If we’re an email marketing company, why is it I spend so much time talking to our clients about social media? The main reason is because they ask, and the main reason they ask is that marketing and communications professionals are not in the business of sending email – they are in the business of delivering messages. If you have a conference to fill or product launch to promote, the best approach to take is a channel-agnostic one. No bonus points are awarded for email purity.

But we’re not entirely altruistic over here. There is also a very selfish reason why we advise our clients on social media marketing. A strong presence in social channels can actually boost the effectiveness of your email program. Here’s how:

Social is an additive channel, not a substitute. Often when I talk about social channels clients reply, “But why would I want to move my subscribers over to Facebook or Twitter? I’d lose all those juicy email analytics and won’t know who I’m reaching or how they are responding.” It’s true that you don’t have nearly the analytical visibility with social channels that you do with email. But building up your social presence doesn’t mean you lose the analytics because in most cases your subscribers are not “moving over” to social; they are adding Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn as a connection to your brand, in addition to their email subscription. Instead of losing analytics, you’ve gained a whole channel of touchpoints.

Email works best as part of a team. Naturally, we’re big fans of email. But we also know it can’t carry your entire communications program all by itself. Unless everybody in the world you want to reach is in your house list, and you’re regularly pulling 100% open rates with this massive list, you probably need to reach people outside of the inbox. By building out your social channels, the burden of reaching “everybody” isn’t placed squarely on email’s shoulders. that means you’ll see results from communications that come outside of email, minimizing your need to send follow-up messages or to reach a less targeted audience. The more your other channels are contributing to your messaging goals, the more you can exercise discipline with email, using it for the targeted, relevant and anticipated messages where it shines.

The more your brand is in your subscribers’ lives, the better. When you see a TV commercial for a laundry detergent, it affects your perception of that brand when you see it on the shelf at the store. This is no accident, of course. Branding may work mysteriously, but it does work – a brand that is already relevant before the point of purchase has a greater chance of driving a purchase. Similarly, the more in your subscribers’ lives your brand is, the more relevant and anticipated your email messages are. By showing up in a Facebook News Feed or a Twitter Feed regularly, you are strengthening your brand’s connection with your subscribers. Just as they’re more inclined to put that detergent in their cart, they’re more inclined to open and read your message.

Your email won’t go viral by itself, but your brand is more likely to enjoy a viral lift through social. You know those laughing baby videos on YouTube that get passed around and ring up millions of views? That’s never going to happen to your emails, sorry. Not since the Seinfeld final episode script leak has an email gone viral. Any lift to your email program – views, subscribers, clicks – has to come through a dedicated effort on your behalf. Social is appealing because it’s a channel tailor-made for content sharing. The more you build up your presence there with more fans, followers and conversation, the more likely your content will be shared between your current fans and subscribers and people who do not yet know you.