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The ultimate low effort, high value offer to get more of the right people onto your email list: here’s how to grow your email list FAST with a free email course.
Offering a free gift to your readers in return for their email address is by far and away THE best way to grow your email list with the RIGHT people. Buuuut, creating that freebie and setting up the tech on the back end can be a BIG stumbling block for many bloggers.
Want to know a secret?
There’s a MUCH EASIER way to build your email list and it’s EVEN MORE EFFECTIVE than offering a free download…
The secret is…
A FREE EMAIL COURSE!
A free email course is simply a series of emails on a topic related to your niche that teaches your audience step-by-step how to do something they are having trouble with.
For example, say you have a gardening blog… you could offer a free ‘How to create a beautiful border’ course.
Or say you have a baking blog… you could offer a free ‘How to create perfect cupcakes’ course.
Or if you are a home décor blogger, you could offer a free ‘How to restore an old table’ course.
In this post, I am going to share with you exactly how to grow your email list FAST with a Free Email Course, including:
- Why email courses are so effective
- How to create an email course – step by step
- How to promote your email course
Why email courses are such an effective way to grow your email list
1. Email courses are seen as more valuable
While cheat sheets, printables, worksheets etc. make great opt-in offers, they do not have a very high perceived value… after all, if you tried to actually sell your 1 page PDF checklist, you’d probably struggle to sell it for more than a few pounds / dollars / euros.
Courses, on the other hand, have a very high perceived value. People don’t usually expect to pay for a 1 page cheatsheet, but they definitely expect to pay for a course. And most courses cost upwards of $100. So, to your reader, a FREE course sounds like a really good deal.
2. Email courses offer the solution to a problem
All good opt-in offers should offer a solution to a problem, but this is especially obvious with a course. By its very nature a course is quite clearly offering some kind of transformation… a promise to take your reader from A to B. (A being where they are now and B being where they want to be).
And this is precisely why people will pay often hundreds of dollars for a course – because it offers them a fast track to where they want to be.
This is why a FREE email course that promises to help your reader go from A to B is such an irresistible offer – and therefore why it is such a good way of growing your email list!
3. A free email course will improve your open and click rates
With most opt-in offers, what your reader really wants is that first email where they get that freebie. Your first email is likely to get quite high open and click rates. However, you might find that the open and click rates on subsequent emails are much lower. And quite a few of your new subscribers will unsubscribe almost immediately – as soon as they’ve got their freebie.
Not so with a free email course.
With a free email course, your new subscribers are expecting to receive more than one email. Because they are anticipating multiple emails, they are much more likely to actually open emails #2 #3 #4 etc., rather than only your first email. And they are much less likely to unsubscribe immediately.
Not only does this mean you are much more likely to keep a higher percentage of your new subscribers, it also means your overall open and click rates will increase.
And not just during the course.
If your new subscribers have got into the habit of opening and clicking on your emails over the duration of your free course, they will be much more likely to open and click on your emails after the course has finished (and much less likely to unsubscribe) as they have got used to the fact that they get real value from your emails.
4. A free email course will display your expertise…
A free email course will allow you to showcase your expertise and build up that all important know, like and trust factor with your new subscribers.
Remember, your new subscriber doesn’t know you from Adam, right now. But you have an incredible opportunity over maybe a 5 or 7 day window to get your new subscriber to trust and like you and to convince them that you are an expert in your niche and that they can trust your advice.
And if they feel like thay know you and can trust you… they are more likely to buy your products and services in the future (or click on your affiliate links)!
5. A free email course is a great advert for your paid products and services
What better way to advertise your products and services than by offering a free email course? A free email course gives your readers a real taste of what your paid offerings must be like.
People very rarely buy things ‘cold’ from a person or website they don’t know. A free email course is your opportunity to warm up your subscribers and get them into a place where they feel comfortable buying from you.
It’s also a great way to convince them of the need for your paid offering… A well written free course should deliver amazing value, but just scrape the surface of the topic and leave the new subscriber desperate to go deeper and learn more… which of course you offer in your paid course or as a paid service!
