Episode 310

Part 1: Is Email Marketing Dead? with Mark Fisher

In this episode, I’m joined by Mark Fisher to discuss the question: has email marketing become obsolete?

[00:00:00] Hello, my friend on today’s episode, I’m speaking with Mark Fisher and we’re doing a two part series on email marketing. I want to kick us off with some, with some tough love. We, I hear from people all the time that email marketing is dead for gyms, and I want to say this with all love in my heart, those of you who think that email marketing is dead for gyms are frankly, just not doing it.

Right. I don’t think you have very good systems for consistently putting out good content that matters to your avatar. So I think if you want to get better and level up your email marketing skills, keep on listening to this two part series, and we’re going to help you take your email marketing to the next level.

Let’s dive in.

Welcome to the business for unicorns podcast, where we help gym owners unleash the full potential of their business. I’m your host, Michael Keeler. Join me each week for actionable advice, expert insights, and the inside scoop on what it really takes [00:01:00] to level up your gym, get ready to unlock your potential.

And become a real unicorn in the fitness industry. Let’s begin.

Hello, fitness, business nerds. What’s up. Welcome to another episode of the business unicorns podcast. I’m here with Mr. Fisher. How are you today, sir? I am doing great. I’m excited to dive into email marketing because I think most of our listeners are probably, I say this with love. Pretty terrible at doing email marketing.

And no one knows that they actually own a gym and they have an email list, but they’re not using it. And we’re going to fix that today. But before we dive into that topic, I just want to do a quick little shout out because Mr. Fisher last year, you put out a book about all your fitness business secrets and it’s still available at businessunicorns.

com slash book. I think all our listeners should go get it. If you haven’t gotten it yet, what can they expect from this book, sir? Oh yeah. They can expect lots of stories and lessons. If you like stories and lessons, it’s fun. now because obviously the book was Came out last year, but in many ways, it’s the stories of [00:02:00] like things learned over the first 10 years of Mark Fisher fitness.

And of course you’ll find hopefully a lot of very actionable, tactical things that you can do at your own gym to hopefully avoid some of my mistakes and get better, fast results. Fantastic. So click the link down in the, in the show notes, go grab that book and buy one for all of your fitness, loving fitness, business, loving friends.

So let’s dive in. We’re going to talk about email marketing and we’re going to actually do this in two parts. So part one today, we’re going to talk about the benefits of email marketing, how it fits into your marketing mix and strategies, and we’re going to talk about how to prepare for being great at it, how to set yourself up for success in marketing.

Then we’ll jump into part two as another episode where we’ll dive into the ongoing habit and practice of using your list. to grow your business over time, but let’s start with the basics Fisher. What is like the purpose of email marketing for gyms? Here’s an interesting thing. It’s funny. I’ve really been deep diving on email marketing and generally with my own continuing education and I’m taking a course right now and the person who [00:03:00] is running that course makes an interesting point that email marketing.

Is almost a misnomer, right? Because when you think about marketing is all about people knowing you exist over time, they come to and trust you. And then eventually they hire you. And it is true that you do create hopefully likability and credibility through email marketing. But in most cases. Most cases, no one’s finding out you exist through email marketing.

Now, to be clear, if you’re super gifted, maybe you have emails that get forwarded around, or people send an email that’s so good and demand their friends subscribe. And maybe that happens sometimes. But for the most part, people aren’t really discovering you through emails. Now, I don’t know if I would go so far as this individual, say it really should be called email sales.

Maybe it’s email. Lead nurture perhaps is a better term for it. Email friendshiping. Totally, and so no one’s going to find you exist through email But in practice the real missed opportunity which we’ll dig into right here a little bit for a lot of gym owners are They’re not regularly reminding [00:04:00] people that they’re alive and it’s sad, but no one remembers you’re alive They don’t remember you exist the vast majority of the universe will never know you have existed so the precious sliver of The humans in the world that know you and would be interested to know about you.

It would be a good idea to stay in touch with them somehow, as in it happens in spite of constant laments that email marketing is dead. Email marketing is a very good way to do that. Right. And just one little pro tip. This kind of always makes me chuckle. Donald Miller, who a lot of people know from the excellent, highly recommended book, building a story brand wrote another lesser known book called marketing made simple.

And one of the points he makes in that book, which is just hilarious, but so your goal is to get. Delete it. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t, it really just be there. Keep being there because people don’t buy when we’re ready. They buy when they’re ready. So email marketing is a uniquely powerful tool to just continue to be there.

