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Email Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing For Selling Online Courses

Online Course Marketing
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Email Marketing vs. Social Media Marketing For Selling Online Courses

Are you using the right marketing method to sell your online courses? Discover the pros and cons of email vs. social media, see real examples of successful campaigns, and get practical tips for effective promotion.

As an online course creator, whether you're a seasoned pro or just getting started, you already know that marketing is critical to the success of your online course.

However, with so many options out there, it can be difficult to determine which marketing method will work best for your course.

Email marketing and social media marketing are two of the most popular options, and as someone who has dabbled in both to sell my online courses, I know firsthand how tough it can be to figure out which method is the most effective.

So, if you're wondering whether email marketing or social media marketing is the better option for you as an online course creator,

Here's a simple answer:

Email marketing and social media marketing are both effective methods for selling online courses, but they each have their strengths and weaknesses.

Email marketing is great for building relationships with potential customers and nurturing leads over time, while social media is better for engaging with a broader audience and building brand awareness.

The most effective approach is often a combination of both methods, using email to target specific individuals and social media to reach a wider audience.

Ultimately, the choice between email marketing and social media marketing will depend on your specific goals, target audience, and other factors.

Which is why, in this blog post, we'll dive deep into the worlds of email marketing and social media marketing to help you better understand and make the best decision for your online course business.

We'll explore the pros and cons of both methods, provide examples of successful campaigns, and offer tips for effective online course marketing.

So grab a cup of coffee, settle in, and prepare to learn everything you need to know about email marketing vs. social media marketing for selling online courses.

Table of contents

You can also check out all the free guides available at the Course Creator Academy by clicking on the Academy link on the top menu.

Pros of Email Marketing For Selling Online Courses

Email marketing has long been a popular choice for online course creators looking to promote their courses, and for good reasons.

Here are some of those reasons:

Creating Targeted and Personalized Messages

Email marketing allows you to communicate with your audience in a personal and direct manner, allowing you to tailor your message to individual interests and needs.

For example, you can include each customer's name in your marketing campaign to add a personalized touch to your message, increasing your clickthrough rate.

Also, you can segment your email list to create targeted campaigns and ensure that you send the right email to the right customer.

For example, you can send one email to returning customers and another to first-time customers at the same time. This helps to make your emails more personal and relevant to your readers, which can greatly increase your chances of conversion.

Easier To Build Relationships and Trust

Since email marketing provides a direct line of communication with your audience, you can easily leverage it to build relationships with them by sending helpful and informative emails regularly and receiving feedback.

This will not only help to build trust and credibility with your audience, but it will also lead to more loyal customers and, ultimately, more sales.

Owning Your Audience

Email marketing is an incredible way to own your audience and content completely, which is often not the case for social media marketing and other marketing methods.

Imagine what would happen to your audience and content if social media disappeared tomorrow, or if you lost your account – you lose them all unless you have a backup.

But with email marketing, you completely own them!

Also, you do not have to pay to promote or advertise to your audience. This can help you improve your ROI while also allowing you to generate easy and profitable revenue for any offerings you may have.


Email marketing is a low-cost method of reaching and engaging a large number of people.

Unlike social media marketing or traditional marketing methods such as print ads or TV commercials, which can be costly, email marketing is relatively inexpensive and has a higher ROI than any other form of marketing, digital or otherwise.

It is reported that Email marketing generates about 36% ROI, which means that for every $1 you spend, you can expect an average return of $36. Isn't that just amazing?

Easy To Track Results

Most email marketing platforms offer analytics that allows you to track open rates, click-through rates, and conversions to evaluate the success of a marketing campaign.

This data can help you make informed decisions about how to improve your campaigns and make them more effective.

Cons of Email Marketing For Selling Online Courses

Although the advantages of email marketing for selling online courses are numerous, there are a few drawbacks to be aware of.

Among them are:

Unopened Emails

With so many businesses sending out mass email campaigns, it's easy for your message to be ignored or lost in a sea of competition, especially if you're competing with other course creators or businesses in your niche.

