How to start and grow a fitness business using newsletters

If you’re going to start a fitness business, then you’ll need to include email newsletters in your marketing plans. Why? Because email newsletters are a conduit from your brain to their wallet. What you put in your newsletters often drives the purchasing decisions of people on your mailing list.  

Top reasons to use newsletters when you start a fitness business…

  • Look more professional. 
  • Make people comfortable with the idea of working with you. 
  • Demonstrate your fitness expertise. 
  • Follow up consistently, which makes you more trustworthy. 
  • Motivate people, which makes them feel good about you.
  • Make it easy for people to sign up. 

All this translates into more fitness, health, and yoga clients. 

What’s the alternative?

If you don’t send newsletters, you might literally be “out of sight, out of mind.” You can’t rely on social media, word of mouth, or someone remembering you. Email is there for people when they slow down, when they’re at work, or when they’re checking email for important messages.

6 ingredients of a fitness newsletter that sells

I know you want to add good content to your newsletters. But it’s more important to add effective content. Good content is entertaining. Effective content sells. Here’s how to make sure your content is effective:
  1. Get personal
  2. Ask for referrals
  3. Be motivational, not informational
  4. Make a big deal out of adding someone to your list
  5. Use an automated Thank You message
  6. Make it easy to sign up for sessions (a confused mind always says ‘no’)

1. Get Personal

To start a fitness business on the right foot, use newsletters that connect on a personal level. You’re the face of your business, so let people get to know you. That doesn’t mean telling them about your relationships or sharing your political thoughts. It means showing up as a person, not a business “entity.” Here are some tips:

  • Be friendly and positive. As the guru of your business, your emails should be encouraging. “You can do it,” vs. “You’re going to die if you don’t exercise enough.” You can make any piece of content sound friendly and positive with just a few words.   

  • Reduce the number of promotions. Too much promotional “noise” in an email lowers people’s interest. They feel impersonal. Over time, people will stop opening your emails, and then your open rate will plunge. Emails that aren’t opened can’t do their job.

  • Use first and second personal pronouns. I, me, you, your…not he, she, we, they. Certainly not “one must improve one’s posture.”

  • Be opinionated. Whether you write your own articles or source them from somewhere else, you can still add your personal experience or opinion of the content. Go ahead and be outrageous…you need people to see your passion about the subject. Just remember the first bullet point above.

  • Use personal experiences to illustrate. If you want to describe the correct way to do “downward dog,” mention how silly you felt the first time you did it. One of my most popular blog posts in the real estate space started with “A listing agent just gave us the worst listing presentation I have ever seen.” It’s a bit link-baity, but it drew people in, and I was quick to turn it into a positive experience.

  • Use Proof of Success (POS) stories. While a testimonial in their own words is great, you can also write your own testimonials, and they’re often better. Simply get permission from the person to tell about a positive experience they had. Include the problem they had, the solution you provided, and the difference that has made in their life. Keep your Proof of Success stories under 50 words. if you can get a picture of the person in the story, that’s even better.

  • Use images of your work place and work. People like pictures. You don’t have to go all Instagram in your newsletters. Just a few images from an event, a new technique, or even pictures of your workspace are enough to make it local.

  • Be motivational. I like starting my newsletters with motivational content…a breathing technique, an inspiring article about someone who overcame an obstacle, a method for falling asleep fast, or even a way to make new friends. People respond very well to being motivated. When they realize your newsletters make them feel good, they’ll keep opening them. A higher open rate translates to a higher sales conversion rate…so being motivational is a win-win. See this post for more about how to write motivational newsletter articles.

2. Ask for referrals in your newsletters

You’ve probably heard this before: Referrals are the best way to build a business. Someone else has already “sold” you to their friends, so all you need to do is reach out and close the deal. Newsletters are a fantastic tool for encouraging people to give more referrals and for ‘closing’ the referrals you get.

‘Closing’ in sales means that you take someone from being interested to being financially committed. None of us makes any money unless we can close the deal. For you, closing means getting people to sign up for sessions, classes or events. Fortunately, your newsletters can help you do that, making the “selling” part a lot easier.

Keep in mind that just because someone is referred to you, it doesn’t mean they’re ready to sign up now. They might want to know more about you, or it may not be the right time for them yet. Lucky you…you have a newsletter! Your newsletters can keep working on them, inspiring and connecting with them, and making it easy for them to sign up. It might be months or years between initial interest and eventual closing. But won’t it be nice to have those people sign up months or years from now, just because they were on your mailing list?

