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What is opt-in email marketing? Top 3 things to know as a course creator

What is opt-in email marketing? Top 3 things to know as a course creator

When was the last time you bought something for yourself? Maybe it was the blender you’d always wanted or that course you had your eye on to uplevel your business. Now, imagine if that item had been free. With opt-in email, people choose to invest in something they want or believe will be of value to them. But instead of paying anything, all they have to do is click: sign up.

As a course creator, email sign-ups are your ticket to nurturing lasting relationships with your audience.

In 2022, over 89% of marketers reported using email marketing as their primary way of generating leads. There’s no better time than now to hop on opt-in marketing trends. So, in this article, we’ll cover everything there is to know about opt-in email marketing and how it benefits online knowledge entrepreneurs.

What is opt-in email marketing?

Opt-in email marketing is sending emails to members of your audience who gave you explicit permission to send them via an opt-in form. For example, people can sign up for your newsletter or email course, also known as opting-in to being on your email list.

Why use opt-in for email marketing?

As a course creator, your email list is a direct line of communication between you and your subscribers. By using opt-in email, you can build your audience and tap into your closest and most avid reader base.

Unlike social media, where engagement rates rarely pass 0.6% and can be restricted by the platform you’re using, you have total control of your email list. From the content cadence to the subject line and virtual greeting, your opt-in audience is plugged in from the moment they check their phone in the morning.

Opt-in email marketing gives you:

  • Visibility with your audience;
  • A platform to be personable and focused on communication;
  • A way to send consistent content out;
  • Two-way communication with your audience.

Opt-in email provides a valuable channel for course creators to engage with their audience. If you’re in the pre-selling stage, you can use an opt-in form on a landing page to attract new leads and future buyers.

If you’re using INDIE, we offer functionality for integration with MailChimp, which will allow you to set this up flawlessly.

Three things to know about opt-in email as a course creator

Whether you’re brainstorming the perfect online course name, or you’ve got courses ready to launch, considering opt-in email marketing is wise. Email can bring $36 for every dollar spent in ROI, unlike any other platform. Here are three things to know about opt-in email marketing and how it benefits your online course business goals:

  1. Why do subscribers have to opt in?

    Using opt-in for email marketing protects your business from customer complaints that can lead to your emails being marked as spam. With enough spam complaints, your open and delivery rates could begin to suffer. It’s also a breach of trust and the CAN-SPAM Act (and other similar laws around the world) to send emails without consent. Opt-in email lets you know that your subscribers want your content in their inbox. For this reason, it's considered a form of inbound marketing because no cold outreach is involved.

  2. Best practices 

    Email open rates currently sit at a 25% average across all industries. That means you have a one out of four chance of reaching your audience on any given day. To optimize this, you can follow these best practices for your opt-in email marketing campaign. Here are the best practices for getting your opt-in campaign up and running and retaining subscribers.

    • Be honest about what subscribers can expect from your list – There’s nothing worse than feeling like you signed up for something that was falsely advertised. Avoid this breach of trust by sticking to your offer. If your content changes over time, let your email list know. You can ask for feedback and provide information through polls and surveys that can be as short as one-sentence emails. Not only with this help you to maintain your email opt-in retainer rate, but it will provide opportunities for more engagement with your audience.
    • Opt for simplicity – Your opt-in message should be simple and clear. In most cases, all you will need is a value proposition and a request for the learner's name and email address.
      Offer something of value for signing up – Lead magnets, like informational PDFs or a mini course are a great way to provide value to your audience.
    • Let your subscribers manage their email preferences – As your audience grows and your offer expands, you may find yourself writing more emails. It’s best not to overwhelm people with multiple emails per day, as this can result in losing subscribers. Instead, allow learners to update their preferences and opt for their desired email cadence.
    • Promote your opt-in offer on social media – The goal is to turn leads into learners, and you’ll have greater potential to do that within an email list. By directing your social media following to the email list, you also secure your audience if something ever happens to your social media.
    • Use a double opt-in form – For niche products like online courses, a double opt-in form is encouraged. Double opt-in means that when your readers sign up for your email list, they will automatically receive a confirmation mail. This second opt-in email is to verify their addition to the list. While this may result in a difference in the number of sign-ups to confirmations, it will also identify your most avid buyers, which is better for click-through and open rates in the long run.

    Read more: 4 Easy ways to build an email list to promote your online course


  3. Pitfalls to avoid

    Here’s where course creators commonly go wrong with opt-in email marketing. You can avoid these mistakes with ease and craft the opt-in message that will turn leads into learners.

    • Don’t ask for too much information upfront – If your landing page is bogged down by asking for too many details from your subscribers, they may not invest the extra effort to subscribe to your list.
    • Don’t skip the welcome email sequence – A welcome email sequence is a great way to introduce yourself to your new subscribers and give them more context about the information they will receive in their inbox. You can even add a clause that encourages new joiners to shoot you a reply back. This opens the door for two-way communication and makes it clear to your audience that you not only want to provide value to them, but you want to hear what they have to say.
    • Don’t hide your unsubscribe button – Some creators will choose to hide their unsubscribe button in hopes of limiting people from removing themselves from the list. The problem is that this creates a lack of trust between you and your subscribers — not to mention that it is against the CAN-SPAM law, so omitting the button might get you in trouble. The goal of an email list is to build trust, so being transparent about email preferences shows that you’re a professional.

Read more: Thinking of buying an email list to promote your online course? Think again


Get started with opt-in email marketing with INDIE LMS

So, you’ve got the rundown on opt-in email marketing. To summarize, opt-in email marketing is a way to build trust with your subscribers through content that they give you explicit permission to market to them. Email marketing can be used for lead nurturing, getting feedback from your audience, and general communication between learners and instructors. With opt-in, you reduce the risk of sending out content that people reject.

INDIE LMS, helps you can create your course within the platform and use the integration to import and export learner contacts from MailChimp. How will you use opt-in email in your online course business?

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