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How to Build an Email List as a Nutrition Coach: The 5 W's

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“Do I need an email list?” As a nutrition coach, you may find yourself asking this question on the reg. And, if you’re reading this post you probably already have an inkling of what the answer is going to be...

The quick answer is YES! You need an email list.

The not-so-quick answer is that an email list and effective email marketing strategy can be the difference between a thriving business and a one-client-wonder.

We get it, “effective email marketing strategy” may sound scary and overwhelming. But it is really just a fancy way of saying “a way of speaking and reaching your audience that helps you drive sales and make an impact in more peoples’ lives.”

So, today, we’re breaking down the 5 W’s (and one H) of email list building so you can use this strategy to grow your nutrition coaching business, reach the people you want to reach and start converting those Instagram and Facebook followers to future clients and customers.

Excuse our lack of the traditional who, what, where, whey, why, how order. We want to make sure it all adds up 

Why do You Need an Email List?

Here’s the deal. You do not own your Facebook friends or your Instagram followers. Those likes and follows do not equate to new clients and because of the ever-changing algorithms, you have very little control over who sees (or, doesn’t see!) what you post.

Ask yourself, “If Instagram and Facebook went bankrupt today or if I got locked out of my accounts forever, how would I reach the community I’ve worked so hard to build?”

Bummer of an answer: you couldn’t.

Luckily, an email list is the answer to all your problems. You own your email list and have direct control over what these people see and when new information hits their inbox. Sure, they still technically need to open the email… But from the content creation side of things, you can at least be sure that you’re creating cohesive email campaigns and giving your list the information they need.

We’ll cover a few tips about making sure people are opening the emails you send in the “What Do You Put in Your Emails” section below.

Where to Create Your Email List.

Now that I’ve convinced you that an email list is basically the best thing since sliced high-protein bread to build your business and your client roster, where do you go from here?

There are plenty of free email platforms out there from Mailchimp and Constant Contact that you may decide to upgrade depending on your needs. There are also a few pay-to-play from the get-go platforms like ConvertKit and Flodesk.

We recommend picking one that fits your needs. If you’re really new to this whole email list building thing and have a few clients, starting with a free version as you get your feet wet could be a good idea. 

But, mess around on each site! Get an idea for the look of their emails and flow of their site and decide what fits your needs best. Maybe you’ll find that a paid platform is more intuitive to you (and therefore, it is more likely you’ll use and optimize it) and it is worth the cost.

When Should You Start Your List?

There isn’t a magic number you have to reach before starting your list. 

No matter how many emails you already have (ex: maybe you’re starting with one client or a few of your friend’s emails!) or how long you’ve been in the coaching biz, you can get going!

We recommend starting your list ASAP. No one will know if the only emails you have so far are your best friend and your mom! The sooner you start getting to know your chosen platform and practice designing emails and campaigns, the easier and more professional your emails will be when you’re speaking to a bigger list.

Who Should You Speak To?

It is important that you speak to your ideal client, even if they’re not a REAL person on your roster (yet!).

Narrowing down your nutrition coaching niche is an essential step in the growth and success of your business. Although it may sound counterintuitive, narrowing down who you want to work with ensures that you reach more people. 

When you try to speak to everyone, you won’t speak to anyone.

Building a strong brand voice may sound scary at first, but it is pretty simple if you step back and ask yourself questions like

  • Who do I like working with?
  • What communities am I already plugged into? 
  • What do I want my voice to sound like? Fun and bubbly? Scientific and serious?

Once you have your voice and audience nailed down, it’s time to write.

What Do You Put in Your Emails?

Start with your subject line.

Most people put 80% effort into the body of their email and the subject line is a 20% (if that) afterthought. This needs to flip-flop.

If no one opens your email, the hard work you put into perfect phrasing or that on-brand button will go to waste. 

If you need to write your email first so you can come up with a catchy, related subject line that is totally fine. But, make sure you’ve set aside enough time to really put thought into it (take a break, walk your dog, Netflix and chill) instead of rushing through it just so you can hit send.

The most popular subject lines do one (or a few) of the following:

  1. Incite curiosity - Ask a question that the reader wants the answer to or make a claim they THINK they know the answer to, then flip the script with an unexpected answer. Then, make sure to deliver an answer or solution (like hiring a nutrition coach)  in the body of your email. Pro tip: If you’re sharing a blog article or similar resource in your email, you can use this for inspiration.

