The latest post in our Art of Marketing Your Yoga Business series looks at the next stage of the process, once you’ve got a great website set up with striking images, and have started blogging regularly – how to grow your yoga community through email marketing.

Why do you need to build a community?

As an independent yoga teacher or owner of a yoga studio or retreat centre, you know how important the teacher-student relationship is; you know how important word-of-mouth is; and you know that you need a steady flow of regular practitioners for your business to be a success. But it’s not all bums on mats, is it?

You probably know that there’s a lot more to running your business than what happens on the mat. That positive, supportive, uplifting energy you create inside the studio is just as important for what you need to do outside the studio. And that’s where the power of community comes in.

When you create and grow a yoga community, it takes on a life of its own. Your students become inspired and engaged; they feel connected, part of something meaningful. And this is self-perpetuating. The more people join the community and the more interaction they have with each other, the more the energy and excitement builds. Ultimately, this will result in your business gaining popularity and respect, and your students coming back again and again.       

How can email marketing help?

Did you know that email marketing is still 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined, when it comes to acquiring new customers (McKinsey & Co)? You can blast out updates across your social media channels all you want, but there’s a very grey area around who owns the content you share, and it’s still pretty difficult to track real results.

With email marketing on the other hand, you can send targeted campaigns with relevant content to the right people, plus you can track who opens your emails and which links are clicked most often. By sending out special offers or early booking privileges, you can also create an air of exclusivity, which will help to build a list of loyal subscribers who are fully engaged with you and your brand.   

As we explained in Are you ready to market your yoga business?, email marketing is like the icing on top of your website cake. The cake (your website) has to come first, as this is the foundation, or heart, of your marketing. You want it to be moist and fluffy – or, in the case of a website, well structured with clear navigation and calls to action!

But, no cake is complete without icing, right? So, you need to spread that delicious email marketing on top, to make sure your audience keeps coming back to your website. Social media is like the cherry on top – it’s a nice-to-have and is great for brand awareness and community, but it’s not so effective when it comes to converting visitors into customers (and can be hard to swallow if you don’t like cherries!)  

The benefits of building your mailing list

Depending whether you’re an independent yoga teacher or you run a studio or retreat centre, your goals and aspirations will be different. Let’s take a look at each of these in turn.

Independent yoga teacher

If you’re a yoga teacher based in one or two locations, attracting regular students to your classes is key. You need to convey what you offer that’s different from other teachers around you. What’s your teaching style? What’s your approach to the practice? What tradition or philosophy do you follow and why? Sending out regular news, updates and links to your blog posts will help to get this information across to your audience. You’ll be able to develop a strong following of local students who are interested in your unique style and want to keep coming to your classes.      

If you’re a travelling yoga teacher, your focus will be slightly different. You’ll need to think wider and appeal to a more global audience. Which areas of the world do you travel to most? What content would appeal to people in those areas? It’s super important to plan ahead for your events and make sure you communicate clearly to your audience about where you’ll be, on what dates, what you’ll be offering and how they can book. It’s surprising how the smallest of obstacles – like missing information, a broken link or a button that doesn’t work – can stop people booking. Through email marketing you can build a loyal following of students around the world who will be eager to travel to wherever you’re teaching next.

Yoga studio owner  

If you run a yoga studio in a physical location, you need to build your email list to attract regular students to your classes. It’s super important to build a loyal audience, as you want them to come to your studio above all others. This means asking for regular feedback, listening to their concerns and making changes wherever you can.  

Your email list is crucial for communicating with your customers, as it’s the most direct way to let people know about any changes to your class schedule, any news updates and any new services you might be offering. You can ask your subscribers for testimonials via email, or ask them to leave a review on your Facebook page. You can also send out special offers and priority booking opportunities to keep your audience engaged and help them feel part of an exclusive community.

