Effective marketing campaigns are one of the factors that come with the territory when teaching online. You can set up a website explaining your services and highlighting a few testimonials and sample lessons. But you’re going to have a hard time attracting students and building business up if no one is visiting the site.
How do online teachers attract students and grow their business? By reaching their audience with engaging and appropriate marketing. In the modern world of online business, newsletter automation and sales funnels have emerged as popular marketing techniques for building up your level of trust and establishing yourself as an authority. Let’s look at what each of these is, and how you can enact both to help grow your online teaching business.
What is newsletter automation?
Take a look at your inbox. It’s likely filled with a number of newsletters, promotional material, and ads, right? If you use Gmail, they make it simple to identify these emails by categorizing them as Promotions. It seems like every restaurant, shop, product, and influencer has a newsletter these days.
While many go unread in your inbox, odds are that there are a select few that you open for one reason or another. Perhaps it’s a product you want to buy or a blogger that you find informative and funny. Whatever the reason, you opened that email. You are their target audience.
Email marketing services
How do these brands send out so many emails, all looking so clean and professional? In most cases, they are using an email marketing service such as Mailchimp, Mailerlite, Constant Contact, or another from the growing list of available options. At Teacher Indie and Live Lingua, we are big fans of Mailerlite.
These services allow users to easily format their newsletters in a professional manner using a variety of drag-and-drop templates. Adding photos, text, links, and video is a breeze, as is arranging it in an attractive manner.
They also allow you to create mailing lists and elect which lists will receive which newsletters (if you have more than one). Start by importing any email addresses and subscribers you already have. Use their widgets on your website and any online ads to attract more subscribers. (Important note: when someone signs up for your newsletter, they are “opting in” to receive contact from you. It is important that your mailing list is made of opt-ins and that you aren’t just randomly adding people to the list that didn’t ask to be there. That is called spam, and in addition to being really annoying for those receiving unwanted emails, can in certain extreme cases get you banned from using the service.)
It must take so much time to write, format, and send all of these newsletters, right? Actually, modern technology has made the process incredibly simple. Users can easily link to articles on their website, upload and store photos and video, and include as much or as little text as they wish. One-click sends the newsletter to the desired list.
The ‘automation’ part comes in when the brand (you) wants to automate an email sequence. This involves automatic triggering of an email or series of emails based on a specified action by the user (member of your mailing list or new subscriber). A popular method of automatic email triggering is known as the ‘sales funnel.’
What is a sales funnel?
Your newsletters can be sent right away. They can also be scheduled to send at a later time. You can also create a series of newsletters intended to build your trust and influence among subscribers, and encourage them to buy your product or sign up for your service. This is called a sales funnel.
When a company or person is trying to get you to buy a product or service, they will likely send a series of newsletters all leading up to a Call To Action at the end. This type of email series is typically triggered when someone signs up to receive more information about a product or joins a mailing list either online or at a specialized event.
Sample sales funnel
Here is an example – Live Lingua offers a free service called the Live Lingua Project. This is a collection of resources to help users learn one (or more) of over 100 languages. To help certain languages in the Live Lingua Project, we created a sales funnel. Visitors to the website see a pop-up or sign-up form as they view the material. This is known as a lead magnet. Lead magnets encourage users to enter their email address to receive more information. For us, this includes resources to help them learn that language. If they enter their email, they are automatically added to the sales funnel list for that language.
The user receives the welcome email right away, which contains valuable information for them. Over the next week, they receive one email per day which builds on the information contained in the previous email. This process not only helps the user learn their desired language, it builds trust in Live Lingua and our services. Throughout the sales funnel series, we lightly mention our Skype language lessons.
What is a Call To Action?
In the last email of the series, we’ve placed a Call To Action. This is a selection of text, video, and/or imagery that encourages the user to go a step further and buy the product or service. In this case, we are encouraging them to sign up for paid lessons. Most people won’t do it, but some people will.
Email marketing services such as Mailerlite have an ‘Automation’ tab that allows online teachers or business owners to create these sales funnels and set them up to be triggered each time someone signs up with their email address.
Using Automation to your advantage
For online teachers, email automation can play a big role in marketing efforts. If you are considering running ads on social media, make the goal not to gain immediate sales but to gain opt-ins for your sales funnel. Send the opt-ins through a multi-day sales funnel, such as this example for an online math tutor (keep in mind this copy is very basic, meant only to provide an example of how this process can work for online teachers):
- Lead magnet (social media ad): Does your child struggle with math? My name is John Doe, and I am a professional math tutor. This month, I am offering new subscribers a free collection free resources to help your child study more effectively and retain more of what they learn.
- Day 1 email: Welcome! Thank you for signing up. Here is a blog post I wrote called “Top 10 free online resources for students struggling with math. Be sure the email incudes a link to your website, bio, social media channels, etc.
- Day 2 email: I hope you found yesterday’s post useful. Today I have a video for you outlining my techniques for increasing comprehension of the learned material.
- Day 3 email: Today, I’ve included a downloadable PDF called ““Understanding Algebra for those who don’t understand Algebra.”
- Day 4 email: Today, I’ve included my newest blog post, “How to keep your child interested in a challenging subject.”
- Day 5 email: I hope you’ve found these resources helpful. Call To Action to sign up for tutoring services, enhanced by offering the first lesson free.
Put it into action
I encourage you to browse your inbox and try to identify a sales funnel. Look through the emails and note the points that most appeal to you, and replicate those methods in your sales funnel and email newsletters. Closing a sale is all about building trust. Nothing accomplishes this faster than expressing a true desire to help the person solve their problem without coming across as too “sales-y.” Isn’t it ironic, then, that this process is called a sales funnel? Hey, it works, and that’s what matters.