Quick course intro: Who is Email University for?
Hi there, welcome to Lesson 1 of Email University!
My name is Carl and I’ll be your trusty guide over the coming weeks. After taking a quick look at our LinkedIn group, I noticed that very few of us work at companies with 100+ employees. With that in mind, this course will focus on Marketing activities that can be achieved with limited resources and don’t require large budgets.
Fun fact: over 650 marketers from 50+ countries are taking this course with you. Join the LinkedIn group, ask questions, and share your knowledge — we all have so much to learn from one another.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Setting the stage
Before we talk about email optimization, we need to talk about traffic generation and email capture optimization. This is exactly what this lesson is about.
Traffic generation is a vast topic that extends from PR and publicity stunts to viral marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Paid Marketing, Inbound and on and on. To limit the scope of our lesson, I’ll focus on inbound marketing via educational content.
Freebie: This lessons also talks a little about paid marketing. If you’re completely new to it — and want to learn more — join my Udemy course for free. This 4-hour video course covers everything you need to know to get started with Adwords and Facebook Ads.
Education: A marketer’s secret weapon
One of the best ways to drive relevant traffic is to provide value as you educate prospective customers. For example, MailCharts is a tool designed to help Marketers with their email marketing efforts. You’re a marketer and you’re reading a course on email marketing. Coincidence? Definitely not.
It’s important to keep in mind that you can’t be too salesy and can’t shove your product in everybody’s face. You need to create content that provides value. You need to start building a relationship — and this takes time.
Who’s your target audience? What do they care about? What valuable content could you create for them? Whatever it is, package this into an email course. To get your imagination going, let’s see how this could be applied to different industries. I’m picking examples based on your LinkedIn introductions:
- Learn to code: Create different educational guides based on the programming languages your audience wants to learn.
- Fashion e-commerce: Create a ‘style guide’ course that covers everything from hairdos to shoes.
- Fitness tools: How to acquire new personal training clients. Talk about pricing, risks & insurance. Include nutrition fact sheets they can share with their clients, etc.
- HR company: The perfect recruitment process. From candidate sourcing, running the interviews to making an offer that’s fair and attractive.
- And the list goes on.
No matter what industry you’re in, you’re an expert at something. You have knowledge your target audience and clients would love to have. Turn your knowledge into a course, which creates an asset you can use to drive traffic and leads.
At this point, two questions might come to mind: how long should my course be and how do I get people to hear about it?
Let’s find out.
Content structure and process
Your course should be as long as it needs to be, without taking up too much of your (limited) resources. In my case, I work full-time and am building MailCharts on the side. Because I couldn’t spare the time to create something massive, Email University is a 4-lesson course I knew I could create on the weekend.
While the perfect course duration depends on your target audience and available resources, a good ballpark is less than 1-month, in a format that can be easily consumed by your target audience. For the “fashion ecommerce” example provided above, the “course” could be light on text and heavy on images and could last a week or two — where you’d send one email per day.
Whenever you’re coming up with course, aim for ever-green content. Meaning, create content that will still be valuable a year from now.
Pro tip: If you think it’ll be difficult to drive traffic to your course, you can simply create a landing page and start promoting it — without having the course material ready. This is exactly what I did for Email University.
Turning education into traffic
Let’s say you’ve created the perfect course (or landing page) for your audience, the question now becomes: How do you drive traffic to it?
It’s impossible for me to give you a specific answer since different audiences visit different websites, but here’s a few ideas to get you started:
- Interest groups: Share your course on relevant LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook communities.
- Reach out to industry newsletters, blogs and publications. If you’ve created something of value, they’ll love sharing it with their audience.
- On your website: Include a link to your course landing page. You can use something like hello bar, drip, or even add it to your website’s navigation.
- Paid ads: You can run some Facebook and Twitter ads to drive visitors to your course landing page. This can give you the initial traction you need to gain momentum on social media. (Freebie)
One note on the “interest groups” suggestion above: Make sure you become a part of the community and contribute regularly before sharing your content. If you don’t do this, it may backfire and moderators might get upset. (Unfortunately, it’s happened to me before.)
Pro tip: Don’t stress if you don’t immediately get thousands of visitors to your site. Finding the right distribution channels is something you do and improve over-time. This is also possible because you’ve (ideally) created an ever-green course.
Optimizing your traffic to capture more leads
The best way to optimize your traffic and generate new leads is to drive visitors to a targeted landing page. Optimize your landing page for lead capture by placing your course value proposition front and center.
Make sure you have a nice design and use a CTA other than “learn more” or “join”. For Email University, the CTA reads “Become a better marketer”. Short on time and design resources? You can quickly create a good looking landing page by using Unbounce or by buying a theme from Themeforest.
Depending on your traffic volume, you’ll want to run A/B tests to optimize your conversion rate. The Udemy course I shared earlier has a few lessons on running A/B tests.
A great way to drive more leads to your course is to use Ouibounce — an open-source tool I built — or SumoMe — a free tool my buddy Noah built. Both of these allow you to show a modal before visitors leave your website. You can place the modal on pages that already get traffic including paid landing pages, if you’re running paid marketing campaigns.
Pro-tip: When using Ouibounce or SumoMe, make sure your modal copy clearly explains how your course provides value. It’s important that you don’t come across as spammy.
Pro-tip #2: Looking to gain to email marketing quick wins? Check out this post by Noah on BigCommerce.
Here are a few modal design inspiration for you.
Also, here’s a good article that outlines a few ways you can drive more subscribers from your current website traffic.
- Should I use single or double opt-in? I prefer single opt-in because it’s easier for my readers. In my case, double opt-in required me to open an incognito tab, log into my personal gmail (because I’m at work), open the email, click on the link, archive the email (because #inboxZero). Also, double opt-in may decrease your list by ~20%.
- What Email Service Provider should I use? Hard question! I love Campaign Monitor. They have great templates and prompt customer service.
- Should my emails be mobile optimized? It depends on your audience but most likeky, YES! Over 50% of emails are opened on mobile devices.
- Should I wait for my landing page to be perfect? My vote: No. Get it done and ship it. As they say over at Facebook: Done is better than perfect. You’ll have your entire life to optimize it and reach perfection.
Well, this is the end of our first lesson — it’s time for you to plan and create a short educational email course. Share your thoughts, questions, and ideas on the LinkedIn group. We can help you brainstorm and provide feedback on your course idea. (Come on, you can create the course in less than a week!)
Feedback: What did you think of the lesson? I’d love to hear your feedback. Share your thoughts with me on Twitter. Feeling generous? Feel free to share the lesson on social media and love on ProductHunt 🙂
It’s your turn: Action item summary
- Create educational content that’s relevant to your target audience
- Create a dedicated landing page, optimized for email capture by placing the value proposition front and center
- Join the communities where your target audience hangs out
- Engage with these communities and share your newly created content
- Increase your content’s reach by using Paid Marketing
- Increase your landing page conversion rate by using a tool like Ouibounce
- Community: Join the LinkedIn group
- Video course: Comprehensive PPC Training on Adwords & Facebook Ads
- Traction book: A Startup Guide to Getting Customers
- Tool: Create landing pages with Unbounce
- Tool: Buy a landing page theme on Themeforest
- Tool: Capture more leads with Ouibounce
- Tool: Grow your traffic with SumoMe