TOP 10 DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGIES AND TIPS FOR YOGA STUDIOS
There are about 35,000 Yoga Studios in U.S. and while the student participation in classrooms have spiked continuously and constantly over the past 20 years, and while by far the majority of yoga instructors are highly talented and devoted, yoga businesses are facing challenges when it comes to markting cost-effectively.
Even Yoga Studios that do well financially, can at any time meet a major drop of classroom participation and experience lack of interest in existing or new classes.
To stay profitable and continually grow, even for a multi-discipline and eclectic school of yoga offering many different styles, and focused specialties (for instance, focus on anatomy and biomechanics), there seems to remain many marketing challenges. Almost all Yoga Studios have to offer major discounts to bring people through the door until competitors offer even a more aggressive discount.
What is the single most significant challenge for most Yoga Studios and their owners?
Marketing profitably and finding new students with long term engagement with the studio.
Even chains with 10 or 20 studios in affluent communities offering high-quality teaching, exceptional customer service, cleanliness, with many different styles, have challenges with marketing that offers a sensible ROI.
The fact is that digital marketing is growing rapidly, changing constantly, and its effectiveness (with a sensible ROI) needs to be analyzed and monitored on a quarterly basis. That is hard work by itself. When one method fails, or one campaign has run its course, a new one needs to be implemented quickly and effectively to keep the business growing and profitable.
So, that is the answer? For yoga business owners to do lots of content marketing through digital media? But when will they find time to run their business, teach their classes, and relax and enjoy their life if they have to produce content (especially good content) all the time and get it into their marketing channel to distribute and find and bring new students to the studio?
Well, that is part of the challenge. However, content marketing offers great opportunities and has incredible customer reach potential, expecially if you are looking for customers in your local market.
There is no doubt that digital maketing is the most significant marketing transformation in recent decades, as per the 2018 Annual Report: Business Marketing Trends.
Yoga studios are no exception.
If you intend to have a cost-effective and thriving digital marketing strategy for your Yoga Studio, you need to consider the following 10 of the highest performing strategies and tips that can bring more visitors to your Yoga Studio website and allow you to sell your services, connect with new students, and reconnect with returning ones - AND do it profitably without wasting money on campaigns or paid ads that are a waste of money and don't produce much results.
1. THE FACTS ABOUT DIGITAL MARKETING
All professionals current with marketing trends accept and would agree, to a great deal at least, that digital marketing has become a major component of modern day marketing strategies and without it, you cannot go far with your business.
Paid advertising alone (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.) just isn't going to do it for your yoga business, or for almost any other business, especially small businesses.
Here at Anaxstar.com we often work on projects for clients with other agencies and they keep insisting that our mutual client should keep dumping more money into paid advertising. They suggest that it is essential and a "must". We disagree. We see it as a small companion not a major strategy. It is a waste of money for most small businesses to simply dump a lot of money into search engine paid ads.
Most often than not, dumping more and more money into paid search engine ads just does not work. It is more and more becoming a waste of money. Even the traffic it brings, is not necessarily the traffic that makes a purchase.
This is specially more so with Yoga Studios than some other repeat business product-based online e-commerce companies.
Understanding digital marketing and what it can and cannot do for you and your business is essential.
This is a significant first step if you are going to successfully grow your business, utilize online marketing, bring traffic to your website, and ultimately accomplish more conversions and sign up more Yoga students for your classes.
If you can find time in your busy schedule, talk to marketing experts who have actually done marketing campaigns and/or advertising and Social Media campaigns on behalf of Yoga Studios. You will quickly learn that the most important aspects of digital marketing, as it relates to a Yoga Studio business, are:
I will describe these in the following sections in more detail as I describe each of the Top 10 Digital Marketing Strategies and Tips that I believe are essential for Yoga Studios.
This first item on the list may not itself represent a "marketing strategy" as such, but in fact not wasting money on sources that don't bring you much value is in itself a strategy. If marketing strategy is the calculated means through which you bring in new business or increase your visibility and reputation online or offline, then it is important to consider how to avoid wasting available resources/funds on marketing methods that don't bring in much revenue. More on this later.
We have a wide range of clients in many different industries. The performance right across the board has been dismal to say the least. What is the point of spending $5,000 with one of these advertising channels when you only make the same or even less in revenue from the campaign? You should theoritically make at least 3 times as much as you put into your advertising. Most companies and businesses barely break even, if they even do. We also work with many of our competitors or other agencies in our industry and share our experience and knowledge and they all confirm that advertising in these sources are just not producing what clients are led to expect. Must be great for Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, but not so great for small businesses with limited marketing budget.