To encourage people to give you referrals in the first place, use your newsletters to teach them that you want referrals. Tell them what to do and inspire them to do it. Here are some tips about how to do that:

  • At the end of an article. “If you know someone who wants to lose weight using this technique, have them give me a call.”

  • In stand-alone calls to action (not as part of an article). “I’ve got time to work one-on-one with three new clients. Who do you know who’d like to start working with a personal trainer at their own home? First session is free with your referral.”

  • With specials and promotions. “I’m doing a 2-for-1 special on my upcoming back-bends workshop. Bring a friend for free!”

  • Using a prominent share button. Using a colorful button, instead of a simple link, calls attention to the action you want. If your email marketing service offers a special “share” link, use that. Read this post from MailChimp about their Forward to a Friend method of sharing a newsletter.

  • Using Proof of Success stories. Describe how someone was referred to you, implying they can use the same process to refer their friends.

Which is better…social media SHARE or FOLLOW buttons? 

In my experience, people don’t usually share your content to their own social media accounts. Sometimes they do, so you’ll have to test this for yourself by including share buttons and viewing the results. However, if you’re not getting any clicks on the share buttons, then there’s no reason to include them. 

Better is to include your social media follow buttons. Often people will click those to check you out. If someone’s been referred to you, they’ll want to know more about you before committing to you. Using social media follow buttons in your fitness newsletters is mostly about building your own credibility than it is about getting more follows.

3. Be motivational, not informational

I alluded to this above, and I have a whole post about writing motivational articles, which you can read here, so I won’t go into more detail now. But remember that your initial goal for your newsletter that sells is to get people to open it. If they don’t open it, it can’t work. If they do open it, it may work. Also, keep in mind that your focus in this newsletter is three-fold: Retain the people you have longer, reactivate past clients, and convert future clients. Inspire them and they’ll sign up.

4. Make a big deal out of adding someone to your list

When you ask someone to join your newsletter mailing list, you’re asking them for some of their precious attention. If you play up your newsletter…make a big deal out of the value you provide, they’ll be more willing to give you some of that attention.

How do you make a big deal out of newsletters? First, you need to be sure you’re providing real value. The value you provide is motivation and connection…making people feel good. So when you add someone to your newsletter mailing list, talk up the value…sell the sizzle. Tell them about the kind of content you provide. Make them want to open it. In fact, tell them you’d very much appreciate if they’d open the first one or two that you send, just to check them out.

What do you get out of that? Two things…one is that if they open it, they might get hooked. And two is that when they open your emails, it signals to the email gods that THIS IS NOT SPAM (spoken with god-like thunder). That means your emails are more likely to land in their primary folder, and not get sent to spam. For more tricks about how to stop emails from going to spam, read this.

5. Use an automated Welcome message

Once someone gives you permission to email them, don’t wait until your next newsletter mailing before you send them something. If they get an automated Welcome message instantly, as soon as they’re on your list, they’ll see that you’re serious. They’ll be more likely to remember you, and more likely to open your newsletters. And it’s just nice to get a welcome message. Make it sound very personal…thank them for their trust, and tell them a bit about you. Keep it pretty short (under 100 words-ish). About as many words as in this section.

6. Make it easy to sign up for sessions (a confused mind always says ‘no’)

A confused mind always says ‘no’. That phrase comes from a sales guru named … It’s one of my mantras when it comes to writing sales copy. The more someone has to figure out what to do, the less likely they are to do it. So in your newsletters, you want to make it obvious what you’re asking them to do and why. That means you need to come from the perspective of all three of your targets: Past, present, and future clients.

Below (left or top) is a pretty good example of what I mean. The promotion doesn’t make much sense at first glance (which is all you may get). On top of that, there are no links. The blue text is not linked. There’s an instruction to send an email, but the email is also not linked. While we can get what the sender intends, it’s not crystal clear, or very inspiring.

The second example (right or bottom) is more inspiring. It’s clearer what the reader needs to do to sign up. I’d like to see the sign up link both above and below the text. Not everyone wants to read that much before making a decision. But after reading, I feel motivated to sign up!

yoga newsletter bad example
yoga newsletter good example

Summary: Using newsletters to start a fitness business

You can write your own fitness and yoga newsletters, keeping all these principles in mind. Remember you have three audiences: Current clients you want to retain and ask for referrals, former clients you want to reactivate, and leads you want to convert. You are the face of your business, so let YOU shine through! Be inspiring, even as you’re promoting your events. Don’t be shy about sharing your opinion.

If you are an independent fitness business owner about to start a fitness business, then check out our pre-written newsletters. We design them to remove the hard work, while letting you make them as personal as you like. Find out more here.

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