A year or so before leaving the US, I was wandering around Best Buy looking at MacBooks contemplating updating my MacBook Air to a MacBook Pro.
I couldn’t make my mind up and ended up just buying some printer paper.
To get to the checkout I had to walk past various forms of candy, drinks and low-value goods all pulling at my attention and willpower.
Almost every large store position what are called ‘impulse buys’ at/near the checkout.
They know that as you wait to pay it’s relatively easy for them to get you to spend a little bit more.
If it’s that easy then why don’t Best Buy position 80” flat screen TV’s retailing for $3,000 in your path you may be wondering?
Obviously, it’s logistically difficult, but that isn’t the reason, because if people were likely to buy they’d figure out a way to do design the store accordingly.
It’s because very few people spend hundreds or thousands of dollars or pounds on impulse.
The larger the purchase price the more likely we are to shop around, read reviews, ask friends for referrals and conduct due diligence.
People Don’t Hire Life Coaches On Impulse
The same applies to most people looking to hire a coach, it’s not an impulse buy.
We’re not candy or sweets, we’re an investment.
Rarely do people drop on a coaching website for the first time and decide that is the coach for them without exploring more.
People hire coaches who resonate with them and who they think they know, like, and trust.
It’s difficult to build up that kind of relationship on your website with a first time visitor.
I did have clients hire me directly from my life coaching site, but, and it’s a big but, they were the exception, not the rule.
Also, they have almost always spent a lot of time digging through the content.
There are many hundreds of pages on my A Daring Adventure site with blog posts going back to 2006.
It was obvious to anybody visiting that I’d been at this a long time and have a wealth of experience.
If you’re new, or even reasonably new, that won’t be the case for you.
Even though I did (and still do through this site) get ‘cold inquiries’ and convert a handful every year that number is dwarfed by the people who hire me from my list.
The purpose of your coaching website shouldn’t be primarily to sell.
Obviously, give people the option to contact and hire you, but your website should be largely focused on getting people on to your list.
Once you do that, you can then start to build a relationship with them and position yourself as an expert who they can trust.
I have NEVER run a coaching special that hasn’t sold out.
That is the power of having a list populated by people who trust you.
Building a list isn’t easy, but if you can take the time to figure it out, then you’re in a great position to be successful.
Choosing an Email Service Provider (ESP) and Autoresponders
Who you should use as your ESP is not an easy question to answer because it really depends on how serious you are with your coaching business and what plans you have.
If you’re a hobby coach, on a very tight budget, or just not sure if coaching for you in the long term, then I’d suggest a free service like Mailer Lite – although I have never used them so cannot vouch for their quality.
MailChimp used to offer a great free service for up to 2,000 people on your list.
It’s still available with one HUGE caveat.
They removed the ability to set up an autoresponder sequence.
An autoresponder is what gets sent out to you automatically when you sign up for an email newsletter.
If you sign up for my newsletter you will get a welcome email immediately.
After that, you will be added to what is often called a nurture list and get a sequence of 8 more emails looking at 7 Steps To Building A Successful Coaching Practice.
You will NOT get any of my normal emails during that 8 or 9 day period.
If I’m in the middle of a launch sequence I don’t want to batter you with sales emails before you have even decided if I can offer you any value.
Not only do the free providers not allow you to set up more than one list (so you cannot have a nurture list), but as mentioned, MailChimp no longer allows you to set up an autoresponder sequence for new subscribers.
Note: MailChimp does allow you to set up one autoresponder, but that isn’t enough.
I cannot stress how important it is to deliver massive value to your new subscribers quickly.
And you do that with your lead magnet (more in a moment) and your autoresponder sequence of onboarding emails.
I have used 3 paid email providers over the years and all were pretty good.
I started off with Constant Contact but moved to Aweber because they had a better reputation for delivery and Constant Contact were also starting to get pricey.
Then when I started the Coach the Life Coach newsletter I went with ActiveCampaign and ran that in parallel with Aweber for A Daring Adventure.
I dropped Aweber in January of 2020 when I finally moved away from life coaching entirely.
Like any service of this type, there have been hiccups, but overall I have been delighted with ActiveCampaign and I heartily recommend them to all my clients.
