What are email automations?

An automation is a sequence or action that is automatically triggered following an event. In the case of an email automation within the context of a course, this could be an email (action) that is sent out following the completion of a course (event). It can be a single email or it could be tied to a sequence of emails designed to encourage a specific action from your learners.

Most LMS integrate with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software such as Active Campaign, Zapier, Ontraport, and Infusionsoft which all have their own set of robust automation tools that will help you create and manage a variety of triggers and sequences around learning, sales and more (elearning Industry).

Nonetheless, there are other automation opportunities which you can take advantage of through other integrations. To see a full list of possibilities achievable with integrations click here.

Why is email automation important for e-learning?

There are three main reasons email automation is essential for your LMS. With email automations setup in your e-learning platform you can:

  1. Save time by automating manual tasks
  2. Ensure ongoing engagement with your course content
  3. Create new sales and marketing opportunities

Highly-engaged customers are 9x as likely to buy from you, spend 60% more per transaction, and have three times the annual value compared to other customers. (Rosetta)

In this article we will cover some of the key email automation opportunities that you can set up within your LMS or third party software to help you keep your learners engaged, sell more courses and save you time.

What other automations are possible?

There is limitless potential when it comes to integrating platforms into your LMS. So long as the API is there you’ll be able to integrate other platforms into your LMS and take advantage of functionality beyond email sequencing.

We’ve got a whole blog on what integrations are possible with an LMS.

Example of email automations in e-learning

According to Ascend2, marketers say the most effective automated series to use for email engagement are welcome/thank you messages (49%) and survey/feedback messages (46%). However, we have created a number of example email sequences which you can use to:

  1. Increase sales
  2. Increase engagement
  3. Support learning journeys
  4. Commend course completion
  5. Increase attendance to webinars
  6. Get feedback on your course

1. Increase sales and take advantage of upselling opportunities

“Selling to people who actually want to hear from you is more effective than interrupting strangers who don’t.” – Seth Godin.

There’s so much that could be said here which is why we have a lot of content on sales, marketing and copywriting techniques to help you boost sales across your LMS ready for you to read.

There are a million and one CRMs and integrations out there that will allow you to gain valuable user data which you can use to

  • Segment for retargeting, upselling and cross-selling
  • Create sales funnels
  • Set up and manage email automations
  • Add users to and manage lists

…Just make sure it can be integrated with your LMS so you can be hands-off and let the automation do all the hard work.

So how do you bring it all together?

One tried and tested method is to use sales funnels (combining sales pages with the power of email automations and strategic offers) complete with hooks in the form of demos, taster lessons and resources which can be offered at a minimal cost or for free (more ideas on how to do that here). These value-adds offer something risk-free to potential customers encouraging them to engage with you which in turn will make them easier to sell to in the future.

We’ve created a number of resources on how you can integrate marketing into your platform in order to take advantage of upselling opportunities to increase your customers’ lifetime value.

2. Increase engagement with well-thought-out onboarding 

No matter how well designed your platform is, you cannot overlook the need for onboarding. Great onboarding has great timing, placement and pacing; three things that are extremely difficult to get right. But when you consider that “86% of people say they’d be more likely to stay loyal to a business that invests in onboarding content that welcomes and educates them after they’ve bought” (Wyzowl), you cannot deny how essential it is to get this right.

We love this talk from Jean-Christophe Taunay-Bucalo on how to build an effective client onboarding program:

Emails are an easy way to onboard users, at a glance we strongly suggest you create an email sequence that includes the following in this order:

  1. Welcome email with course information, important links (login page, user dashboard, help guides) and support information
  2. Specific dates/times for upcoming live sessions to allow the learner to block out their time accordingly
  3. Account information with information on how to change basic details like email, password and payment details
  4. How to navigate courses with screenshots or videos on where to find courses, how to attend or move through lessons, how to complete quizzes and assignments etc.
  5. An email about wider features such as any community tools course marketplace, affiliate marketing etc.
  6. Frequently asked questions to reduce the load on your support team

3. Provide direction with sign-posted learning journeys 

Learning journeys or learning paths refer to a sequence of lessons or courses that should be completed in order to fill a skills or knowledge gap. For example, in the case of an employee, this could be a bespoke package made up of several courses or lessons which must be completed along with quizzes or exams as part of a learning and development plan. Another example could be as simple as encouraging a learner to progress to an intermediate course following the completion of a beginners course.

Regardless of the learning journey in question, an email sequence is totally necessary in order to signpost a learner to the next piece of content. Automations could be set up to:

  • Prompt a user to carry on their learning following X days of inactivity
  • Congratulate them on passing an exam and where to go for their next lesson or course
  • Email an employee’s manager to confirm they have passed a quiz or course
  • Tell an employee who they should speak to debrief or find out their next assignment from

There’s a lot of potential when it comes to automation emails for learning pathways, particularly as the next step could prompt an offline action such as setting up a meeting with a manager or participating in a real-world exam or assignment.

4. Course completion and certificates

Even if you don’t use the multitude of options available to you as listed in the section above, you must at least send out an email and certificate on the completion of a course. At a minimum your email automation on course completion should include:

  • A congratulations
  • A grade (if appropriate)
  • A certificate (there’s no excuse to not provide a very basic certificate of completion)
  • Advice on next steps (including links to other recommended courses that might be appropriate)

You can set up different course completion emails for each course ensuring that the recommended courses are appropriate for the course that’s been completed, and it could even take their previous courses into account for a truly personalised recommendation. In addition to this most LMS will include some kind of certificate generation software that will auto-populate a template with the user’s name and course title.

5. Increase attendance and reduce reliance on your support team with automated calendar reminders

At Plume we have created a number of booking systems for in-person or video (webinar) training which integrate into our clients’ systems and their user’s dashboard. If you’re using a calendar booking system then these three emails are a must:

  1. Confirmation of booking and calendar invite (title, time, date, location and any additional access details)
  2. 48-hour reminder (can be adjusted depending on cancellation policy)
  3. 12-hour reminder (to be sent out as an ‘on-the-day’ reminder)

6. Get feedback to help you optimise your offering

Feedback is really the opportunity to understand how you can improve your service and platform from the very people who have spent money to use it. If you haven’t factored in a feedback system then please make it a priority. There’s vital opportunity to get feedback on so many aspects of your site and e-learning, including:

  • Site usability and speed
  • Onboarding
  • Support
  • Course content
  • Exams and quizzes
  • Other resources
  • Community tools

Once your user has settled in, you should be scheduling a feedback email to go out. If they’ve started a course, sending out an email after the first major quiz will allow you to get feedback on the content, pacing and assessment. Users will not only feel valued and heard, it’ll give you a chance to improve on your already amazing offering by letting your users do the hard work of testing your sequences and support.

How to get started with automations?

If your LMS is built by Plume then integrating different software to help automate various emails should be easy. If you’re using a different platform you will have to check to see which automations are possible. We strongly suggest that you prepare for the future and consider a system that is flexible, scalable and able to handle a range of automations to make your job easier. 

If you’re interested in a system built by Plume please don’t hesitate to get in touch by clicking Get Started.