Email Mini-Course vs. Evergreen WordPress LMS Course

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Joshua Millage and Chris Badgett have the information you need to make the right choice between an email mini-course versus an evergreen WordPress LMS course. In this LMScast you will learn advantages and applications for each type of course and how to get started with the format you choose.

An email mini-course presents basic educational content delivered via automated email after students opt in. There may be a link to a landing page, but there is no LMS required. This is the simplest way for you to build a course and test content before committing to a complete LMS-based course curriculum.

In contrast, the evergreen WordPress LMS course model is a full-feature course design built on a development platform like LifterLMS. It offers secure student accounts, progress tracking, quizzes and assessments, an online community, and more.

Each of these course models is a viable choice depending on your needs and requirements. Often an email course can serve as an introduction that leads into a full LMS course. Both depend on your entrepreneurial capacity, as well as teaching ability, because you have to be able to market and sell your courses.

Selling online courses requires selling yourself as an instructor students can get to know, enjoy, and trust. An email mini-course is best for introductory information and will establish an initial rapport with students who like your personality and style. Those students are most likely to pursue your in-depth LMS-based curriculum.

For basic step-by-step processes, an email mini-course is highly effective, while behavior modification training is best delivered through an LMS format. You can leverage the initial interest of your students by giving them more information in the first few lessons. As study progresses students will become more motivated by results, so gradually reduce density as the course moves forward.

With our LifterLMS platform, you can create an introductory email mini-course within the LMS and deliver it using MailChimp. You can also use a tool like ConvertKit to integrate and administer a mini-course to build your email list and then sell your complete evergreen course.

Joshua has created a Course Blueprints mini-course at the LifterLMS website where you can experience an email mini-course versus an evergreen WordPress LMS course and decide which is best for you. There’s another mini-course at CourseClinic for balancing what you want to teach with what your students want to learn. Try a demo of LifterLMS as well to see how our platform can make your good courses great.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

And if you’re an already successful expert, teacher or entrepreneur looking to grow, check out the LifterLMS team’s signature service called Boost. It’s a complete done for you set up service where your learning platform goes live in just 5 days.

