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“Superfan” Wonders: Do email courses hurt your open rates?

This always makes me smile:

Every so often I'll check my page views in Google Analytics and see that dozens of older blog posts have each gotten a single page view.

Usually that means that someone stumbled across my site and is digging back through the archives to read everything they can find.

(Hint: 0.5% of YOUR audience will happily read everything you produce—and still want more. These are your best customers.)

I got to meet one of these "superfans" recently, a subscriber named Gonzalo.

He has an excellent question about email courses:


Quick question: Having 20% open rate average, spreading over 5 days course, don't we start losing lots of people with a message spread across so many days? Just wondering…

Getting closer to launch my very first course with all the notes I took from reading around 70 of your posts. Btw, I've been recommending you left and right.


There are three points I want to make about this.

First of all, one thing I notice consistently is that the open and click rates for email courses are much, MUCH higher than you typically see on an average email list.

For example, the Simple Programmer blog typically gets an email open rate of 23-28%, depending on variables like the subject line and when the email goes out.

But the 5 Learning Mistakes email course I wrote for the site gets an open rate of 49%—nearly double the average. (And the first 2 emails in that course both get open rates of 59%!)

This is a major reason I'm so big on email courses.

Since your subscribers are specifically signing up for a 5-day course, they're eagerly looking for your emails.

(I even sometimes get emails from people who somehow missed an "episode" asking me to forward them a copy!)

Second, let's talk about the concern that spreading your message out into smaller, more frequent messages lowers the impact.

Why not deliver the entire course as a single PDF or big blog post?

In theory this makes sense—after all, won't your subscribers' interest start to wane in a few days?

What I've found though is that breaking your message up into 5 smaller, bite-sized chunks that you trickle out every day means you'll hit MORE of your subscribers.

Yes, it's true that many subscribers won't read every single email.

But since you're communicating 5X more often, after a week you'll find that more people in total have read your emails.

And that means you're building a stronger relationship with them—and setting yourself up for more sales.

Third, even though you're breaking up your content into bite-sized pieces and dripping it out over the course of a week or more...

I do *not* recommend waiting to pitch your product until the end of your email course.

In that sense, your "message" should get delivered every single day.

The reason is many of your subscribers are actively looking for something to buy NOW that can help them solve their problem.

I find that somewhere between a third and half of all sales come in the first 24 hours.

And for these subscribers who have their wallets out, don't make them wait 1-2 weeks before you give them the chance to buy your product.

Just get out of their way—and make sure they don't trample you on the way to the cash register.

About Josh Earl:

Josh Earl helps entrepreneurs to create a steady stream of sales and income using fun-to-write, educational email courses. To see how to generate this kind of stable, reliable income in your business, enroll in his free 10-day class today.