It’s relatively easy to use and has a lot of functionality to run multiple lists, tag people, set up landing pages, use predictive sending to increase open rates and it can scale with your business.
Don’t worry if some of that doesn’t mean anything to you, it just means it will do everything you want, and a whole lot more.
The only hesitation I would have is, if you’re planning on running fairly complex courses.
Then you’re probably going to need something even beefier, but 99.9% of coaches don’t need to worry too much about that.
And even if you do want to do that in the future, moving providers is super simple these days and there’s no need to lose subscribers as was once the case.
Should I Have a Lead Magnet?
I could just say yes and move on because you do, but you probably want more than that.
A lead magnet, which can also be called an opt-in, or freebie, is what you use to tempt people to sign up for your newsletter.
When I opened my first email account with Hotmail way back in 1996 just getting an email was exciting.
Unless it’s because you’re waiting for something very specific I highly doubt you’re thrilled at the thought of opening your inbox in a morning these days.
People have become protective of their main email addresses because they are sick to death of spam.
So, just slapping up a sign up box with something generic like ‘Sign up to hear about our latest product offerings and specials‘ is no longer going to cut thin air never mind any mustard.
You have to offer people something like an ebook, e-course, audio download, special report, quiz or whatever else you can think of that can be delivered digitally.
Plus, it has to have real value.
It shouldn’t be something you knocked together in 15 minutes whilst feeding the cat and doing your ironing.
And it most definitely should not be a sales letter masquerading as a freebie.
Your lead magnet is often your first opportunity to wow your prospects, so don’t blow that chance by giving them something free that also has free metaphorically written all over it or is too salesy.
Is The Size Of List Important For A Life Coaches Newsletter?
Yes and no.
What’s more important than the size of your list is the engagement.
In 2012 and prior to going full time with Coach the Life Coach I had close to 10,000 people on the A Daring Adventure list, but the engagement and open rate were very low.
I ran a search to see how many people hadn’t opened just one message from me over the previous 2-years.
I got over 2,500 results, so I deleted the accounts.
I then did another search for people who hadn’t opened in 12-months and got over 750 more people, so I deleted them too.
There could be any number of reasons why those people had never opened a single email in all that time, but I really don’t care what the reason is that I don’t want disengaged people on my list.
But why on earth would I delete them?
Rather than explain that in this post and add to its considerable length, you can check out, Why I Deleted 786 People From My Newsletter List because I did the exact same thing, only with the Coach the Life Coach list in May 2021
Having 100 people on your list (presuming they aren’t just family and friends) who are super engaged and interested in what you do is far better than 1,000 people who hit delete as soon as your email drops in their inbox.
If you have a great niche then your list will probably be smaller than somebody like me who just rambled on about self development in general.
The Coach the Life Coach list is at just over 4,000 since I purged it, but it’s highly targeted.
Whereas anybody can sign up, there’s not much value to somebody who either isn’t a coach or doesn’t want to become one.
Imagine you have a niche of working with attorney’s dealing with burnout and all you ever write about is relevant to that niche.
If you have a list of 100 people, then that would certainly be worth more to you than if I gave you my list of 4k coaches.
My advice would be, don’t get too wrapped up in numbers, concentrate on building engagement with people who see you as an expert and value what you have to say.
Should I Have A Blog Or A Newsletter?
Both, because they serve different purposes.
If you did a search for ‘life coach websites’, this is what you would have seen until about 12 months ago.
Not only was I the number one result after the adverts but I had already snagged the featured snippet (that’s the box with the image that Google presents as what it thinks is the best result) and that brings a lot of traffic to Coach the Life Coach.
That was a deliberate tactic by me to go after that search term.
A good proportion of people who type ‘life coach websites‘ into Google will be new coaches and if I can help them with some useful information then there’s a very good probability they will sign up for my newsletter.
You cannot do that with a newsletter article.
My blog is a vehicle for getting people on the list either by organic searches such as the example above or through social media shares.
Note: For reasons beyond the scope of this post (namely something called content decay) I have since lost the #1 spot, but I’m still high up on the first page.
Probably a better question is, ‘should I just send my blog posts to my newsletter list?’
There are 3 options available to you here, but let’s look at the most common two first.
