Smart’n’awesome email marketing – The proven recipe for coaches

Written by Philipp Steinweber

Often when we start getting enthusiastic about email marketing, we get some question marks thrown at us.

“Isn’t email old school?”

No it isn’t.

Not at all actually. Email marketing is the favorite for many online marketers, because it works so damn well. So, which of those well working methods can you utilize if you have some sort of coaching business where you work closely with people? Be it life coaching, health coaching, or any other form of personal counseling. Let us show you a recipe that works fantastically well for our clients – in terms of engagement and efficiency.

Just real quickly to clarify that email marketing is indeed freakin’ awesome

Given that you’re not an annoying spammer, people have granted you access to their inbox. Ok, saying that the email inbox is a safe haven of personal conversation nowadays might be an overstatement. But it is something that is usually being checked thoroughly. Otherwise you might miss an appealing offer by a Nigerian prince to get his money out of the country. In between your Amazon receipts.

No seriously, it’s relatively certain that people of all audiences check their inboxes for new and interesting things. More so than social streams. That’s why the opening and click-through-rates that can be reached with email marketing make every social media or paid traffic marketer’s jaw drop. So: efficiency.

And: engagement. It’s super easy to start a personal conversation with your recipients. Simply ask them questions and invite them to “hit reply” to answer you. This is spectacular for coaches. More about this in just a few lines.

To summarize,  email marketing is the #1 business asset for many online businesses for those reasons. If you have 500 subscribers, that’s worth much more than 500 fans or visitors. If you have a decent number of subscribers, you can launch products, pitch them to your list and make between some and an extraordinary amount of moneyz.

The three pillars of email marketing

There is a common misconception about email marketing. And before we dive into the best strategy for coaches, we have to shed some light on it.

Email marketing is not only about newsletters!

But newsletters are a part of it. Newsletters are that part of your strategy that is time sensitive. It’s basically an email sent to your entire list (or to a part of your list) at one specific point in time. So if you have an event coming up, or want to share some pictures of your journey through India that you’re currently trying to survive, that would be time sensitive, therefore ideal for your newsletter.

Next in the potpourri of email marketing possibilities we have autoresponders. Autoresponders are very different from newsletters: they are sent to a subscriber after a certain trigger occurs. Most of the time this trigger is time based, i.e. X days after signup. But the important thing here is that it’s individual for each subscriber. Meaning that someone might get this email today, and another person in a year from now. That already makes it very clear that you shouldn’t announce your next week’s webinar in an autoresponder, but rather include some kind of evergreen content.

As a third option there are behavioral based emails. These can be tied to the behavior of your subscribers on your website, for example an abandoned shopping cart. Basically some sort of algorithm that says “if user does X, send email Y”.

This is very interesting for e-commerce and software-as-a-service startups. Not so much for coaches though, especially not when you are just starting out. Mainly because it’s expensive and complicated to set up. And you first want to have the other two pillars working. So today, we won’t go deeper into behavioral based email marketing.

The email recipe for coaches

So from working with many coaches over the last few years, as well as from our own experiences, we have found that the following combination works best:

Autoresponders (best, evergreen content)
Newsletters (time sensitive content)
Maximum engagement and outreach

So yes, a combination of newsletters (NL) and autoresponders (AR) works wonders, without you having to put too much time into it. How does this look in practice? Here’s an example of how it could look for recipient A:

  1. AR: “Welcome to the family”
  2. AR: “Did you know that…”
  3. NL: “Webinar next week”
  4. AR: “I think you will be inspired by this”
  5. NL: “I’m currently in India and public transport here is amazing”

So recipient A is getting a mix between great value that doesn’t have a due date, and time sensitive content. He (it’s a guy!) doesn’t really know or care that some emails aren’t hand typed by you the day they get sent out. Because they are super interesting to him and deliver tremendous value.

Just to make this point clear, recipient B (this one can be a lady), might get a slightly different order of emails:

  1. AR: “Welcome to the family”
  2. NL: “Webinar next week”
  3. AR: “Did you know that…”
  4. NL: “I’m currently in India and public transport here is amazing”
  5. AR: “I think you will be inspired by this”

She signed up a bit later than recipient A, that’s why the autoresponder messages and newsletter messages are a bit shifted. But the important thing is: she does get the webinar announcement and your status update about Indian traffic conditions just in time!

