Digital Marketing Guide For Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ)

I published this post on my old website (which is not being redirected here) on March 12, 2017. A month before publishing this post I just left my day job and was doing freelance SEO and running the BJJ Academy. This was the first successful digital marketing campaign that I ever executed for my own business. I barely had any money, but I had a ton of hustle in me. This was the only post I saved from my old website, as it still makes feel good when I read it. There was so much enthusiasm and will to make things work. I still believe that this is a solid strategy and can get results with very little budget. 

Hope it provides value to someone who is looking to get more students to their BJJ Academy. 

How to market Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for beginners

Recently I executed a quite successful marketing campaign for my Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym. Because the results were so good, I decided to share my method here on my blog. There is some nitty-gritty technical stuff involved, but you can easily find people to do these tasks from various places.

I focused my marketing efforts mainly on Facebook advertising. There were two reasons for this:

  1. The search volume for Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (or related terms) in google.com.mt is so low that I don’t believe I would have been able to drive the same amount of traffic to my website using Adwords.
  2. I’ve never done paid ads on Facebook, but there seems to be a buzz around it, so I decided to give it a go.

The reason for the beginner’s course was the fact that we’re starting to have a skill gap. The guys who started training with us in the last four months are not beginners anymore; they are grasping the basics quite well.

The idea of the beginner’s course is to bring new Jiu Jitsukas on a level where they can execute basic techniques. In other words, I don’t want to scare new members by throwing them into the deep end of the pool right away.

Getting started with Facebook ads

Firstly,
I installed the facebook pixel on my site. I wanted to begin to gather a custom audience for my website. Since the site’s been built with WordPress, I found a quite a handy plugin to install the pixel to my site.
The plugin is called: Facebook Pixel by PixelYourSite
The pixel, of course, gathers audience data continuously, so I can use the audience in future campaigns as well. I’ve been using an app called Ripl to create graphics for the advertising campaign. One of my creations got featured on Ripl’s Facebook page.

What does the pixel do?

Facebook pixel is a cookie, which tags your visitors. This leaves the guessing out on who you should be advertising. Because you have a custom audience, it makes A/B -testing of ads so much more effective. You can also create custom conversions.

Read more about the pixel
The beginners guide to the new Facebook pixel by Shopify

Here’s how I marketed the course:

  • My target was to get 15 sign up’s for the course.
  • The price for the course was initially 50€, but I ended up dropping the price to 40€.
    • Looking at it now, it might have been a mistake to drop the price, as the majority of the sign-ups came in the last week of the campaign. You try, and you learn.
  • I published a blog post on our website. The post explained in depth what the course is about.
  • The purpose of this post was to push people to go the actual sign-up -page.
    • I used two different versions of the landing page, and the latter one ended up bringing the majority of the results.
  • Let’s say that the first version of the landing page was maybe a bit too “complex.”
  • I shared the facebook post in about ten different local facebook groups.
  • I re-posted the course advertising on the Facebook page and on Instagram 3 times/week.
    • Based on the analytics in Bitly, Facebook was the clear winner when it comes to clicks on organic postings.
  • However, Instagram posts got a lot more engagement, but this is due to excessive use of hashtags 😉
    • I started the gyms Instagram account 2,5 weeks ago, and we already have 200 (non-paid) followers.

Challenge of using PayPal as a payment method

I think the fact that I had to use PayPal as an accepted payment method decreased the conversions quite a lot. I already contacted Stripe to get a quote from them for the future. I want to have the checkout happening on my site. When the payment has to be done somewhere else than in your site, it will always hurt conversions.

Enter the email marketing and automation

There was another reason why I wanted to people to sign up via Website – I wanted their email address.
I used Zapier to create automation on this. When a person pays the course fee via PayPal, their email address is automatically imported to a specific mailing list. They will receive a weekly mail. The mail has three purposes
To collect feedback from people. Ensure that they are happy about the content of the course.
Get more affiliate sales – People will need specific gear BJJ, and I can recommend the products that I found good.
Get people to renew their membership in the last week of the course – I will make them an offer that they can’t refuse 😀

MailChimp – Email marketing made easy

For the number of subscribers I generated, I bought prepaid credits from MailChimp. With these credits, I can create automated marketing emails. I really like Mailchimp, the user interface is very clear, and they have an excellent knowledge base

MailChimp offers ready-made templates for your emails, but it might be a good idea to make your emails look like your brand does. You can custom email templates from Fiverr around 50€. This includes setting up the mail template in your MailChimp account. The only thing you have to do is to start writing the emails. Trust me, 50€ for email template is not a lot, especially considering the time you save by not learning how to create a mobile-friendly email template as it’s hard.

IFTTT – Automation made easy and fun

I also set up another automation. I wanted to get all the names of the people who signed up for the course in a Google Spreadsheet. For this purpose, I used a recipe from IFTTT.com (If This Then That, it is brilliant and requires zero programming knowledge, and it is FREEEEE).

Here’s a direct link to that particular Applet

Don’t overlook email marketing. The ROI in email marketing is extremely high; you can reach your followers directly without spending any money on advertising. Give people something for free (maybe a trial class?), so they have reason to sign up on your mailing list.

Return on Investment – the hard numbers

It is essential to crunch the numbers to see was the campaign profitable.
I was delighted with the results and the fact that demographic targeting in this campaign was spot on! Not only we got the desired results, but we got people signing up, whom I believe will stick around longer than just the beginner’s course. Below you can see the breakdown of expenses and the results.

Investments:

  • Paid advertising: 25€
  • Flyers 5€ (made with Canva)
  • Prepaid credits for emails 20€

Money spent: 50€

And that’s it! Of course, there was tons of time spent on researching, brainstorming and creating content. At the moment, I don’t have the luxury of outsourcing all tiny tasks. But that day is coming sooner than later 😉

Profits
I ended up getting a total number of 17 people signing up for the course.
Each sign up is worth 40€
Gross profit: 680€ – 50€ = 630€
Return on Investment: 1260%

One might say that this campaign was quite successful. I’m definitely going to use Facebook Ads later on in other projects, as it seems to be a very robust way of driving traffic to a website. The challenge of Facebook ads is targeting; you need to know your customer personas.

Conclusion

All and over I am pleased with the results that the campaign produced. There was so much work involved in this campaign, so many things to learn that It is better not to think about the hours I’ve spent working on this. Also, I designed the whole program for the beginner’s course by myself.

Seventeen people may not sound a lot, but it is worth mentioning that Malta is a tiny country and jiu-jitsu is practically non-existent here. Rather than marketing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for people, I have to educate people on what Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is.

If you have a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu academy and you’re looking into getting new customers, I highly recommend using Facebook ads and trying to maximize the profits with email marketing.
The gym is starting to get to a point where I have to start looking for a bigger space. In other words, we are soon going to outgrow our current venue. I have a clear image in my head, how the gym would look like, and if I have to move out, I want to make the place look beautiful from the beginning.