Episode Transcript

Joshua: Hello Everyone, welcome to another episode of LMScast. My name is Joshua Millage, and I am joined today by Christopher Badgett. Today we are talking about an email mini-course versus an evergreen WordPress LMS course, what the difference between the two is, and when you should use them them when you’re teaching online. I’ll start off with the definition of an email mini-course. For me, an email mini-course is really something that someone opts into, and the information or the educational curriculum is delivered to them via email, and then there’s a link to a landing page. There’s no real LMS involved.
Chris: It’s kind of like a drip.
Joshua: Exactly, yeah.
Chris: Or an auto-responder series.
Joshua: Exactly. It’s like an auto-responder course. On the other side of the coin you have an evergreen WordPress LMS course. This is something that’s much more robust. The student usually has to log in. There’s assessment, and there’s tracking and all of these different things going on as the student progresses through the course. I think they’re both useful, and they’re both really important, and there’s certain situations where you should use one over the other. Before I jump into it, Chris, do you have anything to add around these two different types of teaching mechanisms?
Chris: I would just say that if you want to be a successful education entrepreneur, you have to consider the entrepreneurship side, not just the education side. As an entrepreneur, you need to do marketing. You need to get the sale. That sale might not have a price tag on it, but you have to do marketing. And a lot of marketing is about, in simplest terms, getting people to know, like, and trust you.
Joshua: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Chris and I were talking before this interview, what I told Chris was for me, it’s hard to step back and say my first and foremost goal is that someone doesn’t learn, per se, but gets to know me. That’s a real weird thing to say as a teacher, but the fact of the matter is if someone doesn’t like who you are and your personality and your style of teaching, they’re never going to buy your course. They’re never going to stick with you. Email mini-course is a great way to make that relationship. For me, personally, as I think about it, it’s actually a relationship-building tool more so than a learning tool.
Now, I don’t want to gloss over the fact that you should have a goal of making someone have a learning outcome or an a-ha moment or a light bulb moment. You should absolutely go for that too. But, remember that this is the first interaction with you as a teacher, and therefore you want to make your personality magnified so that you attract the people that really connect with you and repel the people that don’t. It’s a filtering mechanism to build your list … It doesn’t even have to be list-building, you could sell an email mini-course too at a very low price point to build that trust and also get that financial validation. Again, I think the goal is really, if you’re going to go for hardcore learning, it’s not appropriate to teach in the capacity of an email mini-course. You want to use a course. This is really to get the relationship with your students going and to start that connection and to nurture that connection through education.
The thing is, if you have people jumping into a full-blown course that’s in an LMS, there can be a lot of barriers to entry. What I mean by that is that you’re cornering them to log-in, then they’ve got to navigate to the course, then they’ve got to jump in the course. I mean, there’s a lot more things to consider and move through. Someone who’s a motivated student, that’s not a big deal. Someone who’s just jumped into your website, they may or may not be a motivated student. You don’t actually know that as a teacher because they haven’t done anything with you, and so you need to bring them into your community slowly and walk them through steps before you push them into that. Of course, you will have some people come and just buy a course and are ready to go. That’s great too, but the vast majority of people that hit your website are not going to be buyers. They’re going to be curious, and so what do you do for those people? Well, email mini-course is a great option to start that connection and that relationship.
Chris: I think a great offline way to think about that, or metaphor, is when you look at the traditional college or university experience, you do want to see what a class is like. You don’t get a dorm room, get a set of keys, get some books and everything. You’re still trying to decide if you even want to go through all that effort, so you go and you visit the campus, you check out their material, you maybe get a guide to take you through real quick to see what’s going on and see if you like what you see.
Joshua: That’s absolutely correct. A strategy I want to offer around the email mini-course idea is that it’s a great way to test content too. One of the things that you can do is each lesson can really be a trailer, for lack of a better term, around what you could potentially teach in the future. It’s a way to cast a line out there into the water and say okay, what’s going to stick, what are people excited about? And you need to be careful because you’re always going to have higher engagement on your first lessons opposed to your last lessons. You need to take that into consideration, but what I do is I always have Facebook comments available below the video and that allows me … I can look at, okay which video got the most comments and what were the comments asking, and did I touch on something or what’s the need here that I almost hit but I didn’t quite hit.
All that information is so valuable when you go to launch an evergreen course. A really simple and fast way to get that information by launching an email mini-course. Plus, you’ll have people that do go through it and jump through every single video and at the end are like, what’s next? Those people you want to make sure you segment and tag and speak to completely different than the rest because they’re going to be your best customers and your best students later down the road.
Chris: That’s awesome. Yeah, and if you want to see a great example of a free mini-course, if you go to, perhaps you’ve already see this, but if you haven’t go check it out. When you go to, there’s a pop up that offers a free mini-course that Josh created which is amazing, and maybe tell us a little bit about that.
Joshua: Yeah, so that’s a email mini-course around Course Blueprints. It teaches you based on what your content is, what type of blueprint you should follow. If you’re teaching something, let’s say how to change the oil in your Toyota Camry, that’s going to be a different structure than if you’re teaching someone how to wake up early. Totally different motivations and behavioral patterns. The way that someone progresses through a process is totally different than how someone progresses through a behavior change course. This is just a quick example, but it’s important to structure that learning in such a way where you’re taking those things into consideration.
