As you read this blog post, a countless number of conversations are taking place on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and a host of other social networks. While social media has proven its ability to get the conversation started, email is still one of the best engagement mediums around. Have your doubts? Check out some of the ways this phenomenal tool can be used to engage and encourage customers to share their experiences.

Open up the Floor

Email marketing is at its most effective when used as a platform for two-way dialogue. What I mean by this is that instead of doing all the talking with your newsletters, sales offers or weekly updates, you open up the forum so customers can reach out and have their say as well. Your subscribers might have many interesting stories to tell, but may never share them unless you invite them to do so. Using email to reach out and encourage customers to converse with you is a simple but effective way to get them to share their experiences, thoughts and ideas.

Create an Open-Ended Survey

If asking your customers to share their experiences is something that makes you uncomfortable, engaging them with an online survey may be the next best thing. With an open ended survey, you do away with the structural approach of multiple choice or true/false questions by giving respondents the opportunity to give the answers in their own words. This type of survey is great for engagement because it lets subscribers add more detail to their answers, including their opinions, feelings and attitudes of the topic at hand. Whether it is embedded directly in your message or accessed on your web page through an email link, a well crafted open-ended survey can definitely help you get the participation you seek.

Personalize Your Message

Spammers have given email marketing a bad name, but these annoying senders can’t shoulder all the blame. Legitimate marketers who batch and blast away to the masses are just as guilty. What their approach lacks is personalization, a touch that can get your customers to open up whether you decide to explicitly call on them to share their experiences or use a survey to do the talking for you. While addressing subscribers by their first name is a good start, personalization runs much deeper than that. It’s more about the tone and words you use when communicating with your audience. You’d be amazed at how effective email can be at engagement when using it to converse with your customers on a personal level (like human beings) opposed to another name on a list.

Social media is a channel where discussions are struck up between brand and consumer, and meaningful relationships are fostered. Be that as it may, you can never sell email short. With the right game plan, it can be just as engaging as any social network you can think of.