Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media are rapidly gaining popularity among small business owners as a means for connecting with current and prospective customers.

Approximately 75 percent of small businesses have at least a page on a social networking site, according to Social Media Today, an online community of public relations, advertising and marketing professionals.

But don’t let social media overshadow other, equally valuable options in your marketing tool box. Each has its own advantages and features for effectively getting the word out about your products, service and expertise. Combined with social media, the results can be even more powerful.

For example, email marketing has the highest return on investment of all marketing tactics — about $40 for every dollar invested, according to Jeanne Rossomme, President of RoadMap Marketing in Washington. Digital and physical communications integrator Pitney Bowes also reports that more than two-thirds of all small businesses currently do some type of e-mail marketing (e.g., newsletters, press releases, announcements, coupons, etc.).

What happens when you integrate social media with email marketing? A great deal, says Rossomme.

“By posting interesting content nuggets and links through your social media channels you can allow this content to spread beyond your email lists,” she explains. “Customers, fans and friends can pass on this information to their networks. And these links are actually stronger since they come as an independent referral, rather than a perceived ‘marketing message’ from you.

As with any other form of social media-based marketing communication, content is key. Or as Rossomme calls it, “the magnet and the glue.”

Providing relevant, engaging content attracts both customers and prospects, enticing them to read on and learn more about your business — especially when you have conveniently and appropriately placed links to get them there.

In other words, you can count on investing time and energy in creating email newsletters with interesting articles, polls, stories and even videos. But the effort is well worth it. “Wouldn’t you like to get even more reach and more interest with that same content,” asks Rossomme.

You can familiarize yourself with the social media/e-mail marketing approach by studying other small businesses, both similar to yours and outside your industry. But Rossomme recommends against following the examples of larger companies.

“Social media plays to small business strengths, as owners are personally connected to and constantly interacting with clients,” she explains, whereas large companies are often less connected to end-customers. However, best-in-class larger companies may provide some ideas for content you can tailor to your customers, as well as marketing ideas such as contests and incentives.

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