If you use email marketing properly, you won't have to worry that customers will regret seeing your messages in their inboxes.

There are plenty of reasons that social media is what’s on most marketers minds: It’s essential for engaging with young people, it allows customers to connect without expecting anything in return and most importantly, it drives sales. If all this makes email marketing look like last year’s model, you need to rethink your ideas about reaching people’s inboxes.

The only downside to using email as part of a content marketing campaign is its name. Something so versatile probably shouldn’t sound like what used to clog people’s physical mailboxes. Even if you’re on board with a fully functioning email channel as a part of your content marketing strategy, you might not realize the extent to which promotional messages are influencing customers’ purchase decisions. Consider that:

They want you to make business easier for them

A Harris Interactive poll found that people were 77 percent more likely to make a purchase if they received promotional emails containing personalized products or services. If you can segment your customers and send them suggestions based on their prior purchases or position in the sales pipeline, they’ll rarely mind being marketed to.

They use different devices

People don’t just use their computers to check messages when they get home from work – they expect to get email throughout the day, no matter where they are. Over 25 percent of mail is read on a mobile device, according to MailUp research. Seeing email marketing on a smartphone is now the norm, and being able to read about promotions on the go is a major selling point for many customers.

The key to email marketing success in high-quality content creation.

They appreciate it if you ask for permission

You might be wary of invading readers’ inboxes, but if you clear it with them, they’re more likely to read messages. The Experian 2013 Email Market study found that confirmed opt-in emails had click rates that were three times higher than their unsolicited counterparts.

They still keep things separate

Gmail added a Promotions tab to their inboxes last year, as Brafton reported. You might have worried this change would consign your messages to obscurity, but a StrongView survey indicated that at least half of email marketing recipients check their separate tabs at least once a day.

The most important benefit of email marketing compared to direct physical mail is that you can more easily listen to your readers. If you know their preferences and take advantage of the features they love, you can expect them to looking forward to hearing from you in their inboxes.

Alex Butzbach is a Marketing Writer at Brafton. He studied Communications at Boston College, and after a brief stint teaching English in Japan, he entered the world of content marketing. When he isn't writing and researching, he can be found on a bike somewhere in Metro Boston.