    Example: “Are you eating these bad foods?”

    Then, in your email maybe you share an article about how there is no such thing as good foods and bad foods. Working with a nutrition coach (YOU!) can help them break down those harmful food beliefs.

  2. Stay concise - This is a good general rule no matter what. Think about subject lines you’ve read in the past… if they’re too long and you can only read half in your inbox or notification, you’re less likely to open them, right?

    Example: “Have I got a story for you…”

  3. Are Urgent - There is a fine line between urgent and pushy. You want your reader to feel like they should open the email ASAP without putting too much pressure on them.

    Example: “[New Nutrition Challenge You’re Running] registration is open for the next 24 hours!”

  4. Tell it like it is - Sometimes it is easy to overthink and it is more simple (and effective) to let someone know exactly what they’re getting. Launching a new service or challenge?

    Example: “[Your Coaching Biz Name] is finally OPEN! Here are the deets >>”

  5. Feel personal -  You may be about to use your platform’s tagging and coding systems to add a person’s name to the subject line. If you choose to do this in your subject (and I the body of your post) make sure you’re paying attention to the accuracy of someone’s name when they sign up for your list)

    Example: “You will NEVER believe this, <Name>”

Once you’ve nailed down your subject line, it’s time to write. 

In the body of your email, you’ll want to use your brand voice to speak to your ideal clients about what you’re up to. 

You need to GIVE before you ASK. You can share: 

  • A personal story that they will relate to 
  • Free resources you’ve created (more on that in a second)
  • Blog posts
  • Nutrition tips 
  • Current or previous client testimonials (just make sure you have their permission)

Once you’ve given away tons of free info, it’s time to make your ask! Share more about your 1:1 coaching business with them and make sure they have a link to reach out with any questions. If you don’t have a website, you can invite them to “just reply to this email!” and take it from there. If you’re launching any lower-priced challenges or products, you could also plug them here.

It’s important to remember that not everyone who reads your email is going to buy from you right away. An email list is an investment in an ongoing partnership and relationship where you become a source of trustworthy information. 

Then, when and if they are ready to buy from you and invest in nutrition coaching (or, other nutrition products/services you offer), you have that basis of trust to work from.

How to Build Your Email List

We had to save the best for last.

The who, what, where, when, and why of email list building as a nutrition coach play crucial roles in the growth of your business. But, how do you get people onto your list in the first place so you can put those W’s into action?

As great as it would be to throw “join my email list, link in bio” at the end of an Instagram post and have everyone who sees it sign up, unless someone is already very invested in what you have to offer they’ll be a bit more stingy when it comes to giving out their email.

You probably get it. With a thousand new emails hitting your inbox every day - from that discount code you signed up for six months ago to that free download you just had to have - the idea of ANOTHER email in your inbox with nothing in return is usually a hard pass.

And that is really the key (and why we made it bold ^^).

You have to trade your potential clients for their email. In the marketing world, this is called a “Lead Generator”.

What is a Lead Generator?

Basically anything you create that provides leads for your business. We recommend making this a free download (PDF, very short ebook etc.) that you deliver to someone’s inbox through your platform’s tagging and automatic delivery system when they give you their email.

This freebie should be high quality, full of value and make potential clients think, “wow, if their FREE stuff is this good, I wonder what I would learn if I were paying for their services.”

The key is making sure your lead generator is something your ideal client avatar would want to download. In the nutrition world this could look like a cheat sheet for quick high protein snacks, a meal prep inspiration guide or a done-for-you grocery list.

Ask yourself: what obstacle is my ideal client dealing with and what can I create to help them solve that problem?

At WAG, we give our Coach Certification Graduates the ability to join the WAG Business Program where we provide ongoing support in building a nutrition coaching business from the ground up - no biz background required. We provide tons of inspiration for things that move the needle like list building and creating eye-grabbing lead generators because it is THAT big a deal.

When you’re able to deliver valuable content regularly and when a potential client is used to seeing fun emails and info with YOUR name on it here is what happens: When they think to themselves, “I think I’m ready to go all in on this nutrition coaching thing.” guess who they’ll think of and reach out to first.

You got it - YOU!

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Posted by Ali Macy
Ali is a born and bred Vermonter who fell in love with nutrition and fitness in her early 20’s and never looked back. She is a coach, blog editor and Program Lead for WAG with a BA in English Literature and a Master's in Nutrition and Human Performance.

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