Need a starter guide? Check out our Foundational Guide to Martial Arts Marketing which covers the all the basics from our Marketing Playbook, and gets you hitting the ground running.
What Is Email Marketing?
Let’s start with the basics here – what even is email marketing? In a nutshell, email marketing is using email to market to you clients. “But I don’t have any clients!” I can hear you exclaim – and yes, we all have to start somewhere.
In this comprehensive guide to Martial Arts Email Marketing, we’re going to go through exactly how to start building your list, and then what to do with it.
But to keep things really basic, email marketing is a channel that you own completely, that allows you to maintain the connection with your clients.
This video by Click Minded gives the essential breakdown of what exactly email marketing is, and how to use it.
This video by Aurelius Tjin, lays out the framework of email marketing, and exactly what you need to know to get started (as a beginner!):
Owning vs Renting: Why Martial Arts Email Marketing Is Essential
This is an essential questions that many business owners either don’t ask themselves, or just don’t think about. But the reason why Email Marketing is essential, is because you have full ownership over it. You own your email list, and nobody can take that away from you.
Contrast that by example to Facebook or YouTube. Let’s say you’ve spent 3 years building up and nurturing a Facebook Group. Well tomorrow, Facebook could either shutdown, or (more likely) they kick you off the platform for some infraction you didn’t even realise you were committing.
Or you’ve spent 5 years building up a YouTube channel. Suddenly, without warning you hit 3 copyright infringemetns, and suddenly you’re kicked off the platform – all gone!
Guess what, you didn’t own those platforms, you were merely renting the space. And when the landlords get angry, they can kick you to the curb, without so much as a thank you. Don’t get me wrong, social media platforms are essential tools in your Martial Arts Marketing Arsenal, however, you must always sleep with one eye open, and anticipate that at any moment you could get kicked off.
This is why you MUST (with a capital MUST), own your email list. Because you own that list, and no one can take that away from you. Now, individual users can unsubscribe of course, but now one can just take your list away from you, it’s ours, treat it preciously (my prescioiusssss….).
Martial Arts Email Marketing Strategy
The strategy here on your Martial Arts Email Marketing is pretty straightforward, 1) collect emails, 2) email said emails.
To be a little more nuanced here, the strategy is to nurture your relationships with clients and future clients. It’s helpful to keep in mind that many people who come into your world, won’t be ready to buy from you today, but given enough time, enough value, and enough being treated well, the just might come in to land.
Accept and anticipate that many users on your email list may take 3-6 months (or 12!) to eventually come and buy from you. But one of the reasons that email marketing is so fantastic, is that it takes just as much effort for you to email 1 person, as it does to email 100,000 people.
Therefore you can build and maintain relationships with a huge number of people, without it necessarily requiring a lot of effort from you. In fact, the more people you have on your list, the less effort per person is required (okay, I’m a nerd and I like calculating stuff, bite me).
The strategy here is simply to maintain gentle contacts with your connections over an extended period of time, and when the time is right and the offer is right, they just might bite. And all of your time and effort will have been vindicated.
Which Email Manger To Use?
Before we go any further, we should probably answer the question of how do you email people anyway, and what email manager should you use?
Mailchimp offers a free account which is more than enough to get started (2000 contacts).
One word of warning: keep all your contacts backed up on some sort of spreadsheet. As always, it is possible to get kicked off platforms like Mailchimp, and you’ll be cursing yourself if you didn’t backup your contacts somewhere. I use Google Sheets, but use whatever works for you.
Once you’re setup with your free account, you can start importing contacts if you have them, or we can start building up from here.
This video by Aurelius Tjin, gives a detailed review of all the major email platforms available on the market, and which would would be best for your:
Martial Arts Email Marketing: How To Grow Your List
Now let’s get into the fun stuff: actually growing your Martial Arts Email List.
Traffic: Get People To Your Website
The primary way to grow your email list will be to get people to your site. This could be organic traffic, shares on social, paid ads, whatever you need to do to get people to your site. Once on your site, you’ll have an irresistible offer that they can’t refuse (more on that in a bit).
The goal here is simply to exchange their email for a small piece of useful information (or a discount!) from you.
Traffic: Facebook Lead Ads
Now if you don’t have a website yet, or your website isn’t up to snuff in terms of being able to convert, of if websites just confuse you and you’re not eager to work with a developer, and then a simpler alternative to growing you list is through Facebook Ads.
You’ll still need to provide an irresistible offer (more on that coming shortly), but the beauty is that you can collect leads natively right on the Facebook Platform. This means you don’t need to have a fancy website or landing page, and can build your email list directly from Facebook (could also do this strategy using LinkedIn Lead Ads, but be forewarned, that those email will likely be expensive).
