14 Email Marketing Best Practices For Every Online Course Creator

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Email marketing is a powerful strategy. At its core, the definition of email marketing is to connect with people through email.

When you’re trying to get people to enroll in your course the next best thing is for them to opt into your email list. This way you can follow up over time and convince them you are the expert in your market who can help them reach their goals. When done right they’ll move closer to enrolling in your course over time.

The following list includes tips on email marketing that will keep you out of the spam box and instead, bring the focus on you as a trusted expert.

Table of Contents

1. Collect the email in an ethical manner

Opt-in rates for website visitors are a paltry 2%, which can be frustrating for your email marketing strategy. Consequently, some companies choose to gather email lists from third-party vendors. Most of these vendors gather emails through improper methods. If you do this, your emails will land in the customer’s inbox uninvited, which will be uncomfortable for everyone involved.

Always use permission based email marketing. Often, it is not the number of emails you have in your list that counts; it’s about the quality of the email list. An email list of 100 people is great if it features people who willingly sign up for your online course communication. It is better than one with 100,000 people randomly taken from the web.

You can greatly increase your opt-in rate by the position and type of web forms you use to collect subscribers. In addition, you can choose from various types of lead magnets and hit on the perfect enticement for your visitors.

2. Update your email list regularly

After someone signs up for your email list, many things change over time. He or she may buy a similar product (like a training course) from another vendor. If that course gets him the outcome he was hoping for, he may not need your product any time soon. If the person wanted an online course to study for the MCAT (the medical school entrance exam), six months down the line the person may already be enrolled in medical school. Sending such a person an email will be a waste of everyone’s time.

Clean up your email list every six months. According to Statista, the open rate for emails in the education industry is 13 percent. Ensure that you target the most relevant person with your email to increase your open rates.

3. Offer value in the email

Google, which is the largest search engine by traffic, uses content as the most critical factor in its algorithm. People who offer value rank highly on the search results page. Google does this because they know people are looking for solutions online. People make queries related to a service that can help them. As an online course creator, you can offer your target audience content related to online classes and solutions through email.

Every day, about 110 billion emails are sent to 3 billion recipients, which is an average of 35 emails per person. If your subscribers use Gmail, then their emails will be organized into several different folders. Your email might escape the spam folder, but it has to overcome the promotional emails and the social folders before they can hit the inbox.

Perfect the art of storytelling and add value to get your emails noticed.

4. Customize every email

Do not just customize; personalize every email you broadcast to your target audience. Very few people want to read a general email when there are 35 of them waiting. If you require more customer engagement, higher open rates, and conversions, you need to personalize content.

The person signed up alone, why bother him or her with group information? Curate your messages for every person to make them feel special.

5. You are not the only one who has the clients email

Your desire to solve the client’s problem will make you stand out in the email. Your work is to know what the client wants, forecast when he or she wants it, and make it available.

Drip campaigns can work very effectively. When a client subscribes to your email list, thank him or her and let them know what to expect. Invite them to sample some of your work online. If you offer various courses, you can invite the person to take a tour of your site. You can also encourage them to try a demo course. Lead them to the reviews page, too, so that they can have a feel of your customer satisfaction rates.

6. Track and analyze

A marketing campaign that does not have a way of measuring progress is blind at best. You can know what is happening with your campaigns through tracking and analysis. Track and measure all email marketing metrics to identify what is working and what is not.

This means you need to make sure your email marketing tool can measure what you’re interested in measuring. For instance, most email marketing solutions can measure open rates as long as you include an image within the email. It’s worth it to check on details like this as you move forward. The main point is that you need to track email marketing analytics like your open rates, conversion rates, and click-through rates.

If you’re not happy with the numbers, change your approach. Harness the results of your analysis, and use them to improve your efforts. Use the metrics to identify and replicate the most successful campaigns. If a campaign generates mediocre results, improve on it or discard it.

7. Keep the emails optimal

Optimal emails don’t have a specific word count or specific content that you can add. However, email reading is not a full-time job; it is a paired activity. People read emails while watching TV programs, while commuting, in bed, or even outdoors. Emails fall in the same category as text messages, which require seconds to skim.

Therefore, your email marketing efforts can reap great rewards if they are kept simple. Bulky emails will take longer to load. If they take more than two seconds, most people will move on to another email. If the images cannot load, people will often not wait.

8. Make it mobile friendly

TechCrunch estimates that three in every four Gmail users open emails via their mobile devices. If you extrapolate that to all other email providers, it translates to over 2 billion people. This tells you that you cannot neglect mobile optimization. You have to test and retest on different mobile devices before you send your email.

IPhone users are lucky with image-laden emails, but their Android counterparts are not as fortunate. A sweet spot for text to image ratio is 80:20.

9. Request feedback

Asking for comments is an effective way of breaking the ice. You can start your emails with catch-up questions such as “Did you find our demo course useful?” or “What would you like us to add in our demo?”

Such messages can ignite customer engagement and consequent conversions. The more engagements that a customer has with you, the higher the chances of them referring you or deciding to buy.

10. Segment your email list at the source

Segmentation is a proven way of increasing the efficacy of an email list. It is the first step of personalization. You can segment your subscribers into general lists first and then segment each category further. You can use product interest or any relevant demographic feature (if you have it), or interest in specific lead magnets.

11. The company, subject line, and text description

They go in that order when it comes to the likelihood of a person opening an email. About 64 percent depends on brand recognition, 47 percent rely on the subject line, and 26 percent open after reading something interesting in the email description.

Building your brand reputation is a long-term goal that you should start sooner rather than later. Take time to personalize the subject line and insightful descriptions for your emails.

12. Make automation work for you and your targets

Automation makes everything easy, but it can also make things chaotic quite fast. A chance to send 100 emails in a flash is not necessarily a good thing if you abuse it. One in every two marketers is using email automation, which means your competitors are probably using it too.

Successful automation should rely on carefully constructed triggers. For example, when a person signs up for emails, an automatic email can follow them to their email for a double opt-in request or a welcome message. Automated emails can also have a holiday or event trigger.

13. Make the content worth sharing

You can use email to hunt for social shares, social media followers, and subscribers, but it all depends on how you go about it. Make it easy and worthy to share your content.

14. Optimize sending time

Optimize email frequency and ensure your cadence is rational. You don’t expect a person to read five emails from your company in the same week. Respect your client inbox by sending only the most relevant materials. If you must add many items, use links instead.

Optimizing sending time can be a game changer for your company. A slow Tuesday is a good day to send your emails. Only about three in every 10 companies are optimizing send times. If you left your email with five unread messages, you would not keep rechecking it. However, a new email notification might prompt you to check it. Send your emails when people are online or just before lunch breaks.


There are a lot of email marketing best practices, this article just touches on the top 14. With email marketing, it’s best to get started with a grasp of the best practices and then refine your strategy from there.

Here are the top two takeaways before you get started:

  • First, it’s ultra important to collect your list of subscribers ethically. You must allow visitors the choice to opt-in to your email list or not. Never buy a list of email subscribers. It’s not ethical.
  • Next, have a plan for segmenting over time. You can start with a list of prospects and a list of buyers and then segment further from there.

Do you have any email marketing best practices to share with others? If so, leave them in the comments.

Lisa Parmley
Lisa Parmley

Lisa Parmley is the founder of coursemethod.com. After gaining a Master's degree, she worked in research for about seven years. She started a training company in 2001, offering a course helping people pass a professional exam. That course has earned multiple 7 figures. She created SEO and authority site building training around 2007 which went on to earn well into the 6-figure mark.

She has 22+ years of experience in the trenches creating and selling online courses. Get help starting and growing your online course business here.

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