Last updated on January 25th, 2023
Post-purchase emails are a given in the eCommerce and SaaS worlds. Not so much in the online course world.
I mean … most post-purchase emails for courses look like the example below:
Hello, FNAME. You’re IN!
Here are your login credentials:
Got it? Great. See ya later!
– Online Course Creator.
It’s a perfectly polite, perfunctory email with all the zing of an office memo. 🙄
Nothing wrong with this.
Except that when a student signs up for your course … they deserve more.
Because if days or even weeks pass before your students hear from you, you can safely assume their initial “buy now” adrenaline is dead in the water.
With avg. course completion rates hovering anywhere between 5 and 15%, online course creators can’t afford to be complacent with lackluster post-purchase course emails, or worse … prematurely exit their student’s inbox until the next launch.
5 Post-Purchase Emails for Student-Focused Course Creators
Before I dig into the 5 email sequences that course creators who care about student success send … here’s a story.
I hired a nutritionist recently.
What impressed me as a client right off the bat?
Her team handled most of it. Including setting up the WhatsApp group for us and sending me material to prep and go through before we kicked things off.
The material they sent me wasn’t nutrition theory. *yawn*
It was motivational and encouraging, like a warm hug wrapped in a positive pep talk, delivered PDF-style.
Gave me the boost I needed after the dopamine of signing up settled down.
Your students are the same.
When they sign up for your course, they feel great because they’ve taken action! 💪🏽
BUT once a few days pass, reality sets in.
Maybe they haven’t had a chance to log in.
Maybe their life situation’s hectic.
Maybe … maybe.
You don’t know. 🤷🏽
What YOU do know is … you want to support them and see them succeed.
Your course can be amazing.
BUT if your students don’t ever log in … they’ll never know how amazing your course is!
Or if they do go through it but never share their a-has with you … you’ll always be wondering whether it’s truly serving them.
How do you change this?
You help them see that you’re there for them.
Easiest to automate. Most effective for connecting with your community.
I’ll share exactly which emails in a minute but know this …
These emails cover a lot of ground, from covering “House Rules” to providing support checkpoints. You can use them to send content & course updates, and ensure your students are getting the most value from your course.
If you’re wondering … why bother with email? Especially if you are already diligently present and connecting students on other platforms?
It’s because email feels more personal. Like the warm hug I felt during my onboarding.
And also, this. 👇🏾
According to a recent Teachable Survey, 66% of online course creators cite email marketing as their #1 customer source and almost 40% of consumers discover products by word of mouth (and that kind of endorsement doesn’t come from people who engage half-heartedly with your course).
Your post-purchase emails can be a friction-reducer and provide that extra bit of reassurance to your students that they are in the right place.
Here are 5 types of emails you can add quickly to give your students the support they need beyond your course content:
1. Onboarding Emails
An onboarding email is one that you send out when someone signs up for your course.
Chances are you already have this. It usually includes course log-in details, community access details, call details, etc.
BUT what you can do to truly stand out as a creator who cares is go a step further.
Because not everyone is an immediate implementer — sliding into action and moving from point A to point B flawlessly, navigating the course dashboard quickly and confidently.
A series of welcome or onboarding emails provide that initial guidance and digital way-finding.
Your onboarding emails can go a LONG way in reducing the anxiety and early-stage course butterflies by building familiarity and letting students know what they can expect, the type of emails and communication you’ll be sending them, and the next steps.
So yeah, go a step further than simply sending their login information and a list of call times.
You can have a short (say, 3 email-long) onboarding sequence that not only gives your students their access details but also helps them feel more settled in and keeps up the momentum that they’ve created by signing up.
✅ Encourage them to introduce themselves in the community or fill out the intake form.
❤️ Give them a reason to be thrilled about their investment with a personal voice or video message from you.
🏆 Share “quick wins” lessons they can dig into right away.
Other ideas for making your onboarding emails truly warm and welcoming:
✔️ A welcome video and a mini tour of the course dashboard or discussion channels.
✔️ A curated “get started here” roadmap: a collection of foundational content assets (videos, podcasts, blogs, highlights — whatever!) that shares your story, your unique framework, and topics you’ll discuss within your course.
✔️ Course pre-work that prepares them for the first module or kick-off call.
✔️ You can take the opportunity to make your welcome sequence more social by sharing the student member roster, upcoming ice breaker sessions, and introductions in an email.
The goal here is to ease new students in, generate buzz, AND make sure your students feel good about being here (because if you can’t get them to do that, it’ll be tough to get them engaged throughout!)
Next, we have:
2. Course-Specific Emails
Course-specific emails include details of module releases (if you have a cohort-style course, like Ready-to-Sell) or specific modules (if you’re running an evergreen course) or even certain lessons or bonuses.
As a course creator, you know where your audience may feel a little stuck or overwhelmed.
You can use these course-specific emails to help them get unstuck with your course content.
Course-specific emails need an extra serving of “whoop” and move students out of the lull of their comfort zone so they will feel confident enough to get more hands-on with your course content.
In course-specific emails, you can:
🎓 Outline the curriculum, the schedule, and the pace.
🎓 You can share the breakdown of modules and lessons (including dates, if appropriate, when content goes “live”).
🎓 Direct them to the location of must-have content assets and course material.
🎓 Share a course directory with important resources, FAQs, and easy access to additional support hubs, groups, and communities.
