Many doulas and birth professionals hear that it's a good idea to have an email list. So, they sign up for an email marketing service and throw a signup form on their website that says, "Sign up for my newsletter!"
Months go by and they are disappointed that they have very few, if any, subscribers. So, they decide that having an email list isn't worth the effort.
That was then, this is now
While the standard newsletter opt-in form worked in the late 1990s and early 2000s, times have changed, and so has email marketing.
Back then, the internet was new, we didn't have overflowing email boxes, and social media wasn't giving us more news and notifications than we would ever need.
Back then, we relied on flyers, event calendars in the mail, the newspaper and the evening local news to tell us when things were happening around town. Oh yeah, and remember the yellow pages??
Simply put, an email address is like currency – if you're going to have a space in someone's email box, you need to be offering something of value that they want to receive for them to agree to give you their email address.
But why email when there's social media?
Although Facebook has such an incredibly large audience and your ideal client is probably using it, it has increasingly become a pay-to-play platform for small businesses on their Facebook pages and even in Facebook groups. The learning curve to maximize reach, whether through organic or paid traffic, is not only high, it is always changing. So, strategies that work today are not guaranteed to work tomorrow.
Another thing about social media is that you are a small fish in a big sea of companies vying for the attention of viewers and followers. You've got to be able to catch and keep someone's attention as they're scrolling through their feed.
Having said that, social media definitely helps to attract new people to your business and needs to be part of your overall marketing strategy. But it shouldn't be solely relied upon.
With email, you've received express permission to send emails to your subscribers, and when they see and decide to open your email, you have their full and undivided attention. And unlike social media that doesn't like to show a lot of people your special offers, you have a better chance at having your promotions and new offers actually cross the path of your subscribers.
With smaller email lists, the cost of email marketing services run from free to minimal. And the best thing? You own your email list. Your social media followers are owned by that platform, and you never know if or when access to your followers will be limited or eliminated.
But how do I get people to subscribe?
Earlier, I mentioned that simply asking people to subscribe for updates through email isn't enough to prompt them to subscribe. What will encourage them to give you their email address is you offering to give them something of value to them. In email marketing language that something is called a "free optin" or "lead magnet." You could simply call it a free gift or a freebie!
What are you actually giving? Most people give away a downloadable document – for example, a checklist or a resource list. Some business owners will give new subscribers access to a video/audio or a series of videos or audio files. The process is automated, which means that that once someone signs up, they will either be redirected to another page with access to the document or media, or access is delivered via email.
What guidelines should you follow when deciding on what to give? Ask yourself the following questions:
- What would my ideal clients be excited about receiving?
- How would this freebie position you as an expert in your profession?
- And because most birth professionals are working to attract a local audience, it helps to also ask – How would this freebie be of value to people in my local area?
Once you get your freebie created and your opt-in process set up, how do you attract subscribers?
- Let your current and past clients know about it.
- Share it on social media – your Facebook and Instagram pages, Instagram stories, Facebook groups that allow promotions or your own Facebook group.
- Tell your referral network about it.
- At live events, ask participants to add their email to your sign-in sheet and you'll send it to them and also subscribe them to your email list. If you have an iPad or laptop, have the sign up form available and they can sign up right there.
- Link to it in your blog posts.
- If you write guest posts for others, include a link to your opt-in in your author bio.
- As a guest on a podcast, hosts will often let you mention it and include a link in their show notes.
Okay, so then how does a subscriber become a client?
The trick to helping build the Know-Like-Trust factor with your new subscribers is to have what's called a Welcome Sequence (also known as a Welcome Email Funnel)– a set of emails sent over the course of the next few days that helps subscribers get to know you. The end goal for the end of the welcome sequence is to invite new subscribers to book a consult with you. If your main offer is an online product or course, you can end your welcome sequence with an offer to buy or enroll.
Your basic sequence will…
- Introduce subscribers to what you do and what you know.
- Educate them about what you do and how you help clients.
- Name the very pain points they are experiencing.
- Address their objections as to why they think they don't need your offer. And then it will…
- Invite them to work with you and book a consultation/interview, often with a special incentive.
The beauty of your welcome sequence is that you will write it once and set it up with your email marketing provider so that it is completely automated. You can even pair this with an online booking service for your consultations so they are given a link in your final few emails to go directly to your online calendar to book their consultation.
What would it mean to you if you could work on having potential clients join your email list for your free opt-in and let your automated welcome sequence help them get to know you better and offer the free consult for you? Then, the first time you meet with them is at your consultation that magically appears in your calendar?
Pretty cool, right?
Here are more reasons how your email list can help you:
Sometimes, your subscribers need more time to get to know you before they pull the trigger and contact you or book an interview with you. Once your new subscribers have gone through your welcome sequence, they are put into your regular email newsletter pool, where you can send them weekly/bi-monthly/monthly updates. What do you talk about every week? Here are some examples:
- Share your blog posts and guest appearances, both online and offline
- Notify subscribers about events you're holding in your community
- Tell subscribers about your events, resources or specials of your referral partners
- Give links to your most popular posts on social media for the last week
- Share client testimonials or links to their birth stories online
- Invite subscribers to follow you wherever you are on social media
You'd be surprised at how long some readers follow you before ever contacting you.
You might learn that new clients referred to you might have learned about you because one of your subscribers forwarded your email to them.
Basically, your email list becomes a community of sorts. It's a way for you to keep in direct touch with your subscribers. It's a way for them to get to know you and see all the great things you're doing.
Don't ever feel like you're bothering people with your email newsletters. If they get tired of you, they will unsubscribe. And that's okay, because it means they were not your ideal client to begin with.
So do you feel inspired to start working on your email list? If you have an email list and have found it to be a helpful marketing tool, I'd love to hear about it in the comments or the free Inspired Birth Pros community on Facebook.