Email marketing is one of the best ways to connect with and nurture your audience. Emails are much more personal and have a better ROI than social media and many other forms of marketing. But how should you get started with email marketing? Read on for our email marketing 101 guide for online therapists.

Our LIT Community members had lots of questions about email marketing. They ranged from broad questions such as “How should I get started with email?” and “What should I put in my emails?” to the more specific – “How long should an email be and how should I structure it?”. 

So, we invited ethical email copywriter Yuval Ackerman into our community for a guest expert talk to walk us through email marketing 101 for mental health professionals. It was such a great talk with so many takeaways that we wanted to share some of them here with you! 

Yuval Ackerman - our email marketing 101 guest expert - sitting at her laptop

The 3 Pillars of Ethical Email Marketing for Online Therapists

Ethical email marketing is all about seeing your customers as humans first and not just as walking wallets (which we’re sure you don’t!)

There are three key pillars of ethical email marketing: 

1. Transparency

You should be clear about who you are, what you offer, and what you’ll provide in your emails to your audience. This transparency will help to increase your connection with your subscribers. It makes them feel respected and helps to set their expectations. 

But this doesn’t mean you have to share your deepest thoughts, feelings, and challenges with your audience. As a mental health professional, it might be more appropriate to keep some distance and not get too personal with your subscribers. 

Instead, you can share tips and reminders instead of opening up about personal stories. Another way to be transparent could be to share some of the reasons why you got into the field of mental health or why you’re passionate about your work with clients.  

2. Consent

The next crucial factor in ethical email marketing is consent. You should get your subscribers’ consent right from the beginning of their customer journey. So, that means:

  • Not buying information about your subscribers/clients
  • Not buying or renting email lists
  • Not selling information to anyone else
  • And only emailing people who have expressly given their consent for you to do so. 

It’s good practice (and legally required in many countries) to have a double-opt-in form when people sign up for your email list. 

But even once someone is on your list, it’s good practice to continue to get their consent. For example, you could offer an option to snooze an email sequence if they’re not interested in your offer right now. This is not only beneficial to them, but it means you can keep them engaged instead of unsubscribing altogether.

3.Storytelling

The final element of an ethical email marketing strategy is storytelling, and that’s because stories are such an inherent part of being human beings. 

We remember the details of stories much better than we can recall random facts. So, if you can share engaging and well-written stories with your audience, they are much more likely to feel like they know, like, and trust you. And that’s a powerful tool in any kind of marketing! 

Storytelling builds up trust and connection with your audience, and connection leads to conversion. 

So, what stories should you be telling? Small, relatable moments in your own daily or work life are perfect. The more you start to notice these moments, the easier it will become for you to turn them into stories to connect with your reader on the other end of the screen

If you want to improve your storytelling abilities, you might be interested in joining us in the LIT Community where one of our newer events, “Story Share,” is focused on improving your confidence in telling stories. 

Email marketing 101
Image by Melponemen on Getty Images

Email Marketing 101: Common FAQ’s

So, now we’ve covered the foundations of ethical email marketing, let’s get onto the practical steps you can take to get started!

When should you dive into email marketing?

As Yuval likes to say, “The best time to get started with email marketing was a year ago – and the next best time is today!”. 

If you’re curious about email marketing, it’s never too early to get started – or too late. You can start building up an email list or revive one you’ve neglected for a while. 

But Yuval also caveats that by saying that not every business needs to invest in email marketing. So, you might read this blog post and decide that email marketing isn’t for you (either right now or in general). And that’s okay, too! 

Who should you invite to join your email list? 

You might wonder who you should invite to subscribe to your email list. Firstly, it goes without saying that you’ll need to get each person’s consent to receive your emails. Here are some ideas for who you could invite to sign up for your email list:

  • Your current clients
  • Any past clients you’ve worked with
  • Anyone who is on your waiting list 
  • People who’ve shown interest in your services/products/programs
  • Anyone else who you think might be interested or benefit

It can also be useful to zoom out and think about the bigger picture for your business. For example, do you have long-term plans to launch an online course, a digital product, or a podcast?

Ask yourself: Who might benefit from hearing about your current or future offers? 

Knowing your long-term goals will help to guide your email marketing strategy now.  

What should you include in your first-ever email?

Once you’ve set up a signup page for your email list and got your first subscribers, you’ll need to send your very first email. But what should you write in it?

Firstly, if you promised any free resources to your subscribers (often known as a lead magnet), make sure you deliver them! 

Setting your subscribers’ expectations for your emails is also a good idea. So, use your first email to (re)introduce yourself and share a bit of your story, what you do, who you help, and how you came to the work that you do. 

