Communicating with your clients is essential in improving retention and revenue growth. Having direct lines of communication to your audience means that they will never be unpleasantly surprised by changes in your business, and you always have a way of sharing news, events and new offerings.
How to communicate with your clients? A print-out of new opening hours taped to your front door might work, but it’s neither elegant nor fool-proof, and it won’t reach anyone who doesn’t visit your club. If you want to get the attention of a large group of people, use a suitable medium: email.
Email is Dead?
Do a quick search on email, and before long you’ll encounter bold headlines proclaiming the death of email – often followed by the promotion of some alternative communication tool that has none of the drawbacks of email. Yes, there are drawbacks to using email. An obvious one is the lack of engagement. Email is a one-way street, so if you’re looking for a conversation, it’s better to start using social media for your business.
However, there are still 2.5 billion email users worldwide, who are sending 122 billion emails every hour( www.emailisnotdead.com visited 28/09/2015). Those numbers don’t lie; however much the early adopters wish it, email is far from dead.
How to use email for client communication
If email isn’t dead, then how to use it for your business? Here’s a step-by-step strategy to help you implement email into your business.
Step 1: Set up processes - When to email?
First of all, you need to decide when to send out emails. There are several options:
- Communicating News: activity times and opening hours change, instructors get sick, you buy new equipment. Share the news with your clients
- Marketing: do you have upcoming events, new classes, special membership offers?
- Sharing cat pictures: sometimes you just need a dose of the furry.
When you have decided on a strategy, you can get to work.
2. Design Your Emails
If you know your way around Photoshop and if you have a knack for visual design, by all means, go ahead and create email templates yourself. Otherwise, it would be a tremendous help to hire a designer/developer to help you create your templates. This way, you only have to worry about writing text.
3. Make a checklist
It helps to have a checklist at hand so you won’t forget anything when creating a newsletter. An example checklist could be:
- Create email lists
- Write a catchy subject line
- Write the email
- Craft a triggering call to action
- Add compelling images
- Pro tip: add image alt texts, preheader texts, links, utm links, etc.
- Test the email in different email programs, including mobile!
- Schedule or send the email
- Track results
- Evaluate results
4. Writing Emails
For news, stick to the point. Have a clear subject line that says “I’m important, you should read me.” If opening hours change, the subject line should be along the lines of “Important: Change in Opening Hours.” Don’t dress up your news too much, leave out the witticisms and keep it short.
When your goal is to promote a new service or event, it takes a different approach. Like before, the subject line should make it clear what the message is, but since people are not automatically interested in your new services, you will want it to be very catchy. Some tips:
- Make a list of different subject lines for each email you send out.
- Send different versions to yourself as a test: which one would you open?
- Research the interests of your audience. What appeals to them?
For more tips, you might want to read these 12 dos and don’ts , or these tips on how to improve your subject line .
After people open your email, they need to be grabbed by the throat and dragged down to the call to action. Due to technological constraints, the grabbing needs to be done by way of images and words. Again, don’t make it too long since internet users these days tend to have an attention span of hey look! A YouTube video.
After painstakingly creating the perfect message, create the perfect ending: a button for people to click on or a phone number to call. There’s a ton to say about calls to action, from the wording to the color of the button, but for now, let me just say that it has to be compelling. Make clear the benefits that can be gained by the client.
Oh, and always, allways spell-chek!
5. Track Performance
Sending out emails without actually seeing if they have an effect can be a mighty waste of time. It’s always good to keep an eye on the results of your emails.
There are various metrics to consider. There’s the open rate - how many people opened your email. The click rate represents how many people clicked on your call to action. The bounce rate shows how many emails didn’t get delivered - it’s an indication of the quality of your email list. Also consider that a click is not the end of the line; if the goal of an email is to get people to sign up for an event, the amount of sign-ups is how you judge the success of an email. So always try and see how many of those clicks convert to actual sales/sign-ups/whatever.
Keep all that data in an Excel spreadsheet, so you have a clear overview of your opening rates, click rates, conversion rates, bounces, and whatever other metrics are important to you.
6. Evaluate Performance
Once every couple of weeks, plan a moment for yourself to evaluate the results. If your opening rates are low, you’ll want to reconsider your subject lines. Click rates are more complex since it could be a variety of factors: text, images, call to action, etc.
Evaluating your results will lead to insights into how to optimize your strategy. Use your findings to implement changes, and start the whole process over again. If your metrics improve, optimize it further. Keep trying out new things!
7. Pro-Tip: Automation
Sending out emails can take up a lot of time if you do it by hand. Copying and pasting participant email addresses, tweaking the messages, adding the correct information – it could take up hours per week depending on the size of your business.
You can automate your email efforts by creating workflows. A workflow is basically a series of emails that are sent when certain conditions are met. Let’s look at an example.
Say you want to send emails to a new client about the various services you have, to help them get started and perhaps to persuade them to upgrade to a higher-tier membership, or sign up for a group class.
- The condition for triggering the workflow would be the moment an email address is added to the list.
- To start, you will want to send a welcome email with some basic information.
- Since you don’t want to irritate your clients, it’s best to wait a while before sending another email. Add a waiting period of, let’s say, one week.
- After a week, add a second email. You could use this chance to highlight your group offering, give fitness tips, promote online accounts, et cetera.
- Continue adding emails as necessary.
Other ideas for workflows:
- Upcoming events: create a couple of promotional emails beforehand to send to your clients. If necessary, you could create a separate workflow for people who already signed up, to give them information and get them excited about the event.
- End of membership: if a client’s membership is about to expire, a series of emails highlighting your services (and perhaps including a special offer) can serve as a good complement to your retention strategy. Of course, nothing beats personal attention to increasing client retention .
- After a survey, you could set up different workflows for clients who graded you higher and those whose judgement wasn’t so favourable, giving offers, tips and special attention to increasing their loyalty and retention.
Email remains a powerful communication tool in your arsenal. But, you need to be using it smartly. Stick to a strategy, do everything in a structured manner, and keep improving your emails after evaluating performance for optimal results.
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