We’d recommend using Facebook Lead Ads if you’re just getting started and need to get up and running fast. You’ll probably pay about $2-5 per lead (averages that we’ve seen from past experience).
This video by Wes McDowell breaks down exactly how to start using Facebook Lead Ads to build your list:
The Email Opt-In
Now that users are on your site and you’ve given them an irresistible offer (still coming up), now you need a mechanism to collect their emails. WordPress has many plugins you can use to collect emails.
Mailchimp for WordPress is a free plugin that allows you to capture your users emails and sends them directly to your Mailchimp account (pretty cool, right?).
A slight technicality here. In these days of GDPR and iOS 14 and California something something, everyone is up in a tizzy about privacy. And probably for good reason.
One way you can protect yourself from potential issues is to use a double opt-in. You’ve probably seen these yourself, but effectively what they do is once you register (the first opt-in) they send you an email, to confirm again that you want to join (the double opt-in).
You will lose some users on the double opt-in, but I suppose the trade-off is you can sleep easier at night knowing that everyone has consented to be on your list.
The Free (Irresistible) Offer
Alrighty – so you’ve got traffic to your site, you’ve got your email opt-in, now why isn’t anybody opting-in? The truth is likely because your offer sucks.
If you offer is ‘subsrcibe to our newsletter, to stay in the know!’, or worse yet just ‘join our mailing list’ – nobody will subscribe. Why? Because your offer sucks.
Everyone’s email inbox is full. Nobody wants more email. Nobody. And nobody wants more junk clogging up their already busy lives. People want value, and if you can offer value, great – then people will excitedly sign up to your ‘irresistible’ offer.
So what can you offer as your irresistible offer? Maybe you’ve got some beginners who would appreciate a short video-course on introduction to Karate, MMA, Muay Thai, BJJ, or whichever style you teach.
Offering a free ‘6-part mini series all beginners must watch before taking their first class’ – will definitely catch people attention.
Or, could offer a discount – ‘sign up to our email list and immediately get a discount for 30% off your first month’. See how this works? Offer something juicy that will incentivise action. And think long term here – by getting people on to your list, you can grow some serious long term relationships here.
This video by Russell Brunson breaks down the keys to an irresistible offer that your prospects and clients just need to sign up for:
It’s beyond the scope of this document to detail exactly how to get Zapier setup, however suffice it to say that Zapier is a tool that allows you to setup automations and simplify your life.
Essentially, you can use zapier to automatically connect your Facebook Lead Ads to Mailchimp, or connect your Mailchimp to something like Google Sheets, to automatically create a backup of all your contacts.
Zapier is a tool that allows you to get out of your own way, by automating a lot of those processes that are happening in the background, so that you can focus more on whats important to you: teaching Martial Arts.
This video by Zapier takes you through exactly how to get your Zapier account hooked up to mailchimp, so you can start automating your emails systems:
Martial Arts Email Marketing: How To Email Your List
There is no set formula or recipe for emailing your list, but there are some general guidelines to keep in mind for best practices.
The first question is, can you email your list too much? And the short answer is yes, but the longer answer is, it depends.
Depending on your niche and your industry will dictate how often people would be open to hearing from you. If you’re a news site, people expect news on a daily basis, if you’re a marketing company, people might live marketing tips 1-2x per week when they have time to actually digest them.
If you run a Martial Arts Gym, then emailing 1-2x per month should be your aim. People want to hear from you, but they don’t want fluff, they want substance. We recommend taking the time between emailings to really develop something worth saying.
This email by Miles Beckler shows you step-by-step exactly how to email your list, and keep in close contact:
The Automated Email Sequence
Let’s start with the automated email sequence. This would effectively get triggered, whenever someone signs up to your list. The idea here is that you pre-load 5-10 emails, that can get sent out in sequence over a 1-2 month period.
Perhaps in the user receives the highest volume right after initially signing up, and it slows down over time.
The beauty of this is it immediately brings people in to your world. People who’ve just signed up from you, are most eager to hear from you.
We recommend lining up 5-10 automated email sequences, that focus primarily on knowledge and wisdom that beginners would need to know before joining your gym, as well as any relevant, discounts or offers you’re using to incentivise users to join.
If you have a blog or a YouTube channel – you could also use these automated email sequences to introduce people to the full breadth of your world.
In fact, what you could do if you have a well established YouTube channel, is start a 10-part series automated email sequence. Each email could include links to 1-2x of your favourite videos, each one highlighting specific aspects of your gym, your training regime, or your philosophies around work ethic and discipline.
