Daily Email Inspiration: Coursera

email campaign from Coursera

email campaign from Coursera


Reading Time: 6 minutes


In our #dailyemailinspiration, we are taking a look at an email campaign from Coursera.  The email’s main purpose is to promote a discounted online masters course.

Take a look at the campaign below:

Coursera Email Screenshot

Take a look at our review below:

Layout and Design  6 Stars

The email adheres to the inverted pyramid structure, placing the email’s call to action beneath a striking headline, image and brief description of the course on offer.  However, the length of the email means that the user has to scroll to access the call to action which may reduce the number of click-throughs from the Coursera campaign.

When viewed on mobile, the size of the main image is decreased to give more prominence to the details of the course on offer.  Each element of the email stacks to give a good reading experience when the email is viewed on a mobile device.  The one negative aspect of the Coursera email when viewed on a mobile device is the positioning of the Call to Action button deep in the email body.  Although the main image can be clicked, this does not seem intuitive.  The email could also be improved by placing the App links at the top of the email body as they may be missed in cases where the email recipient does not scroll through the full email.

Although bullet points are often an effective way of shortening an email body, the use of bullet points in this particular campaign does not help the flow of the email.  The bullet points convey information already given in the email body and repeated in the email’s call to action.

The email recipient is not given the option to view the email in their browser.  Although the company may be able to identify how their users are opening their emails in order to ensure each device and email client is accommodated, the option to open the email in the browser is needed in cases where the email does not render correctly, especially if the email is forwarded.

Copywriting  5 Stars

Some phrases used in the email body sound unnatural in British English ‘live interactions with faculty’ and ‘our team of advisors is available to work with you personally’.  Whilst the overall meaning of the text does not change as a result of these phrases, the flow of the email could be improved.

The bullet point used in the ‘About HEC Paris’ section help highlight the main reasons why a recipient of the email would want to study in that location.  These effectively demonstrate three compelling facts about the institution which would be of benefit to a student.

Within the bullet point section at the bottom of the email body, it is unclear that the user can click the text which reads ‘Start your application here’.  We also noted that the call to action does not link to a page where the user can start their application, rather it links to the same page that the user can access by clicking the main call to action.  This may lead to some confusion as the text seems misleading.

Visuals and Images  4 Stars

The Coursera relies heavily on the call to action and information given in text format, yet the email still contains one large main image above the fold.  We feel that the image would be more eye catching on a lighter background as the dark blue email background blends into the colour in the image making it hard to identify the details.

Social media icons encourage the user to engage with the company on social media and are positioned at the bottom of the email as a result.  As the background of the social media icons is the same colour as the background colour of the icon, these are easily missed and should be presented in a contrasting colour.  For the social media icons to be effective, the reader should be able to see them clearly, in a more prominent position in the email header.

Three icons are used in the ‘About the OMIE’ section which are relevant and contribute to the meaning of the different sections.  However, we have noticed that the ‘Expert Project Feedback’ text box appears to be written in a different font when the email is viewed in an Outlook inbox.  This reduces the readability of the text as it renders slightly smaller than the text in surrounding text boxes.

Personalisation and Segmentation  5 Stars

Although the email has been sent to a UK subscriber, the data in the email subject line is formatted in US style, with the month given first.  The email is sent from a US address but segmentation could be used to identify recipients in the UK and change this element of the email send accordingly.

No information is included to suggest that the email has been personalised or segmented in any way.  We believe that this may be as a result of the general nature of the offer as personalisation and segmentation may not be appropriate in this case.

Call to Action  4 Stars

The email is clearly purposed as demonstrated by both the subject line and the email copy.  When viewed in the inbox, the call to action in the subject line, containing a cut-off data for completion, prompts the recipient to take action.  We also felt that the repetition of how long the user had to complete their application was effective in the first line of the email copy.

Positioning the call to action above the fold in large, bold font stresses the limited time that the offer is available for.  This article by ShoutEx highlighted the effectiveness of the countdown campaign type.  The time limiting nature of the email from Coursera takes advantage of this to create a sense of urgency and desperation, and we would be interested to see whether it was effective at boosting conversions when the email was opened for the first time.

The main call to action is linked to a page on the company’s website where the email recipient can find a more detailed description of the course on offer.  However, we were disappointed to note that the call to action text and logo below the main image cannot be clicked.  When viewed on a mobile device, the content is stacked meaning that the content above the fold is not interactive when the email is opened.

Finally, we noted that the link to the ‘Email Settings’ in the email footer does not link to the correct page on the Coursera website, instead directing the user to a page where they can browser the courses on offer.

Overall Effectiveness and Summary  4 Stars

Whilst the Coursera email is effective in communicating its key message – to encourage people to sign up to their courses, it has a number of areas where the campaign could be improved significantly.  The email stacks well on mobile devices however, it should be edited to ensure that the recipient can click through to the website without scrolling several times through the email body.  Whilst the email is consistent with the overall branding, the email is ineffective at encouraging people to complete the call to action.

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