How To Create Your First Email Course or Email Challenge

How to start your first email course

Has your email list stopped growing? Can’t figure out what’s
going on? It’s called the subscriber growth
plateau
and it happens to the best of us. Simply saying,
“sign up for my email newsletter” isn’t going to do the trick
in 2019. In this guide, you’ll learn how email courses and
challenges can kickstart your list growth and convert new
subscribers to paying customers with simple, automated emails. The
Solution Developing a compelling email course or
challenge
can revitalize your digital marketing, boost
your subscriber growth, and generate a ton of sales for your
business. Email courses and challenges uniquely attract a
relevant and eager audience by
tapping into human psychology. Courses and challenges draw on our
desire to learn, achieve goals, feel accomplished, and connect with
a purpose. Not only is this strategy effective at growing your
email list, it’s also a logical pre-purchase step for your
prospective customers. People that engage with your course or
challenge are primed to become perfect buyers for your paid
products or services. The best part: As email
automation tools like
AWeber
 become more powerful, accessible, and easy-to-use,
building a simple course or challenge is a breeze. In the following
sections, you’ll learn:

Don’t have a product to sell yet? Read on and learn how to
develop a product, service, or revenue stream to serve your new
subscribers. What is an email course? An email
course
is a simple series of automated emails that deliver
educational or instructional content. (See our newest course,

Everyday Email
. You get 30 tips in 30 days
sent to your inbox. It’s the MOST FUN way to learn email marketing.
Ever.) We’re in the age of online courses, where successful
entrepreneurs are making a living using robust, affordable, and
accessible course platforms like Thinkific and Teachable. These platforms help you
build, deliver, and sell text, audio, or video-based courses to
your audience. Online educational courses are effective because
they deliver valuable instructional content that people need to
learn and grow. With an email course, you don’t need to
pay for extra software
or find a new service to learn.
You’ll simply deliver your lessons by email. 💌 For example,
you might offer a 1-week email course to your website visitors.
When someone signs up,
AWeber
 will automatically deliver a sequence of emails at a
frequency of your choosing. This could be one email per day, or one
every other day. It all depends on your course content. Here’s a
quick view of how a daily course might look for someone selling a
guitar lesson bootcamp: An example of an AWeber campaign If
your email course is free, you can use it as
a lead magnet
a.k.a. an
 incentive to
invite lots of people to join your email newsletter list. Just let
them know that by signing up for the course, they’re granting you
permission to send them newsletters later. This is a great way to
skyrocket your list growth. You could also put it behind a paywall.
Charging for an email course using PayPal or another payment
processor is a great way to monetize your email marketing efforts.
If your subscribers start telling you they loved your course so
much they’d pay for it, you might want to consider charging for
that content. Keep that in mind as you’re developing your course.
What is an email challenge? An email challenge is
similar to a course in that you’ll still deliver an automated
sequence of emails. Instead of teaching your subscribers a skill or
craft, however, the purpose of these emails will be to challenge
your subscribers to accomplish goals and take certain actions. Your
tips, tactics, and guidance throughout the challenge will help them
set and crush their goals. You’ll also be building up your
position as a mentor or coach for your subscribers. Here are a few
examples:

  • Simple Green
    Smoothies
    offers a free “7-day Green Smoothie Challenge,”
    which offers daily emailed recipes and shopping lists to help you
    introduce greens into your diet.
  • David Siteman
    Garland’s
    “Outline Your Darn Course” Challenge, which
    offers daily emailed tasks to help future online course creators
    map out their content.

