We all know social media is important + fun when getting the word out about our class schedules, workshops and retreats. But like our student Yesica explained, getting the message out on social media can be very limiting sometimes.
How many times have you posted your class schedule on Facebook with a nice pic and beautiful quote, only to see that just 10 peeps even saw your page. (And you’re lucky if you got a few likes!)
As much as we love to use social media for our yoga biz, the truth is we don’t really OWN our posts, pictures or quotes, and we don't have real control over who sees them and when. The social media platforms are the ones who own the content and make the algorithms that control what people see.
So when it comes to promoting retreats or events, unless you spend money on ads (i.e. Facebook Ads) you are not going to be able to reach all of your students or new potential clients on social media.
So what’s a yoga teacher to do?
In our recent blog series we’ve been discussing the 3 Essential Steps to Take Before Planning a Yoga Retreat. We’ve covered #1 How to Survey Your Students: Find Out What Your Students Want in a Retreat, and #2 The Importance of a Website to Grow Your Yoga Community. (If you missed the previous steps, we encourage you to check’em out!)
In this post we will dive deeper into the last step, #3 Having an Email Marketing List.
Let’s start with the basics.
What's email marketing?
Maybe this sounds like a silly question to you, but we just want to make sure we’re all on the same page.
Email marketing is a way for businesses and sole proprietors (yoga teachers) to communicate and build trust with their clients and customers. With email marketing you can promote your services (classes, retreats, workshops, events, etc.) via group email messages. You usually send your emails out to your email list, which is a group of people that have given you their consent (when it's done ethically!) to receive your emails on a regular basis.
Now, let’s go a step further.
What is an email marketing service and how is this different from your regular gmail or yahoo account?
An email marketing service is an online service to help you manage your email list and create professional looking emails to send to that list. This is different from providers like Gmail and Yahoo because those services are only designed to send out emails to a few people, not a huge list of people at the same time (plus they don't offer all bells and whistles). With your regular email, you don’t the same options to customize your designs or manage your emails subscribers (the people that sign up to receive your emails or newsletter).
Why should you make the switch? we've got 8 reasons for ya!
Switching from using regular email to an email marketing service can have a profound impact on your yoga biz. Our student Yesica noticed a world of difference after incorporating an email marketing service into her business.
(As a little fun sneak-peek: We’ll be talking more to Yesica in our next blog post about how she implemented these 3 Essential Steps before launching her first retreat (which sold out, btw!)
So you understand that using email marketing can be super helpful in growing your yoga biz and connecting with your students.
But we want to break it down even more and share:
Our top 8 reasons why you should use an Email Marketing Service in your yoga biz (or get serious about it if you already have one.)
1) Communication with your students
Help your students stay up to date with you and your offerings. Not all students come to class every week, so you can’t rely on making announcements in class to get the word out about your next workshop or retreat.
And as we all know, life is in constant change- students move, teachers move, studios close, students take breaks from their yoga practice, etc. Using an email marketing service is a great way to stay connected with folks even amidst lots of fluctuations and change.
Also, as Yesica shared, emailing students can also be a powerful way to share more about YOU, who you are, and what you have to offer. You can use email marketing to share more about your values and beliefs, what inspires you, etc.
2) Manage your list and grow your community
With an email marketing service you can keep better track of your students- who they are, how many, and their interests in relation to what you have to offer. You can create different lists or groups of your students based on their interests and send out email campaigns specifically to those groups. For example, if you have a list of students interested in retreats, you can send out retreat emails only to those students. You can also send an email only to past retreat attendees to offer them first dibs on your next retreat. All this is really easy to keep track of and manage with an email marketing service.
Our fave reason: you can really grow your community through email marketing. You can have links on your website and Facebook page where people can sign up for your email list in a matter of seconds (instead of having to ask them to write their email address on paper!) At the bottom of your emails, you can remind folks to “forward to a friend” if they know someone who might be interested in your offerings.
There are countless ways encourage people to sign up for your email list and make it really easy for them to stay connected.
And guess what, YOU actually own your email marketing list, unlike your connections on social media. You've worked hard to grow your online community and it’s only fair you get to keep it.
Helpful Resource: How One Yoga Teacher Balances Life with Email Marketing
3) More professional and polished
An email marketing service gives you the option to use beautifully designed templates when sending out your emails. In addition to choosing a template, you can really personalize it by choosing your own colors, fonts and layout. You can add photos, graphics, and other inspirations (like quotes). This helps you to express more of WHO you are to your students.
And if you are wondering if all this really matters, our answer is most definitely YES!
First impressions have a tremendous impact on how others see you. If your emails are boring, visually unappealing, and very “low-budget” looking, this will impact how your students think of you. If you are trying to sell a yoga retreat for hundreds to thousands of dollars, then you want your email communication with your students to reflect a level of professionalism. If you don’t take yourself and your yoga business seriously, neither will your students.
