Course Selling & Marketing

Newsletter Best Practices for Building a List & Making Sales

10 min
Crafting an Effective Course Promotion Newsletter_ A Best Practices Guide

Email newsletters are always in fashion! Email has remained the most reliable marketing channel for over 40 years.

Building an audience on social media platforms is like building on borrowed land. While can be a valuable way to connect with people, it’s important to remember that you are somewhat at the mercy of these platforms, as you don’t have any ownership or control over your audience’s data or contact details.

Owning and controlling your audience’s data, on the other hand, provides you with more autonomy and the ability to establish stronger, direct relationships with your audience, making it a powerful asset in the world of digital marketing and communication. And this is exactly what email marketing provides you with.

Besides, it comes as no surprise that 333 billion emails are being sent every day. Sending an email newsletter is the digital equivalent of mailing your clients at their home or office.

I have been working with email marketing for almost 10 years and was responsible for LearnWorlds’ own newsletter for over 4 years; I now run my email newsletter for my personal website. Email has been one of our most successful channels, and keeps bringing results.

In this article, I will be distilling my email newsletter best practices to help you grow your email list and get more sales out of your email communications!

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Growing Your Email List

First things first, there is no email newsletter without an email list.

There are a few ways of growing one, but in this section, we will specifically focus on the best practices of building an email list for the purpose of a newsletter.

✅ The Do’s

Collect name/email

When you ask people for less information, like just their email, you’re more likely to get higher conversion rates. On the flip side, if you also request their name and address, it can really help your emails reach their destination more reliably.

Decide whether you want more emails or better open rates, and act accordingly!

Dedicated page for your newsletter

For many sites, a newsletter form is a lead capture somewhere. If you want to build a successful newsletter, have a dedicated landing page for your newsletter.

Use Exit Pop-Ups

Exit pop-ups are incredibly successful at capturing visitors leaving your pages. Implement an exit pop-up across your website with a CTA to join your newsletter. Use a form to collect contact information over a button link for better conversion rates.

Add a CTA to your social profiles

Use profile links on social media to increase your email signups. Link directly to your newsletter or use software like LinkTree for multiple CTAs.

Paid Ads

If running a newsletter is your main money-maker, then consider creating paid ads to collect leads. It might be cheaper and faster than organically building your newsletter.

Offer a reason to sign up

Make your value proposition irresistible. Be clear with the value of your newsletter content or give a reason to sign up, like a template, checklist, or other free content.

Your ideal reader is the one who signs up from your newsletter page for the content, not for the freebie, but sometimes you need a boost.

An example of how you can use a lead capture to grow your email list.
Example: SEOSLY

❌ The Don’ts

Multiple CTAs

It’s not advisable to have multiple messages and different calls to action (CTAs) that lead to different outcomes on the same page. For instance, it’s best not to ask someone to both download an ebook and sign up for your newsletter on the same page.

Keep your message clear and straightforward.

Audience/message mismatch

Your language, value proposition, and message on the landing page should match the audience. Always keep in mind who you are writing for.

If you have multiple audiences, create multiple pages, but ideally don’t send everyone to the same destination!

Don’t spam your audience

Stuffing the page with buttons everywhere, repeating your CTA, and sending emails without permission (cold emailing at scale) are all spammy tactics. Avoid spammy tactics to nurture a high-quality email list.

Branding & Content

When your audience sees your content on social media, website, or email, you must nurture a consistent brand voice through design and content.

Building a brand might be the most valuable part of your business.

The same goes for the quality of the content itself. Running a newsletter is about the value you give your readers to keep them engaged and coming back for more.

✅The Do’s

Valuable content

Your email content should provide value every time. You want to keep your readers open and read your content.

Ask yourself whether your content:






👉 Of course, sometimes you need to sell your offering or services. I always follow the golden rule, give value first, ask later.

💁 Here are some awesome newsletter ideas for inspiration!

Consistency

Maintaining consistency is important, whether it’s in design or language. Do not change from an informal to a professional tone between newsletters, or even in the same email!

The same goes for the email design. It is okay to occasionally change the design and fonts of your newsletter, but you should stick to a single template to ensure consistency.

Mobile friendly

Many of us tend to open emails on mobile devices. Also, the average click-through rate (CTR) for emails on mobile devices is 2.13%, while the average CTR for emails on desktop devices is 1.18% (Team ITG “email Benchmark” 2023).

So, if your email newsletter is not mobile-friendly, then up to half of your readers will have issues reading it.

Be sure that your emails on mobile are:





Be sure to use mobile-responsive email templates and send test emails to various smartphone devices to see how they look!

Alt Text

Always include an alternative text in the media in your email to ensure your email is accessible to people with visual impairments.

An example of how alt text will appear when images are not shown in an email.
An email with pictures blocked on Outlook, how Alt-Text will look, Source

❌ The Don’ts

Frequency & timing

Sending newsletters on random days and times is bad practice. A/B test your emails on the days and the time of sending, but try to find a consistent day/time of sending emails.

Consider this: “every Tuesday’s best tips to improve your life”, instead of: “occasional tips to improve your life.” Which message will most resonate with your audience and help them stick to it?

Bad or cluttered design

Bad email newsletter design is subjective, but avoid:

… ask friends and colleagues who have a good eye for design to review your email.

A clean, simple email with enough white space is usually the best choice. Alternatively, hire a designer or use an email newsletter template that follows design best practices!

💁 Here is some inspiration with great newsletter examples from Campaign Monitor.

Email KPIs & Deliverability

It’s now time to talk about the three most important metrics: email deliverability, open rates, and click-through rates.

It’s unlikely you’re running an email newsletter just for fun. You should be measuring your results and optimizing your email campaigns.

