Online Advertising Options for Yoga Studios
Is your studio having trouble standing out? Here’s how to get noticed by more of the right kinds of people — even on a shoestring budget.
As a savvy yoga studio owner, you understand that people are living through their smartphones and so your studio must be easy to find online. You’ve got your website set up and have carefully listed all your details on Google, Yelp, and even specialized directories like YogaTrail.
You’ve started social media accounts for your studio and are sharing content regularly. Your instructors and friends have also been helping out by posting photos, videos, and mentioning your studio in their updates. But you have a sinking feeling that it’s not enough. You have bills to pay, which means you need to attract new students and keep your existing ones coming back.
What You’re Probably Thinking
Yes, I can read your mind, and this is what you’re thinking:
I know that if I just work harder and post more compelling content on our website, blog, or social media, our studio will start getting noticed!
Wrong. Unless you have already established a large and highly engaged following, that’s highly unlikely to get results in the short to mid-term.
But, paying for online advertising is too expensive!
Not true. If you can afford to buy a latte, you can afford to advertise.
Marketing and advertising is pushy, annoying, and completely goes against the teachings of yoga!
It doesn’t have to be. In fact, when done the right way, it will barely look or feel like advertising. The best advertising is so effective that people enthusiastically share it with their friends because it is informative, useful, or entertaining.
Before we start exploring your options, let me first explain a few things you might not be aware of if marketing isn’t your full-time profession.
The Harsh Reality of Today’s Online World
The online media landscape is very different to what it was even five years ago. It has become a pay-to-play game. What does this mean for yoga studios?
The Bad News: Organic Reach is Dead
The biggest change is that you can no longer rely on organic reach. In other words, it has become extremely difficult to get your website, blog posts, or social media updates noticed by the right people without paying to boost their exposure.
This may seem unfair — after all, all this online stuff was supposed to be free! After all, your stuff is easy to find and there are more people online than ever — so what’s the problem?! There are many factors at play, but simply put:
- Consolidation of Attention: The internet used to be much more fragmented and diverse. These days, people are spending time on platforms such as Facebook or Instagram rather than visiting individual websites.
- Content Glut: The amount of online content has grown exponentially, while people’s capacity to consume it hasn’t. Try posting a perfect photo of you posing against a sunset on the beach on Instagram — you’ll just be one of the thousands of yogis vying for attention with similar content.
- Intelligent News Feeds: People have shifted from searching for information to passively waiting for it to surface through their news feeds. Due to the content glut, these platforms use increasingly sophisticated algorithms to sort through this noise and show the content they think you’ll be most interested in. Facebook, in particular, prioritizes posts from family and friends rather than updates from the pages of brands, including those of yoga studios.
The Good News: Online Advertising is Highly Effective
Today’s online advertising platforms allow you to set up highly targeted and cost-effective campaigns to reach the right kinds of people in your local area.
There are many ways to go about it, including the following.
- Avoiding the Hard Sell: You can promote your own original content such as a photo, a link to a blog post, or a video to people who might find it interesting. In this way, you are providing something of value without asking for anything in return. This can gain you attention and followers. The pros call it “Content Marketing” and many of the world’s most successful yoga studios do it to some extent.
- Promoting to Your Existing Fans: On several of the various social networks, you can “boost” your post to have it be shown to people who follow your studio. In this way, since the people have already decided to follow you, you shouldn’t be bothering them, and if the don’t like it, they can easily unfollow or mute your profile.
- Search Advertising: If somebody searches on Google or Bing for yoga classes in your area, you can set up matching keywords so that your studio’s information is shown prominently to them. In this way, you’re putting yourself out there to people specifically searching for what you offer.
- Targeting: On social networks, you can target people in your area of a particular demographic who have specific interests that match what you offer. If your ad is well put together, they are likely to value it. One approach to sweetening the deal is to offer a free gift such as a free first class.
So, as you can see, there’s no need for advertising or marketing to be obnoxious. Rather, the best advertisements are appreciated and sometimes even loved by their fans.
