As a yoga teacher, it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd.
Even if you’ve identified your unique selling points, even if you’ve chosen a niche, and even if you know how to solve your ideal audience’s most pressing problems, you still have to communicate these points to potential students. How can you demonstrate your value?
One of the best ways to introduce yourself and your offerings to potential students, or to give more information to existing students, is with email marketing.
Imagine you’re teaching a yoga class at someone else’s studio and one of the students approaches you after class.
Student Sarah: “Hi Teacher Amy, do you offer workshops? I love your classes, but I wish there was more individual attention.”
What do you say at this point? You could tell Sarah all about your other classes. Some of them are less busy because they’re super early in the morning, so maybe she can come to those? No? What about attending one of your workshops? There’s lots of individual attention there.
It can be tricky to sell on the spot like that.
It’s tempting to tell Sarah “Just go to my website and sign up for one of the workshops, okay?” But she probably won’t. Even if they pinky-promise on the spot to register for a workshop on your website, most people will forget. They will never visit your website, or they’ll check your site out but leave quickly.
What if you could get in front of each potential student/client/customer a few times and really tell them about yourself? What if you had the chance to demonstrate that you understand their problems and desires, and tell them how you can help?
You can with email marketing.
Here’s what you reply to that student Sarah who approaches you after class:
“I sure do offer workshops! In fact, I run a few that I think would be great for you. Why don’t you tell me your email address, and I’ll send you a few emails with more information?”
The vast majority of students will happily give you their email address on the spot. And guess what? Now the follow-up is on you! You control whether the follow-up happens. You’re not at the mercy of Sarah forgetting to visit your website.
Instead, you add Sarah to your email list. You’ll have set up a series of automated emails that go out to each new subscriber on your list like Sarah. In these emails, you demonstrate that you can help them achieve their goals using yoga. You demonstrate that you understand their problems and that you offer services designed exactly for them.
This is how natural email marketing can be!
It can take the pressure off of your in-person encounters and it can introduce you to people who find you in some other way. It’s just a matter of setting things up.
Now, when I talk about email marketing, a lot of people think “newsletters”. A newsletter is a long email with sections that cover many different topics. “I offer a new class”, “this class has a changed schedule”, “I just did an extra couple of hundred hours of teacher training”, “I got a new dog”, and so on.
The problem? Nobody likes to receive newsletters. And I’m pretty sure nobody likes to write newsletters either.
Fortunately, the best way to do email marketing is without any newsletters at all. You simply set up a series of automated welcome emails, like I mentioned above. You set these up once and they’ll run as long as you need them to. You can do more with email marketing than only introducing people to you and your services, but it’s a great place to start.
So what do you write in a sequence of automated welcome emails?
At a high level, in your welcome sequence, you want to:
- Introduce yourself
- Ask the subscriber to introduce themselves
- Start a conversation
- Tell a story or two about your yoga journey
- Share which services you offer and how they can help the subscriber
- Invite the subscriber to book one of your services
First, you introduce yourself and start a conversation because you want to get to know your subscribers better. After all, the better you understand them, the more value you can offer them (which translates into more sales for you).
Second, you tell a story to build connections, because people buy from people they know, like, and trust.
Third, you tell the subscriber about your services. It’s easy to assume that everyone knows which services you offer. But many people don’t know! So don’t take that chance; tell them explicitly.
When you’re first starting out, three short emails with these points are plenty to get started. One email per day. The first goes out immediately after someone subscribes, the second goes out a day later, and the third a day after that.
Here’s what to write in those emails:
In the first email:
- Welcome the subscriber to your list
- Explain what you’ll be emailing them about
- Start a conversation by asking the subscriber to tell you about their experience level with yoga, or by asking them what they’re struggling with right now
For example, your email might look like this:
Subject: Welcome! (And a quick question)
Hey FIRST NAME,
I’m so happy to have the opportunity to connect with you this way! Thank you for being here.
You can expect to receive emails from me that will help you along your yoga path. I’ll also let you know when I have events coming up that I think would be great for you.
Right now, can you do one thing for me?
Reply to this email and tell me what’s working, and what’s not, in your yoga journey right now.
The more I know, the better I can help you.
P.S. I’ll be back tomorrow with the story of how I got into yoga.
See how it’s really simple? You can get a lot more advanced, but this is a great start.
In the second email:
- Tell a story about how you got into yoga
- Talk about the positive changes in your life that came as a result of your consistent yoga practice
- Share your beliefs about what yoga can do for people like the subscriber
- Invite the subscriber to share which changes they’re looking to make
For example, you could write something like this:
Subject: How I got rid of my chronic stress with yoga
It was the summer of 2011 and I wasn’t happy.