And while I will concede there is a certain percentage, a meaningful percentage of your audience that are just [00:05:00] not email people that just don’t listen to emails, their email inbox is a mess that they’re just not an email person. There’s going to be, and this is hard to imagine if you’re not an email person, but there are people like me in the world.

And if you’re are an email person and they really like what you’re sending them, this is a great way to just continue to remind them that you exist. And we’ll segue to talk a little more about what should be inside them. But the very least, the main thing is you’re showing up in their email inbox on some regular cadence so that if, and when there comes a moment where they think.

Maybe I do need a gym. Your mom’s best friend growing up who lives in the area is, you know what? My best friend’s son has that gym. I’m maybe I’ll talk to him. I’ve really been looking to get serious about my fitness. I bet he can help. 100%. I think this is a great start for sure. And I think for a lot of people, just that is a revelation, right?

That email marketing is not the thing you’re going to do to get people at the top of your funnel. It’s the thing you’re going to do to stay top of mind for people who are already know you exist. You’re going to build knowability, likability, [00:06:00] trustability. You’re going to work on your friendships. You’re going to build credibility, right?

And so that they know that you’re around when they finally decide they want to do something that’s gym oriented. Yeah. So that’s great. Let’s dive into some nitty gritty. And now we have a lot of kind of best practices and tips here for our unicorns. I remember it’s about all the things you could do, but let’s just cover a few of them.

One of them. Which I’m going to start with this, calling this one out myself, because this one’s such a pet peeve of mine. But one of the first things to do to get good at email marketing is have an email with your website domain. Oh, there are so many gym owners out there that are like so and so gym at gmail.

com. Just stop it. We love you. What are you doing? What is happening? And don’t ask us how Google it. How dare you? It’s just like, don’t listen to the rest of this podcast until you go do that. Like just push pause, go figure that out and then come back. So like when I’m going to talk more about that one, just go do that.

What are the other kind of key components to getting ready to. Being email marketer. [00:07:00] I’ll actually give you one other reason why that’s more important than ever is my understanding is some of the changes that are happening now with Yahoo and Gmail as of February. If you’re coming from a personal email from a email service provider, you’re going to get flagged.

So you really need to start having a business domain, not just because. For Kira and I, we think it’s an obvious, simple, two second task that will just immediately give you more credibility than hot buns training at EUL, at AOL. com. But because in practice, it’s going to actually get you flagged. Your emails won’t be as deliverable.

Again, I’m not a super expert on there and it might be interesting actually at some point to have somebody come on to discuss deliverability. But it makes sense that people Yeah, that the algorithms and all the platforms, they treat business accounts different than personal accounts. And they should. We want to filter business accounts and personal things separately.

And if you happen to be hot buns training at gmail. com, reach out to us because I think it’s a great name. I just want to know you. You can just be like buns at hot buns, training. com. Just [00:08:00] get the domain. Totally. Cool. What else do you do? Jim owners need to do to prepare for marketing excellence. So the first thing you really need to do, and I’ll give you an example of the way not to do it, we didn’t, the first thing you need to do is really curate your email database.

So something that we’ve spoken on before, that was a real unfair advantage of Mark Fisher fitness is by the time MFF became a thing, I had. spent many years living in New York City. I had done a fair number of shows and in practice compared to a lot of you that live in maybe more rural community that are maybe more introverted that haven’t had a lot of jobs.

I just knew a lot of people. So it’d be curious. I wish I had some way of going back in time and understanding how big the original Mark Fisher fitness email list, but I’ll tell you in the very beginning, which some of you probably be fine to start with. It was just, I think, blind copied. I would do a couple of blind copied emails to a couple a hundred people that Were people I would hang out with and frankly go drinking with on the weekends.

[00:09:00] And that was how MFF started. And then I upgraded to having an email service provider, which is another thing you’ll likely want to do. You probably don’t want to send blind copy emails from your whatever email server you use, presumably Gmail. And then I will say this, there’s two approaches. The fastest, laziest approach is probably you could maybe get away with if your list is small, which is you could just like dump all the emails that you have in your contact database and in your phone and just.

Ask for forgiveness instead of ask for permission. We’ll discuss probably in a minute. I think there’s some ways you can warm up those people that makes it less likely for it to be a complete spam disaster and for the, your emails to get super whacked for a lot of people saying, this is spam. I don’t even know this person, but at the very least you want to find some way of curating it.