You should also tell them how often to expect your emails and what they will contain. If you’re unsure of these details, tell your subscribers that, too! You can share that you’re still working out what is most helpful to them and even ask for feedback. These tips also apply if you’re reviving an email list that hasn’t been contacted for a while. 

Finally, try to start a conversation with your readers. If you can engage them and get them to reply to your emails, that’s a really powerful KPI. It will tell you that you’re connecting with your subscribers and give you valuable feedback on your email marketing strategy. So, it’s never too early to encourage your subscribers to click on and reply to your emails! 

How big does my email list need to be?

This question is like asking how long is a piece of string – it really depends! 

A small, engaged, healthy list can be highly profitable if you do things smartly and strategically. You don’t need 5,000, 1000, or even 500 subscribers to make it worthwhile for your time, effort, and energy. 

The size of your email list doesn’t matter – human connection does! Bear in mind that email has a much higher ROI than other platforms and marketing channels. So, you can often see greater success with a smaller number compared to your followers on social media, for example. 

With email, you don’t need to contend with the algorithm showing your content to only a tiny percentage of followers. And you also own your email list – so you won’t suddenly be shut down by a platform or have your account removed and lose all your followers. 

If you can get people who are interested in what you do to sign up for your email list and then provide them with consistently great content, you can have amazing returns from email marketing, even with a small list of 100 or 200 subscribers (or even less!). 

But what should I write about in my emails?

So, now you know the basics of getting started with email marketing. But you might get stuck on what you should write about in your emails. And that means it’s time to talk strategy! 

Having a strategy is the simplest and most effective to start and maintain a successful email marketing plan. The word “strategy” can be intimidating – but try to think of it as a plan to get from point A to point B. While the plan might need to change or adapt as you proceed, it’s always a good idea to start with a plan in mind. 

If you feel like you don’t know what to share with your subscribers, or that you don’t have much to talk about, you’re not alone. 

But here’s the good news – everyone has ideas, stories, and things to share. 

You just have to train your muscles to notice those little relatable moments. It might seem difficult at first, but with practice, you’ll start to see those shareable stories that will help you connect with your audience. And then, the ideas will start to flow – especially if you have a strategy to guide you. 

A woman sitting on the floor typing on a laptop
Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

How to Create Your Email Marketing Strategy

So, how can you create your email marketing strategy? 

Yuval recommends starting by thinking about the next 3-6 months in your business. Consider what your big goals are for that period. For example, it could be to get a new client, make 100 sales of a product, or increase brand awareness and let people know what you do. 

Then, choose one of those goals and reverse engineer it. What are the milestones you need to reach each month to achieve your big goal? 

Start with a weekly email to your subscribers. Any less frequently and they might struggle to remember who you are or feel connected with you. But if you send too many emails, you might put people off or overwhelm them. 

The next step is to come up with four stories per month to share, create, and distribute to your clients to help you move towards that goal. When choosing what to write about, ask yourself whether this story or topic will help you move closing towards reaching your goal. 

Draft your email marketing plan for the next month (or two or three) by planning out which stories you’ll tell. Keep coming back to your goal when planning which stories you’ll share and consider whether they are relevant. Ask yourself – will these stories help you to move closer to reaching your goal?

As you start noticing moments that would make good stories for your subscribers, it will become easier and easier! So, another tip from Yuval is to send yourself voice notes when an idea springs to mind. Then, you can save it so you don’t forget that inspiration and come back to it when you’re ready to draft your email. 

Email Marketing 101 Wrap Up

Hopefully, this email marketing 101 guide has helped you to feel more confident with email marketing, whether you’re brand new to it or have already been dabbling!   

So, how are you feeling about email marketing now? Are you ready to get started or use some of the tips from this blog post in your own email marketing? Let us know in the comments, and feel free to drop any questions below! 

This is just a peek into the full expert talk that took place in the LIT Community. Yuval also shared about email structure, crafting great subject lines, whether to add images and GIFs to your emails, and using AI for email marketing among other topics. 

Our LIT Community members can watch the full replay in our Event Replay Library (alongside all our other guest expert talks, LIT Talks, and Business Meetup discussions). Our members also get access to all our live events, the 24/7 discussion board, and other perks and resources. 

If you’d like more support in starting or growing your online business, the LIT Community could be exactly what you need. 

And if you’d like to find out more about Yuval and work with her on your own email marketing strategy, have her audit your copy, or join her latest Email Muscles cohort, check out her website here!


Email marketing 101 for online therapists - by Location Independent Therapists

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