Case Study: One Email Course That Fails, And Another That Converts

Right now I’m working on 2 different free email courses.

These are both for Simple Programmer, which is a business my buddy John started up. In January he brought me in as a partner to run his marketing.

The first email course is one that John put together about 18 months ago. It’s called, “How to Build a Blog that Boost Your Career.”

The course teaches programmers how to set up their own blog, soup to nuts. Then it shows how John’s paid product is a natural next step once you’ve set up your blog.

I went through the whole course yesterday. It’s really well done—the writing is solid, it’s packed with info, and he even did a good job with the pitch for his paid product that comes at the end.

Only problem is, the course doesn’t convert very well.

More than 1,000 people go through the course every month, and only a handful actually buy the product.

The second email course is one that I put together called “5 Learning Mistakes Software Developers Make.”

This course takes a very different approach. Instead of giving detailed, step-by-step instructions, it’s more conceptual.

Each email starts with an entertaining story that shows how John made a mistake in how he approaches learning new programming topics.

I make the reader aware of these mistakes—mistakes that they’re probably making themselves—but I don’t teach them what to do about it.

This course is converting quite well. So far it’s looking like the course converts twice as well as the sales page alone.

So what’s going on here?

There are a couple of major differences between these two courses, but here’s the biggest one:

The blogging course TEACHES, while the “5 Mistakes” course AGITATES.

Don’t get me wrong—the 5 Mistakes course is “providing value” too.

But it does it in a way that leaves the reader hungry for more.

The blogging course on the other hand is pure teaching. There are homework assignments and everything.

What happens is people get to the end, and they think, “Man, I have all this free information and I haven’t had time to implement any of it yet. I’m going to set aside some time and work through all this, and then I’ll come back to that paid course later.”

And guess when “later” comes?


What I’m recommending to John is that we turn his blogging course into a paid “tripwire” product that we sell for $7.

And I’ll replace it with an email course that’s fun and easy to go through—and doesn’t bury our subscribers under a mountain of teaching and “action items.”

So stay tuned… I’ll say more when I get the new funnel built.

Raphael Marabut - August 22, 2017

Thanks, man. I just created a free email course and sent it out to a beta group of 20. It performed poorly. I guess I was teaching too much. Really valuable case study here!

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