Yoga Business

Guide to Email Marketing for Yoga Teachers

Maybe you think email isn’t so important, in today’s world of social media. It’s true that if you offer online content or teach internationally, social media can be a great way to “build your brand”.

But social media is rented land with ever-changing goal posts and algorithms that are out of your control. You’re faced with the challenge of ever-diminishing organic reach, which means it has become harder and harder to reach your students on social media.

For social media to be really effective for your yoga business today, it requires an ad budget, and a strategy that goes well beyond just creating and posting content.

Email works much better: your audience is much more likely to see an email from you than a social media post. And if Instagram were to disappear tomorrow, how would you get in touch with your tribe?

Email marketing is a lot more straightforward, and it gives you control and more insight. It’s one of the best tools you can use to grow your yoga business, because you have direct access into your students’ inbox. If students have given you their email address, it’s because they want to hear from you, and work with you on a deeper level.

If you’re new to emailing and newsletters, I know it can be super scary trying to figure out where to start. So, in this article, I’ll be giving you the low-down on email marketing, why it’s important, how to engage your students through email, and how to get started.

I’ll start with a few questions I often get asked:

“What kind of email do I send? I don’t want to sound spammy!” 

Like with most things in life, the 80/20 rule is a good place to start when thinking about what to send in your emails.

80% of the content you send to your subscribers should be valuable (to them!), educational and inspiring. Some examples include:

  • A breakdown of a posture you’ve been teaching in class that week
  • Some education on a yoga subject that you are passionate about
  • Your own journey with meditation and tips on how to start a meditation practice

Focus on teaching, inspiring and sharing stories around the topics that you’re passionate about. Above all, keep it relevant to your students.

Feels like a lot of work? It doesn’t have to be: the content you create for your emails can be re-used for your social media posts and, if you have one, your website, too.

The remaining 20% should cover your offerings: class schedule, upcoming events and any promotional content you have.

Using this 80/20 rule will help you to build trust and credibility with your subscribers, so that they’ll continue to open your emails again and again.

“How often should I send an email?”

The question you should actually ask is: “How often can I consistently reach out to my email list?”

The key word is consistently.

In an ideal world, you would send your email out with a fixed frequency, so that your subscribers know when they can expect to hear from you, and even look forward it!

If you’re just starting out, pick a longer timeframe (every two weeks or even monthly) that you can consistently commit to. Gain experience, get into the habit of creating valuable content. Soon enough your email will be landing in their inbox at regular intervals.

“What kind of technology do I need?”

To get up and running with email marketing, you need a tool to both collect email addresses and to create and send emails — this is known as an Email Service Provider (ESP). There are lots of options, I’ll just talk about two.

The easiest and ‘lightest’ tool out there is the YogaTrail Messenger. It’s free, lets you easily add students to your list, and allows you to send formatted messages to all your students. The ones who are not actively following you on YogaTrail will get your messages as emails. The best thing about YogaTrail Messenger is that people can reply in 1:1 chats with you (even in real time).

While it doesn’t have all the functionality and features that a more sophisticated ESP gives you to create highly styled and beautiful email newsletters, it doesn’t require any special skills or set up either. It also provides some unique features tailored for yoga professionals that other tools don’t offer (such as sending automatic notifications for class cancellations, subbing, or new events).

On the more sophisticated side, one of the best ESP’s for yoga teachers is MailChimp. It’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers, and it’s still pretty easy to use, both for collecting email addresses and for sending amazing newsletters. While there are many competitors to Mailchimp, it’s what most people use and what I recommend.

Ok, now we’ve got those basic questions out of the way, let’s talk about your email list.

Why Your Email List Should Be Your Priority

Having an email list of zero (or close to it) is perfectly ok; it’s where we all start! But the truth is, if you’re running a yoga business, you need to have a reliable way to stay in touch with your past, present, and future clients, to inspire them to come to class and sign up for things. The bigger your list, the more effective your email marketing.

Therefore, growing your email list is one of the most important things that you can do to build a successful yoga business. A healthy email list of people that are interested in you and what you have to offer can be the difference between having a successful yoga business and one that never really takes off.

With the right emails going out to your list, you can remind people you’re there, motivate them to get on the mat, let them know about your upcoming events. This means more students booking your classes, workshops and retreats. It really is a no brainer!

I promise you that those first people you get on your list will turn out to be some of the most valuable connections you have in your yoga business.

So let’s take a look at how you can get your ideal students onto your email list:

1. Ask your existing students to sign up!

The students in your classes are your ideal students, by definition. They resonate with your vibe and they want to know what further value you can offer them.

So get in the habit of asking the students in your class for their email addresses and permission for you to contact them via email.

Quite simply, take a notepad and (after the class) ask your students to sign up to your list for updates. If you have a laptop with you, you could leave a list on your computer open that your students can type directly into. You can then import this doc straight into Mailchimp or YogaTrail. If you have the YogaTrail app on your phone, you can also use it to add yogis directly to your list of students.

Your existing students are the best way to start building your email list from scratch. It’s something so simple that it’s often overlooked!

2. Offer an Opt-In Freebie on Your Website

Offering an opt-in freebie is another great way to grow your list. It means you offer your site visitors something like a playlist or a video of you breaking down a new posture you’ve been teaching in class. In return for the freebie, the people signup to your email list to get access. You’ll get far more students signing up if you can offer value in return for their email address, instead of just presenting a form that asks them to signup.

Here is an example of a freebie I use on my own website:

Kelly McHugh Website

Once someone opts in for your freebie, you need a way to deliver it. For this, you can use an automated “Welcome Email” that your new subscriber will receive as soon as they sign up to be on your list. You can easily set this up in Mailchimp in less than half an hour (Mailchimp integrates with almost every app and website on the internet).

