5 Simple Steps How To Create An Email Course For Your Online Audience

Learning how to create an Email Course for your online audience is not as difficult as it may seem. Many of us labor over the topic, the length of the course, how to make it interactive, where to place your product and service offering, and the best way to automate it’s delivery. 

How To Create An Email Course -atThere is no one size fits all, but you just need to apply some common sense thinking, formulate a plan, do solid research, get yourself well organized, open up a Word document, and start typing.

I trust that the following 5 Simple Steps will help get your Email Course off the ground with relative ease.

1. Survey Your Audience

The 1st step in creating an Email Course is really the most critical. You need to understand what topic or detail your audience is interested in learning. It’s no use picking a topic that will end up in their junk or trash folder.

The best and most direct way to find out what content your audience wants to see is to ask them. Either pick up the telephone, meet with them over a beverage or send them to an online survey.  All three work equally as well. However, the online survey method works really well if your audience is geographically dispersed and you have many of them to contact.

If you are using the online method I recommend a service such as SurveyMonkey. SurveyMonkey is a web based tool that allows you to create and structure your survey in a professional, and time efficient manner. When you have completed developing the survey you just need to send the survey link to your recipients.

Your surveys need not be complicated. Just a few straight forward questions to solicit the responses you need. 

Here’s a few questions to help you formulate your own survey questions:  

“What would you like to learn more about in [fill in your niche]?”

“What is the one thing that you would like to see improve within your company?”

“What is the one thing that is causing the biggest time or money leak within your business right now?”

As you can see, the questions can either be extremely direct or even interpretive based. Personally, I find it best to structure questions that have open ended answers. Your questions should always be structured to solicit the response you need to develop your Email Course content.

2. Understand Your Strategic Objective

Step #2 can be a fun and creative process.

Before you begin contemplating content for your Email Course, make sure you understand  your strategic business goals. From a Email Course development perspective, understanding your business objective will help you visualize the location you need to place your Call To Action, and the content you need to develop.

Think about:

Are you trying to sell a product and/or service?

Is your interest in securing a business partnership?

Is your intent to collect donations for your group of children in 3rd world countries?

What ever you trying to accomplish please make sure you have clarity and clear visibility of your goals. This is the only way to be sure that you will accomplish what you set out to do in the first place.

Keep in mind, that you will be guiding your audience down a specific [content] path during the Email Course, and while you deliver what your audience wants, your audience will deliver what you want. They’ll be educated by your Email Course material, and your goal will be partially accomplished when they click on your Call To Action.

The location of the Call To Action is important, and you should keep the following in mind when deciding on it’s location:

Will my call to action make sense to my viewer in terms of the context of the content?

At what point will my viewers feel that they have been given extreme value?

Does my call to action seem like a natural extension of my content?

When inserting a call to action, for what ever reason, it must be at a point that seems natural, and will not cause your viewer to abort their education.

As I mentioned earlier, there is no one size fits all. You need to decide on what’s right for your audience, while meshing your strategic business objective into your Email Course.

3. Decide on the EMail Course Delivery Duration

The course duration can vary vastly depending on:

How To Create An Email Course - write

  • the Email Course content density,
  • your audiences expectations and,
  • your teaching intentions

Obviously the more dense your Email Course content, the longer time you will need to deliver the courses.

Two models I’ve successfully used – a 15 day and the 30 day course offering.

The 15 day course is used to deliver course material that is simplified, short and concise, and which can be easily digested by the audience in a short time frame by your audience. 

The 30 day course is more complex in nature, with content that drills down into the respective topics in more detail. In addition to this the 30 day course material can incorporate assignments.

Both the 15 and 30 day models will, more than likely, be distributed to your viewers within 6-9 emails. When you look at the 15 day course, you’ll typically be sending out a new email once every 2-3 days. With the 30 day course you’ll also space the emails evenly, but at a more manageable 5 days apart each.

Consider your audience and the topic when selecting your Email Course delivery alternatives.

4. Write and Edit

If you are a natural born writer and passionate about your topic, then the writing component of step #4, will probably be the the easiest for you.

