Attract & Engage

Email newsletters: all you need to know to launch one in 2021

We explain why they (still) rock for independent fitness and wellbeing teachers, what platforms we recommend, the content that works best for students, and lots more
December 30, 2020
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Jamie Beach

Here’s what we think about email newsletters: they (still) rock.

In fact, they’re one of the most engaging and cost-effective digital marketing channels available to independent fitness and wellbeing teachers.

Despite the emergence of other, hotter platforms like Instagram, email can still give you the most “bang for your buck” when promoting your live classes and monthly memberships.

However, if you’ve never created one before, it can all seem a bit daunting: which platform to use, what content to include, how often to send them and when, whom you’re allowed to send them to…

So we’ve put together the following guide for anyone who wants to get started with email marketing in 2021.

>>Complete guide to filming and creating videos<<
>>Quick-start guide to Strydal<<

Why launch a newsletter?

We’ve already mentioned that email is still a very effective way of marketing your business (in fact, it remains the preferred way of many people to hear from brands and businesses).

But what’s in it for online fitness and wellbeing professionals? Well, for one thing it can increase your audience dramatically if you consistently send a high-quality newsletter (we’ll get to the details of this shortly).

Secondly, it’s much easier to sell your services on an integrated platform like Strydal if you have a newsletter audience. The contacts are highly-engaged, receptive and have already indicated that they're interested in what you offer.

What to be careful of

The big one here is data privacy and spamming, which can potentially land you in hot water. So don’t buy email lists, and always provide an unsubscribe link. We’ll cover this in more details below.

Disclaimer: Before we dive into this guide, please note that we are not legal experts – if you are concerned about your specific situation then please consult a lawyer for advice.

How to create a newsletter

Let’s look at what you’ll need to create an email newsletter for your business…

An email marketing platform

There are lots of choices out there, some of which are perfect for small businesses, and some of which are only really suitable for large enterprises, due to their pricing and more advanced features.

Among the best options for small businesses are Mailchimp, Sendinblue and Hubspot.

Mailchimp has made a name for itself as one of the best solutions on the market, and has lots of excellent learning resources if you’re starting email marketing from scratch. It’s free to send up to 10,000 emails a month, and it’s got some really nice templates included.

Sendinblue is excellent for absolute beginners, and is designed with total simplicity in mind. You can send up to 300 emails a day for free.

Our third pick is Hubspot, which is more than just an email platform. It’s a complete digital marketing solution that includes website pop-ups, live chat and lots more. The free plan includes up to 2,000 emails a month.

A list of email addresses

If you’re just starting out on the journey of building an online studio, you probably have a number of real-world clients, and perhaps some of them gave you their email addresses. Great! That’s a solid start, and something to build upon.

If you’re already using Strydal to deliver online classes then you can download the email addresses of your students directly from the interface – check out this guide.

However, you’ll need to get their permission to email them on a regular basis. For those of us with recipients in the European Union, there’s a specific set of rules to obey called the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Other regions have similar regulations, such as CAN-SPAM in the USA.

The thing to remember here is that you must have explicit permission before sending email marketing to anyone in the EU. And you must allow them to unsubscribe from it at any time. 

How is explicit permission obtained? Two common methods are to email your existing contacts and ask them to agree to receive your newsletter by clicking a link, or by asking new people to fill out a form on your website or Facebook page. 

For more info, check out this ‘GDPR for beginners’ guide. Again, we’re not legal experts, so please consult a lawyer for your specific situation if you’re concerned about it.

A sign-up form

Closely connected with the above, you need to give people a way of signing up to your newsletter. While you can include a box to tick in your client onboarding form, you may find that some people want your newsletter before they become clients. 

Enter website forms! These clever little things allow you to collect email addresses (and the relevant consents) from your website and Facebook page. You’ve certainly used them yourself before.

There’s not time to explain the ins and outs of setting them up here, check out this explainer from Hubspot for more info.

Content to fill your newsletter with

Now we get to the fun bit! Creating something that your readers will love.

A surprising number of companies still make the mistake of thinking their newsletters should simply talk about how great they are…

But that approach doesn’t work, for obvious reasons. So be an interesting conversational partner. Offer something of genuine value or interest. Be empathetic and curious, be friendly and engaging.

Think about your ideal students, and the goals and struggles they typically have. Brainstorm these ideas, and keep a record of them somewhere. It doesn’t really matter if you do this with a notebook and pen, or in a spreadsheet. Just keep them somewhere for easy reference.

What kind of content works for email newsletters? For independent fitness and wellbeing teachers, it’s definitely going to be advice and tips for students. Some insights into your life as a teacher. Teasers and clips from upcoming and popular classes.

Plus maybe a discount promotion or two, a humorous anecdote from the past week, or something you’ve found particularly inspiring or empowering. Or the answer to a question you typically get asked. Or a big announcement. Or one week you could tell a story.

