Ray Tomlinson was onto something big back in 1972.

No, it wasn't uncovering Watergate or watching a new movie called The Godfather.

Rather, Tomlinson invented electronic mail, better known these days as email.

And, despite not being as exciting as Social Media or other shiny marketing platforms, email remains, in my opinion, the single most powerful and effective online marketing tool you can use.

(Keep in mind - I'm a guy who makes his living teaching others how to use LinkedIn for sales and marketing.)

Why Email Works So Well

When done correctly, email marketing affords you an incredibly personal, efficient and effective way to build the "Know," "Like" and "Trust" factors that are critical to any client relationship or potential sale.

There are more than 4.3 billion active email accounts worldwide, and more than 192 billion emails were expected to be sent each day during 2016.

Without going too far into the deep end of email marketing strategy and philosophy, I want to spend the rest of this post sharing two of my favorite email marketing tools.

While I realize there are countless different email marketing platforms, tools and software options, I want to focus on a pair that I've used personally.

Love Monkeys Typing Messages? Try MailChimp

MailChimp has been around a long time, and it remains a fast, easy and low ­cost way to build up your email list from zero subscribers to something more substantial.

I used it when I first began email marketing, and it's a great tool if you're starting a list from scratch. Because it's so well-­known, MailChimp also integrates easily with just about every type of website platform and lead generation tool out there. (FYI, here's a free resource guide with 26 additional tools and resources you can use to run your online business.)

However, I'd recommend you only use MailChimp as a starting point. Once your email list hits a few thousand subscribers, you're likely going to want to "graduate" to a more robust platform.

Getting More Serious? Try Ontraport

There are lots of paid options when it comes to email marketing and CRM software platforms.

I like and use Ontraport because it was built specifically for my line of work (Solo Business Owners, Entrepreneurs, Coaches and Consultants), and it comes with some incredibly helpful features.

The biggest benefit of Ontraport is the ability to build systems and automate every single aspect of your email marketing.

There is a bit of a learning curve, but once you understand how Ontraport works, you're able to create an endless array of systems and sequences that ensure the right prospects get the right emails at the right times.

Ontraport also includes "done for you" landing pages and custom forms you can use on your website or blog, along with integrations for Facebook Ad campaigns and custom audiences, online shopping carts, payment processors and more. It also gives you the ability to create affiliate links and programs for your business partners.

Here's one quick example of how nuanced and automated Ontraport can be: Say you get an email from me that has a link to a checkout page on my website. You click on the link, visit the product checkout page, but you do not purchase the product. Within a few minutes, I can have Ontraport automatically send you a follow-up email asking why you didn't complete the purchase and offering my personal help if needed.

The levels of sophistication and automation with Ontraport can be both exciting and overwhelming, but thankfully they have (in my experience, at least) great customer service, along with a concierge service where they will do the work for you for an additional fee.

Don't Sleep on Email!

Whether you use Ontraport, MailChimp or another email marketing tool, the key is that you build, nurture and grow an email list of potential prospects and clients as quickly as possible.

It's easy to get distracted by the latest exciting social network generating buzz or whatever other shiny objects come across your path online, but don't forget about email.

It might be older than most online marketing tools, but that doesn't mean it's any less effective.