Every online marketer has a different approach, that is why we have decided to start a series for individual types of email marketers. Today, we start with coaches! There are a lot of coaches around. If you’re a coach, you know this all too well. And while it might sound like I’m about to say “coaches are a dime a dozen”, I’m not. There’s a reason why there are so many coaches around. It’s because there’s a need for them!
Want to know what best business advice Eric Schmidt, Google's Executive Chairman, ever got?: “Get a coach.” If someone of that caliber names having a coach as the secret of their success, maybe the rest of us should think twice before we say we don’t need a coach.
Executives need coaches, business owners need coaches… just about everybody needs or can benefit from having a coach. But despite the pressing need for them, coaches often have an especially hard time finding clients. That’s why we wanted to do this post on how email marketing can help you, coaches around the world.
Before we get into the email marketing best practices for coaches, let’s cover why coaches should be doing email marketing in the first place. It just so happens that email is almost perfectly suited to solve three of the most common challenges coaches face.
Coaches sell their expertise, their experience, and their perspective. That’s their “product”
It can be hard to quantify your expertise, and it is even harder to justify charging for it. This means coaching has a fairly long sales cycle: Someone has to not just find you, but like you and trust you before they even consider paying you for your services. You’re not going to sell an hour of your coaching services through a pay per click ad, and you certainly can’t successfully auction off an hour of your time on eBay. You have to build trust, and a lot of trust, to get paying clients.
Email is especially well suited to trust-building, because while you can’t sell an hour of your time via a pay per click ad, you can certainly “sell” a free ebook about how to overcome a specific problem that you specialize in helping people solve. Then you can send a series of follow up emails – an autoresponder – to build your relationship with this client.
What makes this a game-changer is that it can all be done on autopilot. You can be building relationships with an almost unlimited number of people all at the same time, all while you are doing other things, like working with actual paying clients. If you tried to do this long-term relationship building with each prospect individually, you’d end up earning about five cents per hour.
Your ideal coaching clients have to like your personal approach, your personal world view. They have to like you.
Have you heard of the book, “People Buy You” by Jeb Blount? It was originally written for sales people, but the title couldn’t be more relevant for coaches. Your ideal coaching clients are almost literally buying your personality and your worldview. But because of that, there are a lot of people who aren’t going to want to buy you.
You can’t be all things to all people, and your effectiveness as a coach comes directly from how well your hold your integrity. Because of that, the best coaches are the ultimate niche marketers. They are not just selling their services as a marketing coach, or a life coach, or a fitness coach. They’re selling their services as, for example, a female life coach with an edgy sense of humor and a background in finance who helps very small business owners in the service industry overcome their struggles with cash flow.
Now that’s a niche audience.
Maybe that is not a description of your coaching business, but if you are a coach, you’ve probably – hopefully – got a description of your services that's just as specific. You know exactly what kind of clients will stay with you long-term and truly benefit from your help. Those are the kind of clients you started coaching for in the first place.
Here’s the good news: Email is one of the best tools going to both for attracting your ideal clients, and for screening out all those other people who may need coaching services, but need someone else’s coaching services. The people who do not resonate with your message will eventually unsubscribe. The people on the fence, who are not really ready to change or to commit to working with you, will just silently read your emails, but they’ll never contact you. And that’s a good thing.
Bad clients, clients that don’t fit or who can’t really afford you, or who won’t pay you – those clients are not good to have. Anyone who’s done coaching or consulting for a while can attest to how much damage a bad client can do. The smartest coaches are very, very picky about who they work with, because they know exactly how bad a bad client is.
Email is a fantastic way to screen out all the bad clients. The people who do reach out to you through your email list will know you, and know you well. They will have signed up for your brand of coaching. Literally.
Having an active email newsletter means you’re forced to publish
Whether you send out an email once a week or once a month, you’re required to sit down and write something.
Being forced to sit down and address your ideal audience does several good things. First, it makes you consider what your ideal clients really need to know. It lets you go past all the little day-to-day complaints and symptoms people struggle with, and focus on the underlying problems. In other words, it gives you a deeper perspective, and then forces you to articulate what you’ve learned.
This helps you, and it helps your clients. The work you put into publishing your emails helps you give your clients better answers. It helps you form your philosophy, which is a fancy word for your perspective. And that, as you may remember, is part of what people are paying you for.
Those are the three biggest “why”s behind email marketing for coaches. Here are some of the specifics of how. Many of these tips can be found on any email marketing best practices list, but this particular list is specifically selected and slanted to what coaches need to accomplish.
1) Offer a lead magnet or free report that solves a common problem.
Offer your site visitors an ebook or a checklist that would be irresistible to your ideal clients, and immediately start seeing your list become a source for business. You can think of this as a way to build your list, but you can also think of it as a screening mechanism: You know the people who sign up for your list are at least motivated to take this step. If your existing lead magnet is not doing well (for example, it’s getting less than a 2% opt-in rate), it may be because you aren’t offering a solution that people are motivated enough to solve.
2) Set up an autoresponder to continue the conversation.
As mentioned above, coaching services have a long sales cycle. You can certainly nurture leads through a weekly email newsletter, but it might work better to walk people through a series of emails specifically designed to take them from point A to point B in your “buying cycle”.
If you have trouble getting a weekly newsletter out, and autoresponder can be even more valuable. If you schedule your autoresponders to go out once a week, your readers might not even realize they’re on an autoresponder. That makes for one less weekly marketing task for you.
