Episode 50

How to Understand Email Options in Learning Management Systems

Email is one of your greatest assets for attracting, converting, and maintaining students for your online courses. In this LMScast Joshua Millage and Christopher Badgett explain how to understand email options in learning management systems, especially with the LifterLMS platform.

There are 3 types of email you should use at critical stages of interaction:

  • Marketing
  • Transactional
  • Onboarding

Related categories include fulfillment, referral, and engagement emails, but let’s begin with understanding the basic three types.

Marketing emails are sent to prospective students. This is your opportunity to describe your course offerings and answer any questions your customers have to help them make a decision about courses they want to take.

The transactional email is sent upon purchase of a course and includes welcome and purchase verification messages. Your system may also be set up to add the new student to an email list and interactive class group.

Next is the onboarding email, which initiates new students into the course. This includes emails to check in with the student after they begin the course to see how they are doing and whether they may have new questions or concerns.

These messages can add up to a lot of emails as your courses expand, so you need to set up automation from the start. Our LifterLMS learning management system has email handling built in, and is also compatible with more advanced systems like MailChimp and Infusionsoft. There are so many options it’s easy to overcomplicate, but keep your systems simple by focusing on what you really need to accomplish.

Of course, the way you structure your message content is important. A simple, effective approach is to write your messages as though you are talking with a customer face to face. For online courses, consider the student experience in a conventional campus setting.

How would you present your courses to a student walking into your campus offices? First you would describe the courses you offer in response to what the student wants to learn. When they are ready to enroll, you perform the transaction, hand them a tuition receipt, and give them their schedule and room numbers. After they have attended a few classes, follow up with them to make sure everything is working out for them. Then you can introduce new courses related to their chosen subjects.

With online courses you are basically encapsulating an entire university into your learning management system: marketing department, admissions office, students, instructors, and areas where students can gather and interact. Every part is vital to the whole.

With LifterLMS you can start out with one or two courses using the options and capacity already built in. As you learn more about how to understand email options in learning management systems, LifterLMS allows you to expand your platform through compatibility with other larger systems and platforms. Try a demo of lifterLMS and see for yourself what it can do for you.

Remember that you can post comments and also 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 back to another episode of LMScast. I’m Joshua Millage. I’m joined today with Christopher Badgett. Today we’re talking about how to understand email options in learning management systems. What does that even mean, Chris?

Christopher: I think we all take for granted what an email is, or what it is in the context of something. With LifterLMS, our learning management system plugin, it comes with these engagement emails that you can set up which are triggered based on an action. I just want to rattle off and brainstorm with you all the different types of emails there are. They’re very different, so it’s important to understand what that email option is in the context of what you’re trying to do.

You can have marketing emails that maybe go to prospects that haven’t bought your course or enrolled in your online school yet, or whatever. You’ve got marketing emails that may go to people who are already enrolled, telling them about a new course available or something like that. You have transactional emails which happen if somebody purchases something. LifterLMS can send you a welcome email, or if you’re using the WooCommerce integration, it’s going to send you that transactional email. We’ve done and looked at advanced transactional email for high volume learning management systems with Mandrill, which is another part of MailChimp.
We’ve created our own MailChimp extension that allows you to add … when someone joins your platform or joins a course, you can add them to a group or an email list. We’ve done the same with Infusionsoft. There’s just so many different types of email. It’s important to look at what are you trying to do. Don’t overcomplicate your email, but if you’re ready to do some advanced email marketing and email engagement, we’re there for you.

Joshua: Right, absolutely, absolutely. I think email is really important. It’s also important to understand, like you were saying, the difference between a marketing email, a transactional email, an onboarding email. I look at it as your email communications … Just forget about email for a second, but how do you talk to someone if you’re at the checkout? You’re buying a coffee. How would you talk to someone if they’re trying to decide on what coffee to buy? Then, what would you say to someone after they purchase the coffee, and you maybe just wanted to check in on them as they’re sitting in the café enjoying the coffee. You have the marketing email as how you would talk to them if they’re deciding, the transactional email in the process of purchasing, and the onboarding or fulfillment or maybe referral email that happens as they’re enjoying the coffee after the purchase. Just take it back into human touch interaction …

Christopher: That’s a great example.

Joshua: … and break it down into how you would speak to people in those, and you have them in each category. I think also because we’re talking about learning management systems, maybe a better analogy would be a classroom. Go figure, right? How would you talk to someone who’s trying to figure out what class to register for? How would you talk to someone as they’ve registered in the class and they’re a part of the class. That’s really important. I think it’s breaking it down for each phase and then really putting yourself in the mindset and visualizing the experience that you would want to have with someone in person, and then beginning writing.
That’s what I try and do when I write emails. I just forget that I’m writing email, and I sit back and I zone in on what’s the experience that I want them to have and go from there.

Christopher: Absolutely. I think that’s a really neat analogy. If you look at it with a university, there’s these different departments. There’s the marketing department, the admissions office, the teachers themselves as they’re interacting with students in the class. There’s the way students interact with each other. As a education entrepreneur with these modern technology tools at your fingertips, you can now combine all that functionality and architect your own platform and take over on that kind of messaging. You’ve got to play at all levels, because if you build great inside the course communications but you don’t have great marketing, you might not be able to grow your platform.

Joshua: Right, every piece of the puzzle needs to be connected. It’s really important to do that. That’s great, Chris. I think this is a shorter episode, but I feel like it’s really jam-packed and to the point. I hope that everyone starts to break up their email communications into these phases, because I think they’re going to have a much better experience connecting with their customers and students. We want to know what you think about this. If you’re on YouTube, leave us a comment. If you’re on the blog, leave us a comment underneath this post. I know that Chris and I would love to get some insights into how you’re viewing this content and what you think about this idea. Chris, you have any final thoughts for the crew?

Christopher: Yeah, I would just give an example of how to think about emails if you are using LifterLMS. With our plugin, I would consider using engagement emails for, let’s say, after a student completes a lesson and so on, or the reengagement if they haven’t logged in 14 days. Use LifterLMS. If I was going to do a big platform with a lot of courses and options moving forward, I might consider purchasing our MailChimp extension. That doesn’t mean I will stop using the engagements, but I would want to be building targeted email lists and use the MailChimp group functionality that I know if this person bought this cooking video, and I want to send more of a marketing message, that’s what MailChimp does really well. I would divide. Put my marketing with MailChimp and my engagement with Lifter if I was planning on building a bigger, more complex platform.

Joshua: Yeah, that’s really helpful. Right on. Thank you Everyone for listening. We’ll see you next week.

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