Are Newsletters Dead? Building an Email List For Your Wellness Practice

Is your newsletter dead? Or dying?

Are you still sending monthly newsletters because you feel like you “hafta” do email marketing?

Wait a minute..am I here to tell you that email marketing isn’t a good idea?

Nope. Just the opposite.  As old school as email is, it’s not going anywhere soon, and it’s a fantastic marketing tool.

why email is still relevant for holistic practitioners in 2020

Building an email list for your holistic practice is just plain smart. And if you are at the stage in  your business where you don’t want to “trade time for dollars” anymore, email is a non-negotiable.

You are going to need a modern and elegant email marketing strategy, which also includes sending emails on a consistent basis. The term “newsletter” is still used to describe this action. (much like neon-colored gelatin desserts have become known in the U.S. as Jello)

However, those old newsletters.. the dry, boring “updates” about your business that are SO 2005, those clunky things that offer nothing educational, entertaining, or enlightening.. as in VALUE, need a proper burial.

Let’s call it instead.. a subscription. and with that, comes a responsibility to deliver HIGH QUALITY content into the mailboxes you were invited into.

Think of it this way: (an analogy) You are invited as a guest into someone’s home for a reason.. maybe to teach them how to speak a language or learn the piano or help them work on a quilt, or maybe you bring them really good cookies and conversation. You don’t want to knock on their door every DAY, but they are expecting you to drop by say, every Tuesday with all the things that make you special in their eyes.

Don’t bring mediocre crap, don’t blow them off, and don’t think you are “bothering” them by coming up with creative ways to shine and share.

I think that one of the reasons I still see so many boring newsletter opt ins is because they are perceived as being kind of “safe” and low key. A way of feeling as if you are participating, but not taking any risks of being “that annoying spammer” we don’t like hearing from.

GDPR compliance may have also scared some people off, and of course, the very real and common hesitation to dive into the “tech stuff” that comes with setting up an automated email system.

It’s also just plain easier to sign up for a free Mailchimp account and send a monthly (boring, safe) newsletter to everyone who you have ever interacted with in your business. It’s probably also an old habit.

I dug deeper and asked myself: Why are people are so resistant to email marketing, including myself?  Because we think it’s THIS:

emails that end up in the trash

1. People tend to associate email marketing with either spam, or useless junk they don’t  have time to read. These are rejected, and they don’t want to be rejected either, or “bother” anyone. So they send a nice, once a month, bland, newsletter.

Think about it.. are you compelled to open a an email with the subject line: September Newsletter? Neither am I. On the other hand, I DO open emails from business owners who have something of value to offer, and I’m not talking about Black Friday deals.

2. Lack of exposure to a more “open” economy. Younger people are used to doing business this way: Think freemium apps, access to tons of free info, being able to make phone calls anywhere in the world for free.. you get the idea.

They/we? (GenXer’s and before) are used to interacting with, and being part of the development of a brand. Think Netflix, or Starbucks. There is more interaction. Trust is built over time. It’s no longer about a company talking “at” you till you give in.

Now think about service providers. I recently downloaded a plugin for a free proposal template from a web development and marketing agency. It was free. They have other offerings.. and since they only had to write and code the product once, it made sense for them to offer it for free, knowing that if someone needed one of their services, they may very well think of them first.

Giving away free stuff can be SMART.

Time of course, is another story.. this can and should be charged.

And since you are reading this blog.. the same principle applies. Writing and researching these blogs actually helps me become more of an expert, and having a library could benefit me in the future. It’s an asset, especially as I move into creating not only location, but TIME independence as well, in my business.

I also enjoy giving information like this away freely, knowing that some may want to go deeper, and for this, I can charge my normal rate. I also like to share with those who will never buy from me. Seriously.

3. Fear, skepticism, and apathy due to old-school ideas about business, and getting burned by it.

If what you were exposed to since childhood was:

• Everything having a price tag. Every tiny little thing. Pay to read this blog, pay to start an email list, pay dearly to make an international call. Pay for the cup your coffee came in.

• Anything given away for free must have a “catch” or strings attached. 

• In- your -face, talking -at- you advertising.

• Trading a service for a flat fee, placing an ad in the Yellow Pages, and hoping for the best.

