With wallets tightened, small businesses MUST find cost effective ways to reach customers. And at this time small businesses NOW more than ever MUST actively market their businesses. Not to do so when competition to stay in business is greater, could spell defeat for businesses trying to stay in that Top Of Mind Awareness (TOMA) position, and convert them into sales.
Marketing Profs did a great job summarizing the basics for adding eMail marketing to an arsenal of marketing tools. I would ad to this that email marketing gives you an excellent means to drive traffic to your website, where your valuable content resides. Building that valuable content however is for another post completely.