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Write great lifecycle emails

A lot of you have told me you want to learn how to do a lifecycle email series / drip email series. That’s not surprising considering that creating a lifecycle course can be one of the most impactful things to your bottom line that you can do.

X-Plane gets dramatic results with their lifecycle emails created by Tyler Young of Conversion Insights:

X-plane lifecycle email results

A lifecycle email series is just several related emails, delayed over time, based on some action a person has done.

Lifecycle emails

The action can be something on your website — like visiting the upgrade page but not upgrading. It can also be something like filling in a form with an email address.

We’ll cover how to set up an opt-in email course (sometimes called an autoresponder course), but these ideas apply to lifecycle emails triggered by on-site action (or inaction) too.

Most people I speak with have a hard time with the details of setting up the course.

Details like:

  • What do you write about?
  • How many emails should you send?
  • How much time should you leave between each email?
  • When should you ask for “the sale?”
  • What if people get to the end, but they don’t convert?

Over the next 3 weeks, I’ll share the steps I’d go through to set up the series of emails.

  1. Week One (today): You’ll learn how to find a topic and set up a structure for your course.
  2. Week Two: You’ll learn about how to write powerful content and make the emails work together
  3. Week Three: You’ll learn how to convert people and what to do when you run out of emails.


Let’s dig in.

Our Example: An online education course about writing emails

If you signed up early, you’ve been getting ideas and tips about email from me for coming up to a year. New people signing up for the list are missing out on the best articles from the past.

I’ll be creating an educational email course based on the “How to write better emails” content from this newsletter / blog, my classes at GA, and the Email Bootcamp for Startups I did with Joanna Wiebe and Patrick McKenzie.

What’s the goal of the lifecycle emails?

Help new people learn how to write great emails faster, build trust, and get them to continue on to the weekly newsletters.

As a secondary goal, I’ll also offer new signups this email course to help them use the product better.

How many emails will we send?

There’s a common marketing rule:

The Rule of Seven

Let’s use that to set up a 7 email campaign to make people smart and trust us.

How do you figure out what to write?

You already know what we’re doing, but what about your company? What should you write?

Don’t over-think it!

This is surprisingly uncomplicated.

Although it varies from business to business, you can look at almost any business and tell them what type of email content they could write.

The most common types of email content that sells fits in to two buckets:

  • Help someone achieve a goal
  • Help someone make a decision

Let’s take the first example: “Help someone achieve a goal”.

If you’re a marketer at a dating site you might write content to help people have more successful dates. Your course could teach them How to pick a spot for a first date. and When is it ok to split the bill?… things like that

Then there’s our second type: “Help someone make a decision”.

Let’s say you run a Photography equipment retailer. You could write a series on “How to pick a digital camera” where you talk about the different types (SLRs, Point and Shoot), and things like “The megapixel myth”.

You probably have the curse of knowledge. You might over-estimate how much other people know about your business or area of expertise. Don’t over-estimate how much others know.

Break down complex concepts important to your business and put them in an educational email course.

Like digital camera example above, think about what your business sells and see if you can imagine a course with the topic:

“What you need to know before buying ______”

Scribble out some topics for emails on index cards

Doing it on cards

If you break them apart so it’s one email per index card you can add additional notes about what you want to cover in the email.

It also makes it really easy to re-order things or throw out a particular email and put in a new index card.

Things will change after you start writing these, but it’s a good place to start.

The notecards about are for a “How to write lifecycle emails” course I’ve been toying with. For a copywriting course, I took a shortcut and just made a list since I knew exactly what the course should be:

Zero to hero

Will you be following along?

Want to create your own lifecycle course? Follow along. This week, find a topic area and write down 7 – 8 preliminary email topics or subject lines on notecards.

Next week we’ll get in to content. How to set expectations in the first email you send, and how to string the emails together with teasers and cliffhangers so people stay interested.

I can’t wait to learn about the lifecycle emails you’re doing.

Send a picture of your notecards to me or share them in the comments for feedback.