• If things get desperate, resorting to deception and ripping off the customer. (as in the dishonest auto mechanic)

• Cutthroat competition instead of finding a specific niche to serve

• Email lists that are sold to companies that engage in high volume, untargeted (spam) campaigns.

• Junk Mail and telemarketers

• Price markups followed by 50% sales. Every day. (this last one is still a biggie in retail)

In other words, transactional, one way communication. Buyer vs. Seller. Sales closing tactics. Advertising trickery. I’m not a fan of those things either. 

Fortunately, this is just not the way it’s done anymore, at least for service industries. Business transactions shouldn’t SUCK, after all.

I believe that our integrity as business owners is an asset too valuable to fuck with, and I think we respect our audience and customers too much to engage in some of those old school ways. It’s just plain smarter.

But If this is what you are exposed to all your life, not to mention being targeted for scams if you are a senior (scamming seniors is about as low as you can go as a human being) no wonder many people are not exactly excited about jumping into this whole “email marketing thing.”

It’s so ingrained that many who grew up before the advent of relationship marketing find that the “safest” way to dip our toes into email marketing is by the half-assed monthly newsletter.

And it’s a waste of time. Better to spend it scrolling mindlessly on Facebook. Yep, I’m serious. Here’s some stats for the left side of your brain:

Email is pretty old school. So why is it such a big deal?

Email marketing has an impressive ROI, compared to other methods of marketing. Social media can be random. Paid advertising.. can be a money pit unless you know what you are doing and can invest the right amount. Print advertising and direct mail campaigns can be expensive and since they are often not well targeted, the ROI can be low.

But email? Studies show that for every dollar spent, the return is about $38-42. If you do it right.

Despite these numbers, many small business owners still hold on to negative feelings about email marketing. I get it.  But it’s preventing us from taking advantage of one of the cheapest and most effective ways to not only market our businesses, but give people what they need and desire.

Just because we may not like getting certain types of emails doesn’t make email marketing any less effective. There could be a lot of baggage to dump about how we feel about email marketing, if you grew up in the era I described above.

Email, in fact, is  a selective process on BOTH ends. Done right, it’s a respectful and interactive process, and is becoming even more so.

Your job is to make it feel like every email is like Christmas or one of those events where you get a COOL goodie bag.

your emails are like a gift to your patients

 

It’s ALSO your job, as “Santa,” to deliver the RIGHT goodies to the right place.

For example, your subscribers opt in because you gave them a cool lead magnet (incentive) about mountain bike training for female athletes or tools for starting an online business as a woman. If you then deliver makeup tips and lipstick offers, or the usual un-targeted “female gender fluff,” your stuff is going right into the “irrelevant and annoying email dumpster” faster than you can say “unsubscribe.”

This is why so many women’s magazines seem to die off. Women are tired of the same old crap. Same goes for some of the dumb and patronizing info out there targeted to the “over 50” crowd.. which includes  GenXers, Boomers, and the “Silent” generation.. people well into their 80’s and 90’s!

Want to know a quick way to alienate people by being TOO general?  Lump a 52 year old in the “over 50”  trash bin category without giving it much thought, and make blind assumptions. It shows a lack of respect for both the 52 year old and the 92 year old when marketers do this. 

Let’s say you “niche it down” even more, to tips on cross country mountain bike racing for beginner female athletes over 50. If you start making assumptions about cycling, women, and people over 50, patronize, assume, and not really “nail” the culture, you will miss the mark and irritate people.

What you WANT to do is have them think: “Wow, they REALLY get me. I feel like someone is reading my MIND (in a good way )”

Let’s say your “avatar” is, well, me: (it’s written in detail and stream of consciousness to prove a point, but you can skim this next paragraph:)

“I don’t want my “swag” to be the equivalent of an offer for pink water bottles and sweatbands and cheesy pop music or watered down advice for “girls” or “seniors.” 

I want edgy stuff. Real content. Bring it on. 

I want to feel encouraged if I’ve been out of the game for a while, (I used to race downhill mtn bikes) and I want realistic advice (I’m not in the market for a 4k bike)

You had better know the difference between mountain biking and cycling culture.  If I see a stock photo with an “older” person pretending to ride a bike, I won’t give your stuff the time of day. Show me REAL.

Anything with the word “Girl” in it is passed over, but I love being a woman.