For this very reason it’s always a good idea to include a few subtle sales pitches during your email course and then again, a little less subtly, a few days after you have delivered your course – perhaps with a juicy discount to seal the deal.
6. A free email course is much more immediate for your readers
People are time poor and your readers and subscribers are no different. They want a quick fix to a problem, not something that’s going to be feel like a massive burden.
This is a big reason why courses work so much better than free ebooks.
Reading an ebook feels like a chore… and so it gets put off… and never read! Think about all the free ebooks YOU’VE downloaded and then never actually got round to reading.
‘Read so-and-so’s free ebook’ is the sort of thing that ALWAYS falls of the bottom of the to do list.
But email courses are different. They are much more immediate. Each lesson is delivered right into your subscriber’s inbox… make it short and actionable and your new subscriber is quite likely to both read the email and put it into action immediately… which means they will see results!
And if they see results, they are even more likely to trust you and potentially buy from you.
7. A free email course is much easier to make than a printable or ebook
This one’s the clincher…
Not only is a free email course far BETTER at building your list, improving your open and click rates and generate sales… it’s also much EASIER to create than most other opt-in offer.
With most opt-in offers, you have to create something, design it so it looks attractive (not always easy if you’re not a natural designer!), turn it into a PDF and then figure out how to deliver it via your email marketing service.
With a free email course, all you have to do is write a few emails!
Depending on which email marketing service you have, you would then just need to hook things up on the back-end so that anyone who signs up for your free email course gets the free email course sequence rather than your usual welcome sequence. (More on how to do this below.)
MY free email course to teach YOU how to create a free email course!
It would be pretty crazy of me to write a whole post about how amazing email courses are for building your email list and not try and get you to sign up for a free email course, wouldn’t it? ?
But seriously, the hands down BEST way to see for yourself quite how AWESOME free email courses are is to see one in action yourself… on a subject you are interested in right now (If you’ve read this far, I know you are definitely interested!)
So, to help you create your first email course, I have written a very actionable 7 day email course on How to create your first email course opt-in offer.
What follows below, in the rest of this post, is the basic outline, but the free email course goes more in-depth and has clear action steps to do each day. If you follow the action steps (they take just a few minutes each day), by the end of the 7 day course, you’ll have a fully functioning free email course opt-in offer done and out there collecting email addresses and engaged subscribers.
It’s a no brainer, right? So go on – no procrastination, type in your deets and do the course and then this time next week you can be smugly ticking off ‘create opt-in offer for blog’ off your to do list 😀
How to grow your email list FAST with a free email course – step by step
OK, so what follows is an overview of the process…
(If you want to go more in depth and see first hand what an email course looks like from the point of view of a subscriber [the best way to learn!] plus get lots of examples from different niches and practical action steps to put into practice on your blog and build your own free email course opt-in in a week, see above!)
Step 1: Choose a topic that will attract the right subscribers
Getting this step right is absolutely crucial to the success of your free email course.
Try and get yourself inside the head of your ideal subscriber. What do they want to know? What would be compelling enough to get them, not just interested in your email course, but positively excited by it and the transformation it could produce in their life.
I always say a good opt-in offer should provide a solution to a problem… so what problems do your audience typically have?
Remember though, it should be a fairly small problem, something that can be solved in 5-7 emails and only a small amount of work for your new subscribers to do each day.
If you have a product or service to sell (or plan to in the future), your free email course should be something that will whet your audience’s appetite for your paid offering.
Step 2: Outline your email course
Once you’ve decided on the perfect topic for your email course it’s time to plan the outline of your course.
Don’t overthink this! You are not writing a course designed to teach them everything they need to know about the topic of your course (save that for your paid offering!)
A free email course should be short, actionable and deliver real results in a short space of time.
Think about the steps your reader will need to take to get them from point A to point B, then plot the steps they will need to take to get there. Each step should be 1 email.
And don’t make your course too long. 5-7 emails is plenty. You want to tell your readers that they can get the transformation they are hoping for in a less than a week – that will make it all the more compelling!
Step 3: Write the emails
Once you’ve outlined the emails, writing the content should be pretty straightforward.