And in fact, I think I took the time to go through meticulously and find, I don’t know, I bet it was like, I bet it was close to a thousand people. And again, I know most people don’t know a thousand people, but certainly I did. However, when we brought on famed former MFF or Brian Patrick [00:10:00] Murphy, one of our co founders, he didn’t do that.

And we just took his email database. And similar to me, Brian had a lot of friends. Did a lot of shows and partied a lot. So with Brian, he just dumped all his emails into our, the time he was constant contact. And yeah. And I remember that time I took a closer look at the email unsubscribes and there were a lot, but it was funny because collective between he and I was quite the who’s who of Broadway, but many of those people did not give us permission to start email marketing them.

And admittedly we got away with it to some extent, a, because it was like a frankly different time. It was like the laws are around that stuff were not as. I think consumer friendly as they are now. And secondly, a lot of people knew what MFF was because we became well enough known quickly that it was not a completely random thing for you.

It’s probably not as good of an idea to do that. So your potential takeaway here is to really sift through your email contact database, sift through your phone and literally go through it one by one. And listen, is this going to take you some time? Sure, but this is a one off [00:11:00] task, it won’t take you that long, and every single person that you know that either is capable of potentially being a client or, in many situations, is capable of potentially referring you clients, even if they’re not somebody that’s ever going to make sense to work with you, that it’s a goldmine.

It’s very hard and expensive to get attentions of people that do not know you exist. And it’s such an uphill journeys for people to like and trust you over time. That is the very first thing you’re going to want to do. Yeah, 100%. I think that it’s a tedious first step. And it’s so essential because these are people who already know you in real life that are most likely rooting for you, that already can trust you, that will be your advocates and your cheerleaders as you grow your business.

So get them on the list. They know that you’re up to, so they know what you’re doing in life. And it might be, some of you might have multiple email accounts, that account, that old account from school, that account from your, that old AOL, you don’t use anymore. And I think go through all your contacts and put them all in one place.

And we can’t stress enough. Don’t do this from a personal Gmail. [00:12:00] Get one of those. Get an email service provider, whether it’s MailChimp, any of them. They’re all pretty good these days, but find one where you can organize. And soon we’ll talk about segment your list, but you need some functionality to be able to do all the rest of the things we’re going to talk about.

Cool. So let’s just say they did that Fisher. They have an email with their website domain. They have a list of all the people they’ve ever known, you know, in one place. Now what? The next thing that we suggest doing is to warm up the list, particularly because we assume. Certainly for people that you’re adding to the list, they are all people that we’re assuming is that know who you are, that you would maybe say hello to in a grocery store, or at least enough, they would maybe remember you if they saw their name in their email inbox.

So we don’t want to go right to doing email marketing for the gym, even if it’s value building content, because now we’re immediately contacting them as a prospect and as a consumer from a business, our suggestion is the very first thing you want to do is reach out to those individuals. So to be clear, eventually we’re going to want to move into some.

[00:13:00] actual platform that does email marketing for businesses. However, for this first move, again, depending on the size of the list of people that you’re now going to start contacting that you’ve never spoken to in this particular capacity before, you could, if you want to be on the safe side and do a blind copied email to us, to some of those people.

And again, for most of you, we’re not talking about thousands of people. We’re talking about maybe a couple hundred for a lot of you, probably 50 or less. And you just want to let them know. Hey, I’m just giving you a heads up. I’m going to be adding you to an upcoming email communication. And there’s like verbiage in here that.

We have in our playbook, you can just like copy paste and rip for those in the unicorn society, but the gist of it is you want to make it clear to them that I’m going to be contacting you. These are the types of things I’m going to be telling you, which I think are going to be valuable for you because everybody’s a body.

So everybody benefits from good fitness information. You’re somebody in my life, in my world, and I just want to share with you what I’m up to. And I think you’ll find this stuff valuable. So you can expect to hear from me. on these days, at this time, at this frequency. [00:14:00] I hope you’ll stay in touch. You can also, I think it’s also nice to let them know and if it’s not the right fit, they are certainly welcome to unsubscribe or they can reply right now and you’ll make sure they never get the emails.

You won’t be offended at all. You respect their email inbox hygiene. Now in practice. No one is ever going to respond to that email until you take me off. They might unsubscribe and you should expect if you do this, some percentage of people are going to unsubscribe, right? And that’s perfectly fine. If they don’t want to hear from you, that’s not a problem.

You don’t want to be emailing people that don’t want to hear from you anyway. So we don’t need to be insulted about that. That’s not a problem. But if you’re unwilling to have people say no to your email marketing. You’re not going to succeed, right? Similar to like sales. If you’re just unwilling to have anyone tell you when you make offers, we’re in trouble, right?

