One of the most effective things I have done to connect with my basketball program’s followers is to send an email newsletter. I believe you do everything possible to inform and educate your supporters. With the technology that exists it is as easy as:
- Choosing an email service.
- Designing a newsletter template (email services have many to choose from).
- Deciding what day to send the newsletter.
- Inputting content into the newsletter.
Sending an email newsletter involves sending one message to many people. It’s permission-based, which means your supporters must opt-in to your newsletter, and you need to explain to them why they’re receiving it.
Content Example from my Coach’s Report
Why send an email newsletter?
As a coach, an email newsletter is a little thing that makes a big impact. I get supporters all the time telling me they appreciate getting an inside look at how we run our program.
When you send an email, you’re encouraging your supporters (fans, alumni, sponsors, school teachers and administrators) to engage with your brand. Yes, you are a brand. Coaching is a visible profession and you can help yourself by understanding some basic marketing ideas. This is even more important with the proliferation of social media and sports.
Sending email newsletters is a great way to stay in touch with your supporters and stay at the top of their mind. Creating and maintaining relationships should be a priority for you as a coach. You don’t want to reach out to supporters only when you are asking for help. Email newsletters can be an effective way to maintain relationships with donors, volunteers and supporters on an ongoing basis.
Content Example from my Coach's Report
Why not just send a group email from your email?
You can but I suggest you consider changing to an email service.
- Personal email services like Gmail or Hotmail limit the amount of people you can send to at one time.
- 77 percent of consumers prefer to receive permission-based emails rather than any other form of marketing communication (Email Uncovered).
- Email services will manage your delivery needs, help keep your messages out of junk folders, and generally do a lot of the work for you.
- The technology exists to make your newsletter look better and more professional; so why not use it?
- It makes it easier for people to unsubscribe.
- You must comply with your countries spam policies…United States - What is Can-Spam? Canada – About the Canada Anti-Spam Law
So, it seems like a lot of work, but it’s not. I have been sending a weekly email newsletter for the last thirteen years I have been a head coach.
There are lots of easy to follow tutorials online. Here is one: How to Create an Email Newsletter Campaign in 10 Steps
So how do I actually create a newsletter?
Choose an email service.
There are plenty of email marketing services out there so check them out and find the right fit for you.
I use MailChimp.
- It’s free if you have fewer than 2,000 subscribers.
- It’s easy-to-use.
- The analytics are easy to understand. You can get open rates and clickthrough rates.
Create a Subscriber List
You probably already have an extensive email list. This list must be created before you can send your first newsletter. Email addresses can be manually added or imported, but people need to opt-in or subscribe to your list. That means you have sought their permission. You can also create a subscribe form to place on your website.
If a contact has not given permission, but you feel they might be interested, send just one short email asking them to subscribe and be sure to provide a link to the form. How to Create an Opt-in Form at the Top of Your Website
Example of the Hello Bar Opt-In Form
Example of a Pop-Up Email Opt-In Form
Chose the content you want to include.
Just like everything you do in coaching, you must have a goal for your email newsletter. Fortunately, it is pretty simple. Your goal is to educate and inform your supporters.
You will find your own voice but I encourage you to use your newsletter as more than just informational. Provide insights to your fans and supporters. I respect the privacy of my players and never mention them in the context of any poor performance or mistakes they made. I do share honest reports. If we lost I try and explain why. I try to be as honest as possible without ever assigning blame.
- Upcoming events
- Recaps/photos from past events
- Recognize Alumni, Donors, Volunteers and Supporters
- Popular posts on Facebook, Twitter, blog
- News coverage
- Basketball 101 (an in-depth look at rules/strategy)
- Player profiles
- Highlight community involvement
- Announce or welcome recruits
Yes it’s ok to share some insights into your life…
Again, as a coach you are a brand. You are a visible part of a team that people are invested in. How you act is always on display. If the only thing your fans ever see you do is coach then they only have part of the picture of who you are as a person. An email newsletter is a great place to share some personal things that give your followers an impression of who you are beyond just a coach. Just like a game doesn’t define who a player is as a person, the same applies to a coach, so share who you are.
Example of a Personal Share on my Coach's Report
Branding Using Graphics
All of the graphics I create for this blog and my email newsletter are created using a free web-based service called Canva. It is easy to learn and the look of the designs is a big improvement on anything I could do on my own. Here is a simple tutorial if you want to learn more about how to use Canva - How to Use Canva to Create Beautiful Graphic Images, Infographics, and Presentations
Choose when you are going to send.
I generally send a newsletter once a week in-season. Monday morning has been my go-to time to send the newsletter as our games are always on the weekends. On a Monday I can re-cap the week and give people enough notice about the week ahead so that they can plan to attend games or events. Being consistent is key. Supporters start to expect it on Monday mornings so it makes it more likely they will find and read it amongst all their other emails.
In the off-season I stick to the same day but I am far less frequent with updates. I usually only send an update when some key events are happening or have happened. Figure out a time that works best with your weekly schedule and tweak it until it works for you and your supporters.
Look at the stats.
Just like a box score, an email service will provide you stats to look at. Open rates and click rates are the two most relevant. You can get as technical as you want with the analytics but it is good to know if your efforts are paying off. And don't expect 100% open and click rates. For sports, the industry average open rate is only 26.13%. That means only 26% of your email list will open your email. The click rate is even lower at 3.61%. This refers to how many of your links get clicked by a reader who opened your newsletter. Check out more industry averages here Average Email Campaign Stats of MailChimp Customers by Industry
Full Statistics from My Email Newsletter
Statistics from One Email Newsletter
I can say my experiences have been higher than those numbers so my efforts have been worthwhile. And I believe yours will be too. The main reason is because you are already dealing with an interested population. So consider adding an email newsletter to your communication plan.