Rossetti DesignsEmail marketing is on the rise. It’s been around for a while—since, well, since the dawn of email, I would guess. But while it’s taken a while to get many businesses on board, its use is rising. According to a recent survey by Direct, the response from businesses they polled indicated a 10% increase in email marketing over 2007, and fully 55% of those businesses said they planned to increase their email marketing budget in the coming year.

At the same time, it appears that traditional direct mail marketing is on the decline. According to a recent article in MediaPost, reports are that the economy is what is ultimately stemming the tide of the delivery of wasteful and unwanted paper around the country. Much like the general desire to save gas and drive a more economical car, results aren’t forthcoming until rising prices start taking a toll on the pocket-book.

Well, I’ve taken notice as well and am doing my part to help businesses reach out to their clients via email through my business, Twist of Lime. I’ve been doing some research, and the first thing I noticed about email marketing is that not all email service providers (ESPs) are the same. And why would they be? There are many, many needs out there in the business world. But the biggest challenge I’ve come up against is finding ESPs that are affordable to the small business. Most of my clients and potential clients are wary to even get into email marketing, let alone throw a lot of money at it. While it seems that many ESPs are targeting larger businesses with huge lists and big marketing budgets, there are a couple I’ve found that cater more toward the smaller business that just wants to dip its toe in the water. (Watch for a report on my findings of email service providers in an upcoming post.)

One business in particular that I’ve started email marketing for is Rossetti Designs. They are a small business that, among other things, produces and sells greeting cards from original art. In the essence of full disclosure, I must tell you that this is my wife’s business, so I may be a little biased about just how great her cards are. She’s been sending emails to her wholesale clients since she began her business over ten years ago. And she’s been retailing her cards through her Web site since she’s had one, but the business has really increased since she built a new site last year with an improved shopping cart. Now her growing list of online customers has started to become a little unruly, and dealing with the emails and bounce-backs was taking more time than it was worth. Not to mention she just simply didn’t have the time to reach out to her customers as often as she liked.

So just yesterday we launched Rossetti Designs’ first official email campaign to online retail customers using an ESP, and it’s quite rewarding to see how effective it can be. The original investment of $30 to send to this list was recouped in the first hour. (We won’t talk about the man-hours, since I’m a bit of an indentured servant, but suffice it to say that I get paid in other ways.)

Aside from making it easy and cost-effective to reach out to past customers, I’ve convinced her of some of the other advantages of email marketing via an ESP, including:

1. Reinforcing brand identity
2. Simple and effective list management
3. Analyze results
4. Protect your ISP from being labeled as a spammer

So, if you’ve been thinking about starting an email marketing campaign, don’t hesitate. It’s as easy and effective as everyone says. And if you’re in need of some help, drop me a line. I’d be happy to help.