- You write a blog post and then send out a newsletter telling people about it and linking back to the post so they can go and read
- You write a blog post and then dump the entire post in the body of the newsletter
With option number one you will get fewer people reading your article because some people just don’t like clicking away from their email platform, especially if they are on their phone.
BUT and it’s a big but, you are driving more traffic to your website and that is important.
The more traffic you get (presuming it’s not coming from spammy sites) the more authority Google accredits you.
Plus you are ‘training’ your readers to click through.
That may sound a bit icky, but it’s important that there is at least some expectation that people will have to do this because when you’re looking to sell to them (more in a moment) you will need them to click through to your offer.
The third option is to write new material for your newsletter readers, material that they cannot see just by visiting your blog.
By and large, this is what I do with Coach the Life Coach and probably 75% of my newsletters consist of exclusive material.
I will also share a lot of personal information such as earnings, book sales and stuff that has gone wrong and what I learned from it etc.
I prefer not to publish that kind of stuff on my blog.
Also, I may send out a newsletter that is only 250 words long and that looks kind of weird in a blog post for anybody not named, Seth Godin.
You can make an argument for any of the three approaches I have just explained and none are wrong.
I prefer to mix and match, but you can choose whatever option you prefer.
Note: There actually is a 4th option where you put a part of the blog post in the email to get people to start reading and then there is a link to continue. This can work well too.
How Often Should I Hit My List
There really isn’t an optimal time or a correct answer on this.
Seth publishes short punchy content spanning a wide spectrum and all aspects of ethical marketing.
Sometimes his posts are no longer than 100 words and very rarely longer than about 350.
Seth is a superstar with tens of thousands of followers, probably hundreds of thousands, so it clearly works.
On the flip side, Brian Dean writes in-depth content about SEO and online marketing and goes narrow and very deep with equally excellent content.
He too has a large and loyal following.
Seth includes the entire post and Brian usually has a link back to the post on his site.
As I have said there really isn’t a right or wrong to this.
However, try to be somewhat consistent.
Do not disappear on your readers for 3-months and then hit them 3-times in a week because you have something to sell them.
An interesting quote that I like from Seth Godin about this topic (kind of). ‘I don’t have great ideas and so blog every day. I have great ideas because I blog every day’
The answer to the question of how often should you hit your list is fairly simple, whenever you have something of value to share with them.
There’s nothing especially wrong with writing to a schedule so long as it doesn’t mean you churn out subpar material just because your calendar says it’s time to post.
What Is A Good Open Rate?
I was once watching Shark Tank (the US version of Dragon’s Den for those of you in the UK) when investor Mark Cuban asked two guys pitching their product what their open rate was with the tens of thousands on their list?
They responded ‘well over 40%’.
Me, Mark Cuban and every other shark simultaneously howled with derision.
I had to pause the show and say to my wife, ‘what a pair of bullshit artists, nobody gets over 40% with a list that size’.
To begin with, your open rate will be high, maybe even over 50%.
But as it grows it will decline for numerous reasons.
- People get bored with what you have to say and just delete the emails as they drop in (in the short term it’s much easier to hit delete than to open and go through the unsubscribe process)
- Or even worse, they mark you as spam just once and then your emails permanently disappear into oblivion for all eternity
- People will migrate to another email address and rarely check the one that they signed up for. Many people have that one email address they give to people they are not bothered about hearing from and seldom check
- The emails will not get delivered to a subscribers inbox
The last one is the most frustrating, and a problem many coaches are unaware of.
They think that if somebody signs up for their list then they will receive whatever email they send out.
Sadly and annoyingly, that’s not the case.
Just because you’ve sent out a newsletter to 1,000 people in no way does that mean 1,000 people will see it.
As with how often you hit your list there is no right answer to the question of a good open rate.
There are so many variables such as the size of list, list engagement, the industry you’re in, the headline you use, if you’re selling or not etc.
By and large though, and if you push me on it, if you have over 500 people and you’re open rate is over 30% then you’re doing very well.
If you’re into the thousands then you’ll probably be closer to 20% and 25% is excellent.
Coach The Life Coach is usually around 20%.
And that 20% figure is why I’ll frequently replicate my newsletters in the Coach the Life Coach Facebook Group a day or two later because I know that:
- There are people in there who are not on my list
- And probably, more importantly, there are people who are on my list who won’t have seen the email so it gives me two bites at the cherry.
