Electronic newsletters are a valuable marketing tool. They provide important information to existing customers while establishing a business as an expert in its field with prospective clients. It’s easy to dismiss newsletters as an inbox annoyance. But when e-newsletters are done well, they become a trusted resource while building relationships with established and new customers.
Getting started is the hardest part of the process. It can be overwhelming to find content, choose a service and commit to a schedule. Jamie Samples, social media expert and founder of Yellow Barn Media, offered advice for developing an effective newsletter for your barn.
Pick a Frequency
Consistency is as important as the content, she said. Setting the goal for one newsletter a month is a reasonable place to start. That establishes a regular frequency and allows flexibility for additional communications during busy seasons.
News about your facility, horses and other borders or students is fun to share, and your clients will enjoy reading about others at the stable. Include any changes, shows, clinics, tack-cleaning parties, or anything else that is happening at your facility.
For news outside your facility, Samples recommended using a simple Google search for hot topics or trends in the horse industry. This can range from health concerns to nutrition, training and showing topics and much more.
“You can set up Google Alerts to search for you and send the results to you so you don’t have to spend hours searching websites on your own,” she said.
Another option is to share content from an association closely aligned with your barn’s interest. If your barn specializes in a specific breed or discipline, follow the organization’s social media and share links to articles within your newsletter.
“You can also ask clients at the barn if they have seen articles that would be good to share,” she said.
Choose a Service
MailChimp and Constant Contact are the two most popular electronic newsletter services. Samples said that MailChimp tends to be the most popular among small business owners because the platform is user friendly and is free up to 12,000 emails sent a month. Paid services offer enhanced features such as automation that can be used to improve effectiveness.
Price is a consideration, but don’t buy on price alone, Samples cautioned. Choose a system that works well for you now and allows for growth as your business and newsletter list expand.
“Pick something you’re comfortable with,” she said. “If you’re not comfortable using the system, you won’t use it and it’ll be a huge waste of time.”
Measure and Respond
Once you start sending newsletters, use the analytics features on your service to see what your readers are most interested in. Reports can give insight into the topics people are reading about most frequently and those that they ignore, and you can make modifications for future newsletters based on that data.