In today’s highly connected world, effective marketing is no longer about broadcasting content and promotions. Talking at your customers just doesn’t fly — that’s the old way. Social media has changed (for the better) the way businesses connect and communicate with their customers and prospects.

Consumers want more than just content; they want to get to know the people behind the brand, they want to hear from other consumers, and they want to be heard and acknowledged. That means you must engage with them, not just push content to them.

The tools for engaging your audience include both social media and email. It’s not a question of which channel is better; smart marketers know that both email and social media are important components of a complete marketing mix.

Your customers want and expect choices. Some will prefer to connect with a brand on Facebook and/or Twitter, and others will choose to do so through email. Engagement requires permission, and to get your customers and prospects’ permission, you need to connect with them on their terms. That’s actually a good thing because email and social media go hand-in-hand. Want to really crank up your visibility and reach new customers? Leverage both channels into an integrated marketing campaign and make your emails social.

Need proof that an integrated marketing effort works? We recently analyzed the Constant Contact customer base and found that from June 2010 through August 2011, small businesses and nonprofits using social media and email marketing together saw a 14.43% growth in their email lists, versus 8.96% growth among those using email alone.

Because of the real-time nature of the newsfeed and other factors like the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm, email remains the best way to get your message heard. However, social media is certainly the best way to get your message spread. When you leverage the strengths of both channels, you can expand the reach of your email campaign beyond the inbox. Adding the “Like” and “Tweet” buttons in the body of your email, or using our own Simple Share feature, will make it easy for your subscribers to share your message with their friends, and more likely that they will do so.

Another common approach is to use a strong social call-to-action to draw your email readers to Twitter or your Facebook Page to continue the conversation. Try using email to ask your customers for feedback or simply ask them a question and invite them to share their stories or answers on Facebook or Twitter so that you can respond and engage in a two-way dialogue.

It’s no longer enough to just provide solid content; it has to be heard and made easy to share. Additionally, it’s not enough to just broadcast a message; you must listen and respond to your audience. These are the key factors to effective engagement marketing, and both email and social media are the tools to make it possible.

I’d love to hear how using email and social media together is working for your business or organization. Share your thoughts here or on our Facebook Page.