It’s ok to talk to me about where to find shorts that fit right and how to deal with patronizing male riders and bike shop owners, but I also want to hear about all the geeky things.

I want to know where I can ride alone and not be watched by others if I need time to ride through a challenging section of the trail, because I’m kinda self conscious.

I love psychology.

In secret, am kind of scared on some days, and still want to look good. I had a few bad crashes that I was affected by, but nobody seems to talk about that, especially to women. I would love to hear more about that. 

If you have a dry and intelligent sense of humor and are not afraid of the occasional f-bomb and have a a thesaurus full of synonyms for badass,  you will win my heart.

If you love the band Tool let me know where I can sign up to be one of your biggest fans.. and if I’m looking for a coach, you will be the first person I’ll think of to hire.”

See how this can REALLY get “niched down? This is a GOOD thing!

You want to feel as if someone is speaking directly to you.. who just GETS you. If you just read that above paragraph, chances are you felt that way. If you skipped it, it wasn’t speaking to you, and there would be no reason to clutter your brain with more info designed to serve someone with goals and desires THIS specific.

If you wrote with someone like me in mind, would you potentially scare away many other women my age? Oh, my, YES. And I am repelled by certain things too. Things that many other women LOVE, as a matter of fact.

But isn’t the idea of scaring some people off bad for business? NO. No!

“If you try to make everyone happy, NOBODY will be happy. Your stuff will be boring, irrelevant, and miss the mark.”

This is also the most natural and aligned way to communicate with your audience. If you niche down this far, chances are you know your shit and are turned off by the same things your audience is. How cool is that?

So if you are still writing monthly newsletters with generic articles, take the time to define who your ideal client, patient, guest, or customer is. Building an email list for your holistic practice can actually feel easy and natural when you do this.

It’s also important to be consistent about your message. It’s like a first date: It’s not about trying SO hard to impress that people won’t recognize you without a ton of makeup and nice clothes and being “on” all the time.

It’s about showing them some of your best stuff. More great things will flow if they hang out with you, trust that. Don’t give them something solid, then deliver a bunch of fluff later. If you love what you do, it won’t be an issue!

Now that I’ve probably established that nobody is going to give a f**k about a boring newsletter.. lets talk about:

What email CAN (and should) be like

Do you have a favorite podcast you like to listen to? A TV show? Books from your favorite author? A blog?  Do you go on Pinterest to find new recipes and craft ideas?

Chances are you look forward to the next broadcast or publication date. This is what an email marketing system is actually for: Delivering valuable content to your audience on a regular basis, because they specifically chose to receive it from you.

So it’s now our job to make sure that we deliver on our promise.

It’s not always the email itself that is usually offering entertainment, education, or enlightenment, but what is IN the email itself. A link to something nice and juicy. .

None of this is manipulative, either. As a service based business owner who probably enjoys giving and sharing information about everything from Croatian cookie recipes to Chinese medicine solutions for seasonal allergies, email marketing will be quite natural for you.

Think of it as a way to deliver the things your audience WANTS to hear. It’s much less random.

When you subscribe to something, you made a conscious decision to hear more. It’s as targeted and specific as it gets.

With social media.. or even other forms of marketing, this is much more difficult (or expensive) to achieve.

Lets put it another way:

The chances of someone opening your email are still much greater than the odds of having your content seen on social media.

Don’t get me wrong.. social media and paid advertising are also important components of a marketing plan, but are far more subject to the whims of the platform you are on.

Anyone who uses Facebook to market their business knows what I mean.. even when you do everything “right” it can sometimes be a little depressing when your post reach drops to almost nothing due to algorithm changes.

If your account is suspended or your platform of choice disappears tomorrow, your network will disappear right along with it. Your email list is something you own and control.

Email may still be old school, but that’s no reason why you have to use it in an old school way, such as newsletters and in-your-face promotions.

So there you have it.. Boring Newsletters may be dead, but email marketing is thriving and will continue to for years to come, even with all the fancy schmantzy new trends that marketing gurus like to mention to showcase their knowledge.

If you are wondering now, HOW to build an email list for your holistic practice, Go to part 2 of this blog! 

Meantime, if you have questions, click on the pretty burgundy button below and we can chat for 30 min at no cost to you, about your email marketing.