Remember to mix it up, to keep things interesting. The really fun part is experimenting until you find something that works for your audience.

So try a mix of words and images, highlighting the top two or three things that you really want your readers to pay attention to.

A plan to follow

To begin with, you’ll probably fill your newsletter with any content you can think of. That’s fine, and many successful newsletters were launched that way.

But as time goes on, you’ll need a plan – a way of mapping out what content to include in each issue. This will vary according to the time of year, what you’ve been doing recently, any blog posts you may have written, and so on.

Refer to that list of content ideas you’ve started creating, which revolve around the goals and struggles your ideal student typically has. Then you can start filling up your content plan.

Also, remember that you can schedule a number of automated emails to be sent when someone signs up for your newsletter. These might include a Welcome email, followed a few days later by a roundup of your most popular blog articles, followed by a promotion or discount code. Up to you!

Regular analysis

To get the best results, you need to regularly check how which newsletters did well, and think about why that was. You can find out open and click rates within your email marketing platform, we cover this in more detail below.

Perhaps you carried a 'zeitgeisty' message one day, or an extra piece of advice? Whatever it was, try to discover what content your audience loves, so that you can give them more of it.

Best practices: what to do, and what NOT to do

In general, you want your writing style to be friendly and chatty. You don’t want to sound like a big, impersonal organization, but like the favourite teacher that your students love to hear from.

So write like you speak, and don’t be afraid to use the occasional emoji or GIF. Of course, swearing and badmouthing are not a good idea.

Remember to always include a clear call-to-action in every newsletter: tell your readers what you want them to do, or give them links to your website or blog.

Don’t forget that the majority of emails are now read on mobile devices: so don’t make them too long, and ensure that they display nicely. Try to keep your design simple.

And make it 'skimmable': people don’t want to read big chunks of dense text, so break it up with short paragraphs and bullet points where possible.

Frequently-asked questions

That's the main part of our guide finished. But we're guessing you've got a few questions now? Check out the following explanations to some of the most common queries…

"Do I send the same newsletter to everyone?"

If you’re just getting started with email marketing, then the answer is “yes”. Keep things simple to begin with.

While segmenting a list of emails according to interests, location or some other variable can be a powerful way to increase opens and clicks, we don’t recommend it for beginners.

"When should I send my newsletter?"

There’s no single answer to this question, unfortunately! Try starting with early evening in the middle of the week, when people are returning from work but not yet ready for the weekend.

"How often should I send a newsletter?"

It depends on how much time you have available, and how many content ideas you have. We’d suggest aiming for once a week, at the same time. Consistency is key!

"What are A/B tests?"

This is basically a method of testing for success. You split your list of recipients into an “A” pile and a “B” pile, and send different newsletter versions to each, then measure the results.

For example, you can experiment with different styles of subject line, different layouts, different times of day for sending, and lots more.

This can be complicated however, and we don’t recommend it for those just getting started.

"What is a good open rate and click rate?"

There are various ways of measuring the success of your email newsletter. Two of the most commonly-used metrics are “open rate” and “click-through rate”.

As the name suggests, “open rate” is simply the percentage of recipients who opened your email. While there’s no single answer to what a good open rate is (it depends on many factors), a rough benchmark to aim for is 20%. Anything more than that and you’re doing great!

For clicks, we’d suggest that if at least 5% of recipients are clicking on your newsletter then you’re doing fine. That means if you email 100 people, 20 recipients will open it, and 5 will click on it to go somewhere else, like your website or booking form.

Don’t worry too much about the exact numbers to begin with though, just focus on improving them gradually. You can measure your opens and clicks within the email marketing platform you chose.

"How many subscribers do I need?"

You can start off with just one! Seriously, size doesn’t matter. It’s better to have 10 super-engaged recipients who really value and enjoy your newsletter, than a thousand who never bother opening it.

But do think about how to grow that list: have sign-up forms on your website and Facebook page, and ask for permission to email whenever you onboard a new client.

Ideally, you want to have a steady flow of subscribers who turn into happy students, who start recommending you to their friends and family.

"What should my subject line be?"

Try to make it catchy or otherwise interesting, so that it stands out in email inboxes. You can try the ‘rule of three’, where you mention the top three things in your newsletter, or brackets to emphasise something [special].

"Who should I say the newsletter is from?"

Your email marketing platform will certainly let you tailor the sender name. We recommend keeping it personal in almost all cases – use your name, rather than your studio or brand.

This makes it seem more personal, and more likely to be read and clicked.

Summary

Thanks for taking the time to read our guide to email newsletters for independent fitness and wellbeing teachers. We hope you found it useful! 

We’ve covered a lot of ground here, so please let us know if anything didn’t make sense or you need help – we’d love to hear from you.

If you’re looking for more reading material, check out the following:

>>Complete guide to filming and creating videos<<
>>Quick-start guide to Strydal<<

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