Ever wondered how other businesses are able to grow to support 10 or even 100 times the number of customers?
If you're the kind of person who finds themselves needing to explain the same thing time and time again before it sinks in, then putting your expertise online might just be the thing to do it for you.
Suppose you could get your knowledge to hundreds, or maybe even thousands, of people by only needing to do it once, how would that change the way you worked? The way you spend your time?
You might want to let customers know more about your business. Or, you might be releasing a new product and you need to let your customers know more about it, or how to fix it.
Some companies have whole departments who do this for them. They spend millions every year coming up with the best way for getting the information to the people who want it. Or people who need it.
There are whole businesses who specialise in these sorts of things and would like to charge other businesses millions to help them put together what's known as an "e-course".
It begs the question, "What's so special about an e-course and why is it of such interest?" Doesn't it?
E-courses: simple yet very effective
An e-course (sometimes call Continuity Program) is basically a series of emails on a specific topic, that goes out automatically to subscribers. Your customers sign up for e-courses on a regular basis to learn more about topics of interest to them. Offering e-courses to your website visitors is a marketing method that often results in increased sales.
What is great about e-courses is that they are maintained and delivered using a piece of technology called an autoresponder.
- Lessons are turned into email messages for your e-course and are set for distribution at specific intervals from the point of sign-up.
- You get to decide how many lessons or messages and how often they are sent to your subscribers/students.
- You write out the information as lessons and convert them into email messages that you string together in an autoresponder series.
- For each email message in the series you set the time for each lesson message to be sent, and the rest is automated.
- You can even decide whether to have lessons delivered daily, every second day, every third day, or any other time frame that you think works best for your subscribers/students.
As flexible as you want to be
E-courses are commonly used to market products or services, for self-pace home-study and providing any type of electronically delivered experience over a specific period of time.
For example, suppose for a minute that you sell beauty products. You might want to teach your customers on the best uses for you products, how and when to apply them, how your customers can benefit from their use, what changes in their skin to notice as it improves, etc.. By developing an e-course that teaches your clients how to use your products in a step-by-step manner you are freeing up time during appointments, providing your clients with information they can go back to over and over again, keeping in touch with your clients without having to allocate your's or your staff's time. And you an schedule each new lesson to be sent when you know your clients are most likely to need a reminder.
An e-course can be written for almost any thing.
There's a bit of work involved... but not too much
Planning for your e-course involves working out what information you want to cover, who your ideal client is for the e-course and working out if you're going to sell and how you'll get paid if you do.
Next you want to work out out how many lessons it's going to take to communicate everything you need to tell your client so they get the complete learning, marketing message or experience. At this point it's also helpful to work out over what period of time you'll need to spread out these lessons. Typically, e-courses are 5-10 lessons long and lessons are sent every couple of days.
The frequency (the number of lessons you send per week) however is dependent on how much time you expect your clients to devote to your course. A client may need to practice each step or do some homework before moving onto the next lesson - in this case you may want to given them a little longer between some lessons and spread the course out over a year. Or, your e-course may be a little less involved and can be sent to your clients for a shorter period of time on a daily basis.
After deciding what your e-course is going to look like, you are now ready to write your the lessons/messages and load them in to your autoresponder series.
Using Autoresponders to Make Your eCourse a Reality
You need to have special software or an Email Marketing account that allows you to send autoresponder email messages (check out the article More Tips for Email Deliverability for recommendations on Email Marketing accounts with Autoresponders).
The way it works is you create every lesson as a separate email within an autoresponder series (sometimes called an autoresponder campaign). For each of these lesson emails you set a delivery date by giving the message an interval (this is the number of days, from the day the person signs up to receive your e-course, you want to wait before sending out this particular email).
For example, our beauty products e-course has 4 lessons and we send lesson 1 as soon as the client signs up for the course (let's imagine that they sign-up on a Monday). Then lesson 2 is to sent the next day, on Tuesday. Lesson 3 we goes out on the Friday and lesson 4 on the Saturday.
When you set up your autoresponder email messages you would give each message the following intervals -
- Lesson 1 has an interval of 0 (0 = send straight away)
- Lesson 2 has an interval of 1 (this means wait for 1 day before sending)
- Lesson 3 has an interval of 4 (from the time of sign-up wait 4 days then send)
- Lesson 4 has an interval of 5 (from the time of sign-up wait 5 days then send)
Autoresponder timing and intervals are pretty tricky when you're first starting out. The good news is they make a lot more sense when you've actually set-up one. Now there's a challenge!
So here's the bit about autoresponder timing and intervals that's confusing...
In our example, when our client signed up on a Monday they received the e-course messages as follows:
- Lesson 1 on Monday
- Lesson 2 on Tuesday
- Lesson 3 on Friday
- Lesson 4 on Saturday
Now when another client comes along and they sign-up on a different day, let's say a Wednesday, here's how the lessons would be delivered to them -
- Lesson 1 on Wednesday
- Lesson 2 on Thursday
- Lesson 3 on Sunday
- Lesson 4 on Monday
Once your e-course is set-up and launched as an autoresponder series it will continue to distribute it day after day, week after week, year after year... And that's why so many Internet Marketers and large corporations love using them; they really are as close to "set and forget" as you can get.
Some final tips on setting up your Autoresponder series
Make sure to check your spelling and grammar for all your lessons/messages. Your goal is to make the lessons and messages look and sound as professional as possible.
Don't forget to run a test by sending each lesson to yourself. This will allow you to review what your subscribers will see when they sign up for your e-course. It will also allow you to check if all the links you include are clickable and work well.
And the benefits...
After these steps, you are now ready to educate, advertise, promote and make some income with your e-course. Seriously. It's has been shown that an e-course introduced into a regular bricks and mortar business can actually deliver between 10% and 80% ROI. Which is quite good given there's a low entry barrier to starting.
So get yourself an Email Marketing account and turn some of your know-how, marketing or what you do into an e-course.
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