Use the Power of Email to Grow Your Education Business

If you’re working on your first course, you might think you need to jump head first into trying to build the perfect course in an LMS.

Don’t do that.

For one, there’s no such thing as a perfect course.

If you want to provide quality and value, you should always be iterating and improving your course based on student feedback. (Contrary to the passive income myth, teaching isn’t a one and done thing.)

So instead of stressing out about creating a huge course, start small: Start with an email course.

Email builds trust. Trust is crazy important if you want to convert readers to customers.

I’ve talked about email courses before. Here and here. But this time is different. 

Because lately I’m hearing a lot of people who think they have to build their magnum opus right out of the gate... 

  1. Without having an email list. (Or without emailing their list in months.)

  2. Without doing any audience outreach to find out what learning problems people have.

  3. Without validating their topic.

That's just crazy talk! If you're in this boat, you probably just don't know how to do those three things above. 

Well, email can help solve all of this.

Email courses are a great way to build your list

When people find out about you, they’re excited to know more about your area of expertise (and you). If they're excited enough, they'll email you.

Email is personal. It's also an amazing way to educate, share and get to know your audience.

Sure, you could just create a PDF download, but then people are more likely to just download the PDF and never engage with you. That’s not the way to build a successful business.

Email allows you to find out what your audience needs help with

Every time I work with a client who needs help setting up their email course, I tell them there’s one thing they MUST do: have an email that asks ‘What’s your biggest challenge?” (or some version of that) in their course.

Because that single email is an invitation, a data mining tool, and a way to validate your courses.

Hundreds of Zen Courses readers like you have emailed me to tell me what you're struggling with. I read and respond to every single one. You should too.

It will help you learn what problems you can help your audience solve. It is the simplest form of audience outreach you can do to learn whether your course topic will fly.

On top of that, asking your audience what they’re struggling with (and responding) builds trust, which is crazy important if you want to convert readers to customers.

Starting to see how powerful email is?

Email has higher engagement rates

If you’re trying to sell something, you probably know that email has higher conversion rates than social media or ads. 

Email Engagement Rate Experiment (say that 3x's fast!)

But what about engagement rates? Earlier this year, I wanted to test out the engagement difference between free email courses and LMS courses. So, I compared:

  • A free course in an LMS platform, supported by a drip email sequence

  • A free email course

  • A paid LMS course without email


The email open and click rates were similar for the first two courses: 55% opens and 8% clicks.

Free LMS course + Email

Free LMS course + Email

Free email course numbers

Free email course numbers

But the completion rates between the LMS courses told the story: 30% completion rate for the LMS course supported by email, versus 8% for the LMS course without email. (Still a ton of room for improvement there.)

This means two things: 

  1. Regardless of whether you use an LMS or not, you need to have email to support your learning material if you want improved engagement and completion rates.

  2. Learners are more likely to engage with an email than to login to a course platform (for free courses at least).

For your students, logging in feels like work. LMS courses are easily forgotten, unless you pair them with email to keep them top of mind. Or drop the LMS all together and just go with an email course.

Don't have an email list?

Okay, maybe you're thinking, "I'd love to create an email course but I don't have a list." If so, I've got something to help. 

I put together a free course, called Start with Email, to help you grow your email list. Click here to learn more and enroll. (It's free.)

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