Email newsletters

Many markets have begun to use e-mail newsletters to communicate with their customers. The age of buying stamps and paper and printing a newsletter is coming to a close.

E-mail newsletters can be very inexpensive to use, can be sent whenever there is market news or reminders you want to let your customers know about, and can be as frequent and newsy as the market desires. The only requirement is for someone in the market who knows their way around email to take on the job of doing it.

Newsletters can contain seasonal recipes, info about what’s coming into season and which market members will have what at the next market, opening and closing dates of the market, announcements of a “taste of the market” day or other market event, and just about anything else you want your members to know. Obviously, if the person writing the newsletter likes to write and is a frequent market attender who communicates with other market members on a regular basis, the quality of the newsletter increases. But even a simple reminder newsletter (“Don’t forget, the market is tommorow!”) is useful.

As with anything, there are manual and automated ways of handling the email addresses and creating and mailing the newsletter.

To collect e-mail addresses, most markets begin by employing the manual method of having one or more members display a newsletter sign-up notebook at their stand. Usually this will include the person writing and sending out the newsletter. Markets often also have a link at their website where anyone (market shopper or not) can sign up for the market’s newsletter. In it’s simplest form, this link sends an email to the market’s e-mail newsletter writer, and they then add this address to the newsletter list manually.

A more sophisticated and automated version is possible when a market makes use of a web-based Email Service Provider (ESP) to handle collecting addresses and sending out the newsletter. In this case, the link at the market’s website opens a sign-up form at the ESPs website. This form collects first name, last name and email address plus any optional info the market would like to collect about subscribers. The ESP then automatically adds this info to the newsletter mailing list, which is maintained at the ESPs website. Of course you can also mannually add e-mail addresses to your newsletter list at the ESP if you are still collecting them with the notebook. And the ESP will allow you to import an existing list of e-mail addresses from your e-mail program.

Most ESPs have similar terms and costs, and generally cost more the more of their services you use. Deciding among them is done by looking at their pricing structure and getting a feel of what using each of them would be like. Some are more flexible than others, or oriented to larger businesses. Some allow “entry level” accounts that are free. MailChimp, for example, has a “Forever Free” account level that allows an email list of up to 2,000 addresses and 12,000 emails to be sent each month. More than that and you’ll need a paid account.

Here are some commonly used Email Service Providers:

Here is a list of market websites that include e-mail newsletter sign-up links on them:

About Tom Roberts

When I started attending the Brewer Farmers’ Market back in August of 1983, my sole concern was being able to sell the produce my farm was growing at a good price. After attending market for a year or two, I began to realize that how the market was organized had a great impact on my sales. And how the market was organized also influenced how it made decisions about dues, new members, what could be sold at market, and how it promoted itself—and this, too, had an impact on my sales. So I got involved in the market’s steering committee and began to understand how various market members thought the market should operate. Some wanted a market czar, some wanted everyone to be allowed to do their own thing. But everyone seemed to agree that if the market as a whole did well, then so did they.