LinkedIn is doing it.

So is Pinterest.

Facebook has been at it for awhile.

Oh, and don’t look now, but Twitter is doing it too.

What are these companies doing?

Sending email to pull you back to their sites to view new content!

As the CEO of a company whose flagship product is email marketing, I had a good chuckle when I began receiving email from LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Twitter, telling me that people in my network had posted new content.

It’s clear that these companies had figured out what we here at Constant Contact have known since 1998. Email is one of the best methods for keeping in touch with people on a regular basis.

Social media — Great tools, but challenging, too

Social media has been a boon to business — especially small businesses. But let’s face it, social media has challenges that didn’t exist even a few years ago.

  • Crowded space – Twitter used to be personal. You followed someone, that person followed you back, and you had conversations. Now Twitter is the de facto real-time news source for the entire world, with over 400 million Tweets a day! It’s become harder for small businesses to stand out. (Not saying it’s impossible, just harder.)
  • Fewer “views” – Our small business customers love Facebook (and so do we). But, the platform controls who sees your posts and when. Just because someone “Likes” your Facebook Page doesn’t mean you’ll show up in their news feed. For many small companies, only 10-16 percent of their fan base sees their content at any given time. Fewer views mean less engagement.
  • Constant changes – Embedded posts. New Facebook Page rules. Vine. Twitter cards. Google Hangouts. With all the changes these individual platforms make on an almost daily basis, it’s easy to throw up your hands and give up. (But don’t. We’ll help you keep abreast through this blog. And you do get our Hints and Tips e-newsletter, right?)

Email keeps you top-of-mind

In Chapter 3 of Engagement Marketing: How Small Business Wins in a Socially Connected World, I talk about enticing people to stay in touch with you through email.

As wonderful as your small business is, out of sight is literally out of mind. If you don’t regularly connect with people through email, they will forget about you. It’s why Pinterest, Twitter, etc. are sending you emails. They want you to come back to their sites!

Take a tip from the big guys and use email to stay connected

If you’re planning something fun on your social sites, make sure to tell your email contacts. And invite them to become a fan or follow you at the same time.

Be sure to also make it easy for people to subscribe to your email list. Here are some tips:

  • Give them a reason to opt in – If you have a retail shop, ask your customers for their email address in exchange for a discount or other promotion. If you’re a consultant, offer a free consultation, e-book or whitepaper if they join your email list. Offer something your customers will find valuable.
  • Use high-tech and low-tech – You can add a QR code to printed materials. When people scan the code, it takes them to your newsletter sign-up form. Or try text-to-join, an easy way for people to use their mobile phones to join a list. On the low-tech side, you could use the good old paper form, and have it available at your register, tradeshow booth, etc. Don’t forget the good old fishbowl too (with a clear opt-in message).
  • Combine email with social – No matter which social platform you use, include a URL to your email subscription form. Constant Contact also has a Facebook email sign-up form app. Regularly ask people to subscribe to your newsletter. Just remember, not everyone will see every single post, so it’s ok to repeat offers.

Email, used in conjunction with social media, is a powerful way to stay connected with your customers as well as draw them back to your business.

How are you using email to point people to the information you want them to see? Let others know by leaving a comment below.