With all the hype and excitement around Twitter, Facebook and Social Media Marketing lately, it is easy to see how other forms of online marketing may have fallen out of fashion. Marketing coordinators and managers can become so excited about the next big thing that they sometimes forget that older, established marketing tactics are still a great way to gain customers, reach out to your target market and generate leads. One of these marketing tactics that seems to be overlooked these days is Email Marketing. Believe it or not, email marketing is still one of the most successful online marketing channels for companies.

While social media is a top trend, email marketing is the top dog in terms of ROI. In 2010, 39% of marketers reported that email marketing was their most successful channel over the last 12 months. 37% of marketers plan to invest more of their marketing budget in email marketing over the next year. In other words, don't fix what isn't broken. All stats point to the fact that email marketing still does and will continue to work for both B2B and B2C companies.

Why does email marketing still work so well? There are numerous reasons and a handful are listed below.

Email Marketing Success Factors

  1. 58% of people start their day by reading emails. (Source: Exact Target, 2010)
  2. Due to the emergence of smart phones, people now have access to their emails at all times.
  3. Email marketing offers straight forward performance metrics and reports. It is possible to test and tweak email blasts as needed.
  4. Your customer will be more open to your email since they offered you their email address. There is a brand relationship already established here and they are open to your message.
  5. Emails offer a great opportunity to present customers with deals, promotions and inside information.
  6. People are more engaged when reading emails then they are when browsing their favorite social media website.

The best practices for email marketing haven't changed too much over the years but in the age of social media and due to the fast speeds that internet users have come to expect it is important to adapt as needed.

Email Marketing Tips for 2011

1.  Integrate your email marketing with any social media campaigns that you are running.

Always include links to your social media properties within your email. This encourages conversation and makes it easy for customers to share your content with their networks.

2.  Make your emails mobile friendly.

With the increase of people reading emails on their mobile phones, it is essential that you take this into consideration when developing your email. This means using small images, keeping content short and to the point, using single column layout, having a text only version available, putting a call to action at the top of the email, etc.

3. Don't preach to your customers, engagement is key.

Entice your customers early in the subject line of your email with sales, special deals, etc. Promote contests, prompt them to interact with your brand through questions, etc.

4.  Keep emails short and to the point, nobody likes a blabber.

This one is pretty self explanatory. Focus on one main topic and get to the point quickly.

5.  Track campaigns to learn what is working best with your target market.

Use tracking and analytics to learn what works best within your industry and target niche. Use these findings to tailor future email campaigns.

6.  Plan ahead for top sales periods such as holidays.

Plan. Plan. Plan. Don't miss out on great opportunities by not being prepared. Make an email marketing map for the entire year. Send emails during peak times of the business year as well as during slower times to help boost performance and sales.

7.  Don't overdo images or design.

Think simple. Don't overwhelm readers with images and distractions. Keep them focused on what is important: your brand and desired action.

It is important to maintain a well balanced marketing mix and email marketing is an important piece of the online marketing puzzle. Working side by side with your other online endeavors such as social media and SEO, email marketing is a proven method of customer communication and engagement as well as lead generation.