Successful digital marketing requires a solid strategy. But with the flurry of new digital tools and platforms landing in marketers’ hands every day, it’s easy to overlook one of the original digital communication channels: email.

There are over four billion active email accounts around the world at this very moment—and that number is projected to grow to almost 5.6 billion by the end of the decade. That’s a huge opportunity to find new customers, create awareness around your brand, and engage.

In fact, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. It’s also the channel generating the highest ROI for marketers—for every $1 spent, email marketing generates $44 in ROI.

But how do you begin turning all of those inboxes into an opportunity for your business? That’s where a clearly defined email marketing strategy comes into play, and an email newsletter should be one of the first tools in that well-rounded kit.

But before we explain why an email newsletter needs to be part of your digital marketing strategy, let’s talk about what differentiates it from other types of email messages.

What exactly is an email newsletter?

An email newsletter is used to inform your audience about the latest news, tips, or updates about your product or company. They come in many forms, designs, and layouts,

Ultimately, the point of an email newsletter is to keep your subscribers connected, engaged, and informed about what’s new with your organization or business.

Why email newsletters are crucial in a digital marketing strategy.

Out of all the digital marketing techniques in your toolkit, email is the most successful strategy, hands-down. Here’s why:

1. Email connects you to your customers.

An email newsletter gives you the opportunity to showcase your brand’s personality, helping distinguish you from your competitors. And much like meeting people in the real world, the more they get to know you, the more trust and loyalty they’ll feel toward your brand. And that’s a sweet spot for marketers—it’s where repeat sales happen.

2. It offers you a way to send tailored messages to new and existing customers.

Advances in email automation have made it easier than ever for marketers to personalize their messages. Personalization goes way beyond adding a subscriber’s name to the subject line.

Now, you can segment emails, create tailored messages, dynamically change content based on the subscriber’s preferences, and insert more personal fields like job titles and locations.

This kind of personalized marketing is the best way to attract new customers and delight existing ones. Knowing your customer and sending relevant messages has become the ultimate benchmark of a successful marketer.

3. Email newsletters can drive traffic to your website.

Relying on people to organically land on your site can be frustrating. It’s kind of like looking for a gas station to fill a nearly empty tank with Google Maps or Waze on the fritz. Instead, use your email newsletter to direct people there. Invite them to view your content or provide them with an incentive to stop by your site. Make sure to use a strong call to action.

4. They can drive sales.

Here’s an encouraging stat: 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email.

Along with presenting your customer with relevant and useful content, use your email newsletter as a chance to bring one of your products or services into the limelight while listing its benefits and driving consumers to a point of sale—whether it be on your site or at a brick-and-mortar (and in some cases, both). Essentially, you have a captive audience here—carpe diem!

You can also help the transaction along by providing an incentive for your customer to purchase the product. Discount codes and promotions can go a long way toward making it a successful sale.

5. That uptick in social media followers? Thank your email newsletter.

If you think of your digital marketing strategy as a conversation, your email newsletter is the icebreaker. It’s where you can first start to engage with your customers before taking them to social media, where more meaningful interaction can be had.

Including social sharing buttons on your email newsletter can help increase engagement on social media by reminding subscribers that your brand has an active social community.