Challenges appeal to our human desire to improve ourselves. A good
challenge encourages participation by playing up the benefits your
subscriber will reap if they follow through. Let’s say you’re
running a 30-day clean eating challenge. You should promote the
positive health and energy changes your subscribers are likely to
experience from shifting their diet on your webform or landing
page. If your challenge is to help subscribers land their first
freelancing gig, paint the picture of what financial freedom looks
like after they’ve built their own business. Email challenges can
be sent at a schedule of your choosing — just let your
subscribers know what to expect. If your 30-day challenge is one
email a day for 30 days, let them know when they’re signing up
and in your welcome email. But if it’s easier on you and your
subscribers, your 30-day challenge could simply consist of one
weekly email (so 4 emails total over the course of a month). Not
sure where to start? Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal
subscriber, and ask how they’d best like to receive these emails,
or find a current subscriber and ask them personally! (We asked our
subscribers how often they wanted to receive our — which led to a
150% increase in engagement!
See how we did it here
.) Should you start with an email course
or a challenge? It depends on a few key factors. What will resonate
most with your audience? Think about your audience and the typical
content you deliver. Is it already educational? Have you poured
hours into building a blog or creating content that teaches your
tribe how to be better at something? If yes, an email
course
might be a great place to start. You already have
the content, you might just need to repurpose it and package it
into a course. If your brand objective is to be an authority in a
specific area, delivering a course can help you achieve your goal.
Maybe your content appeals to people’s aspirations. Do audiences
flock to your content because it’s inspirational, or
motivational? Then an email challenge might be
just what they need. Capitalize on your motivational tone and push
your audience to accept a challenge and meet a specific goal. What
will be easier for you to create? As an entrepreneur or business
owner, you have plenty to do. Buckling down to create an email
course or challenge from scratch may not be on the top of the list.
Using content you already have might deliver the most impact for
your effort. If you are a content creator, or you have a content
team, your course or challenge may already be out there. You simply
have to repurpose your content to fit the format. Do a quick
content audit to see what exists, what is still relevant, and what
is most popular with your audience. These bits of info can help you
figure out how much you can pull into your course without
reinventing the wheel. What will help you sell the most stuff?
Courses and challenges are wildly effective at growing and engaging
your email list, but what about revenue? How can a free course or
challenge make your business more money? How you make money might
determine whether you build a course before a challenge, or vice
versa. For example, if your current source of online income is
educational products, like a paid course, eBook, or physical book,
you can use a free email mini-course to introduce
your audience to a preview of the paid product. Give your audience
a taste of the value your premium products will provide and
they’ll be more likely to buy. If your current source of income
is selling physical products or one-on-one service, or promoting
products/services as an affiliate, you might benefit from
an email challenge. An email challenge can
uniquely position your products and services as the keys to
successfully completing it. At the end of the challenge, whether
your subscriber succeeded or not, you can pitch products or
services as an aid to try again, or keep on going. There’s no
rule that says you can’t do both! Maybe start with an email
course to build up your audience and later in the year, re-engage
the same group with a challenge. What’s important is that you get
started. Step One: Crafting your content Use the tactics below to
make this part of the process as painless as possible, especially
if you don’t fancy yourself a writer. Creating an awesome email
course Email courses help you and your subscribers grow! Teaching
a new subscriber what you know is a great way to kick off a long
and profitable relationship. But what should you write? And how do
you get started? First, create your pitch…
Determine what it is you’ll be teaching your subscribers.
Condense this down to a simple value-packed statement. This
statement will be helpful when you are writing content for your
landing page or web form. A great email course can:

  • teach a subscriber how to do a certain task.
  • demystify a confusing topic.
  • introduce your audience to an exciting new topic.
  • help subscribers make more money, save time, or solve problems
    by enhancing their existing skills or knowledge.

The perfect pitch for your course should include what you’ll be
teaching, how that can impact your subscriber’s life, and how
long it’ll take. Here are a few examples:

  • Enroll in our “7-day Email Copywriting Course” and never worry
    about what to write in your emails again.
  • Kick-start your side hustle with our “14-day Find Your First
    Client Course.”
  • Plan your Disney vacation like a pro with our 7-day guide.

Once you’ve nailed your pitch, you’ll have a sense of what the
content should be. Next, write your emails…
We’ve
studied a ton of email courses
to learn how they craft their
content. Here are a few different styles you might consider
emulating. The Traditional Course A traditional
email course consists of long-form emails that have both a full,
in-depth lesson and a homework assignment in each email sent. These
courses are great when diving into a complex topic. Use images and
diagrams as needed, and be sure to write in a style that is
familiar to your audience. Even if you’re covering a technical
topic, you risk losing your audience’s attention if you assume
they understand technical jargon and terminology. When structuring
your course, you can also list them out as lessons in your subject
lines and content (lesson 1, lesson 2, lesson 3, etc.). This will
help give subscribers a reference point for where they’re at, and
where they’re going. The Snackable Mini-Course A
snackable course offers bite-sized bits of information delivered
over time. These can be simple tips, 5-minute lessons, quick
exercises, or links to short resources or tools. Here is a great
example of a snackable course email from Henneke
Duistermaat
. Each day you receive a short tip about
copywriting. Snackable email example.The
Multimedia Course
Perhaps you have educational content in
different formats, like video, audio, or long-form blog articles.
If you plan to deliver your course content using different mediums,
simply use email to direct the user to a video, audio, or article
on your website, or another service (like YouTube.) Here’s an
example from Donald Miller of
how an email might look using this style: Video email example.Drive
your subscribers to take action
No matter what format or
tone your course takes, it should definitely be
actionable. Be sure that your audience has a clear
call-to-action to apply what they’re learning, interact with you
or a larger group, and stay engaged throughout the course. Creating
an awesome email challenge Crafting an email challenge can be a bit
easier than a course. It requires less educational content.
But you still need a pitch… Challenges are all
about transformation. At the end of a challenge,
your subscribers should be in an improved state. Your challenge
transports them from A to B — from unhealthy to fit, from novice
to pro, from start-up to profitable. To successfully attract email
subscribers to accept your challenge, you need to pitch that
transformation. Craft a short statement that explains the beginning
and end state your subscribers will move from if they take you up
on your challenge. Here are a few examples:

  • Launch your own successful food blog in just 7 days!
  • 10x your email list with this 30-day challenge!
  • Drop 2 sizes in 60 days!