You’ve established what your audience wants to learn, solidified your strategy and content delivery duration, and now it just a matter of filling in the blanks for each email series that you wish to send to your audience.

The editing, on the other hand, may take time. You need to get, not only the grammar correct, but the content, assignments, and the call to action need to flow seamlessly.

There can’t be any sharp edges! I highly recommend that you edit ruthlessly. Make sure it’s close to perfect. Create the Email Course that’s going to really WOW your audience.

Read the content from your readers perspective. Make sure the tone and language is correct for your audience. If it’s not change it!

At the end of each Email session, give your audience an assignment to complete. This will keep them connected and engaged until the next session. 

When your next ‘class’ reconvenes, summarize at  least the previous session, just like you would do in a real classroom setting.

You may want to break the monotony by using audio, video and downloadable worksheets. Just make sure the content is relevant to what you’re teaching your audience.

Make sure your call to action is in the correct place – do not ask for the ‘order’ to early, and don’t wait too late – between 6-9 emails.

Make sure EVERYTHING flows really smoothly.

Go back and edit again, and again, and again, until you are more than 100% satisfied.

5. Auto Deliver Content With AutoResponder

Step #5 is where we get a little technical.


The most efficient way of delivering the Email Course content is automatically via something called an Autoresponder. 
There are many options available to accomplish this, however I’ve been using Aweber for many years and 100% satisfied with their services. Alternatively, you can use MailChimp or iContact.  I’ve used all 3, but still lean toward Aweber.

How To Create An Email Course - aweber

The concept is the same for the different autoresponders. Aweber, however, has an intuitive user interface, with a drag and drop editor, the ability to measure the open and click through rates, but most of all have a delivery rate in excess of 99%.

Delivery rate is important in the Internet Marketing world. It gives you a peace of mind, knowing that your Email Course has a high probability of reaching the intended audience. There’s nothing more frustrating not knowing if your email has reached it’s destination or not.

I won’t go into the detail of configuring Aweber, but a few quick pointers: 

  • create a list specifically for your Email Course,
  • load up each of the course emails, and set the interval according to your overall plan,
  • test the delivery of your course to your email address. Review & refine as necessary,
  • setup a web capture form in Aweber so you can capture your viewers contact information. Place the web form in a strategic location on your website/blog.
  • publicize the heck out of your course, using the proven methods, including your social media platforms. Drive traffic to your site with the intent of  your viewers signing up for the EMail Course.

Your Take Away

So, as you can see, it’s not that difficult to develop an Email based course for your audience. You just need to follow a few basic steps. The bulk of your work will probably be centered around: 

  • developing the course content to include your business strategy and,
  • making sure the course flows smoothly, without chasing your viewers away.

The rest of the task are purely mechanical and logistical.

If you found this article helpful, and want to test drive a real 20 day course. give my “LinkedIn Leads In 20 Days Course” a shot. Not only will you see the course in action, but you’ll be able to get more targeted connections quickly in LinkedIn.

Now it’s your turn. Please share your experiences with Email Course development and delivery. What are the gotchas and is there anything else you can recommend?

Please share this article with your followers, fans, and friends.

Illustration by: Sharon Brogan

About Gary Hyman

I'm a strategist, coach, and consultant, helping business professionals build a solid online and social media presence. 25+ years experience in the business, technical & marketing arenas, Practical, results oriented, with strategies and techniques that work.

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25 Responses to “5 Simple Steps How To Create An Email Course For Your Online Audience”

  • denny hagel on March 19, 2013

    This is perfect timing! I have been considering this for awhile…thanks for the tips…great outline to work from!
    denny hagel recently posted…4 Steps to Teach Children Healthy Communication Skills

    • Gary Hyman on March 19, 2013

      Glad it helps & timing was good Denny.

