Marketing email automation is a truly powerful tool for today’s marketers and salespeople: When used correctly, it can save an organization a lot of time and effort by automating the nurturing of your leads along the path to becoming active buyers or clients.

The problem is, many companies aren’t using this tool the way that it was meant to be used, and that can cause sales to plummet.

Here are 5 common mistakes that businesses make with their email automation, and things you can do to avoid making them yourself.

1. You buy an email list instead of building your own database.

Buying email lists has been a legacy sales and marketing technique for years now, but for the reasons we’ll outline here, it just doesn’t work.

For starters, bought lists are full of unqualified leads—they are people who haven’t actively shown any interest in your products—and this makes them much less effective than a list of contacts that you have actively qualified. And then of course is the fact that people usually hate being contacted unsolicited. If you want to sell effectively, it’s probably best that you don’t annoy your potential customers.

For your marketing efforts to really work, you need to develop your own list of qualified leads, and you can do this by developing an inbound lead generating program. By writing blog posts targeted at your ideal buyer, you’ll naturally draw them to your website. Then you can offer them valuable content—say, an ebook or white paper—that requires an email address to download. Over time, these efforts will lead to a list of contacts that have shown active interest in your service or product—and that makes your job of marketing and selling a lot easier than trying to sell to a bought list.

2. You send way too many emails.

Email automation makes sending emails to a huge number of people vastly easier and simpler than creating a new email for each person. The problem with this ease of use is that it makes it much easier for you to become overzealous in your outreach efforts. After all, if one email is good, then five must be better, right?

Wrong. Sending too many emails to your leads is a surefire way to annoy your contacts, and if you annoy them enough they will unsubscribe from your email list. And there’s no point in putting in the time and effort to build an email list if they start unsubscribing right away.

To combat this, you should strike a balance between quality and quantity. Your emails should be spread out so as to not inundate and annoy your leads, and you should make sure that each email offers value to the recipient. If it doesn’t offer value, then it really isn’t necessary. Every industry will be different, and it’ll take some trial and error to find the right balance, but once you do you and your customers will be a lot happier.

3. You don’t know the value of email segmentation.

Chances are, not every contact in your email list should receive every email that you send out. Individuals who have already made a purchase shouldn’t be receiving the same emails as those who have never bought; those who are very active on your site shouldn’t be receiving the same emails as someone who visited your site once and never came back. But if you haven’t looked into segmenting your email list, you’re probably blasting your entire database every time you send out a new email.

Email list segmentation refers to the process of splitting your email list into different groups (or segments) which you can then target with specific email content. The right marketing automation software can help you do this easily and seamlessly. HubSpot, for example, offers a Visual Workflows App that allows users to create targeted emails based on dozens of criteria (both related to behavior and demographics).

Still not sure if segmentation is worth the effort? Well how about this: a study by the Direct Marketing Association has shown that 77 percent of email marketing ROI in 2015 came from segmented email campaigns, and that segmented emails generated 58 percent of all revenue. How’s that for incentive?

4. You don’t analyze your email performance.

After each email campaign, it’s really important for you to analyze how the campaign performed. If you don’t do this, then you don’t really know what worked—and what didn’t. And there’s no better way to scare off your leads than to keep making the same mistakes in your emails. Who wouldn’t want to know how they can improve their efforts to make more money?

To remedy this, get into the habit of setting aside some time after each campaign where you really analyze your email data. Which emails worked and which ones didn’t? What frequency was ideal for your target customers? Did shorter subject lines perform better than longer ones? These are all important questions for you to have answers to, and you won’t know until you dive into the numbers.

5. You don’t optimize your emails for mobile.

Today’s world is a mobile world: People are constantly on the go, and thanks to smart phones that means that they are increasingly checking, opening, and answering emails away from their full-size computer screens. If your emails aren’t optimized to be viewed on these smaller screens, then your contacts likely aren’t going to be reading them. It’s as simple as that.

To put this into perspective, here are two important statistics: According to Litmus, 48 percent of emails are opened on mobile, and a whopping 69 percent of mobile users delete emails that don’t display properly on their mobile devices. What’s the point of sending emails to begin with if 69 percent of your leads don’t bother reading them?

To increase your chances of actually having your emails load correctly, you can take a few simple steps:

  • Create a responsive grid so that your email scales to smaller screens.
  • Reduce image sizes to quicken display speeds.
  • Make sure images are sized to automatically scale based on screen size.
  • Increase the size of your links and Call to Action buttons so that people have an easier time clicking with their clunky thumbs.

Putting It All Into Practice

If you want your email efforts to work for you, you’ve got to make sure that you’re using the software the way that it was meant to be used. If not, you’re either sending emails out to leads that don’t want to receive them, or you’re annoying your leads so much that they’re unsubscribing before you can make a sale.

Definitive Guide to Selling Better and Faster