And this is almost like a kind of a sales conversation. So understand people will opt out. I think if you give them the heads up in advance, they’re more likely also to understand what’s going on and track back, particularly if you’re sending it from a business address. track it back to you because even if you’re [00:15:00] doing really good personal brand marketing, and I think in a follow podcast, we’ll go into more detail about what happens when you’re emailing them.

They might look at your email at a glance and then maybe they don’t recognize the domain and maybe they just read it quickly. And there’s like, what is this unsubscribe? So while you will get some of them, I think you will have a better success rate if you’ve given people a heads up in advance. And also, I don’t know.

I just think it’s like polite. I think it’s good etiquette. I think my, the stupidest business heuristic I always come back to is just, I don’t know, just be nice. Be a good person. Be polite. Be a good host. If you just do all that stuff like a human, that’s a lot of the great one. Yeah. Totally. That’s right.

I think you do. It’s you’re starting a new relationship with this person and the relationship you’re starting is one with your new business. Like you might know them personally or professionally, but you’re saying, Hey, I actually want to have a new kind of relationship with you. It’s I want you to follow my business and here’s why you’re going to.

Benefit from follow my business. And I think that expectation setting of how often you’re going to hear from you, what you’re planning to talk about, what problems you hope to help them solve. All of that, I think is so helpful to them [00:16:00] choosing to stay. And it’s, as Mark said, it’s great if they opt out.

It’s like, actually, no, that’s not for me. Yep. Great. Just keep talking to the people who are interested. So we have one more step here that we want to cover on this episode before we, we hop over to part two. So once they have a list in one place, they’ve warmed up their audience. Then they really need a mechanism moving forward for how people get added to this list.

So let’s talk a little bit about what that looks like. Yeah, it’s interesting because this can look like a number of things. Most gyms should have at the very least on your website. There should be in a perfect world, some opportunity for people that are particularly not ready to move right into a sales conversation or, uh, a low barrier offer or try whatever the first move is.

It’s a good best practice to have a secondary call to action for some way for people to keep in touch with you. And usually you’re going to offer something that’s called a lead magnet, which is a pretty intuitive name. It basically means you’re offering them something that they would find valuable for their email.

[00:17:00] And it is defined by being very low committal in every possible way, which is to say, classically, you’re not going to require a phone number to get it. It’s going to be something that’s relatively easy to digest. It’s going to be something that is valuable. It’s going to be something that solves one very specific problem that your avatar has and it sincerely wants a solution for.

So, I think an email. opt in of some kind on your website is going to be important. I think beyond that, the other way, of course, you can gather emails is you could run digital ads towards some kind of lead market. Now, this is a thing that it as a Uh, this recording in 2024, I’m not seeing a lot of gyms do that very well because I would tell you five years ago and even a few years ago, I would have said, yeah, get to get a lead magnet, put together your, your five low carb meals that will burn unwanted belly fat.

And in practice, what I think a lot of us have seen is things like recipe books are just a little. to decoupled from what it is you’re actually offering. Yes, the [00:18:00] generally speaking, it’s a type of person’s interest in that is also maybe interested in coming to your gym for small group personal training, but not always.

So although it can be a little bit cheaper to acquire emails that way, and there’s maybe a long tail strategy for it. What a lot of people do to get emails from paid digital marketing in today’s day and age is just whatever your low barrier offer is. So another sad, dark topic of continued conversation here on this podcast is just The horrible ways in which paid digital marketing has changed.

There’s a headline there too. Like the real truth. Your Facebook ad agency won’t tell you about how shitty ads have gotten. Now I want to caution. I like your language. The sad dark truth specifically. Yeah. It’s true. That’s going to really get a lot of clicks. Now, having said that, I want to be very clear because I don’t want people to take it the wrong way and be like Facebook ads don’t work.

No, they totally still work. They’re just so horrible compared to what they were. But life is a series of unfair things. So this is one more unfair development in life. And ultimately it’s still way better than things were 10 years ago. It just, it only sucks compared to [00:19:00] 2017. So in practice, for a lot of you, if you’ve got a pretty good paid digital ad campaign going in a lot of markets, if you get a reasonable cost per lead, that’s part of how you’re going to grow your email list over time.

Because unfortunately, a really meaningful percentage of people that opt into the thing through a Facebook lead ad. Or if you’re still maybe send him to a landing page, a lot of those people are going to go cold and you’re not ever going to hear from them. But at the end of the day, I’ll say this, somebody that you acquire their email through them taking an action for actually taking a step to come into your gym.