🎓 Showcase content and highlight key lessons, the “crowning jewel” of each module or unit, and/or highlight bonuses that are too good for them to miss.
It might seem like you are still selling your course … because, well, you are.
You want to keep the progress meter running with a well-informed and motivated cohort.
Not a listless student body losing traction and gaining apathy by the minute.
Quite apart from simply cheerleading your content, you need to communicate that you’re there for them AND available to help them — especially in challenging and overwhelming areas.
3. Student-Specific Emails
Another way to help your students feel confident and excited about the course they’ve signed up for is… student-specific emails.
Here’s what I know for sure… most audiences often come up against similar (but not identical) struggles when learning — time, energy, motivation, shiny object syndrome, or emotional exhaustion and overwhelm.
Some or all of these affect their ability to continue learning new content.
How can YOU help your students stay on track while showing empathy and understanding for their life seasons and struggles?
THAT is what you aim to do via your student-specific emails.
In your student-specific, post-purchase emails, you can send empathy-focused emails. Emails that showcase you understand how progress can stall and how the best-laid plans can easily derail when life implodes or client work takes over.
AND you’re not merely a shoulder to cry on because, in these emails, you will provide a way forward with solutions like:
✔️ Your office hours, the contact details of your course moderator (if you have one), or directing them to the discussion forum or any channel they can use as a resource.
✔️ Strategic tips to deal with procrastination, imposter syndrome, burnout, or time management.
✔️ A Typeform link so they can submit their q’s.
✔️ A relevant question another student asked you (shared with permission) and decide to set up a hot seat call if you are fielding lots of the same questions and stuck points.
✔️ Accountability pods, partners, leaderboards, or promote and encourage challenge participation.
✔️ Links to quizzes to reinforce their learnings lest people passively watch and binge-watch the lessons.
✔️ Course completion bonuses.
The point is, you let your students know you’re there to deliver a personalized, high-touch service.
This ongoing support focus is critical because folks remember their last experiences vividly and set the dominant, lasting impression they will have of you (holla Recency Effect!)
With that … let’s move on to your offboarding emails!
4. Offboarding Emails
Offboarding emails are designed to give your students a celebratory send-off.
You want them to feel great about not only signing up but also showing up and continuing to take action.
These emails are all about celebrating your students’ achievements.
It’s an opportunity to cheer them on, shower confetti on them, and give them their moment to bask in their accomplishments after they have put their time, trust, and faith in you and the outcome your course promises.
If you’ve been diligent in getting to know your students and your email address is no stranger to their inbox, it allows your students to feel comfortable enough to share their wins, issues, and overall experiences with you.
If their experiences have been positive and encouraging, it’s also prime time to collect that love into testimonials and referral requests.
Like your onboarding emails, these can be a short 3-email series too.
Here’s an example for you:
📧 The Acknowledgement Email: Email 1 could be about acknowledging their growth, reminding them of everything they’ve now learned, and inviting them to share their feedback.
📧 📧 The Outcome Reinforcement Email: Email 2 can highlight their specific achievements. You can share screenshots from your community or testimonial snapshots and invite them to share theirs with you if they haven’t already done that.
📧 📧📧 The Next Steps Email: Email 3 can give them their next steps and encourage them to stay connected with you and keep you posted.
Speaking of the next steps…
5. Triggered Upsell or Cross-Sell Emails
This one is optional and I’ll explain why in a minute.
BUT I personally love these emails since they not only help your students take the next step but also give you, the course creator, a chance to generate more revenue on autopilot.
Triggered upsell or cross-sell emails kick in when your students are nearing course completion and are poised to take the next step in their journey.
IF you have a logical next step course for them, use these emails to share that.
IF you have a complementary course to help them cross-skill, you can share that instead.
Don’t just have an upsell or cross-sell sequence because you have to. Nope.
Add this one ONLY if you have a course or coaching offer that can truly give your students the continued support they need.
How do you navigate these triggered upsell emails?
Like the way Amazon ever so helpfully shows “other product” suggestions … you can offer related and suitable options and extend the sales pipeline.
✔️ Perhaps it’s a course that’s the next logical step for recent grads (example: Learning to sell crafts AFTER they’ve learned how to craft!)
✔️ If the next action would be to move graduates from a foundational course to a more rigorous and challenging certificate program … share the details with them.
✔️ Maybe you have an invite-only intimate mastermind you want to kick off next month and you have some people in this cohort that you think would be a perfect fit … share away.
✔️ Or you might have a membership site that could give them ongoing support and additional learning … help them see how that can help them.
✔️ If you offer a complementary course that allows them to develop another expertise or a related professional pathway, share that cross-skilling goodness in an email!
It may not be something of immediate interest, but the point is to stay relevant and on their radar.
While the focus here is on post-purchase emails, you can offer the same support via WhatsApp, Slack, pigeon post … it doesn’t matter.
What matters is you continue to demonstrate a commitment to generously supporting your students’ journey and experiences.
Sure, these additional post-purchase emails require a little more work and strategy from the minimal viable setup.
BUT if budget permits, you can always hire them out.
Plus they are easy to automate and help you as a student-focused online course creator to show up in a meaningful way AND (hopefully) enjoy glow-up testimonials, extend student LTV revenue cycle, and increase completion rates!
Will you be adding these post-purchase emails as part of your student experience? Have you tested out a different approach? How do YOU give your students a way to stay connected with you even after the sale? Share with us in the comments!!