I’ll digress a little bit, in a wake up early type of course, as soon as someone buys they’re going to have so much motivation around actually enacting that information. You can take some liberties with that, you can get away with longer lessons, you can get away with a 90-minute versus a 15-minute lesson, so you can expand. You can drive home theory. Theory works really good at the beginning of behavior change courses because people are interested in the why, but as time goes on they don’t care as much because they want to see the result. They want to be able to wake up early, or they want to lose weight, or they want to get to that higher level of mediation, or whatever it is. They want the outcome, so you have a timer that actually starts and you go, okay I got to start to provide some sort of validation that what I’m teaching is really working.
A great example, I went through a behavior change course recently, and it wasn’t actually structured like I would structure it, but the outcomes .. Training actually gave me an outcome, and the course was called The Wim Hof Method and it’s by a guy from the Netherlands who teaches people how to control their immune systems with breathing and cold exposure. It was a really cheap course, it was like 150 bucks, and I jumped in out of sheer curiosity and seeing if this guy was legit. I’ve been able to do some pretty amazing things. Yesterday, I pumped out 60 push-ups holding my breath just in one go. I mean, that’s pretty good. In week 1, I could only do 24 straight and I’m at week 4. So I’ve had a substantial increase in a month of what I can do.
Chris: That’s amazing.
Joshua: That sort of motivation, I’m like okay now what’s next? What else am I going to be able to achieve? It’s not really hard, it’s super incremental, but that’s an example of the behavior change courses. He did take liberties at the beginning and I had a bunch of, like four videos to go through and now every week all I have is one video to go through. The idea here is you can get away with a lot of information at the beginning that kind of digresses. That type of course, that would be hard to deliver in an email mini-course. You’d want to do that in a full-blown LMS.
Let’s switch gears real quick to a process, like changing oil in a car. What’s my objective? Getting my oil changed. The motivation through the process, there’s less considerations you can take. You can just bang, hit it, go, step one do this, step two do this, step three, because the outcome, the reason they came to you, is so crystal clear and they want it so bad, they want that oil change to happen…
Chris: Just show me the steps.
Joshua: Just show me the steps. That could potentially be done in an email mini-course, depending on how short it is. I think if you have something that’s three steps you can do that in three days. There is some considerations there, too. The whole point is, the email mini-course that I deliver to deliver both of these … These three different, there’s another blueprint called the reference-base course which I won’t get into now but those three are ten to fifteen minute videos and each one is a complete lesson, and isolation is valuable by itself, so it works really well.
Then we’ve got a five part mini-course over at which you can go and check it. That’s really focused on helping you go through the steps of understanding what your students want to buy, so the intersection between what you can teach and what your students want to learn. It goes through how to teach online, because teaching online is different than teaching in person. How to pre-sell, or collaboratively create with your students to create a course that they want to buy. It goes into how to design the digital classroom and what your classroom should look like when you’re in the pre-sell phases versus the evergreen course phases. That’s another mini-course, and I did that over the course of a week, really fast and low-brow.
I’m going to go back and redo that, but that’s another nice thing about an email mini-course is, I mean outside of posting a video to a landing page and linking in an email, technically speaking there’s not a whole lot to do. It’s a great way to get out there and test content, and that is what I’m doing with Course Clinic, or the course we have over at Course Clinic because I’m using that as a way of prioritizing which courses we should build in the future for our community, because we want to be a technological partner as well as an information partner. Lots of fun stuff going on. I think I … We went over the top today, Chris (laughs).
Chris: I’m going to take it even a little higher. We’re going all the way.
Joshua: I’m going to take another sip of coffee if Chris is getting higher here, so let’s go.
Chris: So we’re going to give you two more really specific, actionable things that you can do to think like a marketer, trying to build trust and get people to like you and then get them into your education platform whether your courses are free or not. If you go to you’ll see in our marketplace we have a MailChimp extension. You can actually set up a mini-course through a MailChimp auto-responder series, like on the sidebar of your site, like on your blog, you could say sign up for my free mini-course on how to do X. Let’s just take your process course example. At the end of that, then there’s some messaging or a video conversation around if you like my free mini-course, sign up for my big thing, or my membership on my site, and now they’re moving into the LifterLMS system and with the MailChimp plugin, you’re able to now start segmenting those users, like okay this person signed up for this course and so on.
Joshua: It’s a great tool. It’s a phenomenal tool.
Chris: It is a good tool, and we’re also empowering other software companies in the marketing community like, for example right now we’re building on integration with something called ConvertKit. ConvertKit is basically built around the concepts of delivering free mini-courses in order to build your email list. They make it easy to do that and they’re not as complicated as some of the other systems out there. We’re building an integration with them so that it can be super easy to set up your free mini-course and then when you’re ready to ask for the sale into the bigger learning platform, or the more premium course, or membership, LifterLMS is ready to go and with the same kind of technology where you’re marketing back and you can start segmenting those users. Okay, this person’s no longer a prospective learner in my free mini-course, they just enrolled in this course so now they’re over here. We’re really big into this, and it’s so important to not just be an educator but to also be the entrepreneur who’s nurturing the sales process.
I think this episode about a mini-course versus a full-blown course or membership. Getting clear on that distinction and how to put them to work for you is super important for you to get the most out of your platform.
Joshua: Absolutely. Well, again we’d love for you to check out our mini-courses. I’ll actually link both to a page at and we’ll have the links to both courses that you can go and check out. So just, and you can go there and choose which email mini-course you’d like to take. We’d love to hear from you, so if you’re on YouTube and watching this you can just leave us a comment below this video, or if you’re on our blog at you can leave us a comment there and we’d love to hear from you. Chris, any final thoughts?
Chris: I look forward to seeing what you create with your mini-course. If you make something with LifterLMS and the MailChimp or Convert Kit extension or use some other kind of technology, I’d love to see what you’re doing for your mini-course and hear about how it’s helping you grow your platform.
Joshua: Absolutely. All right, until next time, we’ll speak to you then.

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