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Effective Email Marketing: How to Build an Email List

by Brian Rahill, CEO, CourseStorm

With simple, and effective communication in mind, we’d like to welcome you to the first post in a 3-part series on how to successfully leverage email marketing! In our experience, email marketing is one of the most effective ways to increase enrollment and build your program. Here’s why: 

  • Email marketing is cost-effective.

    Many email newsletter programs, like MailChimp or Constant Contact, let you send emails for free or for a nominal fee, depending on the size of your mailing list. (Of course, in CourseStorm, it’s always free.)

  • It’s super fast.

    Want to notify your community about upcoming classes as soon as possible? You can draft an email and deliver it in the same afternoon. No need to send class descriptions and dates to a printer, wait for a proof, print and then mail: all of which typically takes weeks.

  • It’s a quick and easy way to save money.

    Speaking of printing and postage, imagine if you could minimize these expenses by printing a postcard that directs people to your website instead of printing a complete catalog! The savings could be reallocated to your program in new ways.

  • And it helps to fill up classes.

    When you grab someone’s attention in an email, they can click on a link and register for a class immediately, simplifying the registration process. Often, people sign up for classes within hours of receiving an email.

Of course, before you can send an effective email campaign, you need to have an email list. Even if you don’t currently send email newsletters, it’s never too early to start collecting email addresses. The best place to start is with your current students. Since they already like your offerings, they are your most likely repeat customers! But, where to begin?

  1. Use paper to build your email list.
    On every form or survey your students fill out, make sure there is a field for their email address. That way, if you’re collecting information on paper, you can collect and organize the many different email addresses you’ll receive as more people sign up for your class, and you can add them to your list right away — every email address added is another person who will get your updates!

  2. Utilize registration systems: including CourseStorm

    As we mentioned earlier, some email software — like MailChimp or Constant Contact — can help you send mass emails once you have a list.  If you don’t already have CourseStorm, then collecting emails on paper, first, might be your best bet. With CourseStorm, however, building an email list and sending out mass emails is, (you guessed it) impossibly simple. CourseStorm automatically collects the email address of registrants and built right into CourseStorm, the Mailings feature allows you to send a message to every student at lightning speed.

  3. Ask!

    Getting in the habit of asking for an email address whenever anyone calls, walks in to signup for a class, or has a question, is an easy way to quickly build a great email list. Sustainable communication is important, and it is only possible if you get to know your students first, and establish the habit of asking them questions!

This 3-part series is meant to help break down the process of effective email marketing into impossibly simple steps. Organization is key to an effective strategy, and the very first ingredient to simplicity is lists; email lists, that is!

We hope this first post in the series has helped you to come up with ways to collect emails and build email lists – on paper, online, and interpersonally – so that you can begin your own email marketing campaign. But, of course, there’s more to come!

For our next post, we’ll be covering how – once you have a sizable email list – you can reduce cancellations for your classes, increase your enrollment, and leverage instructors as your best advocates for their own classes! Stay tuned – and, as always, if you have any questions, we’d be happy to help! Email us at, and we’ll get right back to you! 🙂

Brian is a scientist-turned-education technology executive. He has founded and led technology companies for more than 20 years and uses his analytical mind and experimental approach to spur growth in small and medium businesses and start-ups. He is passionate about using technology to enhance access to lifelong learning.