That said, your email layouts don’t need to be super fancy. We like to keep ours simple but polished, and we always use our signature “brand” colors and images to keep a feeling of consistency in how we express ourselves.
Helpful Tip: Have some fun playing with the different designs as you begin to develop your own style. For some fun inspiration, check out 50 of the Best Email Marketing Designs We’ve Ever Seen (And How You Can Create One Just as Good).
4) Schedule in advance
Wow! What an awesome concept for us busy-bees! Write your emails when you feel inspired and schedule them to go out at just the right time. This not only helps you to save time and energy, but also be strategic on when you want people to open your emails.
There are no set rules for WHEN you should send out your emails, but some days and times tend to have better "open rates." If you send out an email on a Friday night, your students will most likely be busy and less likely to open and read your email right away. There’s lots of research available online about the best times to send emails, but you can also do your own trial and error to see what works best for you and your students.
Helpful Resource: Perfect Timing: The Very Best Time to Send Email Newsletters
5) Track openings and see what people like
An email marketing service can help you track who gets your emails delivered to their inbox (and which ones are bounced), as well as see who actually OPENS them!
This is definitely one of the most important differences from your regular gmail account. Being able to track and analyze which emails get opened can help you better understand your students.
For example, if you send out an email about “yoga for stress relief” (making sure your email subject line is interesting and related) and you noticed a lot of people opened it, there’s a good chance your folks will be interested in an workshop or retreat focused on stress relief. This is gold, right?! As yoga teachers, we are always looking to better serve our students by offering them what they really want AND need.
6) Sell your offerings
Again, you can’t just rely on class announcements and Facebook posts to promote your classes, workshops and retreats. Using and email marketing service is an essential way to get the word out about your yoga offerings.
Not only can you share info and links to your website, but you can also create interest over time. If you know you are planning a retreat for September, you can send out a teaser email in February letting your peeps know about your upcoming retreat with details TBA. This creates interest and excitement before your retreat details are even finalized. Then you confirm your retreat plans, you can send out more emails with incentives to sign up (i.e. early bird discount rate).
Helpful tip: Sometimes people need to see something several times before making a decision buy. Sending out multiple emails about your offering gives your students the opportunity to get warmed up to the idea.
7) Promote Your Retreats
Email marketing not only helps you promote your retreats, but also manage your communication with retreat students once they sign up. Honestly, without an email marketing system, online communication with retreat students can sometimes get messy and confusing, and time consuming.
Prior to a retreat, you will need to send out multiple emails to your students to help them get prepared. Again, sending beautifully designed emails will add a level of professionalism to your communication (very different from sending out emails from your regular gmail account).
Helpful Tip: In our upcoming signature online course about retreat planning we go over all the retreat emails and communication you will need for your retreat (and give you some templates and examples to work with). If you wanna know more about our upcoming course, you can sign up for the Online Course Waitlist and you’ll be the first one to know about it when it's ready to go. Learn more here. (See! We love using our email list!)
8) Build Trust and Deepen Your Relationship with Your Students
Consistent communication is key building trust with your students. An email marketing service can help you to stay connected with ALL your students, and thereby deepen AND maintain your relationship with them.
Helpful Tip: 70/30 rule. 70% of your email communication with your students should be informative, educational or inspirational. The other 30% can promote your services and events. When you focus giving value in your email marketing, and less on making a sale, you develop more trust with your students. Over time, this level of trust will have a greater impact on the success of your yoga offerings.
Here's an email marketing story of our own...
Our email lists are a compilation of students and interested folks we've connected with over the years through classes, events, retreats, etc. Renee had a student years ago she met at yoga studio that is now closed. This student actually attended Renee's very first yoga retreat! After that first retreat, they didn't see each other again for over 7 years. But during that time, this student continued to receive and open Rene's emails. Then, all of the sudden, this same student signed up for 2 more retreats in one year. Had Renee not kept up with her email marketing and consistent communication, she would have lost touch this student and missed out on having her join the retreats.
Alright yogis. We’ve gone over 8 super important reasons to use email marketing in your yoga biz. Hope you are inspired to get on-board with the email marketing train!
There are plenty of options out there for email marketing service providers.
Here are a few email marketing services that we suggest you check out (however, we are not affiliated to any of these.)
- Mailchimp- VERY affordable! Free up to 2,000 subscribers. This is what we currently use. Email and chat support. Super cool feature: have your students sign up for your list via text.
- Namaste Light - They plant a tree every time you send a campaign. Awesome! More reason to send out campaigns! Integrates easily with Mindbodyonline. Option to do a free trial. Free for up to 100 subscribers. Live phone support (big plus for those techy hiccups!)
- Constant Contact- Free 60 day trial. Great customer support online and by phone. Online resource library with webinars and tutorials. Renee used Constant Contact for years and really likes it.
- Aweber- Free 30 day trial. Also has phone and online support and a library of video tutorials. Has great reviews in the online business world.