3) Send a welcome email to new subscribers and ask them what they’re struggling with, or what their most pressing question is.
Include a short introduction to your work in this email, even if it’s just a list of your most popular articles or blog posts. Remember: They may never be as interested in you or your work as they are when they first sign up for your list. Capitalize on this by offering them your best content.
4) Try webinars or public speaking to build your email list.
Many marketing pros name webinars as the most effective list-building tactic they have. Whether you want to build your list or to show off your expertise, webinars are a great way to get in front of your audience and deliver value. And because coaching is so often a two-way conversation, hosting a webinar is a terrific way for you to experience first-hand what your audience responds to or not. The only better tactic might be public speaking.
5) Partner with other coaches by guest posting, doing webinars.
This is a spin off of the tactic above. If your list is small or you have trouble assembling a big enough audience to make a webinar worthwhile, partner with one of two other coaches or consultants. You’ll pool your marketing resources, your expertise and your audience. It’s a win for everyone.
6) Create more than one lead magnet/free report. Offer it near relevant content on your site.
You probably already know a lead magnet is a must-have list-building tool. But did you know it’s okay to have more than one? Your site visitors have more than one problem, as you know. How about offering more than one lead magnet? To get you started, here are some of the most popular lead magnet ideas used by marketers across the different industries.
7) Solicit feedback and stories from your subscribers as often as possible.
Coaching is give and take, so bring that into your emails. Whether you’re sending autoresponders or a weekly email message, actively seek feedback from your readers. A twist on this is to include testimonials from clients, or even just comments on your blog posts.
8) Consider adding a name field to your opt-in forms, and go the extra step to use personalization in your emails.
Personalization can be wildly effective. While other businesses might not want to get too personal, as a coach it’s your job to get personal.
Here's what Adam Coombs, Digital Marketing Manager at PerfectGym.com has to say about this:
Self-improvement is about personalization. Coaches have to go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach and really get to know their clients from a personal perspective. Include drop downs or radio buttons in your sign-up forms concerning their goals and preferences. It will not only help with segmentation, but it will provide you with building blocks in assembling a personalized strategy for each client.
9) Make it easy to unsubscribe – use a one-click unsubscribe, and make it effective immediately (if you’re using GetResponse, they’ve got this taken care of already).
This is just basic trust-building. Don’t hide your unsubscribe link, and don’t make people go through hoops to unsubscribe. Remember: As a coach, you really don’t want people on your list if they’re disengaged.
10) Send more than just text.
Videos and images will be important for you to connect with your audience. Always be professional, but it’s essential for you to show your personality. People want to get to know you.
11) Don’t use stifled language.
Write like you are talking to people. See our recent webinar with DJ Waldow about how to write more engaging email newsletters.
12) Use double opt-in, and customize the signup process so that people are introduced to you in a positive way.
If you customize your double opt-in process, you’ll end up with a larger, and more engaged list. You’ll get fewer unsubscribes, and your subscribers will be more likely to open and click your messages.
In fact, you can see the data to prove it. Industries that use double opt-in more often, tend to get higher average open and click-through rates.
13) Include a link in all your emails for people to ask questions, or to make requests for topics you should write about.
Your best ideas for content will come from the questions your readers ask. This feedback is so valuable that you might even consider offering a prize once a month for the best question.
14) Announce your upcoming newsletters in your Twitter feed, on LinkedIn and in your Facebook and Google Plus posts.
As you build and screen your audience, be sure to do it on all possible platforms. Have your Twitter followers read your emails, and your email readers follow you on Twitter.
15) Write about personal experiences where you can. This is exactly the kind of information about you that coaching clients want to know.
Stuck for ideas about what to include in your next email? It’s time to tell a personal story. Storytelling is one of the most powerful ways to convey a message, and because you’re a coach, people will be even more receptive to your stories.
16) Don’t think you’re bothering your subscribers with your emails.
Coaches are particularly susceptible to this belief. But remember: These people signed up for your list. They raised their hand to hear from you. If you don’t send email updates, you’re actually disappointing them.
17) Don’t be afraid to share your sources of inspiration, whether that’s other coaches, books, organizations, or anything else.
You won’t “lose” subscribers to these sources if you mention them, or if you link to them. You’ll be building your value with your subscribers by introducing them to new things. That’s exactly what they signed up for.
18) Try offering checklists or pdf guides at the end of every blog post you publish. Ask for an email address in exchange for the guide.
Think of these as mini-lead magnets. They work just as well.
19) Consider segmenting your list.
You can do this by segmenting out people who you’ve actually worked with versus people you haven’t, or by people who are local versus people who aren’t. If you offer slightly different solutions for your clients it might be helpful to offer them different email messages, too.
20) Every so often, give your subscribers exclusive content in your emails – content that is not available on your site or anywhere else.
This encourages them to pay attention to your emails, and to stay subscribed. You could even try offering a short-term discount on your coaching, with a coupon only for email subscribers.
21) Use GetResponse’s automation tools to create customized emails and paths through your content.
Did you know GetResponse can give you a list of people who clicked on a specific link in your email? And that you can then send a customized message just to those “clickers”? As a coach, this gives you the capability to create “choose your own adventure” type paths through your content. That means a more customized experience for your readers, and a way for you to leverage all the content you’ve created over the years.
Get ready for more
If you’re a coach, I hope this was helpful, let us know in the comments below which points you found particularly interesting. If you’re not, stay tuned for these upcoming posts: “Email Marketing Tips for Affiliates” and “Email Marketing Tips for Local Businesses”.