigger spam filters. Using these words will increase the chances of your emails getting sent straight to spam.

Here is a massive resource of all of the potential trigger words. Depending on your topic, that doesn't mean you can’t include any of them. But use a little common sense.

We all get spam. We all hate spam. And we all know how the subject lines read.

Avoid infomercial phrases like: “free offer” “open now” and “limited time offer.”

Here’s another bonus tip for you. It will mean a lot to your subscribers if all of the emails in your email course can be easily identified and grouped together. Here’s a basic template.

[Email Course: Lesson #] Subject Line.

Following a clear, organized format for your email course will make your subscribers lives a lot easier.

Wrap Up Your Email Course With A Clear Call-to-Action

A lot of people get anxiety when it comes to that last e-mail. Because that last email is when you open the door to invite your subscribers to buy something from you.

If you are stressing over that last email, your call-to-action doesn’t have to be complicated or pushy.

Think of it this way…

You aren’t pushing someone to buy your digital product. You are giving them an invitation to invest in themselves by purchasing what you have to offer. (Even if you’re only asking them to sign up for a waitlist.)

Another thing you can try is encouraging them to connect with you by hitting reply if they have any questions.

A lot of people will breathe a sigh of relief when they see that you welcome and encourage them to come to you directly with their questions. It could make the difference between a skeptic and loyal customer.

Creating Your Content Should Be All You Have To Worry About When Building an Email Course

The tech behind creating an email course is easier than ever thank to Kajabi and its email marketing software. With Kajabi the only thing that you have to worry about is creating awesome content for your target audience. There is no complicated tech to figure out, so you can build email courses faster than ever.

If you are frustrated with other email marketing providers, think about giving Kajabi a try.

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