Are There Any Cunning Ways To Up My Open Rate Tim?
Well, yes there are, thanks for asking.
The first and most obvious is to pay careful attention to your headline.
The headline is the first thing people see and if yours is boring and gives no reason for people to open, then guess what? Yep, they won’t open it.
Using the headline ‘August Newsletter From Coach The Life Coach’ would quite rightly invite apathy.
However, the headline I used recently of ‘Do You Wear Women’s Underwear?’ is going to be intriguing to many people who will wonder what that has got to do with coaching
And you can also use clickbait headlines which can be super effective presuming you don’t go nuts and oversell the post you.
30 Self Development Books Every Life Coach Should Read (and one they shouldn’t) is an example of a clickbait headline with the element in brackets designed to illicit enough curiosity to get people to open if the main title doesn’t.
However, if you’re going to use clickbait make sure it delivers on the promise it makes, otherwise you may get people to open once but they won’t open twice.
If I wrote a headline, ’10 Tips To Acquiring Clients You Have Never Heard Of’ and then you clicked through and number one is ‘open a Facebook account’, and number two is ‘start a blog‘, you’re going to think I’m an idiot and unsubscribe.
Another way to increase your open rate significantly is to send the email out twice about a week apart.
If you’re emailing weekly or more frequently, then this is a tad trickier but I only wrote once or twice per month for A Daring Adventure, so it was easy to do.
Obviously, you don’t want to annoy people who already read the article so what you do is set up a new segment of people who didn’t open the email the first time.
You can see in the screenshot below from a post I sent out a few years ago that I had an open rate the first time I sent it out of 18.1%.
When I sent out a second email I always changed the title to try and appeal to different people, as well as reducing the likelihood of people remembering the first email that they deleted without reading.
The next send went to the 82% of people who hadn’t opened the first and that resulted in 12% of those people opening and pushing the overall open rate up to about 28% – not too shabby!
I didn’t do that with every email but I thought that was probably the best post I’d written in a couple of years so I wanted to get as many eyes on it as possible.
And I don’t do it now with Coach the Life Coach because I send too many emails out and it would get messy.
The third option is to use %FIRSTNAME% in the title.
Using the code %FIRSTNAME% means that it will insert the subscriber’s name in the title of the email.
Presuming that when they opted into your newsletter they gave you their first name that is.
This will increase the open rate because it will make the email seem more personal.
I use this approach very sparingly however because it can seem manipulative if overdone.
People Are Unsubscribing – What Do I Do?
Wave them a cheery goodbye and move on.
It’s probably not personal and it’s probably not about you.
People unsubscribe from newsletters for all sorts of reasons such as:
- They’re getting inundated with emails in general and want to cut back
- They’re no longer interested in what you have to say
- You may have caused them offence for any number of different reasons
- They subscribed with a new email address and don’t want duplication
- They did it by mistake in a pre-coffee early morning haze
None of those is within your control so let it go and let them go.
Whenever I try to sell to my list I almost always get more unsubscribes than when I send out an email linking to a blog post like this one.
Six or seven years ago I announced that I was going to start charging 99 cents for my five previously free ebooks and I had one person email me to say, ‘You’re a greedy bastard just trying to pick people’s pocket’.
He didn’t know at that time I was spending almost $200 per month on my two email platforms and some posts will take me 10 or more hours to compile.
And in any case, it was largely my fault because I had conditioned people to get everything I had to offer for free so when something was no longer free they took offence.
This, by the way, is one of the reasons I dislike discovery calls. Check out, Discovery Calls – Should Coaches Use Them To Attract More Clients? to know more.
Here’s the deal with people who opt out for reasons like that.
They were never likely to hire me or buy from me in the first place so it’s no great loss.
As mentioned, I have over 4,000 people on the Coach the Life Coach list, but I know damn well somewhere in the region of 90% will never even consider hiring me one-on-one or signing up to do any of the courses.
I’m more than happy to have them on my list because I like helping people whenever I can.
However, I’m not going to lose any sleep over them storming off in a huff because I’m trying to make a living.