I advise you do this step in a basic Word document or Google Doc, so you don’t get distracted by the tech. Just focus and write and you should be able to get your whole course written in an hour tops!
Remember the following principles:
- Make your lessons short and actionable.
- Include plenty of examples and ideas.
- Include specific action steps – what exactly should your subscriber do after reading your email.
- Make sure that reading the email + doing the action steps doesn’t take more than 30 minutes per day.
- Make sure that the first couple of emails only take 10 minutes or less to do (Your subscriber will be pleasantly surprise that your quick and easy action step is ‘all’ they have to do and therefore massively more likely to do it [see my free email course for an example of how to do this], once they’ve done the first couple of action steps, your subscriber will be committed and much more willing to do slightly longer action steps later on in the course.
- Encourage interaction – ask your subscribers to hit reply and let you know how they are doing a few times through the course – interaction is golden as it increases trust, improves your relationship with your subscriber and improves the deliverability* of your emails.
- Where appropriate begin to softly sell your paid product / service (or an affiliate product) after a few days – get them to trust you first, then casually link to the paid offering or include it as a P.S. but make the main focus of each email a lesson… the sales pitches during the course should be VERY light touch, or your subscribers will feel like you have duped them.
- If you don’t have a product or service to sell right now, consider ‘selling’ an affiliate product that’s relevant instead.
If you struggle with this step, just imagine you are sending an email to a friend who is unsure how to do the thing that is the topic of your email course… write an email to your friend explaining exactly how to do it, then break that email up into bitesize chunks with action steps.
Step 4: Set up your free email course
The next step is to set up your free email course inside your email marketing provider (e.g. Mailchimp, ConvertKit*, Mailerlite)
Different email service providers do this slightly differently, but the basic principles are the same.
First, create a sign-up form for your freebie.
Next, create a sequence and copy and paste the text of each email you wrote in step 3 into a new email. Don’t forget to give each email a compelling subject line and schedule the first email to arrive immediately and each subsequent email so it arrives 1 day after the previous one.
Finally set up an automation or rule so that when a subscriber signs up for the free course, they get put into your free email course sequence you just created.
And don’t forget to proofread your emails before you set your automation live!
Step 5: Put the sign-up form on your website
There are numerous ways to do this… you could embed it in blog posts you’ve already written. Or you could create a new blog post or landing page to promote your sign-up form.
You could put your sign-up form in your side bar and/or on your font page.
You could create a pop-up that fires when a reader goes to leave or clicks on a link. (I would avoid creating any other kind of pop-up as it may hurt your UX and affect your SEO.)
You could create a banner or a form which slides up from the bottom.
You could create a dedicated landing page (especially useful for sharing on social media).
Remember the more visible you make your opt-in offer, the more people will see it and sign up. So don’t just stick to one of these – do as many as you can!
Step 6: Test your free email course
Now sign up for your own email course and test it works!
Step 7: Promote your free email course
Don’t skip this step… it’s absolutely vital!
In order to actually get people to sign up for your free email course, they have to know it exists!
There are many different ways to promote your free email course, including:
- Social media
- Paid advertising
Different strategies will work for different bloggers, so experiment with as many ways to promote your free course as you can think of and see what works best for you.
MY free email course to teach YOU how to create a free email course!
Ready and raring to get started on your first email course? Don’t forget to sign up for MY free email course: How to create your first email course opt-in offer!
The best time to start is now!
If you are trying to grow your blog and your blogging income, don’t put ‘Make a free email course opt-in offer’ on the bottom of your to do list and keep putting it off.
Take action and do it TODAY!
Your first step is easy – just sign up for my free email course!
Then commit to spending a few minutes each day for the next 7 days creating your first free email course.
By this time next week, you’ll have it done! #smugface
- How to create an opt-in offer that actually works – a step by step guide
- How to use Pinterest to grow your email list
- 26 reasons why ConvertKit is the best email marketing service for bloggers
- 20 reasons why every blogger should create an online course
- How to create your first online course – step by step
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*This blog post contains affiliate links, this means if you click on a link and go on to buy the product I recommend, I will get a small commission, but you will not be charged a penny more – thanks in advance!