With all the talk of Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and other social media, it's easy to start feeling like perhaps older protocols like email are on the way out in terms of marketing power. While it's certainly true that methods of online communication have changed and evolved dramatically over the past few years, it's important to remember that email has some benefits that other marketing methods don't have, and as such shouldn't be ignored as an essential component of your online marketing strategy.
Personal Connection - Probably the most obvious advantage of email marketing is the ability to make a personal connection with your audience. Email is still the way most people communicate for personal messages, and an email has the ability to come across as personal in a way that social media can't. In order to make the most of this, though, you need to spend time and effort creating email content that really speaks for you, as people can sense form letter spam a mile away.
Content Flexibility - Social media generally has limits to how you can use it. Twitter, for example, limits you to 140 characters, and other networks may limit or channel the types of information you can share. With email, however, you can pretty much do whatever you want. You can design your emails to look a certain way, change it up depending on how well your design performs, and make any necessary adjustments along the way. You can experiment with things like content length, colors, images, and layout to develop emails that really give your audience the kind of connection they're looking for.
Crossover Options - Best of all, email is by no means a standalone marketing tool, and in fact it works best as an integrated part of your overall strategy. This means you can use email not as an alternative to social media, but in conjunction with the other aspects of your online presence, creating a multitude of ways that people can connect or interact with you. Make sure your emails contain easily visible links to your social media pages, website, and any other places where people can find you online.
As online marketing develops, email is actually becoming more versatile, so don't write it off as a relic of the past. The ROI alone on email marketing makes it worth any time and effort you put into it. How are you currently using email to help market your business?