When you’re tinkering with the very first newsletter of an email marketing campaign, the process can often be a little stressful. You don’t know how subscribers will react to the email, or if anyone will even open it. Not only that, most businesses try to make the first email as perfect as possible, which can slow down the process, and turn a “monthly” newsletter into an “annual” one.

We spoke to three Constant Contact customers who have been using email marketing for two months or less so we could find out a little bit more about their initial experiences.

1. Silbury Hill Alpacas

The farm’s first email.

About a year ago, Danise Cathel and her husband decided to start an alpaca farm in Sunnyside, Wash. With just 20 acres and a firm conviction that “pigs and cows didn’t sound like very much fun,” the couple slowly started purchasing alpacas and a few llamas. Danise says that the farm is their big retirement investment.

Silbury Hill Alpacas just started trying to advertise as a destination for agri-tourism in August. One of the main ways that Danise spreads the word is through Constant Contact Email Marketing, which she started using this past August. The first issue of the farm’s weekly newsletter, Pacas and Peaches, was a big hit, with 43.2% of recipients opening it, which is especially impressive, given that the average industry open rate is around 25%.

“Constant Contact has been really easy to use. They walk you through everything,” Danise says. “I’ve had lots of experience with other programs, and Constant Contact is pretty easy and fun.”

The farm’s second email had an even higher open rate, at 47.8%. By the fourth email, the open rate had climbed to 53.3%. Danise explains that since one of the biggest sources of business for the farm is visitors who pet the alpacas, buy knitted goods, and pick peaches, every open of an email counts in a big way, because it means that the subscriber is more likely to visit the farm.

Danise believes that her early success with email marketing is due to the personal relationships she has with everyone she emails. “We don’t buy email lists. We have personal contact lists,” she says. “These are people who have seen us in person and want to hear from us.”

2. The Inn at the Crested Butte

When Sara Morgan started her job as marketing director of the Inn at Crested Butte in Crested Butte, Colo., she found that there was a database of 1,200 guest names that had piled up over three years, but hadn’t been used.

“We had a very good qualified database of guests that had stayed with us before or knew about the inn and were interested in what we have to offer,” Sara says.

So Sara decided to import the names into Constant Contact’s Email Marketing tool, so she could reach out to those guests who hadn’t been contacted by the inn since their last stay.

The first issue of the inn’s newsletter, which advertised a special offer for a fall film festival, was overwhelmingly popular; 47% of the recipients opened the email, which seemed to indicate to Sara that there was a great appetite for more offers in the future.

Now that Sara has the inn’s email marketing program on the right track, she’s already thinking about the next big thing: a guest satisfaction survey using Constant Contact’s survey tool.

3.  The Strobel Guitar Company

Strobel Guitars’ first email.

Since 2003, Russ Strobel has been designing custom guitars in Boca Raton, Fla. These unique, high-end Rambler Custom guitars are travel-ready — musicians can easily take them apart if they’re hitting the road, then put them back together for a show. StrobelGuitars.com has a detailed order form for people interested in designing their own custom guitar or for buying the more affordable Rambler Classic as is. The problem has been how to best spread the word.

“I had been talking to people about how to increase our web presence,” owner Russ Strobel recalls. “I looked at the other business emails I got and they all seemed to come from Constant Contact.”

While Russ admits to struggling a bit with the template and list building techniques when creating his first newsletter, Constant Contact support was there to help craft it, from the ground up. “They explained how to build the email list and import it into the right format.”

Russ says the efforts were well worth it: Right after the newsletter was sent, StrobelGuitars.com received several new orders and positive feedback about how professional the email looked. Not only that, his website saw an immediate spike in visitors.

“Before using Constant Contact, we were getting 30 to 40 visitors a day,” Russ says. After the newsletter — which was opened by 63% of 266 recipients — that number shot up to 80 to 90 visitors a day.  “These are the people that want to jam when they get somewhere, practice in the hotel, or jump on stage with their Rambler Professional Electric Portable Guitars.”

Russ already has other plans in the works for future emails, such as free Christmas shipping, new videos, and more.