What we do see work, is Social Media. But even then it either, "works great", or "does not work at all". Why? Because Social Media demands a higher quality of "effort", (I would call it 'compelling content') and detailed knowledge of your targeted niche audience (what they like and how they react to posts, what kind of posts they like, etc.). This is a huge demand on your time to post and interact and connect with your audience, and if you can, your industry influencers. I have done this for more than 15 years here at Anaxstar.com and at Microsoft before that, and I have never seen such a hard time experienced by small businesses with their business advertising. Any professional marketer who is honest with you would tell you the same. It is a tough road and unfortunately, digital marketing is the most essential way forward and more and more it will become the only way forward. But you have to make good decisions based on sound judgement and avoid wasting time or money on channels and methods that don't bring much results.
2. THE ESSENTIALS FOR YOGA STUDIO DIGITAL MARKETING SUCCESS
This may become even a more complex task since at each stage of your business you can expect to produce a different result from each of the digital marketing techniques or channels available. Early stage small businesses can expect to produce much more from social networks that paid ads in Google or Bing. As mentioned above, paid advertising does not do really well for most small businesses nor, in particular, yields much results for Yoga Studios.
At later stages of your business growth, you can do more paid ads in Social Networks to bring visibility to your best performing videos, or pinterest posts, or your most popular tweet or instagram image. You know what promotion/offer/discount performs the highest and that is what you promote to reach new customers at the lowest cost to achieve the highest ROI.
It is essential to evaluate each media/channel to see if it can produce results in a cost-effective and profitable way for you. For instance, search engine ad platforms, such as Google Adwords, work much better for known brands, (e.g. iPhones, Samsung SmartPhones, Honda Cars, etc.) popular products, high-in-demand products, and mostly for national or even international markets. For local small businesses, not so much.
If you want to target local people which most Yoga Studios do, search engine advertising is less effective, and even worse for a startup Yoga Studio that needs yoga students to fill up their classes.
You would have to create a campaign specific to your circumstances and the specific phase of your business.
Yoga is a fun way to be fit and relax in a somewhat social envirnment. Social media in this case is the best strategy for your digital marketing and you can target local people based on their profile and interests. This means you can target people who are likely to be interested in your yoga classes, whether they are searching for your business or not. And this can be done far more cost-effectively than paid advertising in search engines.
For instance, most yoga students are also interested in healthy living, nutritious diet, fitness, active lifestyle, emotional and spiritual connection, and are generally very compassionate and open minded with lots of energy and curosity. Now using this information you can develop social media campaigns that target their needs and wants, better and much more effectively.
You can design social media posts, images, and videos that attract them to you and to your Yoga Studio. And you can do this with a very low budget.
In the last few years, online video marketing has become the most significant and the most cost-effective marketing method and hence the most vital part of the marketing mix for many successful brands.
This is even more so for small businesses offering educational videos for fitness, yoga, spiritual guides, nutrition, and other similar topics.
This does not have to be an expensive website with features and options that you don't need. But ideally it does need to be a smart, well thought-through Internet presence that can achieve, "Inbound-Campaigning" as I mentioned earlier.
Inbound Campaigning Website refers to a website designed to be part of, and integrated with, an effective marketing strategy for your specific audience. It includes the methods through which you target your customers through marketing strategies that you employ and bring them to you, as opposed to you going to them to attract them to your services/business.
For instance, inbound campaigning would include the creation of videos for promoting yoga classes.
Such videos can include meditation, or Nidra meditation, morning ritual, spine routing, Hatha/Yin, heartbeat Vinyasa, or other programs for individuals that want to relax, meditate, start their morning with a burst of energy, and those looking for a calmer and more balanced lifestyle.
Such videos get traction with proper social media marketing and now you have individuals that are coming to your website, hence inbound-campaigning.
In fact in YouTube the top 100 Yoga videos have anywhere from 500,000 to 18 million views, each. The top 1,000 Yoga videos in YouTube have a minimum of 5,000 views, each and many of them have anywhere from 25,000 to 250,000 views. That's a lot of potential customer-reach.
There are many other examples of inbound campaigning that you could use for your website. Among many that we have done for our Yoga Studio clients, here are a few of the most effective inbound marketing campaigning:
These are all examples of inbound campaigning to bring people to your website where they can book one of your classes.
To accomplish inbound campaigning, here's a list of your bare essentials for your Yoga Studio digital marketing campaigns:
If you don't have the above already, you need to get these or get someone to put them together for your business. I could have added another 10 items to this list but I laid out the bare essentials.
Ruth Carney, Anaxstar.com Small Business Marketing Specialist: