Tammy Rosen, a certified pet dog trainer and founder of Fur-Get Me Not, a pet-sitting and pet-training service that offers products for pets in the Washington, DC area, exemplifies an entrepreneur whose business thrives despite today's economy. I recently spoke with Rosen to understand more about her business and the important role e-mail marketing plays in her success.

Gail Goodman: How long have you been using e-mail newsletters to reach out to your customers?

Rosen: We started sending official e-mails from Fur-Get Me Not in 2002, but at the time, we were sending plain text e-mails. I immediately realized I could be more effective if I used something that was more design savvy, competitive and professional. After our first mailing, we immediately received positive feedback on our newsletter. Our customers loved the look and appreciated the content.

What types of newsletters do you send out, and what kind of information do you include?

Rosen: My main e-mail communication is a monthly newsletter that goes out to 1,800 subscribers. I include details of upcoming local events we are sponsoring, highlight a partner or nonprofit we work with and share important updates like holiday closings.

I also share pet training tips and include a section for the "Employee of the Month" because our customers like to hear about our employees. Perhaps the most popular section of our newsletter is the feature on our customers' pets. We have people write in all the time wanting their dog or cat to be in our newsletter--this is a fun way to keep our customers engaged.

What are you hoping to achieve with your newsletters?

Rosen: I want to instill loyalty in our customer base and remind my customers that I'm here when they need me. The newsletter lets me highlight the expertise of my staff and the quality services I offer. It's also fun!

The best business comes from current customers. If they already use our services, they are more likely to act on something they see in a newsletter. For example, this month we're showcasing new fall collars and leashes, and we mentioned that it's time to get rid of those smelly summer ones. Customers who see [the announcement] in the newsletter are more likely to pick out a new collar when they pick up their dogs from day care.

The newsletter helps us make sales, and it provides our customers with things that they need or want.

Do you think your newsletter is a success?

Rosen: Yes. The feedback I receive from my customers helps me understand if what I sent was useful. I also measure results. Reports help me see who reads the newsletter and what sections [customers] like to read. I try my best to send newsletters that hit the mark and contain the information that my customers will find interesting and relevant.

What advice would you like to share with the readers who are just starting their own newsletter campaign?

Rosen: Make building and managing your e-mail list a priority. Take every opportunity to sign up customers who want to hear from you. That way, those who receive your e-mails are more likely to open them and use your services.

I would also suggest working with a reputable e-mail marketing provider that offers reporting services. The information you can glean from these reports can help you determine your contacts' interests, the best times to send your newsletters and more. It can also help track bounce-backs and see customers who might not have looked at a newsletter for months at a time, keeping your e-mail list current.