This is especially true if you don't have permission to email the people on your list or if your message is overly commercial or promotional.

As a result, your ROI may suffer since your audience will not see your emails.

Risk of Being Flagged as Spam

Because email providers are becoming more sophisticated at detecting spam, your emails may be flagged as spam even if they are not.

Additionally, some of your target audience may be using spam filters or similar tools to avoid receiving certain emails.

To avoid having your emails marked as spam, make sure everyone on your email list has opted in. Otherwise, this will affect on your deliverability rates and make it more difficult to reach your target audience.

Requires Time, Effort, and Skill

Creating effective email marketing campaigns as a course creator requires time, effort, and skill.

To begin, you must build and grow your email list, which does not happen overnight.

Also, to capture your audience's attention and drive conversion, you must craft engaging subject lines, write compelling copy, and ensure that your emails are mobile-friendly and visually appealing.

All of these require a significant amount of time, effort, and skill, which may be overwhelming for you.

And, of course, you can outsource. But that costs money as well.

Pros of Social Media Marketing For Selling Online Courses

Social media marketing has become increasingly popular for selling online courses in recent years, as more and more people spend time on social media platforms.

Here are some of the advantages of social media marketing for online course creators:

Huge Global Reach

Social media platforms have a vast user base, with about 4.76 billion users across all social media channels, making it easy to reach a large audience on these platforms using only an internet-connected device.

As a course creator, you can increase the visibility of your online course, make it go viral beyond your network of followers, and attract students all over the world with just one post by leveraging the power of hashtags and social sharing.

Engage Your Audience

Social media, unlike traditional media, allows you to interact directly with your audience by responding to comments, answering questions, and sharing user-generated content.

This can be extremely beneficial to you because it can help humanize your brand by giving it a distinct voice, allowing you to make meaningful connections with your audience, and, ultimately, increasing trust.

You can also use this to foster a sense of community around your online course.

Build Brand Awareness and Authority

Social media marketing is a powerful tool for increasing brand awareness and establishing your online course as an authority in your niche.

You can build a loyal fan base that will spread the word about your online course by consistently sharing valuable content in various formats, particularly videos, and engaging with your followers.

Not only will this increase traffic to your website, but it will also demonstrate your expertise and credibility to potential buyers.

Collect Feedback and Customer Insights

As a course creator, social media is an excellent platform for gathering feedback from your students on the quality, price, and customer service of your course. These reviews can then be shared with your social media followers and prospective customers, increasing brand loyalty and credibility.

Also, your social media pages can provide a wealth of demographic information on those who visit and follow them.

Facebook page insights, for example, provide a breakdown of your audience's age, location, gender, and other information.

These details can be very useful in understanding who is most interested in your online course and how to best meet their needs.


Social media marketing is often less expensive than some other forms of advertising. While some platforms offer paid advertising options, many features are free, making it a cost-effective way to promote your online course.

You can, for example, take advantage of the free modes of engagement provided by social media (rather than focusing on paid ads). This could include hashtags and live stories, though these modes don't produce a high ROI.

That said, it could also be as simple as organic engagement via social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on.

They may take longer to produce results, but if you get the right message to the right people consistently, you could save a lot of money in the long run.

Cons of Social Media Marketing for Selling Online Courses

Like every other marketing method, social media marketing has disadvantages too, here are some potential drawbacks of social media marketing for online course creators:

It Consumes Time and Effort

Social media marketing can be time-consuming, effort-demanding, and financially draining at times.

Depending on the platform you're using and the type of content you're creating, you may need to constantly come up with innovative, exciting, and engaging content to grow your online presence.

You also need to edit the content, respond to comments, and engage with your followers regularly.

All of this requires time, effort, skill, and strategy, which can be quite challenging for you as a busy course creator unless you outsource them or hire a social media manager, which also places a financial burden on you.

