Over the last few weeks I have been sharing information with you about using social media in your travel business. Throughout I focused on how the goal is to get people into your funnel and on your email address in particular. Today, I want to remind you why email is so critical to your business.

A lot of the insights I’m sharing today came from a presentation by Michael Barber (@michaeljbarber) to the GIFTE (Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs) community. Michael focuses on digital platforms and how they can be used effectively by businesses. He had so many great insights to share and I wish he could have talked for far longer than an hour!

One of the things that Michael was clear on is this: people love email. Really, they love it! We have all gotten frustrated by our inbox, but when asked to choose their preferred method of communication, consumers consistently select email. And according to the Adobe Marketing Insights Study, people preferred email significantly more in 2017 than they did in 2016. And yes, they like it more than social media, which fell quite a bit in the rankings between 2016 and 2017.

Why do they love email? Michael believes (and I agree) that it is because people feel they have more control over their inbox than they do with social media. They can control when they look at it. They can control where they see it (phone, tablet or computer). And most importantly, they can control what they see because they can opt-out at any time.

So, what does that mean for your business? It means you need to be collecting email addresses from clients and communicating with them regularly. I can hear some of you asking, “What does regularly mean?” because you are concerned about sending too much email. The last thing you want to do is to be sent as a pest or an annoying marketer.

Michael’s advice on this topic: you are probably worrying too much about this. You can certainly do some testing to see if your open rates change depending on how often you send out your messages, but if you are sending once a week you have no reason to worry. If you are emailing once per month, you may need to worry. What you don’t want to happen is for a client (or potential client) to forget you and when they finally see you in their inbox they don’t recognize you or your brand. Remember, if a client doesn’t want to open your email, they don’t have to. They can let it sit there for years if they want to, but if you aren’t sending it in the first place it can’t be working for you.

It is also a good idea to periodically revisit the system you are using to manage your list. There are lots of them out there but some of the big ones are Mail Chimp, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, and iContact. Technology is changing all the time and some companies are better at introducing new features than others. Of course, many of these “autoresponder” systems can do the basics like allow you to set up a welcome series of emails to send to new people automatically, but there are lots of new tools coming online all the time. It pays to periodically check around and see how the system you are using compares to what is out there both in terms of prices and features.

One last nugget about why you need to focus on email. There are 3.2 billion email accounts in the world and that number is consistently growing. Yes, there is always lots of buzz about social media, but don’t forget about the tried-and-true platform that should be the backbone of your marketing: email.