If you run a retreat centre, you also want to build a community for returning visitors. The centre has a physical location and you want to inspire people to see it as a special destination for them to return to again and again. Getting feedback from your visitors via email is important. Social proof, testimonials and recommendations via word-of-mouth will all be key factors in the success of your business, all of which you can encourage via your mailing list.   

Which email marketing provider should I use?

There are many options to choose from when it comes to email marketing, but one of our favourites is MailChimp. Find out why in 5 reasons why you should use MailChimp for your email marketing, which includes a free video we made showing you how to get started. You can easily set up a free account and this will remain free until you go over 2,000 subscribers, after which you might want to do some list pruning – see below!  

Another provider we use regularly is Drip. Drip doesn’t have an easy-to-use drag-and-drop editor like MailChimp, but they are masters of email marketing automation! To put it simply, email marketing automation is led by your audience’s behaviour – they receive emails from you based on actions they take, e.g. web pages they view; emails they open or don’t open; and links they click in emails and on your website. This means you can create email campaigns and workflows that will ‘drip-feed’ your content to your audience at the right time, so you can ‘set and forget’ – once it’s set up it’ll keep working for you. For more on this, read our Comprehensive guide to marketing automation.

If you’re a digital yoga business offering online courses and other digital products, you’re going to want a provider with good automation features. This way, you’ll be able to set up a series of emails to go to your customers when they buy a product, if they add a product to their cart but don’t buy, to ask for their feedback, to send special offers and to send re-engagement campaigns if they haven’t bought from you in a while.   

Segmenting your email list

Whichever email marketing provider you use, it’s important to keep your mailing list neat, tody and up-to-date. One way to do this is to prune your email list from time to time, to make sure the subscribers on your list are still engaged with your content and your brand.

It’s also important to nurture your community by segmenting your email list. You can use opt-in groups to divide up your subscribers and then send out even more targeted email campaigns to those groups, with only the information they’ve asked for.

As a teacher attached to a particular location, you might decide to set up groups for beginners and more experienced practitioners, or for different types of classes. If you’re a travelling teacher, you might want groups for different areas of the world in which you teach, or for different types of events you offer. A yoga studio could have opt-in groups for the various services offered, e.g. types of classes, times of day, therapies, etc.     

Some real-life examples

We’ve helped many of our customers grow their yoga businesses through blogging and email marketing.

Working closely with Yoganatomy, a well established US yoga business with a global audience, we restructured their website and helped them launch new digital products using their website and email marketing. Their email open and click-through rates are now way above average for their sector, they continue to receive an average of 300 new subscribers a month, and currently have an email list of over 15,000 subscribers.

We’ve been building a trusted and successful working relationship over many years with Stillpoint Yoga London, a busy Ashtanga yoga studio based at London Bridge. Recently we’ve been focussed on helping them build a valued community. Relaunching a monthly blog – and sharing it across their email marketing and social media – has given their audience a reason to keep coming back to their site. As a result, the number of returning visitors has increased to 40%.

Over the past year we’ve been working with Maria Boox, a travelling yoga teacher from Sweden, creating a new website, helping her launch a blog and sending out her newsletter each month. This has been very successful and she now has over 1,000 subscribers. Each month we resend her monthly email to all subscribers who haven’t yet opened it. This has proved a very worthwhile tactic for engaging her mailing list and driving good traffic back to her website.

How can Wildheart help?

When you sign up to our Yoga Email Marketing package, we’ll set up your email marketing account or refine your existing one. We’ll set up your mailing list, or carry out important maintenance on your existing list. We’ll create a beautiful branded email template. And we’ll even send out your first email campaign for you.

And that’s not all! We’ll also design and create a lead magnet for you. This is a useful piece of content you give away in exchange for an email address, which is one of the best ways to start building your list. Plus, we’ll make you a tutorial video so you can learn how to do your own email marketing moving forward.   

What’s next?

In the next post of this series we’ll be answering that all-important question every yoga teacher needs to know: How do you sell more places on your yoga retreats and workshops? You won’t want to miss this one!

Check out our Yoga Email Marketing package