Remember when the internet was new? America Online (AOL) was one of the pioneers and one of its signature alerts was “You’ve got mail!” Heck, Hollywood even made a romantic comedy about email. Remember Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan? Anyway, as with most good things, email has been overused, abused and made almost villainous. Admit it. How many hours have you spent cleaning out your inbox?

For independent businesses, however, an email marketing campaign is still an effective and inexpensive tool, and here are some expert suggestions on how to make one work for you.

One of the reasons email is still such an effective marketing tool today is because it’s mobile. More and more people are accessing their email via smartphones. According to the Pew Research Center, mobile devices account for over half (52%) of the webpage views in the U.S.

Another study by Forrester Research shows that three out of every five retailers’ email messages are opened by a mobile device.

Although this sounds like good news for eCommerce, it’s a good deal for bricks-and-mortar retailers, too.

The National Retail Federation studied back-to-school shopping a few years ago and found that 54% of shoppers cited digital coupons as reasons they shopped at a particular store. And consumers are almost as likely to use a coupon printed from an email (64%) or a website (57%) as they are to use one gathered as a newspaper advertising insert (74%).

Many independent businesses are utilizing customer information such as email addresses gained through sales data and loyalty programs to distribute digital coupons or new product information.

All of this means that sending out email offers to loyal or repeat customers is a simple, effective and critical part of a good marketing effort.

Brian Bullock