Email might not be as shiny as social media and other emerging marketing channels, but it's still arguably the most powerful marketing tool around.

A recent study asked consumers which channel they prefer for receiving permission-based promotional messages. A whopping 77% said email. No other channel even scored in the double digits; only 4% of respondents said Facebook, with Twitter and mobile apps both scoring a mere 1%. That's a very clear message about how your leads and contacts want to hear from you.

So how do you maximize this old workhorse for new gains?

Sometimes the best way to learn what to do right is to consider what not to do. In that spirit, here are six common email marketing mistakes... and guidance on avoiding them.

Mistake No. 1: Neglecting Buyer Needs

Does the CEO of a major corporation in California have the same needs as a small marketing team in the Midwest? Probably not. Moreover, retail email volume increased 61% from 2007 to 2011, making for a very noisy environment. To slice through the clutter, 'you need to speak directly to your buyer.

Use segmentation strategies to target campaigns to specific buyers' specific needs, particularly their "pain points." By doing so, you'll position your company as a friendly one that's paying attention.

Mistake No. 2: Blasting the Same Message to All Contacts

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Janelle Johnson is manager of marketing operations at Act-On Software, provider of a cloud-based integrated marketing platform for marketing automation.