Course Growth

How to Build An Email List to Grow Your Online Course

All the steps to build an email list broken down and explained. A lot of marketers stress that for your promotional efforts...

Written by Atika Qasim · 4 min read >
how to build an email list from scratch

All the steps to build an email list broken down and explained.

A lot of marketers stress that for your promotional efforts to work, you need to delve into email marketing. However, you as a beginner, might wonder how you can build an email list when there are four people (friends and family) who’ve subscribed to your newsletter.

It’s a valid question. No one, even big companies, start with enormous email lists. Everyone has to start from scratch.

building an email list marketing

Let’s dial it back a little. Email marketing is expansive outreach and a great return on investment. However, one primary issue keeps creators from making the most of email marketing – the absence of an email list.

To save you from extra work, I have whipped up this easy-to-understand guide on how to collect emails and build an ironclad email list to grow and sell your online courses and other digital products.

How to build an email list?

Emails are a fantastic way to connect with learners and convert them into your customers. They are also great for keeping past customers interested in your business when there is no new content to deliver. Let’s have a look at some basic steps that contribute to to building an email list.

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1. Determine the purpose of your email list 🤔

Here’s a little tip for any creator: before starting any project ask yourself why you want to do this. Such questions help in understanding the objectives behind them. They will provide much-needed clarity about your course business.

Note down what you think people expect to know regarding your niche and product. What do you want to tell them? What do they need to know based on their pain-points? How should you approach your audience?

Such questions will help you determine your email marketing outcomes. As a result, you will be able to efficiently approach your target audience.

2. Set up an email service provider 📧

To market a course business, you will require an official business email ID. Your personal one won’t suffice. Running any business requires professionalism, even online businesses. Email service providers (ESP) are tools that allow you to build your email list and send out automated responses to subscribers.

Moreover, you can track your click-through rates and send specialized emails to different audiences and segments. There are quite a few ESP options to choose from. For example Convertkit, Mailchimp, and AWeber.

build an email list
Set up an email service provider

3. Create a lead magnet 🧲

Lead magnets are baits that attract prospective customers to your courses. If you wish for people to give up their email addresses to you, they will require some incentives in return.

Provide them with something free and tangible to use like e-books, guides, promo codes, checklists, etc. Free short courses as part of a pre-selling campaign can also make for good lead magnets. Short video content makes for a top lead magnet with the highest conversion rate, so keep that in mind too.

Just make sure that these magnets are relevant to your course business and helpful to your audience. People won’t buy into something just because it is free.

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4. Drive traffic to your lead magnet 🚗

Once you have the content for your lead magnet sorted, the next step is to drive traffic towards it so that it find value and signs up. For this purpose, spread the word as much as you can, because this is SO important. Below is a list of ways by which you can send traffic to your lead magnet, with and without spending money.

  • Blogs (your own and on guest sites)
  • Videos and images on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Podcasts
  • YouTube channel
  • Webinars
  • Pay-per-click ads and paid social campaigns

The goal is to get people to know about your course business and generate leads after they find value in what you offer. So, the more of your trail you leave on the internet with your content, the greater will be your traffic.

5. Create an opt-in form for emails 📄

An opt-in page or a landing page is where your leads will drop in their email IDs and related information. These are essential to collect the email IDs. Together with your email service provider, opt-in pages will automatically update your email lists and send out your checklist to whoever subscribes.

You can either create a pop-up landing page on your website for this purpose or embed opt-in bars on your web pages. Here is an example opt-in form on an Airschool article. 👇🏽

opt in form for to build email lists on

6. Create an email confirmation process ✅

Developing an email confirmation process is necessary to ensure that people have subscribed to your emails. There are two popular methods for confirmation, one is single opt-in and the second is double opt-in.

As the name suggests, for a single opt-in there is only one task, add in your email address and you are signed up for the course updates.

In the case of double opt-in, one first adds their email then follows up with a verification email to subscribe. Single opt-in might be quicker but double opt-in helps avoid any fake IDs.

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7. Welcome subscribers to your email list 🤝🏽

In this step, you will need to generate a welcome email to greet your new subscribers. People often do not pay enough attention to this step. But, this is a significant step in building a relationship with your audience.

A simple thank you email will make your customers feel appreciated. You can also use your first email to talk more about your course business and inform people about yourself.

Create an autoresponder email for this purpose, it will save your time. Personalize your email by selecting a promising and catchy subject line – open rates depend on it.

Within your email, start directly by thanking the subscriber. Then introduce yourself and attach the button for you intended landing page. For click throughs, make the CTA button pop. Before winding up your email, do not forget to add links to your social media profile.

For your reference, I have attached a screenshot of Devlin Peck‘s subscription email that I received. See how it has a prominent button for the free lead magnet? That’s a sign of an effective email, it leads me straight to the content.

Create a welcome email for subscribers

Now test and launch your email list

Before you can declare your email list as complete, there is one final thing that you need to do i.e. beta test your email list. It’s good practice to test run any product before its official launch.

In case there is an issue, you can sort it out and save yourself from embarrassment. To test out your email list, just subscribe to it and see how it works. If it works as desired, then pat yourself on the back as your job is done.

And if you haven’t created your online course on Airschool yet, this is your chance. 🥳 What do you say?

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