You\u2019ve heard the story of the carrot and the stick, right? It goes something like this:A boy hitches up his donkey to a cart, but the obstinate donkey won\u2019t pull it down the road. Hitting the donkey with a stick doesn\u2019t solve the problem (and it isn\u2019t very nice, either). So, the boy ties a carrot to the stick and dangles it in front of the donkey\u2019s nose, and \u2013 bingo. It\u2019s happy to pull the cart all day in hopes of reaching that carrot.How does this apply to your online course?Your customers need something enticing \u2013 a carrot \u2013 before they\u2019ll do what you want them to do.What\u2019s the carrot? Valuable content that you give them for free.What do you want them to do in return? Provide their email address.Let\u2019s stop for a second. Why would you want their email address? Don\u2019t you just want them to sign up for your course?Well, yes, eventually. But you can\u2019t expect a new prospect to purchase right away. Think of your first customer interaction as a first date: you have to woo them, not propose marriage!And what\u2019s the best, most effective way to woo your customer?Email!Software and marketing guru Patrick McKenzie puts it best: \u201cEmail is the best broadcast channel ever invented for business purposes.\u201dA strong email list is vital for the success of your course. It\u2019s your way to directly communicate with potential customers.Think about all the stimuli your customers are facing every day. Ads, apps, websites, mobile, social media, TV, and all the distractions of work, school, and home. It\u2019s harder than ever to make an impact.But what is your customer checking every day, multiple times a day (well, other than Facebook and Reddit)\u2026And where else can you market your course right next to messages from trusted friends, family, and co-workers?Yup. Their email.If email is so important, why on earth would a stranger give you their address? Email has value, just like any currency. People will not give you their email address for free, just like they won\u2019t give you $20 because you asked nicely. (Click to read more about this phenomenon on our blog.)You have to provide something of value in return.That\u2019s the carrot! It\u2019s awesome content that, while technically free, is valuable.Let\u2019s talk about how to make a carrot that will entice people to give you their email address.What are the components of a tasty carrot?RelevantThe content reinforces your course themes or ideas.ShortYou\u2019re not giving away your whole product, just a taste.Easily digestibleYour customer can understand the content without much effort or expertise.Widely appealingIt speaks to a broad range of potential customers and isn\u2019t too narrowly focused.High qualityIt\u2019s well designed and on brand, representing the best of what you have to offer.Instantly actionableYour customer can benefit from this information right here, right now.Some examples of great carrots to get you thinking\u2026You\u2019re marketing a course about how to close sales. As a carrot, you offer a cold-call email script that customers can use verbatim.You\u2019re marketing a course about becoming a more effective blogger. Your carrot is a 10 point checklist that helps you write better blog titles.You\u2019re marketing a course about how to build the house of your dreams. You provide a worksheet with questions that you can use when interviewing potential contractors.Makes sense, right? You get someone\u2019s email address, they get some quality, helpful content. Everybody\u2019s happy.But don\u2019t stop there!Here are six additional ways you can put your carrot content to work for you.These advanced carrot methods will provide data and insight you can use to better position your course and its content.1. Make more carrotsIf your customers can choose between multiple carrots, which will they pick? See what your customers are most interested in. It\u2019s not always what you anticipate.2. Request feedbackEmail your customers and see what they thought about the carrot. Use their feedback to improve and optimize.3. Reposition the same carrotDo more customers opt in for your resume template carrot when you call it \u201c5 Minutes to Your Perfect Resume\u201d or when it\u2019s called \u201cThe Ultimate Foolproof Resume Template\u201d?4. Explore new audiencesEntice different markets to sign up with targeted carrots. If your course teaches professional makeup skills, try branching out to a green, earth-friendly audience with a carrot checklist that outlines the best cruelty-free and organic cosmetic brands.5. Advertise your carrotsCreate an AdWords account and run 30-40 ads with different positioning. What performs best?6. Make baby carrotsA baby carrot is like a regular carrot, but it\u2019s even smaller and easier to create multiple versions.An example: You\u2019re marketing a course about how to utilize Twitter for your brand. Your carrot is a step-by-step worksheet that teaches how to set up your brand\u2019s Twitter account. You also offer six baby carrots, each one a unique downloadable Twitter skin.