Segmentation for Course Creators

When it comes to email marketing, you’re probably overwhelmed with information on how you should be emailing. One of the worst pieces of advice swirling around a few years back was that you had one avatar. The ‘one avatar’ advice is a good starting point, but as you grow it’s not enough. That’s because, you have multiple segments in your audience.

Before we get too deep, let’s talk about what a segment is.

A segment is a sub-section of your audience. That’s it. As you grow, you’ll realize that you have multiple segments in your audience, generally 2 - 4. And each segment needs something different. They may all join your list for a common problem or interest, but they NEED something different.

For example, someone just starting out with online courses needs something vastly different than someone who has a thriving online course business. Yet, they’re both interested in online courses. See what I mean?

What this means for you, dear course creator, is that your business needs to have a solution for segment (if you intend to serve them).

And then there’s the word ‘segmentation.’ It has a couple of uses.

  • For some people that word means ‘the act of identifying the segments within your audience.’

  • For others, it refers to the process of setting up different paths and offers for each segment (usually via a marketing automation tool).

Both are right. The latter, however, is better suited for a workshop, so let’s talk about the former.

Before you set up any processes or investigate tools, you've got to understand the needs of the people who will be affected by said processes and tools.

In order to segment, you need to know your audience. What problems do they have? What is the expensive pain behind that problem that drives them to seek a solution? What solution are they looking for?

These are just a few questions to ask to create a profile of your audience. The solution question is the key to segmentation.

Because each segment wants a different solution, remember?

For example, Gareth Pronovost teaches people how to use Airtable. He has 3 segments in his audience:

  • people who are just getting started/curious

  • people who have been using Airtable, but need guidance

  • people who have a booming business with zero time to explore Airtable, but want to use it

All have a common pain and interest. But they need different things.

  • Segment 1 hasn’t fully committed yet, so they want free info and low-cost solutions

  • Segment 2 wants a course or coaching solution

  • Segment 3 wants done-for-you consulting

Gareth started his business by offering consulting only. After learning more about his audience, he realized that the people who didn’t purchase his consulting offer (Segment 2) were the perfect segment for a course—so he created one.

Ta-da! That’s the power of segmenting for course creators (or any business owner).

Let’s get one thing clear…

Segmentation is the result of listening. Pure and simple.

Understanding the segments in your audience comes from listening to what their struggling with, what they ask for, what they buy, what they don’t buy, etc.

Ultimately this helps you create solutions for them. Ideally, this allows you to diversify and increase your revenue.

So, does everyone segment?

No. Saxophonist Bob Reynolds doesn’t segment his courses based on learning levels. Instead he has one offer for everyone who visits his site.

He groups everyone together and teaches them the fundamentals, along with advanced exercises. Bob's approach is to focus on process, not outcomes. And it works for him.

Okay, so how do you know when segmentation is right for you?

Again, listen. Here’s some signs that you need to segment:

  • You notice that people aren’t buying your offer due to cost or structure

  • You notice that some of your learners get bored with the material or flat-out ask for more advanced info

  • You notice that the material is too advanced for some people (This one is tricky because it could also mean you have some learning design issues. Ask questions to get to the root cause.)

Should you rush to segment if you’re just getting started?

No. Start with one offer and focus on making that effective and profitable. Meanwhile, keep notes on what people ask for. When you’ve got offer 1 rolling, launch offer 2.

Next Steps

Ready to level up your email game? Coming soon, I’m launching Level Up Your List, a community and coaching program to help course creators with advanced email strategies like segmentation.

Enter your email address in the form below to hop on the waitlist.

Want to learn more about segmentation, automation, and more?

Hop on the waitlist for Level Up Your List (launching Q4 2019!).
You'll also get free updates and articles every Sunday.

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