by Joyce Sunila

Hear that loud clattering noise? It’s the sound of small businesses rushing to activate their Facebook and Twitter accounts. They’ve been told social media is the new platform of choice for promoting their services.

They don’t want to be left out.

Unfortunately, they’re dead wrong about social media’s power.

A 2012 survey by Exact Target shows an overwhelming 77 percent of consumers prefer to receive promotional messages via email compared to 4 percent who like Facebook. 

Why this delusion about social media’s power? Blame it on our Silicon Valley-fueled chase for the next big thing. First, gurus told us instant messaging would topple email, then RSS, then text messaging, and now social media.

And yet, email soldiers on.

Email Hygiene 101

The danger here is that businesses will get so focused on social media that they’ll sweep email promotions under the rug.They might even ease up on their email hygiene, making it harder to re-start the engines after the social media dust has settled.

What’s “email hygiene”? It’s what you do to keep your email list up-to-date. This includes:

  • Adding a field for email addresses on all forms, online and off.
  • Asking every patient whether the email address you have on file for them is still current.
  • Removing “Undeliverable” addresses after every send
  • Checking the sign-up boxes on your website to make sure they’re working right and that email addresses are being routed to the correct databases.

Since half of Americans change their email addresses every year, it doesn’t take long for an email list to lose its punch. Google’s not underestimating the power of email. In August, they introduced a new feature that will include old gmails in Google searches. That means everyone with gmail accounts will have access to all of the e-newsletters and e-blasts you’ve ever  sent them.

When subscribers search by topic, your e-promotions will come up in their organic searches. They’ll see them when you send them but also when they’re most relevant.

The feature is in limited-trial mode for now, but could become an important Google feature. Once that happens it’s just a matter of time before Bing and Yahoo  follow suit.

The upshot would be to make email marketing an adjunct to search marketing, adding to its synergy on the Internet.


About the Author

Joyce Sunila is the president of Practice Helpers, providing e-newsletters, blogs, and social media services to aesthetic practices. You can contact Joyce at [email protected] or visit the Practice Helpers Web site at