  • Meire Weishaupt on March 19, 2013

    Amazing tips, thank you so much. This will be an excellent guide for me. Liked specially the tips in how to understand the strategic objective.
    Meire Weishaupt recently posted…My Ideal Work Monthly Having Scheduled My Blog Posts

  • Pat Moon on March 19, 2013

    Great information and step by step instructions. I need to review my 10 Day Challenge to Better Health. It is something I’ve known for quite some time that I need to do but have been kicking it down the road. Thanks for the encouragement to move forward and stop just kicking it into the future.
    Pat Moon recently posted…Carotenoids, Food Colors and Health… Green, Orange, Red, and Yellow

  • Meryl Hershey Beck on March 19, 2013

    Editing your content is especially important in projecting a professional image to your audience. Great information! Thanks for sharing.

  • Dawn Lanier on March 19, 2013

    Great tutorial Gary! You’ve made the steps very easy to understand and to implement. Thanks – I’m bookmarking this.
    Dawn Lanier recently posted…Daily Abundance: Remember How it Felt?

    • Gary Hyman on March 19, 2013

      Excellent Dawn. Glad you found it helpful. You thinking of producing an email course for your community?

  • Robin on March 19, 2013

    Great article! #1 is most definitely the most important and most overlooked by folks. Thanks for sharing!
    Robin recently posted…The New Facebook News Feed and Why Visuals Are Going to be Even Hotter

    • Gary Hyman on March 19, 2013

      You bet Robin – finding out what your audience needs is the most important. Good catch & thanks for your comment.

  • Daniele Holmberg on March 19, 2013

    Thank you for the strategies to create an email based course. Very informative.:)
    Daniele Holmberg recently posted…Slater’s 50/50 Sexy Seductive Burger Mania – Burgers By Design!

    • Gary Hyman on March 19, 2013

      Totally welcome Daniele. Glad you found it helpful.

  • Katrina on March 19, 2013

    Fantastic content here on your post! Love the step by step process and it feels real and open! Thank you for sharing this strategy with us!
    Katrina recently posted…You Inc – The Lie

    • Gary Hyman on March 19, 2013

      Thanks for the thumbs up Katrina. That’s what I’m actually trying to be with my audience – transparent.

  • Delia on March 19, 2013

    Great information and so rich, Gary, almost like for another email course 🙂
    I have not created one yet, but what I liked best for the ones that I followed was to have easy, actionable steps daily. If it was too long or too many things to do into one day, I would easily lose interest and felt as if it was a chore, no longer easy and fun.
    Thanks for sharing these tips!
    Delia recently posted…3 reasons why posting your Facebook updates on Twitter may be a good idea

    • Gary Hyman on March 19, 2013

      Absolutely Delia. Key is to make it fun. If it’s not then it’s time to do something else.

  • That is a good point Gary, you need to understand what topic or detail your audience is interested in learning…thanks for the great tips 🙂

    • Gary Hyman on March 20, 2013

      You bet Norma. Better understand what your audience wants and needs before starting anything else.

  • Carele Belanger on March 20, 2013

    Fantastic tips Gary. I love the idea of making a surveu before setting up the course.
    Carele Belanger recently posted…Interview with Denny Hagel

    • Gary Hyman on March 20, 2013

      You bet Carele. Probably one of the most important things to do. The rest – just a matter of mechanics.

  • Pauline on March 20, 2013

    Thanks, Gary! Like a few other commenters, I’ve thought about different models of course delivery, but haven’t really found a one-stop shop to learn how to set it up. Thanks for an informative article!
    Pauline recently posted…Google Plus and SEO Leverage the Plus!

  • Lorii Abela on April 3, 2013

    I love all these strategies as they are all simple, easy to understand and very helpful. Thanks for sharing them Gary.

  • Designer Rob Russo on June 26, 2013

    Excellent steps to creating an email course… Something I’m thinking about doing soon, too. Perfect timing!

    Thanks again for all that you share, Gary.
    Designer Rob Russo recently posted…Create Social Media Graphics in 4 Easy Steps

    • Gary Hyman on June 26, 2013

      Cheers Rob. Glad you found it helpful.

    • Gary Hyman on July 20, 2013

      My pleasure ROb. Glad the timing was good.

  • Alexandra Nicola on April 28, 2014

    Defining what you can offer them and asking their opinion about what they actually need would give an interesting combination. This way you make sure you give them something of value, that you can explain in details.
    Alexandra Nicola recently posted…Automatic SEO software keeps you on the same level with the Google

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