May Not Convert as Well as Email Marketing

Social media marketing is an important tool for growing your business as a course creator, but when it comes to driving sales, it doesn’t touch email marketing.

While social media marketing can be effective at building brand awareness and engagement, it may not convert as well as email marketing.

The reason is simple: People see social media more as a place to socialize and browse, rather than to make purchases. On the other hand, more people sign up for brands' emails with the expectation of receiving promotional emails from them.

According to reports, 60% of consumers claim to have made a purchase as a result of a marketing email they received, while only 12.5% say they'd consider using the 'buy' button on social media.

Negative Feedback

While social media can be a great platform for gathering positive feedback to drive brand awareness and traffic to your online course, it can also be detrimental to your brand's reputation.

Even if you provide the best products and services, you may still receive negative reviews or backlash from unhappy customers who are dissatisfied with their results.

And since the feedback will be visible to everyone online, including your potential customers, this can hurt your brand's reputation.

Algorithms Can Limit reach

Social media platforms use complex algorithms to determine what content is shown to users, which can limit the reach of your posts.

For example, Facebook shows your content to only a small percentage of your followers, which can significantly reduce the visibility of your posts.

To overcome this, you must consistently produce high-quality content that resonates with your target audience. As more people engage with the content, your visibility and reach will grow.

In addition, these algorithms can change quickly, so you must stay up to date on the latest best practices and adjust your strategy accordingly.

Email Marketing vs Social Media Marketing: Which Method is Best For Selling Online Courses?

Both email marketing and social media marketing have their advantages and disadvantage as stated already, and the best approach will depend on the unique needs of your business.

Here are some key considerations to keep in mind when deciding which marketing method is best for selling your online course:

Your Target Audience

Consider where your target audience spends most of their time.

For instance, if your audience is most active on social media, then social media marketing may be the better option. But, if not, then email marketing may be the way to go.

Your Budget

Social media marketing can be less expensive than email marketing, but this can vary depending on your specific strategy and platform.

Evaluate your budget and determine which method will give you the most bang for your buck.

Your Goals

Think about what you want to achieve with your marketing efforts.

Are you looking to build brand awareness and engagement?

Then, social media may be the better option. But, if you want to drive sales and conversions, email marketing is the way to go.

Your Content Strategy

Both email and social media marketing require a strong content strategy to be effective.

Consider what type of content you're most comfortable creating and which method will allow you to create and distribute that content most effectively.

For instance, if you prefer creating video content, then you know social media marketing is the way to go.

Ultimately, the best approach is to use both methods in tandem to maximize your reach and impact.

By using email marketing to reach your existing subscribers and social media marketing to attract new followers and expand your reach, you can create a comprehensive marketing strategy that drives results for your online course business.

Examples of Successful Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing Campaigns for Selling Online Courses

Here are a few examples of successful online course sales campaigns that have utilized either email marketing or social media marketing:

Course: Zero to Launch

Course Creator: Ramit Sethi

Ramit Sethi, a personal finance and entrepreneurship expert, promoted his "Zero to Launch" online course via email marketing.

He grew his email list by providing free guides and newsletters to his subscribers, then used that list to promote the launch of his course.

He sent a series of pre-launch emails with value and anticipation, then a final email announcing the launch with a clear call-to-action to enroll.

In just one week, this campaign generated over a million dollars in sales.

Course: The Instagram Lab

Course Creator: Jenna Kutcher

Jenna Kutcher, a marketing and business coach, promoted her online course "The Instagram Lab" using social media marketing.

She created a targeted Instagram advertising campaign that reached users who had previously engaged with her content. The ads highlighted the course's benefits and included a clear call to action to enroll.

In just two weeks, this campaign generated more than $200,000 in sales.

Course: Digital Course Academy

Course Creator: Amy Porterfield

Amy Porterfield, an online marketing expert, used both email marketing and social media marketing to promote her "Digital Course Academy" program, which teaches people how to create and sell their own online courses.