I worked 9 – 6, Monday through Friday, but I was never really “off work” even in the evenings or on the weekends. My job was so stressful that I had become perpetually cranky. My relationships suffered and I felt miserable.
One day, a coworker invited me to a yoga class after work. I didn’t know what to expect, but I felt so relaxed after that first lesson that I starting going to yoga class three days a week.
Fast forward six months and I moved to Bali for an intensive Yoga Teacher Training. I ended up spending a year in Bali and it cost me all my savings, but it was so worth it.
I got rid of my chronic stress and—my sources tell me—I am now a pleasant person to be around!
Do you experience stress too? Are you restless a lot of the time?
A consistent yoga practice will help lower your stress and feel more at ease. This is particularly true when you deepen your practice by attending one of my workshops.
Anyway, more about my workshops later.
For now, FIRST NAME, I’m curious: how did you first get started with yoga? What changes were/are you looking to make with your practice?
Okay, I threw the bit about moving to Bali in there as a joke. 😉
But you get the point: tell a personal story so that your subscribers get to know you a bit. Have them feeling something. Build an emotional connection.
In the third email:
- Explain how you are different from other yoga teachers (in marketing-speak: what your unique selling points are)
- Talk about the services you offer
- Explain how these services can help the subscriber achieve their goal(s)
- Ask the subscriber to book one of your services
Try something like this:
Subject: Why I teach small classes and workshops
Hey FIRST NAME,
In most yoga classes, the teacher hardly makes any personal corrections to students’ asanas.
And that’s not surprising when there is one teacher for 18 students.
The thing is, it’s important to get personal feedback. A teacher can say “try to bring your right knee a little forward in this pose”—but what if you need to bring your knee back rather than forward?
That’s why I’ve chosen to teach small classes and workshops where I can give each student personal attention.
It makes my classes a little more expensive, yes, but you get so much more out of them.
Attending one of my small, intimate workshops is one of the best ways to maximize the physical and spiritual benefits you get from your yoga practice.
Register for my next workshop now
The key to this email is that the “Register for my next workshop now” link should be a big, obvious button that takes the subscriber to your workshop booking page. By including a prominent call to action in this way, you are guiding people towards taking the action you want them to take.
Advanced: offer a quick win
As you’ve seen, the emails I describe above emphasize starting conversations. That’s because, when you’re growing your yoga business, it’s really valuable to you to better understand your ideal students. With a better understanding you can market more easily and you can offer your students more value.
What if you already have a good sense of who your ideal students are, what their problems are, and what they want? In that case, consider making these introductory emails a little longer and adding some quick wins. Quick wins are small tips or instructions you give your subscriber that they can act on, right now, and have them feeling like they’re making progress.
(If you’re on Susanne’s email list, you’ll see that she does an absolutely stellar job giving you three quick wins in the very first email she sends you.)
For example, let’s say you know that many of your students struggle to get their breath right during your class. Then offer them simple instructions for a breathing exercise they can do, right now, to practice the breathing technique that you use in your yoga classes.
Offering a quick win like this in your welcome emails can be very powerful: it demonstrates that you know what you’re talking about and that you can help your subscriber get what they want. This builds your authority, which makes it easier to sell your services later.
That said, only add a few quick wins if you already have a sense of what your ideal students want and which quick wins are likely to help them. If you feel that you are still identifying who your ideal students are, then forget about the quick wins and focus on starting conversations instead.
Go set this up!
Now you know what to write in a series of welcome emails. The next step is to set up the sequence in your email service provider (ESP).
There’s a good chance you’re using Mailchimp. If so, watch my video, Setting Up a Welcome Sequence in Mailchimp.
If you don’t use Mailchimp, you can probably figure out how to set up an automated email sequence by reading your email service provider’s documentation. Search for “automation” or “automated” and you’ll get there.
I want to impress upon you how powerful email marketing is. Ask the successful yoga teachers you admire whether email marketing is a key part of their business and most will tell you that it sure is.
Finally, there’s a lot more you can learn about email marketing. But as a yoga teacher, you’ve got plenty to do already. So set up this simple welcome sequence, invite people to join your email list, and start growing your business.
— Peter Akkies
To learn how to set up automated emails like these in Mailchimp, watch my video, Setting Up a Welcome Sequence in Mailchimp.
About the author
Peter Akkies helps yoga teachers sell more classes, workshop, and retreats using email marketing. He created the course Email Marketing for Yoga Teachers: Build Your Following and Sell Events. You can find him at peterakkies.net.