Welcome to what will be the first of hopefully many editions of Ask Andy. Each time, you’ll all have your chance to ask me a pressing question. I’ll do my best to teach y’all a thing or two and hopefully bring a smile or a laugh while I’m at it. For this first episode, John K asked me, “How does email fit in the overall marketing landscape?”

Email may be the Bozo Bucket that you simply reach out and drop the ping pong ball into for the smaller prize. Or it could be the grand toss that, if landed, has everyone jumping for joy. Testing, trial and error will let you know which bucket that email is for your business.

Email is one of the most fully realized digital marketing tactics, and goes well with any of your other marketing efforts. In fact, integration is essential to completing the big picture. You can integrate social media into your email campaigns on several levels. You can autopost your email campaigns to your social networks when you send them, and also include social sharing buttons for your subscribers to port to their followers. Doing these things allows you to move beyond your own subscribers and gain a bigger reach.

Email holds the entire marketing puzzle together, because it’s the communication tool that is most widespread nowadays. It’s important to be where the biggest audience is. Not only that, email is also one of the most developed in terms of tracking, testing and ROI. With A/B testing, you can see what subject line is more likely to garner opens and with reports, you can see who was clicking on what. Using tracking codes on the URLs allows you to see where a subscriber landed in your funnels.

Email marketing is affordable and has a documented high ROI. It can support all your other marketing channels, yet also be supported by them. You can track your successes and failures with detailed reports and analytical data. Email is the Jenga piece that won’t necessarily cause your marketing structure to crumble, but it would certainly be much weaker without it.