Writing Emails People *actually* Want To Read [5 Tips]

by Mark Fisher

This weekend is our Unicorn Society retreat in Portland, OR. 

Our team and Unicorn Society members are spending the weekend working on their businesses, drinking amazing coffee and craft beer, and enjoying summer in one of my favorite cities.

And I’m not gonna be there!

Since we’re only a few weeks away from the tentative debut of Baby MF, my wife and I decided it wasn’t the best time for me to fly to the other side of the country. And while I’m sad to miss a US retreat for the first time ever, I do feel totally satisfied with this decision. Cuz, ya know. BABY! 🙂

And if YOU have fomo? Go HERE to learn more about the Unicorn Society. 

(We close official enrollment on Sunday until 2023, so would love to have you apply if it the above sounds fun to you.)

In today’s missive, I want to share some thoughts on writing effective emails for your training gym.

Whenever I work with a new client, one of the very first things I have them do is organize their email contact database. Since the marketing process is about getting people to KNOW you exist, then LIKE and TRUST you over time, and ultimately HIRE you… it makes sense to regularly contact the people who already KNOW you exist. And unless you did something weird like buy an email list, by definition, your contacts have already had some interaction with you.

While I’ve covered this principle before, I haven’t spent much time discussing how to craft emails that will move the ball forward. So here are some considerations for effective emails for your training gym.

NOTE: This is an email about emails. That’s meta as hell.

1) Email At Least 1x Per Week

For most training gym owners, emailing your list one time per week is totally doable. Since time is always a constraint, the main thing is being consistent. Better to consistently email 1x per week for a year, then erratically email 5x per week followed by weeks of radio silence.

And if you have the bandwidth to email more frequently? That’s awesome. Because the more you contact your list, the more opportunities you have to build a relationship. And if your content is valuable and welcomed (more below) and not just marketing flimflam, you’ll build the relationship faster. You’ll also get more chances to make offers. 

Outside of time to write emails, the other constraint is how often you can create quality content. Because you’ll obviously get better results if your emails are, ya know… good. See point 3 on content.

Having said that, consistency beats quality. Don’t get too tied up in writing “the greatest email ever.” Find a reasonable pace you think you can manage. Then stick to it. FOREVER.

2) Subject Lines 

The main goal of the subject line is to get the email itself opened.

To get your email opened, create genuine curiosity. Think about what emails you open and what subject lines create an “itch” that you just have to scratch. What was it that made you open a given email?

Things to play with:

  • Using numbers (people like listicles)
  • Experimenting with capitalization (or lack thereof)
  • Using brackets
  • Using emojis
  • Using your contact’s name (if your service provider has that functionality)
  • Using preview text (if your service provider has that functionality)
  • Having no subject
  • Creating an “itch” via mystery

3) Educate, Inspire, and Entertain

While there’s a time and place to directly sell something, most of your messages should provide value for your readers. Remember, we have to create LIKE and TRUST before anyone will HIRE you.

Specifically, your emails should provide some combo of: 

  • Education to help your reader achieve better fitness results
  • Inspiration and transfer of belief and energy that they can succeed
  • Entertainment so they enjoy reading your emails

The education bucket is the best place to focus most of your attention. Not sure what to write? Make a list of the most common problems and questions your prospects and clients have. Where are they getting stuck with their fitness? What are their pain points? What questions do you hear over and over again?

Take a 15-20 minute work session and curate a list of possible content ideas based off their problems and questions. Then when you create content, give them solutions. Ideally, you can create “results in advance” before they even hire you. This is a great way for them trust you know what you’re doing. 

If you have the chops to inspire your clients by going all Tony Robbins, have at it. In my experience, it’s a specific kind of human who can pull that off. However, you likely have stories you can tell about your successful clients. This can help prospects see people just like them, who had similar struggles, achieve specific results by working with you. Not only do these stories help your clients feel success is possible, it also builds your credibility.

Finally, whenever possible, be entertaining. If you’re funny, leverage it! Using stories is also a great way to keep your audience engaged. At the very least, don’t be boring.

And if you want to really hit it out of the park? Do all three!

NOTE: This framework works for any kind of value-building content including organic social media posts, podcasts, blog posts, YouTube videos, webinars, speaking gigs, etc.

 

4) Write Well, But Don’t Get Overly Precious

On the one hand, for obvious reasons, it’s hard to be effective at email copy if you don’t write well.

On the other hand, you’re not writing the Next Great American Novel. 

If you really want to succeed with email marketing, it warrants some effort to write effectively. Check out books like The Elements of Style, Bird by Bird, and The Ultimate Sales Letter.

In general, communicating via the written word is a master skill. Email marketing aside, it’s incredibly valuable to clarify your thinking and communicate with your team and clients.

Just be sure to keep things in perspective. Unless you decide you want to be a full-time copywriter or you really have the potential to be a writing superstar, remember you’re a training gym owner. There’s a point of diminishing returns here. Don’t fall into the trap of being a perfectionist. If you do, it will be hard to create enough content to be effective. 

For example, I tend to write emails in one sitting. Then I do one edit. Then it gets edited by someone else for any egregious writing mishaps before it gets uploaded to be sent out (shout out to the amazing Craig!). Wam, bam, thank you, ma’am!

 

5) Always Have a PS with a CTA

The most read part of an email is the PS. Most people skim read. So a PS, both by it’s placement and visual highlighting will get attention. This is a great place to provide a clear call to action about next steps.

Most of your email communications will be about building LIKE and TRUST by educating, inspiring, and entertaining your readers. But the very reason we’re emailing is that some percentage of your readers will ultimately HIRE you. So we want to make it easy for them. Your PS should identify exactly what to do next if and when they want to work with you. For most training gyms, this is where you can make a soft pitch for your low barrier offer/ trial.

***********

A lot of people say email is dead. That’s not true. Mark Fisher Fitness has over 12,000 subscribers and we routinely get 40-50% open rates with every email we send. I know MFF is an outlier and we’re in NYC. But still. That’s 6,000 readers for our brick-and-mortar training gym.

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