I give away a LOT of free high-quality advice and the price you pay for having it is occasionally getting emails from me telling you about a new course is running on Coach the Life Coach.
There’s another reason people will leave you and it’s probably the one that most coaches back off from – and that is because you pissed them off.
I’ve had lots of people tell me I’m an idiot, offensive, that I swear too much and that I shouldn’t talk about politics.
And guess what?
I don’t care.
In the early days, I used to write in a vanilla way hoping I wouldn’t offend anybody, but then I realized that I needed to be me.
To paraphrase John Lennon, this approach doesn’t get me the most clients, but it does get me the best clients.
If me typing the word ‘fuck’ is going to have you meltdown and choose to get all offended, then I probably don’t want to work closely with you anyway, so we both dodged a bullet.
Me swearing and talking politics and using a lot of humour in my writing at A Daring Adventure was very much part of my brand.
It was what helped me find a blue ocean in a sea of red.
Sure, 75% of people who stumbled upon my site didn’t ‘get me’ and that’s fine because I could focus on the 25% who did.
You just being you, will get unsubscribes and you don’t need to be as acerbic and sarcastic as I can sometimes be.
It may be that you turn somebody off because your religious, or because you’re not religious.
Or. that you drop into a post your love of meat to a vegan.
Or it could be that you mention you’re gay to a homophobe.
There are 1,001 ways for people to choose to be offended – let them get on with it because it’s no concern of yours.
And they were never your people anyway.
How Often Should I Sell To My List?
I rarely sell to my list outside of full-on launches.
I only used to run one Coach The Life Coach course per annum, which is low.
Note: I said used to because I’m not sure if I will do any more live courses as I am writing a digital course.
But I usually run one or two masterminds per year (the next one starts in August 2021 if you’re up for it!)
Prior to each course, I would schedule what is called a launch sequence.
With the coaching specials that I would do once per annum over at A Daring Adventure, I could afford to send out just one email.
Other than the fact that I wasn’t bothered if I sold them, they were more a way of saying thanks, I only put up one each of my three packages.
Consequently, I didn’t need to warm up my audience or batter then over the head with it because I knew all places would be gone inside 24-hours.
I cannot say that about Coach the Life Coach courses, it is generally (although not always) harder to sell and I’d probably need 6 or 7 emails to spell out the benefit.
If I just sent one email out saying, Come and get it, Coach The Life Coach is open for business – hurry, hurry, hurry I’d probably get crickets and tumbleweed.
A launch sequence is just that, a sequence of emails over a limited period of time (usually between 7 and 10 days).
By and large, we don’t buy based on facts, we buy on emotions and then justify it with facts after the event.
The Coach The Life Coach client acquisition course usually had an early-bird of $999 and a full price of $1,799.
An average client when I was a life coach was worth about $1,750 to me and I’d hope you were no lower than that.
So for me to validate the worth of the course I’d need to be able to help you acquire about half a client.
Alas, clients don’t come in halves, but that isn’t a problem because I’m extremely confident I could share enough information to help you acquire an entire client.
Of course, you have to then diligently implement what I share with you, but there’s no doubt it works.
Therefore, as well as delivering the raw facts, I also have to tell stories that help you understand that I too was once a struggling coach with no clients like you.
And that I can help you avoid the pitfalls I regularly fell into.
People love stories because they allow us to then relate to a person and/or situation.
Nevertheless, even though you’re selling, I believe the majority of emails should still have to have stand-alone value.
There has been a lot of online talk over the last few years as to whether newsletters are, if not dead, then on life support because of the rise of social media.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Most (there are exceptions like groups) marketing on social media is interruption marketing where people and companies are desperately trying to get in front of their target market to stop them in their tracks and gain attention.
Clearly, that can work, but it is both difficult and, in many cases, expensive for smaller businesses.
Newsletters offer the chance instead to play in the world of permission marketing.
The people on your list trust you because otherwise, they wouldn’t be on your list.
They have given you express permission to contact them unlike anybody seeing ads scrolling through Facebook or Instagram.
Yes, it’s harder than it once was to market to your list simply because it’s harder to get your emails delivered and then opened.
But it’s still easier and more effective than almost any other marketing method.
I’m sure there are successful coaches without a newsletter list, but I doubt there are any who work exclusively online.