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4 Important Email Sequences to Use to Sell an Online Course

Email sequences can help businesses nurture new leads, and re-engage old customers and subscribers for conversions. Read on to learn four email sequences you can use to sell your online course.

When it comes to selling your online course, email marketing is an effective option. Through email marketing, you can create personalized messages for your email list. This can help increase your chances for conversions.

But what happens when more people sign up to receive your marketing content? Surely, sending emails manually to every person in your email list is just time-consuming. 

The good news is, there’s another way you can leverage email marketing to sell your online course. Enter email sequences. 

What is an email sequence?

An email sequence refers to a series of emails sent to a specific group of people. It can be time-based or trigger-based.

A time-based email sequence means the emails in the series are sent within a specific period. A trigger-based email sequence, meanwhile, signifies the emails are sent based on behavioral triggers. These behavioral triggers can be anything from signing up for an email list or leaving your website without buying anything.

Regardless of the type of email sequence you use, you reap an important benefit with email sequences: automation. In other words, you can nurture your leads automatically until they become loyal customers. Now whether it is marketing your webinar events or selling an online course.

4 email sequence types for selling online courses

There are different types of email sequences you can use to nurture leads and turn them into paying customers. Let’s look at each of them:

1.  Welcome email sequence

A welcome email sequence serves as your first opportunity to create an impression. Generally, a welcome sequence should have at least two emails. The first goal of this type of sequence is to confirm registration to your email list and welcome new leads. So, this type of email sequence is usually triggered when people fill out the sign-up field and hit send.

A welcome email sequence usually starts with a “thank you for subscribing/thank you for signing up/thank you for your order” message. In your first email to a prospect, you can also introduce what you offer to your email subscribers and motivate them to explore your courses. That’s why your tone should be positive and appreciative. 

The second email can include examples of recommended courses and a call to action.

Check out this email from JDS. This is the first email in the welcome email sequence:


It’s also important to create welcome email sequences when people purchase a course. This will enable you to offer important information about the course they just purchased, things to expect, and other information that can be helpful.

Don’t forget to include the best digital business card, too. This is one way they can reach you if they become interested in any of your offerings.

Bottom line, a welcome email sequence can help boost your brand’s credibility by helping potential customers warm up to your services. Use it to your advantage. 

2.   Abandoned cart email sequence

Anyone selling online courses may have come across this scenario: website visitors browsing around, selecting a course, and then stopping just before the payment process. 

People may leave the shopping cart due to various reasons. For example, they might not be sure about the product and they’re still shopping around for better offers. It’s important to re-engage these website visitors. After all, they already expressed an interest in your product. This means the chances of turning them into paying customers are higher. 

This is where abandoned cart email sequences come in. Nearly half of abandoned cart emails are opened. Around 29.9% of clicks on abandoned cart emails also lead to a recovered sale.

Typically, cart abandonment sequences include three emails. 

  • The first email should display the course, the price, and other course details. The goal is to remind and convince your email recipients about the abandoned product.
  • The second email can be sent 24 hours after the cart abandonment. This is to remind the subscriber about the course they have yet to pay for. To motivate them, you can add an incentive such as a discount code or a free trial that will no longer be available after a period. 
  • If the cart has been abandoned for some time, portraying urgency can help to drive conversions. The third email can then include a last-chance offer for the abandoned course. This will influence the subscriber to complete the process on time. 

Check out this example from Coursera.


To increase conversions, it is important to send the first mail within a few hours after cart abandonment. This will ensure you can convince your subscribers before they forget about the purchase or buy the online courses from other providers. Use personalized or catchy subject lines to grab the subscriber’s attention. We’ll talk more about this later.

When creating these emails, you can also utilize social proof. Potential customers drop carts at times if they are not sure about the quality of what you offer. Reviews from other customers and testimonials can show your course’s credibility.

As a final tip, make sure you have the right email addresses to send these emails to. If an email is returned to you, chances are, your website visitor didn’t give you their correct email address. You can use email finder software to locate this email address instead.

3.   Follow-up email sequence

Follow-up email sequences are another important email sequence when it comes to selling online courses. Follow-up emails are necessary for situations where a subscriber hasn’t taken action after a previous email. That action can vary. Maybe your email subscriber has yet to sign up for the second course in your two-course Digital Marketing series. Or maybe they have yet to specify the type of email content they want to receive from you. 

In both cases, their action is critical to sale generation.

A follow-up email sequence of three to five emails is considered optimal. 

In your first email, you explain why you’re reaching out to them. In the second email, you send a gentle reminder (emphasis on gentle) about the action that needs to be taken. Check out this example:


Notice in the email that Duolingo doesn’t directly force the email recipient to sign up for another language course. It just specifies the benefit of signing up again. You can send this second email three or four days after the first follow-up email. 

If your follow-up series consists of only three emails, your third email can be your “breakup email” where you promise not to force the issue again unless the subscriber engages.

But if your sequence consists of five emails, the third (and fourth) emails are usually brief restatements of your proposal and calls to action. Just remember to wait for a few days to send your fourth email after sending the third. 

If the subscriber doesn’t engage, the fifth email serves as the breakup email.

Every email in your follow-up sequence should be brief and straight to the point. Also, they should have a clear and catchy subject line. According to a study, users abandon 47% of emails as a result of dull subject lines. 

 When sending a follow-up email sequence, the objective should be clear so that the prospect can know which action to take. There should be a clear CTA, along with your email signature, to eliminate confusion.

4.   Re-engagement email sequence

Don’t just focus on your new leads. Focus on your inactive customers and subscribers, too. Remember, if you manage to re-engage them, you might just generate another sale. After all, these are people who already bought a course or expressed interest in what you have to offer.

Re-engagement email sequences typically contain three to four emails.

But before you send your emails, you should segment your inactive customers according to their previous engagement with your brand. According to research by Hubspot, segmentation is the most effective email marketing campaign strategy. For instance, one of your groups can consist of people who purchased a course from you. Another can consist of people who visited your homepage or blog at some point but didn’t take any action. 

The content of a set of re-engagement emails should depend on the segment an inactive customer belongs to. 

You can setup all these email sequences using any good email marketing software available in the market

Check out this example from Morning Brew. Notice that this re-engagement email was sent to an inactive subscriber who hasn’t opened any Morning Brew newsletter in over three weeks:


In general, though, when sending re-engagement email sequences, your first email should serve as an introductory reminder. Basically, you inform the subscriber that they haven’t engaged in a while. 

The second email can be used to request feedback after some days. In your third (and fourth) email, you can inform them about new courses or special offers if applicable. Special offers and discounts are helpful in motivating old customers to reengage. 

If the subscriber fails to respond or engage in any of the emails. You can send a fourth email asking if they’d like to be removed from the mailing list.

In Closing

Email marketing is a powerful tool if leveraged the right way. Through email sequences, in particular, you can nurture your new online course leads and turn them into paying customers. You can re-engage old customers and subscribers, too. Ultimately, you can also generate sales.

You learned the types of email sequences online course creators and vendors should use —welcome emails, abandoned cart emails, follow-up emails, and re-engagement emails. Just follow the tips in this article. You’ll soon see those online course sales coming in.

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