As well as providing a way to deliver your freebie, your welcome email is a powerful email that introduces you… so get creative. For example, you might want to point them to where they can book your classes or find your schedule.

3. Make it Easy for Your Students to Sign Up

If you can’t create a freebie, that’s ok — you can still encourage yogis to sign up to your list. However, people aren’t going to search around for ways to join your email list. You need to make it obvious and easy.

If you have a website, Mailchimp lets you create opt in forms for your website to collect people’s email addresses. When someone visits your page and wants to join your list, they can add their email address into the form, then it will automatically populate into your Mailchimp list. Clever!

You should maximise the chance of this happening by adding these forms to every single page on your site. You can even add a pop up version like Kino MacGregor does on her website:

Kino MacGregor

YogaTrail also has some easy-to-install widgets for your website. These can take the form of simple buttons people can click, or full-on schedule widgets that display your class schedule and even let people signup for classes directly on your site.

If you don’t have a website, you can integrate MailChimp or YogaTrail with your Facebook page (if have one) so that people can give you their email address or follow you there.

4. Promote Your Newsletter

You can use social media to get people interested in your newsletter. As well as sharing the links to sign up to your email list, you can also share a link to your actual newsletter (Mailchimp creates a page on the web for each one you send). This is a really nice way of getting your newsletter out to a broader audience, to show people a “preview” before signing up, and to show them what they’ll miss when they don’t sign up!

YogaTrail also has easy sharing tools for you to invite folks from Facebook or Twitter to follow you there.

5. Encourage Subscribers to Share Your Emails

Including social sharing buttons and an “Email to a Friend” button in your emails is a nice way to encourage your existing subscribers to share your newsletter with their network. Their friends might be interested in your content and sign up for your list. Therefore, be sure to also include a subscribe link at the bottom of your emails to make this process super easy.

So now you have some ways to get people on your list, next you’ll want to focus on creating newsletters that your subscribers will enjoy….

Creating Great Email Content

There are a few things to keep in mind when trying to make compelling and engaging newsletters:

1. Use Your Actual Voice!

Think about the emails you love to read. Most likely, you feel like you know that person. You like how they write, and they feel “real” to you. One of the best ways to connect with the people who will love you and what you have to offer is to just be you.

So ditch the ‘yoga voice’ or the spiritual person you think you’re supposed to sound like. Instead, be the same teacher you are in class, and be authentic. Write with words you actually use when you speak, and say the things you actually believe in and are passionate about. This will make your newsletter a “must-read”!

2. Write About the Benefits, not the Features

Let your students know “what’s in it for them” by highlighting the benefits of yoga, the benefits of your workshop and how these benefits provide solutions to the struggles your students are having.

This is particularly effective when writing about your classes, events and retreats (the 20% promotional content).

It’s tempting to talk about the “features” such as the location and dates of a class, or what you’re going to cover in a workshop… but when you put the emphasis on benefits for the yogi, you will see an improvement in click-through rates of up to 10% (that’s the number of people clicking through to book!).

3. Keep it Simple and Easy to Read

When people read content online, they first just scan it to see if it’s relevant to them. So keep your newsletter clean and concise, otherwise it can end up feeling very cluttered.

Ideally, if you have a website or a blog, you can use your newsletter to give your readers just a taste of the content, and then send them to your website to read more.

Visually, spacing out the content and using lots of white space, headings and bullet points makes the experience of scanning more enjoyable and much easier for the reader. This is especially important because most people are reading your emails on mobile, where lengthy text will just seem to go on and on forever.

Tracking Metrics and Getting Feedback

Sending emails doesn’t just stop at the send. You should also keep track of how your emails are doing.

Emails sent with Mailchimp have special, invisible content that allows you to measure things about the email once it’s been received by your subscribers. There are two main numbers that are important in email marketing:

  • Open rate: the fraction of recipients who opened or viewed your email
  • Click-through rate: percentage of recipients who clicked at least one link in your email

Certainly, you should follow up each campaign (each send) by checking these two numbers. In general, a 15-20% open rate is healthy, and a 1-3% click-through rate is good.

Think of your open rate as how good your subject line was at catching the attention of your subscriber.

Your click-through rate tells you how engaging your content was in encouraging subscribers to click something (like clicking through to book one of your classes on YogaTrail, or to read more about your article on your blog).

As you become more experienced, you’ll start seeing patterns to help you figure out how best to reach your audience (what kind of email subject lines are likely to get people to read the email, and what kinds of “calls to action” in your content are better for getting people to click a link).

This kind of feedback is important because you worked hard to build your list — getting more people reading and taking action have the same effect as getting more people signed up to your list. Doubling your click-through rate has the same effect on your business as doubling your number of subscribers! 

I hope you’re now full convinced that using emails (perhaps alongside the YogaTrail Messenger) is one of the most effective ways to get more students booking your classes and events! Just remember to have fun with this way of reaching your students and enjoy being able to share more personal and detailed content with them.

If you follow this guidance, you’ll be growing your email list to a respectable size in no time, expanding your reach and the reach of your teachings.

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Kelly McHugh

Yoga Teacher, Marketing Strategist & Business Coach for Yoga Teachers. Kelly is the founder of Digital Yoga Academy, an online platform for yoga teachers who want to learn how to grow and sustain successful yoga careers. Digital Yoga Academy offers online courses in yoga branding, website development, social media, email marketing and so much more. There’s also a ton of free resources to get you started.
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