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Yet Another Article About E-mail Courses?

Jul 31, 2008
You might have heard various email marketing gurus saying that one of the best ways to build your own opt-in list of qualified prospects is to create an autoresponder with a free-email-course-jam-packed-with-helpful-tips-about-the-subject-you-know-about (yes, they actually say it on one breath, don't try it at home). This is definitely true; writing about things you know establishes you as an expert in the field, and your readers are more likely to buy from you because they already know and trust you.

Let's start with a short overview of what an email course is for anyone that isn't familiar with this marketing technique yet.

For example, imagine you're a real-estate agent, and want to publish "7 Tips for Selling Your House". The obvious way is to send the whole article to your mailing list. The drawbacks? Well, here are three:

1. The main enemy is your average reader's attention span. It's rather short, you know. Most of the recipients of your article are very unlikely to read text that is more than 2-4 paragraphs long unless it's very, very, VERY interesting [1]. As a result, they are very, very, VERY likely to immediately unsubscribe (out of jealousy how your attention span is so much longer than theirs).

2. The second thing also has to do with memory. Your readers will forget you (yes, they will, don't be a sissy! don't cry!) unless you contact them from time to time. If you send them just one article, you have exactly one opportunity to remind them of you and your product. If you send 7 articles, the chances of closing a sale are much bigger. [2]

3. Given the above you may rightly think that this is lots of work because while writing a long article does take time, writing 7 large articles takes ... even more time. And you're absolutely right.

Instead of sending an email newsletter with your article as a large monolythic piece of text, email courses let you split up the information into small, easily readable chunks. Each message needs to be no more than a couple of paragraphs long. This makes the information more easily digestable and lets you sustain the interest of your readers. If you decide to send the "7 Tips for Selling Your House" as an email course, you can deliver a series consisting of 7 parts, with each part containing a different tip. Autoresponder software could send it to your subscribers every other day so they receive it over a period of 2 weeks.

Of course, the reason you have the course in the first place is to sell your product. A course in which you share your knowledge in the field that has close relation to your product is the perfect medium; apart from inserting simple ads (a tad too obvious!), you can write the tips so that they suggest that the easiest solution is the very product you sell. Of course, being pushy and turning the course into a sales pitch is a bad idea -- you'll just have every subscriber remove themselves from your list after the first message they read! You need to keep it subtle. And the tips have to be useful.

Sending the course by hand is impossible, you need a tool to do that. It's most commonly called a sequential autoresponder. There are various good autoresponders on the Internet. I'll point you to the autoresponder application I designed and have been selling for the past 6 years -- FollowUpExpert. Ok, so I'm biased, so what. Everybody is. :) Anyway, as opposed to subscription-based autoresponders, my software installs on your Windows PC (nobody has access to your precious mailing list!), you pay for it only once (no monthly payments at all!).

How do you create the "7 Tips for Selling Your House" course with FollowUpExpert? It's pretty simple:

1. Download the free trial: http://www.xtreeme.com/followupxpert/download.php?a=ArticleEC 2. Install it (it takes ... I don't know ... half a minute?). 3. Create a new mailing list. 4. Add 7 follow-up messages two days apart. 5. And keep adding email addresses to the mailing list (you can import your existing list, no verification is necessary!).

A couple of short video tutorials that should get you started: http://www.xtreeme.com/followupxpert/walkthrough.php?a=ArticleEC

Of course, the autoresponder tool is pretty advanced. For example, you can set it up to work with a sign-up form on your website, it can send out email newsletters to your subscribers, it can personalize messages to yield a better response, and much more. And it's very fast. And quity easy to use -- or so my customers keep telling me.

Here's a link to FollowUpExpert's home page: http://www.xtreeme.com/followupxpert/?a=ArticleEC

(You may have noticed the ?a=ArticleEC part in the links above; this is a special markup that will let me see if this article is bringing me any sales -- a useful technique you might want to adopt; hint: I'm using free Google Analytics for my website statistics.).

If you have any questions, I'll be happy to answer them. My name is Martin Bilski and you can get in touch with me via http://helpdesk.xtreeme.com

-- [1] A good counter-example is the very article you have just finished reading (even though it's much more than '2-4' paragraphs I keep babbling about). You have finished reading, haven't you? ... Hellooo! Anybody here?!

[2] But not 7 times as big a chance. If one tip gets you 1% chance of someone placing an order, 7 tips give you a 6.8% chance, provided that nobody unsubscribes over the whole course (very unlikely). Did I get the math right?
About the Author
I designed, built, and use a pretty decent email marketing tool than runs on Windows and helps thousands of home & small business companies greatly increase their income through email newsletters and sequential autoresponders.
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