Teaching In Emails: How Much Is Too Much?

Regular reader Jennifer shows job hunters how to write a resume that will stand out.

She’s in the middle of creating an email course for her online class, and she asks:


I’d love to know how you studied up on creating such amazing course funnels?

You mentioned in a previous post about how often we actually “teach” too much in our free email courses and—with my hand fully raised and head down—I think I am guilty of this.

So how did you learn the right ratio?


Two questions here, so I’ll tackle them both.

First of all, on learning to create email courses…

This was actually a big frustration of mine early on.

As a programmer, I like patterns and systems. I like to be able to logically map out a problem and see how I’m going to get from A to Z.

The challenge I ran into with learning email marketing was that there are lots of people teaching how to write good email copy, but NOBODY really shows you how to put together an entire sequence that nudges subscribers forward until they’re ready and eager to buy.

If email marketing training was an anatomy class, I felt like everyone was spending the entire term studying ONE tiny wrist bone, examining it from every angle under the microscope…

But no one was showing me how the wrist itself worked, or how it connected to the arm.

There are a couple of good products out there that touch on this briefly, but none of them really gave me a good mental framework for actually putting sequences of emails together.

I felt like I was pretty much on my own to figure a lot of this out.

The stuff I’m teaching here is based on a combination of observing other effective email marketers like Ben Settle, Perry Marshall and Andre Chaperon, as well as studying general copywriting principles and working out how to apply them in a different format (spaced-out sequences of educational emails, vs. a single long-form sales page).

I also put together a little collection of email courses that I know work well, and a bunch that failed miserably, and looked for common threads in both groups.

And there’s been plenty of trial and error on my part, experimenting with different approaches to see what patterns and approaches seem to work consistently.

It’s definitely been a long journey.

(BTW, I’ve had a number of people ask if I have any paid training that digs deeper on this email course stuff, and the answer is “stay tuned.” I’ve got a couple of projects cooking that I’m looking forward to sharing with you over the next few months.)

Now, as for Jennifer’s question about teaching…

I don’t have a “magic ratio” in mind when I sit down to write.

There are some useful principles though that can help keep you on the right track.

Here are five of the biggies:

1. The primary purpose of email is to build a relationship, NOT impart information. Which would you look forward to more: An update from your best friend as she treks across Europe, or a 17-step cookie recipe from Pillsbury?

2. When you do teach, err on the side of teaching big principles rather than detailed how-to. If you find yourself writing “And then in Step 9…” it’s time to stop, sit yourself in the corner and contemplate the choices you’re making in life.

3. You don’t have a lot of space to work within an email, so devote the majority of your words to deepening the relationship. Tell stories, make entertaining analogies, empathize with your subscriber.

4. One email, one point. Capisce?

5. Any teaching that you do include should serve to either establish your street cred or increase your subscriber’s awareness of the problem that your product solves.

If you do just these five things, your emails will be light years better than everything else your subscribers get.