Emailing is easy, email marketing is not. A misstep can get you ignored by customers or even ‘blacklisted,’ meaning internet service providers may block your emails.

Here are 5 things you may be doing wrong with your email marketing, according to the experts at ARI Network Services, which offers e-commerce websites, e-catalog platforms, lead management tools and digital marketing services.

1. You don’t plan.

All marketing, regardless of the technique, needs to be based on a plan to make it successful. Consider setting a yearly plan that includes measurable goals, such as increasing the number of unit sales. This helps you monitor if the marketing promotions are working. Factor in seasonal opportunities as well, even if it’s just to send a greeting. That greeting will both send goodwill and remind customers about your business.

2. You’re sending mass emails through your personal account.

Sending emails to a large number of contacts through a personal email, as opposed to an email service provider, could mark your message as “spam,” and your email may never be delivered or blocked in the future. On an extreme level, if you violate the requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, the FTC could fine you $11,000 for each offense — that’s $11,000 for each address on your email list, according to email service provider MailChimp.

MailChimp advises:

  • Never use deceptive headers, “from” names, reply-to addresses, or subject lines.
  • Always provide an unsubscribe link.
  • The unsubscribe link must work for at least 30 days after sending.
  • You must include your physical mailing address.

Follow these steps to create a successful email marketing campaign.

1. Set a goal.

2. Select an audience segment to target.

3. Design a professional message.

4. Include a call to action.

Constant Contact is another reputable service provider. The services often have a free option and provide templates so you can set up a professional looking email that meets FTC requirements.

3. You purchase email lists.

Quality vs. quantity makes the difference with email marketing success. The danger with purchasing lists is that the emails may be invalid or the subscribers may be outside of your target audience — those who are not ever planning to purchase a tractor, mower or outdoor power equipment.

Instead, collect emails from your current customers and visitors to your store and get their permission to email them. Even if you only have 50 or 100 names, they are strong leads to future business.

4. You send every message to every contact.

Rely on your dealer management system or your own process to craft messages that are targeted to the right group of customers. For instance, don’t send new owners of lawn tractors a promotion for lawn tractors. Instead, a service promotion works better for that group of customers — and shows that your dealership is paying attention to their needs.

5. Your emails are not professional looking or sounding.

The templates from the email service provider are a good starting point and add in graphics or images that connect them to your dealership brand. For instance, add your logo and incorporate the colors used in your logo and on your website. That way, when they click through from the email to your site, they know they are at the right place.

Don’t overload your email with a lot of messages or promotions. Provide one strong call to action. A best practice is to use an image-to-text ratio of 20% images to 80% text.

Think about how the email will display on mobile devices. Go to www.litmus.com to test how your emails will look on desktop and mobile devices.

And, consider how you might reuse the content in other emails to get the most for your efforts.

Finally, use the built-in tools of the email service provider to track the percentage of customers who open the email and the percentage who click through on the links in the email, such as to your website. A good open rate is 20% of subscribers and a good click-through rate is 5%, according to the experts at ARI.