Is a much more valuable to you than just getting an email from a lead magnet. So the, I think that is a better way of growing your email list over time. And although it is not the topic of today’s conversation also is usually going to mean you’re also acquiring a phone number because I’ll just say briefly, not today’s topic, but my favorite pro tip that I think basically everybody blows is that anybody that has opted in the past.

12 to 24 months for a low bear offer, a [00:20:00] free intro, a free class, whatever it is, any of those people that have not come in or explicitly told you should be contacting on the regular basis. Cause even if you’re not doing a great job of this, and let’s say you’re only getting, let’s say 20 paid digital leads per month and hopefully.

God, hopefully you’re getting more than that. That’s still 240 leads per year. And unfortunately, you’re not going to be getting in touch with, certainly not even the majority of them you’re going to be hearing from. So you’re looking at, even if you’re not getting a lot of leads. And even if you’re doing a good job of really contacting a lot of the people to reach out to you, that means you have 100, 200, 300 people over a one to two year period that have expressed interest in what you have to offer that you have the opportunity to reach out to on the regular basis right now.

Again, people get weird about that, but if they trust me, if they don’t want to hear from you, they’ll. They’ll tell you no, and many will, and they’ll unsubscribe. But this is maybe an interesting way to close the loop. I think if we’ve learned one lesson here today, [00:21:00] is you must be willing to tell people, to have people tell you no, to unsubscribe, to tell them, to tell you they’re no longer interested in your services, and all of that is okay.

And you will move on, as Winston Churchill said, going from not even failure, but going from Lead, this says they doesn’t want to call you to lead who says they don’t want to talk to you anymore without losing your enthusiasm. That’s actually the literal Winston Churchill quote. I think it was about 100 historic quote.

Yeah. Churchill left. I’ll also say this that I just, it’s, I buy from brands all the time for which I’ve unsubscribed from their emails. Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Like I don’t, I just don’t want their emails. Like I just get out of my face. Like I, I just, I want a clean inbox, but it doesn’t mean I don’t like your brand.

And in some cases, I’m genuinely not. I’m interested because I don’t know how I got on your list in the first frigging place. But I think you just got to be okay with people opting out. You have other poles in the water hopefully than just email and you’ll find other ways to engage with them and they’ll find other ways to engage with you if this is not the right fit.

But to wrap up this episode and we’re going to jump [00:22:00] over to part two, everything we’ve covered so far are ways to prepare for email marketing greatness from having an email with your own domain on it, from your website to. To warming up your list and getting all the emails and names all in one place letting them know you’re adding them to a professional email list Hopefully using an email service provider and then ideally continuing to warm up to make them try and stay and set clear Expectations for what they can expect from your new list And then and then obviously this last one Fisher just covered was create some ways to get more people onto your list Whether that’s an opt in from your website Or lead magnets were just capturing all the leads you’re generating from other marketing efforts and then into your email list.

The list will grow over time and maybe most importantly, people will opt out. It’s okay. It’s not personal. Yep. Decent summary. Yes. Yeah. I’ll give you one final pro tip, right? Here’s one final pro tip for you is when someone follows you on. Instagram or on your social media, make it a [00:23:00] point, make it one of your SOPs that on some regular basis, you are at least greeting the new followers.

And if you have bandwidth, you’re even DMing people that like and comment that you do not have an existing relationship with. Start a conversation with that goal being offering them something that is super low committal. This is a really great place for a lead bank to come back in. So you can get some email addresses that way, because ideally Instagram.

Social media generally, but Instagram, again, at the time of this recording is probably the most valuable thing for most gym owners, only because Facebook tends to be more pay to play, you’re not going to get seen from a business page a lot unless there’s a spend behind it. Instagram and email, I think, are very complementary but different ways of essentially doing the same thing.

And there’s probably a case to be made for you want your email subscribers to follow you on Instagram, so you can show up there. And you want your Instagram followers to sign up for your email. email address so that you own the asset and you can also communicate with them via the more captive audience format of an email inbox.

Great. I think that’s a [00:24:00] great segue. If listeners, if this was a valuable place to get started in your email marketing adventure, keep on listening. We’re going to record a part. to, or we dive into what you do with your list once you have it up and running. So if you found this valuable, go find part two, probably come out in the next week or two after this.

And don’t forget, go grab Fisher’s book, this is fetacorns. com slash book, click the link down below and we’ll see you in part two. Thanks Fisher. Bye.