While everyone (myself included) is fawning over Twitter, Facebook and other social media marketing tools, you have to feel a little bit sorry for email marketing.
After all, email marketing has been around for a while and has proven itself again and again as an essential tool for the small business or entrepreneur. So why do we cast our old friend away just because a new, sexier tool appears? Where is our loyalty?
"But what about spam?" I hear you ask, "And spam filters, which prevent so many of my messages from reaching their intended audience…even for opt-in lists?"
True, spam and the sometimes effective antidote, the spam filter, have reduced the effectiveness and deliverability rates of emails. However, do you honestly believe that all of your 500 (or 5,000) followers on Twitter see all your tweets? Especially if they are following a couple thousand people?
"Who needs emails now that we have RSS?" you ask.
Ah, yes, RSS. The very cool tool of professional bloggers and new media evangelists. A spam-resistant tool that keeps our inboxes clean. Dirty little secret: if I find a blog essential I subscribe to the email version. That way I know I'm going to see it. Even though my Firefox start page is filled with RSS feeds from some of the most important Web marketing blogs out there, I just don't notice them very often.
"Email is for old people, like you. People my age use social media sites to stay in touch."
First of all, you're not too old for me to put you over my knee, so watch your tone.
Yes, I love sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. However, all social media sites leverage emails in some way. You generally have to visit those sites to interact with them, which is why LinkedIn sends you group updates and network invitations via email, Facebook forwards all emails and wall posts and photos you've been tagged in to your email, and Twitter emails you direct messages.
Yes, you can shut these off, but these sites are wise enough to realize that people have their emails open almost all day, and it's a way to make sure they can get in front of them.
If you're looking to grow your business online, then you need to include email marketing in your marketing campaigns. We've found that your email subscriber base is often the highest converting group when it comes to promoting new products and services, and especially events.
To learn how to grow your subscriber base with quality leads, and how to integrate it into a holistic Web marketing plan, you may want to check out Web Marketing for Small Business, a course I'm teaching at the University of Southern Maine on four Thursday evenings, from 9/17 – 10/8.