Email Marketing Simplified: Tips for Online Teachers

Email Marketing Simplified: Tips for Online Teachers

It took me a while to determine my online marketing strategy.

I know. There is the standard method: Create community on Facebook and with a blog. Make great content that generates authentic engagement. Involve people before you try to sell them something. I am sure that these techniques work, for some people.

But I am just getting by. I do not have time to create an “authentic community.” I have time to teach. I teach really good classes with awesome content for homeschooled kids. I read all of their work and correct it with audio and video comments. I create engaging assignments and interactive lesson. I also raise children, grow food, and teach children who come to my house. There is no time for “Creating an authentic community.” I do that where I live, with people who I can actually hug and who can watch my kids if I need to shower.

Not to say that online community isn’t valuable. I see that it really nourishes many people. It just can’t make me dinner when I don’t have time to cook nor can it prevent my dog from running off in search of deer carcass. Online community is not what I need, now.

So, in the past few years, I have made a few pathetic attempts to keep up my business’s website with fresh offerings. It just isn’t working. I get the website organized, then a new season starts and it is all outdated. Same with Facebook. I just can’t keep up.

Then I ran into an article about email marketing. I had thought that email marketing was a joke. I had no idea that anyone would ever open up newsletters and mass materials sent to them by anybody. I am on a list that comes out of Barack Obama’s office. Do I open it? Never- even when Barack addresses me by name.

People do read email marketing!

According to Constant Contact and MailChimp, 20% of mass mailings in the educational industry are opened. That is a lot of people who are actually clicking on newsletters and opening the material. The people who open your newsletter gave you their email address and are interested in what you have to offer. How is that for effective, streamlined marketing?

What server to use? Meet MadMimi

There are two huge email list servers, MailChimp and Adaware (http://blog.crazyegg.com/2012/12/17/email-marketing-software-reviews/) and many smaller providers. I have very little “Web design” or html experience, so I need something that is really user-friendly.

MailChimp was going well enough, until I tried to include a PayPal button on my newsletter. I wanted people to be able to instantly and easily purchase a class, if they liked what I offered. Perhaps for someone with more technological savvy, this would not be hard. I, however, could not figure out how to do it.

Then I discovered MadMimi. I was led to MadMimi by the article “PayPal Buttons for Email Marketing: A How-To Guide.” It demonstrated, in 5 easy steps, what I had spent days trying to do with MailChimp. I then decided to explore their newsletter creation tools. There were less options (i.e. you can only make a one column newsletter), but they still look great.

The learning curve was immediate and satisfying. The only thing that was confusing was learning to click on the element that I wanted, instead of dragging and dropping.

Furthermore, it is free. Mailchimp has a free plan too, however it does not include autoresponders. It feels really important to be able to instantly send something to any new subscriber, so I had been paying $10 a month for this service. With MadMimi, autoresponders are included with the free plan.

Sign Up forms are a snap

I just integrated MadMimi onto my Facebook page and my website. No problem. There were easy, step by step instructions right here:

Their customer service rocks

I wanted to create a campaign that looked like my last one. I couldn’t figure out how to do it, so I contacted customer support. They got back to me within an hour. To “Clone” a newsletter, you press the little sheep button.

Creating that list

Put sign up forms on your website: I integrated many signup forms onto my website. I did this while I was still using MailChimp.

Advertise on appropriate sites: I teach classes for homeschoolers, so I ran several ads on homeschooling sites.

Offer freebies: I offered free classes to people for signing up. Very few people actually came to the free classes, but small groups of people signed up every time I offered a class.

The budget

Every student that takes a class from me is worth $250 per year, as students typically take about 5 courses. If I run advertising campaign and gets 10 students that represents $2500.

Useful vocabulary

Here are some words that are useful as you explore email marketing.

Autoresponder: A program that automatically responds to people with an email when they sign up for your list or purchase something.

Soft bounce: A newsletter was not received due to a reason that is likely temporary. The recipient’s mail box may be over quota, the recipient’s email server is down or offline, or the message that you are trying to deliver is too large.

Hard bounce: There is a permanent problem with the email address. It either no longer exists or the recipient’s email server has completely blocked delivery.

Drip Campaign: Automated delivery of emails at a frequency that you predetermine. Drip campaigns can send different messages to different segments of your list.

Get Going!

Teaching courses (even a few courses to a few people) is a viable way to supplement (or create) an income. Teaching a lot of courses to a lot of people is a way to get rich- if you can figure out how to get the students into the classroom.

Email marketing is a great way to get it going!


I am a teacher, hiker, mother, dancer and home-maker. I have taught pre-school through SAT prep. I am exploring ways to create on-line learning communities for home-schooled middle school and high school students. In particular, I am starting a low-residency on-line middle school. I would like to help young people explore important ideas while enjoying their lives! You can learn more about my programs at www.onlineclassesforgroovykids.org.

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