If you have videos on meditation, share with your audience how to get started with meditation. If you have videos of specific basic techniques, share those with your audience. If you have videos of some of the common stumbling blocks, that most students experience when they’re first starting out, share those with your audience.
The point to realise here is that you have a whole wealth of knowledge. And by sharing that with your prospects and future students, it allows them to see how much you know.
Once they’ve established trust in your abilities, and a desire to attend your classes, then it is simply a matter of including a clear CTA (Call To Action) in your email, which could either be to call, to book a class online, or even a direct link to your Calendly, if you schedule bookings for your first classes with new students.
This video by Kate Emily, shows you exactly how to setup your first email automations in Mailchimp with step-by-step instructions to get you setup and sending out your first emails:
How Often Should You Write Your List?
As mentioned above, there is no set rule here, but for a Martial Arts Gym, aiming for 1-2 emailings per month is ideal. This is the right amount to keep in contact and let everyone know what is happening at the gym, without being a pest and turning people off.
Remember, people’s inboxes are already full, and the second that they feel you’re spamming them, they’ll be unsubscribing.
Some people email me everyday, and I’ll be honest, I either immediately unsubscribe, or I put them in a ‘naughty’ folder. I create rules using gmail to automatically send their junk to a designated folder, and I can review it at my leisure as and when I want to.
There are very few people or businesses who have direct access to land in my inbox, and to those people it is a great honour. But I expect that privilege to be respected. If someone suddenly starts spamming me junk – adios amigos!
What Should You Say?
Keep it light, keep it fun, keep it topical. Don’t be afraid to use humour. Use comics and memes if you can. If you can make people laugh, then there’s a good chance they’ll stay on your list.
You can talk about what is going on at the gym. Class schedule, upcoming competitions or tournaments. Announcements on recent belt gradings. Trophies, awards. Upcoming community days.
Can also tell stories – what about going through your journey of becoming a teacher a blackbelt? How was it when you were starting out. If you took people on a mini-journey as to what it was like when you were just a wee whitebelt, and all of the challenges and obstacles that you had to overcome on the ways to mastery, that will help to paint you as a real person.
And this brings up a key point. People love real. People love people that feel relatable. The problem with most celebrities is they feel so far removed, that we can’t picture they were ever real people.
Be real. Share your true and authentic story, or maybe the story of some of your best and longest term students. What have they been through? What struggles? What obstacles? What were those moments when they almost wanted to give up entirely?
These are the stories that will captivate your audience, and get them to connect with you. Once they connect with you, why would they ever go and train at another gym.
Don’t underestimate the power of those emotional connections.
Martial Arts Email Marketing: Should You Always Be Serious?
No! Make your emails fun. Seriously, be fun. Include comics, include memes, include jokes. People love to laugh. If you can make them laugh they’ll stay on your list.
Let’s imagine for a second that you start every email with a funny comic. People will stay on your list simply just to get a good laugh.
In fact, over time you’ll train people. Whenever they get an email from you they’ll have a sudden moment of excitement, thinking about how there’s going to be a funny joke in your email.
If you can train people well, they will excitedly open all of your emails. They’ll love hearing from you as you bring a little bit of joy and happiness to their day.
People get so many poorly written, bad, boring emails all day long. Junk email, spam, bills, problems, bleh. It’s your job to be different. It’s your job to stand out. It’s your job to be the email that people actually look forward to and are excited to read. If you can accomplish that, you’re halfway there to success.
Martial Arts Email Marketing Conclusion
This was definitely a lighter and more straightforward posts then some of our other comprehensive guides. Not that email marketing doesn’t have its set of challenges and complications, but rather that the overall process is fairly straightforward.
There aren’t as many bells and whistles and options when it comes to email marketing (actually that’s not true, there are plenty, but we’ll save those for another, even more comprehensive guide).
Let us know if this guide has been useful and helpful for you. If anything has been unclear, please let us know with any questions or clarifications you have in the comments.
As a quick recap, email marketing is your tool to maintain and nurture long term relationships. This is not a technique to create a quick buck, but rather a method to tend relationships overtime which may flower and blossom many months (or even years) down the road.
Additionally, this is a business asset that you own entirely, and that no platform can shut you down from (just remember to backup all your contacts in a spreadsheet!).
Don’t get discouraged, and don’t lose hope. Remember, it takes just as much effort to email 1 person, as it does to email 100,000. The bigger your list grows, the more opportunity that you’ll find for yourself.
Start tending and nurturing your garden.
To your journey and success.