✅ The Do’s

Subject lines

There is a thin line between a catchy and a spammy email subject line. Your goal is to write engaging subjects to increase open rates and avoid getting into the “spam” or “promotions” folders (or tabs on Gmail).

👉 Your pre-header text also matters, be sure to compliment your subject with a preheader text set.

Customize the “from” field

Knowing who the email is from can increase open rates. Avoid sending emails to your target audience from a faceless operation and change your “from” field to someone familiar.

Add your name if you are a solopreneur or the CRM manager/company influencer if you are a bigger company.

Warming up

If you are just starting up an email newsletter, it’s a good idea to warm up your email by sending a few emails first and slowly increasing the volume.

If you already have a bigger list, there is warm-up software that helps you prepare an email address for bigger volumes without getting blocked or spammed.

Segmentation

Bigger email lists require segmentation.

Not all audiences expect the same content all of the time. Consider segmenting your audience into smaller groups for more effective newsletter communication (for example, by demographics).

You can also create a list of topics that your newsletter subscribers can sign up or unsubscribe from so they always get relevant content.

Segmenting emails by preference for users, an example from ExitFive.
Example from ExitFive

DMARC, DKIM, and SPF

Set up your email authentication with DMARC, DKIM, and SPF to show email clients you are legit. This kind of authentication shows that the email is leaving from your domain, and your emails will not get blocked from the server as untrustworthy.

Unsubscribe & clean up lists

Beyond email best practices, an unsubscribe option is legally required under GDPR and is a generally good email practice from trustworthy sources.

Unsubscribing is also a self-cleaning process, where a “clean” list of people who actually want to read your newsletter offer better engagement and deliverability rates. Having too many people who don’t want your email communications may send all your email lists in the spam folder.

❌ The Don’ts

Email Size

While it might not look like it, emails can easily become heavy and impact deliverability. Your HTML code should, in general, be less than 100 kb, and for optimal email deliverability, aim for closer to 50 kb or less.

Attachments

Attachments are a very bad idea for newsletters.

If you want to send a file or share something with your audience, use a link to a file-sharing service or your website. Attachments to mass emails are a surefire way to get into the spam box.

Spammy words, capitals, and emojis

Your email subject line and in-email content should be free of spammy words. Those words raise a red flag in email servers like free, cash, money, etc.

Conversions

Any effective email marketing campaign is about getting results. That might be a click to your blog, product purchases (e-commerce), or sign-ups.

✅ The Do’s

Focus

Conversions require focus, and the best email marketing strategy is to keep focusing every email on one topic. Whether that’s industry news or different types of email content under one topic, focus is the key to keeping your audience engaged.

And, if you are running an occasional offer to your subscriber list, consider sending one-off emails focused on the offer instead of adding them to your regular emails.

A themed email newsletter by G2, the G2 Tea.
Example from G2

CTA Buttons

Your call-to-action buttons are important. They have to be relevant to the content with a clear focus. Make them stand out, but follow design best practices to avoid making them look out-of-context.

A/B Testing

The best email newsletters keep evolving and improving. Occasionally test variations of your subject lines, designs, CTAs, and type of content. A/B testing allows you to learn whether an optimization has worked to improve email open rates or increase conversions.

❌ The Don’ts

Too promotional

Give value first; ask for something later!

Don’t immediately try to sell to your audience. Avoid filling up all the white space with ad banners. That will cost you both in email subscribers, deliverability, and conversions.

Conflicting or unclear CTAs

Having multiple CTAs with different actions can confuse your audience.

Avoid asking for too many things in the same email, and keep your CTAs clear, actionable, and direct.

Email Newsletters with LearnWorlds

LearnWorlds is the best platform to create, market, and sell online courses, digital products, and memberships (communities).

If you are looking to create an audience around educational products, LearnWorlds’ all-in-one platform comes with everything you need to build and manage your email newsletter.

Building an Email List

LearnWorlds comes with many marketing tools to collect emails. Whether you are offering a lead magnet, free course, or simple sign-up form, you can do them all through your online academy.

Create a Marketing Form

Marketing forms are great for lead capturing. You can use them to capture the contact information or ask more questions from your audience (perfect for segmentation later).

You can use marketing forms on your newsletter’s landing page and ask your audience to subscribe or use them with a lead magnet.

Creating marketing forms with LearnWorlds, a screenshot from the editing environment.

Free Courses

A free course is a highly-valued lead capture. You can offer a single video lesson or a full-blown course with quizzes, exams, certifications, etc.

Try our course from LearnWorlds’ Academy on how to create a course, learn how to create your first free course, and start building your email list!

An example of a free course as a lead capture by LearnWorlds' academy.

Pop-Ups

A great way to capture the attention of your website visitors (and their email address) are pop-ups. Whether it’s a timed pop-up after 30 seconds or an exit pop-up, we got you covered!

LearnWorlds has a robust pop-up builder built-in, so you won’t miss the opportunity to capture value from your visitors!

Creating a pop-up screen using LearnWorlds' Site Builder.

Sending Mass Emails

Then, you can use the email lists in your leads or registered users.

You can send emails to the whole list or segment your users based on tags, groups, or other criteria!

P.S.: LearnWorlds also supports email automation for sending emails the right time to the right person based on triggers!

After sending the emails, you can see the stats, open rates, unsubscribers and more through the Mass Emails Report!

Managing and reporting on mass emails by LearnWorlds.

3rd Party Integrations

And, if you are looking for dedicated email marketing software or to keep using your favorite email marketing tool, you can use one of the eight email integrations or Zapier.

LearnWorlds' email marketing integrations screenshot.

🔥 More integrations are coming up soon!

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Nick Malekos is a Senior Digital Marketer in LearnWorlds. He is a results based and well-rounded Digital Marketer with years of experience in the education industry, writer and digital literacy trainer.