Best practice for autoresponders

So you can see already that we have put an emphasis on autoresponders here. For many things you might have sent your subscribers as a “live” newsletter, we recommend using an autoresponder instead. Actually we recommend using autoresponders for everything that is not time sensitive. Here’s why:
Today, you might have a list size of 100 people. You create an amazing, super valuable email and send it out as a newsletter campaign. The 100 people are obviously in a state of pure awe. In a year from now you’ve grown your list to 1000 people. But only 100 of them are in this state of awe, because of that great email you sent.
See where this is going? If you had set this great email up as an autoresponder, that everyone got a week after he/she signed up, you would have enlightened 1000 people, not only 100.

That’s why you should grow your autoresponder sequence instead of sending out newsletter campaigns!

If you write great content on your blog – determine if it’s time sensitive or not. If not, also add this announcement you might have sent out to your autoresponder sequence. Of course don’t announce it with “new blog post about XYZ”, but more like “reflecting on XYZ”.

About frequency… it depends a bit on your audience and your pushiness how often you send your autoresponders. For coaches it’s usually fine to send something every 7–14 days. If you are super active feel free to try out sending more often, but keep an eye on the unsubscribe rates when you play with the frequency.

For the first autoresponder emails, we recommend a structure like this:

  • Usually there’ll be some opt-in reward which goes out first. Let’s call it email #0.
  • Welcome the person to your list and ask some personal questions (“hit reply and let me know”) in email #1. You can also check in to find out if they got value out of your opt-in reward.
  • In emails #2 – #5 share your best content. Write a short summary of your best blog posts and link to them. And/or just share something via email only. Can also be inspirational things like quotes or videos. Have one action per email, e.g. clicking a link. If you don’t have an external link, feel free to add one soft call-to-action like “PS: Did we already hook up on Facebook?”
  • Pitch your product or service in email #6. Not before that. You can dedicate a whole email to it – it doesn’t have to be in a P.S. or very subtle. Be bold and pitch.
  • Afterwards, go back to adding value. You can throw in a “P.S. In the meantime have you considered booking a session with me?” here and there, but don’t become annoying.

Best practice for newsletters

So as you see, normal newsletters only play a minor role in our recipe. But even though quantitatively they don’t stand out, they’re really important to prevent your email marketing from looking dusty and stale. So make sure to have at least 20% of time sensitive content in there. Things like this work great:

  • Events or launches you’re having
  • Travel updates
  • Seasonal updates
  • Time sensitive blog posts/podcasts/videos
  • Announcements about your business

Everything that doesn’t fall into those categories, consider adding to the autoresponder sequence. You’ll thank us later when you look in your email marketing tool and realize that dozens of emails are being sent every day, without you having to do anything!

Best practice for design

This post isn’t about how to style your emails. But if you’re applying the above recipe, one thing is utterly crucial: your newsletters and your autoresponders should look exactly the same. Don’t use a different template or different software to send them. Use the same template!

You can choose if you want them to look fancy or simple. But we usually recommend a simple, text only version. Why? Because that looks the most personal. As a coach you don’t usually want to hide behind a corporate layer. The best is if your emails look like you’ve actually just hand typed them into Gmail.
That’s why our recommendation is: Use a simple text only template. Of course you can add links and images (so it’s not what some tools call “plain text”!), but make it look like out of your email client.
Ideally you also recreate your personal signature. Of course you’ll have to add an unsubscribe link and maybe your business address at the bottom, but apart from that, it doesn’t have to look different than what you’re sending out on a daily basis anyhow. Also in terms of sender name and sender address, by the way.


To put everything in a nutshell:

Autoresponders (best, evergreen content)
Newsletters (time sensitive content)
Maximum engagement and outreach

Let us know if anything is unclear, and what your experience is, at

– Philipp & Mirjam

About the author

Philipp Steinweber

Philipp is the founder of Metamonks and Omooni, and passionate about personal growth. On Soulful Hustle he open-sources the strategies and insights learned from his projects.