This post describes details of a larger discussion about building a high performance digital marketing funnel. I encourage you to check out the longer video and post here.

The Problem with the Status Quo

Email courses are nothing new, but most that I’ve signed up for are pretty lacking. The boilerplate looks like this:

  • Sign up for the course
  • Send an email a day

Aaaaaand, that’s it. I’ve experienced it myself – I built an email course about designing better webinars and the very first person who subscribed emailed me and asked if he could get all the emails at once. This is a no-brainer and I was a moron not to consider it in the first place; an important rule of marketing is to take action when there’s inertia around the desired behavior. Somebody who signs up at 8:30 on a Saturday night might be in a learning frame of mind, and his buying journey (which includes investigation into his problem) commands the day – not my willingness or process in delivering it. So I right away flipped some switches and got him what he needed all at once. I’d carefully crafted a week-long course and dude wanted it all at once. Of course he does, and I made a note to do better next time.

But there’s more than just timing. I don’t know what Webinar Course Guy does for a living. What’s he most struggling with? Why was he on the hunt for this solution today, right here, right now? How could my course meet him where he was on his journey, and even guide him through it, rather than just transmit information. In short, how could my content – the stuff I share – be more transformational for him, rather than aspirational?

Crafting the Email Course with Drip

I had all this in mind as I started designing what I wanted to be a cornerstone learning element on my website. I’d take the things I experience, coach, or teach every day with my clients and put them together into a truly on-demand, at-your-own pace email course. More than that, though I wanted the course to learn from the student’s input. To adjust and evolve. My list went like this:

  • On demand
  • Be situational according to professional role
  • Address a primary pain point
  • Be interactive – rather than just me shouting from an inbox, build mechanisms for the learner to have input
  • Learn and adjust based on that input

In addition, I wanted to drive potential business opportunities or qualify opportunities with the course. This meant it also needed to:

  • Help me understand if there were additional problems I could
  • Help me understand what I’m not doing yet – like online courses – that could specifically address pain learners are experiencing
  • Nurture relationships with ongoing touchpoints based on what learners have shared
  • Plug into business essentials, like Calendly, to continue the business relationship.

I started charting my workflows within Drip, my favorite marketing automation platform. In fact I went through a rigorous certification program with Drip to become an automation expert so I could better understand the opportunities the platform offered. I wanted to build something that I could prototype for my clients and use to not just build my business, but demonstrate what was possible with automation. I also studied how Brennan Dunn, a leader in this space, had set up his own email course and workflows.

Mapping out the basics of how the course would work with sketches on my iPad, I next wrote each lesson. I started keeping a document called “MMM Pedagogy” – Marketing that Makes Money Pedagogy – to record all the moving parts and pieces of the course and how they intersected. If a learner completes something in lesson 3, how can I bring it back in lesson 6? If a student is a marketing pro focused on strategy, how can I customize their expertise to be different from the executive who’s trying to better connect her marketing and sales teams?

Walkthrough the Automation Workflow

The result is a powerful, unique, personalized and automated email course that I walk you through in the video above. It involves many moving parts and pieces (I detail the entire experience in this post), but where Drip is concerned, these are some highlights:

  • The course works from three essential pieces of information to start: the learner’s first name, their email address, and their role in the company.
  • Immediately after sign-up they get another request for information – what is the one thing they’re most struggling with that my course can help them with? This helps me route their early experiences to strategy, lead generation, the marketing-to-sales relationship or developing better sales skills for today’s customers.
  • After each lesson is a worksheet, powered by Gravity Forms. I ask questions that help me understand them and their business – like identifying their industry, or the number of leads their website delivered, or their sales revenue goals. These questions specifically help me understand if, how, and what kinds of engagements I might be able to better provide professionally. More importantly I ask them questions about their own realities and perspectives and encourage them to share these responses (I email them a copy of each worksheet) as discussion starters in their organizations.
  • A learner gets the next lesson after each worksheet is submitted, so they can finish the whole course in around half an hour if they’d like. Or, if they take no action with the worksheet they’ll get the lesson in their inbox the next day.
  • I score different behaviors – worksheets completed, links clicked, etc. A high score indicates they’re highly engaged with the course, so I’ll nurture business opportunities with them uniquely from those that are less engaged.
  • Some learners are less well suited for my coaching or consulting services but online courses that I’m developing might be perfect for them. I have logic built around this as well so I can reach out later with what these folks are looking for.
  • At certain points in the course they’re invited to schedule a consultation through Calendly. If they make that appointment, Calendly talks to Drip so I can record that event and then pull them out of some things and put them into another. For instance, I won’t encourage you to schedule a consultation if you already have, but I will sent you a short getting-started email so we can use our consulting time most effectively.

I use the information I learn from what they share in the course to deeply personalize the sales page with me as well as my entire website. I show you more about how I do that in this post.

Personalization is synonymous with delight, and I wanted to create something that would delight learners. I didn’t want to quick “list-builder,” I wanted something truly thoughtful and valuable that would help shape how people are thinking about marketing in their organizations. If it happens that we can do business together, there’s no better way to introduce how I think and work. If it’s not a great fit or the right time, then they’ve received valuable advice and insights from me that help build stronger relationships. All of it is a win.

Here’s what I’d like you to do next:

Marketing automation, a great website, and a content strategy all connect together in the unique ways you reach and nurture your audience. Think of yourself as a teacher or instructor – what would a workshop look like for you? What topics would you cover? What would you want your students or audience to come away with? With those things in mind, consider if an email course could be a powerful way to reach your audience. And hey, if you’re interested in actually working through the paces of the course I talk about in this post, I hope you’ll sign up here.

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