The Top 5 Online Advertising Options for Studios
Below I’m going to introduce options you should consider. I’m going to list them in order of recommendation. However, each studio’s needs are different, so it pays to do your homework before committing to one strategy.
1. Facebook Ads
Facebook Advertising is the first place you should start and may even end up being all you need. As of the second quarter of 2016, Facebook had 1.71 billion monthly active users, which means that most people likely to be your students are on it to some extent.
Their audience targeting system is arguably the best available. You can target by location, age, gender, interests, languages and more. Below are the types of ads you can create via the Facebook Ads Manager.
Let’s review the ad objectives above and what they let you do:
- Boost Your Posts: This is where you pay so that more people see a particular post. Note that this is the type of ad to use for posts other than links to content on your blog or website. It’s best suited to promoting photos that are natively uploaded to Facebook.
- Send People to Your Website: This is where you have an ad that when clicked sends people to a page on your website. This is useful if you want to bring people to a single page giving detailed information on a workshop, course, or retreat that leads to a signup and payment.
- Raise Attendance at Your Event: Your Facebook page has a great events calendar built in where you can provide full details of upcoming events and even take reservations. These events can then be promoted via Facebook ads.
- Get Video Views: If you have uploaded a video to Facebook, this is the ad type to get it seen by more people.
2. Instagram Ads
When it comes to social media, after Facebook, Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, is the second most likely place your students are putting their attention. The platform has over 500 million users and is especially popular with people under thirty-five.
3. Google Ads
I’m assuming you are aware that it’s free to list all of your studio’s details with Google so that they show up in search results, including on Google Maps. If not, you need to do this right away.
In terms of advertising, after Facebook and Instagram, Google is your next highest priority. You can significantly increase your visibility with Google Ads. They have been around for years now and offer a very refined and robust system where you only pay for clicks to visit your website.
- Google Adwords: This service allows you to set up ads targeting people within a set distance from your studio who are entering specific keywords such as, “yoga studios in yourtown.”
- AdWords Express: If you are a one-person marketing team and don’t need all the features of AdWords, this service might be better suited to you.
4. LinkedIn Ads
Owned by Microsoft, LinkedIn is the world’s most popular business-focused social networking platform and boasts over 450 million members. If you run corporate classes, then it is definitely worthwhile getting started and setting up both a personal profile and a company page with all details filled out and up-to-date.
If you love writing and have the time, you could publish your writing on LinkedIn covering topics such as how yoga can help office workers and improve productivity for corporations.
LinkedIn ads offer various options including sponsored content or premium display ads. The difference is that sponsored content will show directly in the updates whereas display ads will show on the right hand-side.
5. YouTube Ads
Video is a powerful way to market your studio because you can show people what it’s actually going to be like practicing yoga there.
Video isn’t as quick and easy as posting a photo on Facebook, which is why so few yoga studios get around to doing it. However, it is doable if you have the budget for both production and advertising.
You want your video to be engaging and contain the most attractive imagery and important information in the first seconds. This way, even if people skip it, the most important message will get through.
Here’s how I recommend you approach it:
- Get a Basic Understanding: You don’t need to do everything yourself, but it helps to have an understanding of best practices and how things work. Take a good read through the YouTube Advertising introductory information and learn how TruView works.
- Plan Your Video: You need to be able to show in under thirty seconds (ideally within the first five) why someone would want to visit your studio.
- Get Help: If you don’t have the skills to do it yourself, consider hiring a pro to help you via a site such as 90Seconds or VideoPixie. If you are confident in shooting it well yourself, perhaps you might hire a professional editor via the likes of Fiverr or Upwork.
Your mission as a yoga studio owner is to provide a place of healing, relaxation, and self-development. However, you can’t serve people if they don’t know you exist.
Once you have established your online presence, it’s time to start letting people see it. The fastest way to get results is through one or more of the top online ad platforms. Take it slow, focus on one thing at a time, and keep your budget small until you feel confident to invest more.