She sent a series of emails to her subscribers, offering valuable insights and tips related to course creation, and also created a series of Facebook and Instagram ads, targeting people who were interested in online marketing and entrepreneurship.

The campaign was a huge success, generating over $1 million in sales within the first few days.

7 Tips For Effective Online Course Marketing

Whether you're just starting out or a seasoned course creator, here are some tips for leveraging email marketing and social media marketing to sell your online courses more effectively.

#1. Understand Your Audience

Before you start marketing your course, it's important to understand your target audience.

What are their pain points and challenges? What motivates them to learn?

By understanding your audience, you can tailor your messaging and marketing strategy to better resonate with them.

#2. Create Valuable Content

Content marketing is a powerful way to attract and engage potential customers.

By creating valuable content that provides insights, advice, and tips related to your course topic, you can establish yourself as a trusted authority and build relationships with potential customers.

#3. Leverage Social media

Social media can be an effective way for promoting your course and engaging with your audience.

Choose one or two platforms where your target audience is most active and use them to share valuable content, engage in conversations, and promote your course launch.

#4. Build an Email List

Email marketing is a powerful tool for promoting your course launch and nurturing relationships with potential customers.

Build your email list by offering a lead magnet, such as a free guide or e-book related to your course topic.

Use email to deliver valuable content and build relationships with your subscribers before promoting your course.

#5. Offer a Free Trial or Sample

Giving potential customers a taste of what your course has to offer can be a powerful way to entice them to enroll.

Offer a free trial or sample of your course content to give potential students a taste of what they can expect.

#6. Use Paid Advertising

Paid advertising can be a highly effective way to reach a wider audience and promote your course launch.

Use platforms like Google Ads or social media advertising to target your ideal audience and drive traffic to your website or landing page.

#7. Build Social Proof

Social proof, such as customer testimonials or reviews, can be a powerful way to build trust with potential customers and encourage them to enroll in your course.

Use customer testimonials on your website or landing page, and encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on sites like Yelp or Trustpilot.

By implementing these tips, you can create a comprehensive marketing strategy that effectively promotes your online course and drives enrollment.

Remember to track your results and adjust your strategy as needed to achieve the best possible outcomes.


Email marketing and social media marketing are both effective methods of promoting and selling online courses.

You can create a comprehensive marketing strategy that maximizes your chances of success by understanding the strengths and weaknesses of each method and tailoring your approach to your specific situation.

But why choose between the two when you can combine them to make an even bigger impact?

You can create a multi-channel approach that reaches potential customers wherever they are and encourages them to enroll in your course by using email marketing and social media marketing in tandem.

For example, you can use social media to attract and engage these customers before inviting them to join your email list for more personalized communication and nurturing.

You can also use email marketing to promote your social media channels and encourage engagement with your brand.

Keep in mind that successful online course marketing requires patience, persistence, and a willingness to adapt and experiment.

By combining the strengths of both email marketing and social media marketing and tailoring your approach to your specific audience and goals, you can ultimately create a powerful marketing strategy that drives enrollment and helps you achieve your business objectives.

So why not give it a try and see what results you can achieve?

That being said, if you're looking for a super reliable and affordable platform to host your online courses, OnlineCourseHost.com is the right choice for your business.

With Onlinecoursehost.com, you have everything you need to create and sell your online course. The platform includes powerful marketing features such as email marketing and Facebook Ad integration.

You can also collect emails on autopilot and send bulk newsletters to your students directly from your course website.

Overall, the platform is user-friendly for both course creators and students.

Now that you've decided between email marketing and social media marketing for selling your online courses, it's time to start your course creation journey, and if you need more information to grow your online course business successfully, you should check out the Course Creator Academy.

You will find everything you need to become a successful online course creator all in one place for free.

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Ready to learn how to launch your first course on OnlineCourseHost.com? Here are the helpful guides for you to check out:

I hope you found this post helpful, let me know in the comments below what other topics you would like me to cover, or any questions that you have?

Thanks for reading… and enjoy the course creation process! 😉

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