Your pitch will become the compass for your challenge emails.
Now about those emails… Yes, you still have to
write them. Fortunately, writing challenge emails is a breeze.
Focus on one action per email. Give your subscribers enough details
to know what they’re expected to do, and why they’re expected
to do it. For example, on Day 3 of David Siteman Garland’s
“Outline Your Darn Course” challenge, he explains how to draft
your course’s “modules.” A quick video explains what a module
is, why it’s important, and how to do the task at hand. Sell them
on the value of completing the task. Give them insight into how
this single feat plays into the big picture and helps them achieve
their larger goals. Example: David Siteman Garland shares that once
your course is outlined, you’ll build significant momentum to
help you get a real course completed and ready for sale. Here are
some tips to make your challenge emails shine:

  • Include numbers in your subject line to let your audience know
    where they are in the overall challenge (i.e. Day 1, Challenge 1,
    Task 1)
  • Offer a teaser of how much effort each challenge might require
    to encourage subscribers to carve out time to complete (i.e. 20
    minutes to complete.)
  • Don’t let your tribe feel lost. Link to other resources, an
    online community, or your contact info to encourage them to keep
    moving forward.

Remember to play the role of the coach. Be equal parts demanding
and inspirational. Push your subscribers to do their best, and keep
them focused on the benefits of your program. Step Two: Building
your automated campaign Delivering your automated course or
challenge emails with AWeber is as easy as it gets. There are just
a few steps to upload your draft emails from Google Docs or
Microsoft Word (or pen and paper, if that’s how you roll) to an
automated sequence — or campaign — inside AWeber. (Haven’t
tried AWeber yet?
Use this link and try AWeber for 30 days
.) Designing your
emails Don’t let designing your emails slow you down! There are
hundreds of template designs to choose from, so how do you know
which one is right for your course or challenge? all that choice
might have you questioning which one is right for you. Pro
tip
: the best design for courses and challenges are as
little design as possible. You want your automated emails to feel
personal, like a direct message someone might send from Gmail.
There are a few stationary style templates in
AWeber
that will help you send simple personal emails. These
will enable you to focus on your message and on building a strong
relationship with your subscribers, rather than get distracted with
images and formatting options. Here’s an example: Email draft example. When you
simplify your email design, you can build your drafts in minutes
rather than hours. Simply transfer your email content into your new
template using AWeber’s
Drag and Drop Email Builder
. Add any logos, images, video
thumbnails, or links, and you’re set to begin building your
automated campaign. Creating your automated campaign Head on over
to Campaigns in AWeber. Just click the Campaigns link in the
Messages dropdown. Create a new campaign and choose “On
Subscribe
” as the trigger, this will deliver your
automated emails to all new subscribers. Now, just drag and drop
your messages and wait times (the time in between each message.) If
you want to send a 30-day challenge with one email being sent each
week for 4 weeks, simply drag in four messages with a one-week wait
time in between. If you want to send a 7-day email course, drag in
seven messages with a one-day wait time in between. Here’s an
example: AWeber Campaign Builder When
you’re ready, save and activate your campaign. That’s it! Any
new subscribers to this email list will immediately be enrolled
into your automated email course or challenge. Step Three:
Attracting Subscribers Once your course or challenge is live,
it’s time to attract the right subscribers to join. Focus on
these four elements to build a high-converting incentive: signup
form, traffic, visibility, and value. Let’s dive into each
element! Create your signup form Your
signup form
is the entry-point to your course or challenge.
This is the form that people will fill out to sign up! To encourage
sign ups, you want to make sure your form copy (the actual words
describing your course/challenge) is clear and compelling. Be sure
the design fits your brand, and it’s easy for anyone to fill it
out and submit. Related post: How
to Create Amazing Photos for Your Emails on Zero Budget
This
means you should limit your form to just a few fields, like name
and email. Asking for too many details up front might decrease the
number of people that actually fill it out. When crafting your
form, focus on the pitch you drafted earlier. What’s the value
that your course provides, or the transformation that your
challenge promises. Here’s a few great examples (from Henneke and
Pete from Do You Even
Blog
): Sign up form example.Sign up form example. There are
many best practices to pull from these. Some use color to highlight
key words and value propositions. Others use images to showcase
yourself as the instructor, or a happy student with a positive end
result. As your list grows, use social proof to show new visitors
that others have found success after opting-in. Social proof is
evidence from a real user that your course or challenge worked.
This could be a statement like: “Join the 4,000 subscribers that
[did the thing your course or challenge promises.]” This could
also include course reviews, quotes, or photos from your fans.
Another important element of your form is the call-to-action, or
CTA. Related post:
8 Ways to Improve Your Call-to-Action Copy to Get More
Subscribers
Many forms simply state “subscribe” or
“sign-up,” which is a bit dull. If you want your future
subscribers to be as excited about your course or challenge as you
are, dial up the tone of your call-to-action! Here’s a good example
from Simple Green
Smoothies
: Green Smoothies form. You can
easily create a form in AWeber, or use a third-party form tool,
like OptinMonster, or a
form WordPress
plugin
. Don’t have a website? You can also host a
signup form with AWeber and we’ll give you a link to share
.
Drive traffic to your form The best form in the world won’t
generate sign ups if no one sees it! Getting people to..
Source: FS – Email Marketing Blogs!
How To Create Your First Email Course or Email Challenge