No matter where you are teaching, student retention is always a hot topic between yoga teachers and studio owners alike.
Now with a shift to online and hybrid model yoga instruction, many are looking at some of the best ways to maintain a steady flow of students into their virtual classes and boost virtual attendance.
Not to mention how this might be different from traditional student retention you may work on for in-person classes.
Having had a location independent yoga and meditation school for several years before the pandemic hit, when we all made the shift to virtual teaching in 2020, I found many of my students and mentees coming to me for tips on how to teach online and keep their students coming to the mat during virtual or at home classes.
Even though many of us are returning to in-person teaching, a large number of teachers are keeping at least a partial online component to our offerings, and the fact of the matter is online teaching isn’t going away.
So how exactly do you keep your online students coming back week after week?
Here are 5 of my best tips to keep your online students coming back time and time again.
The Top 5 Tips for Keeping Your Online Yoga Students Coming Back
Make it Convenient and Realistic
One of the biggest perks about attending a class online is that it can be extremely convenient.
You don’t need to drive to class, you don’t need to find a parking spot, sign up a week ahead of time to reserve your spot or walk through bad weather to get to the studio, instead you can roll out your mat and hit play and you are ready to go.
Considering how you can make your online classes as convenient as possible for your students will help you retain, and possibly grow your attendance.
No one wants their yoga class to be a hassle, or add stress to their day, so consider sending out a short survey to your students to ask them what days of the week, times of the day and length of class are most convenient for them and then create your class schedule around what your students prefer.
If you give your students what they are asking for, it is hard for them to not keep coming back.
Offer a Replay Option
In the same vein of making your classes convenient and realistic to fit into your student’s everyday life, offering a replay or on demand option is a wonderful way to build retention.
It is so easy to have something pop up during our day and it makes us unable to make our in person class, but if there is a replay option available for classes and workshops then it makes it more appealing to your online students, and it allows them to come to class on their time, instead of on a set studio schedule.
I personally offer a replay option for all online classes and events, and many people will sign up just for the replay, and in some cases you can double enrollment just by adding this option.
Explore a Hybrid Model
If you are a studio owner, or you offer packages or memberships for your teaching, consider introducing a hybrid model.
Perhaps you have a new membership that allows students to attend one in-person class/ week but attend unlimited online classes. Or you offer an online replay or live stream of all your in person classes.
Considering a hybrid model where students can do in person and online might be exactly what they need to try out an online class, or have the peace of mind knowing that if life gets busy and they aren’t able to make a live class they can always catch an online one later.
Consider Private Sessions Or an Online Only Modality
For many people when they consider teaching online classes, they get stuck thinking inside of the box and just put the classes they are already teaching online.
Although this is a great place to start creating exclusive online-only classes or offerings can be a wonderful way to get new students in the online door.
Maybe you are usually a vinyasa flow teacher, but then two nights a week you start offering a restorative yoga class with a guided meditation at the end that is online only, or maybe you start offering online meditation private sessions or one-on-one instruction for existing clients.
Creating exclusive online content can be a great way to have students try the online model, and keep coming back week after week because it is a unique class they can only get with you virtually.
Create the Best Experience You Can
Even though you aren’t teaching your students in person, that doesn't mean that you can’t lead them through an incredible experience.
When we serve our students, and think about all of their senses, and how this class can lead them to a deeper part of themselves even from home we are providing an experience for them.
Many people express that they don’t like online classes, or don’t come back to online classes because they miss the experience of a studio, so consider how you can recreate this experience for them as best as you can virtually.
Think about what exactly about that studio experience your students love. Is it being able to chat with other yogis before class starts?
Open the zoom room 15 minutes early for chatting and mingling amongst students.
Do they love the music that is played during class?
Send them a link to that class’ customized playlist they can play at home.
Do they love the soft, cozy blankets you have in the studio? Send them a coupon code to order one of those blankets and have it shipped to their home.
Thinking about the full yoga class experience from beginning to end, even if you aren’t in the same room, will show your students how much you care, and how their practice can be special and sacred even from home.