You probably aren’t expecting someone from Constant Contact to say e-mail is dead.

Fair enough. And you are right: e-mail is definitely alive and well.

However, you might hear differing opinions on the subject depending on which small business owner you talk to. This is because there are different approaches on how to best use e-mail to reach customers and prospects. In many ways, e-mail is dead for a lot of small businesses–not because of the tool, but because of the business’s approach.

If your e-mail list isn’t growing, your unsubscribe rates are up and your open rates are down, you may want to rethink how to use e-mail more effectively to reach your target audience. So before you throw the baby out with the bathwater and dump e-mail marketing altogether, consider if you’re guilty of any of the following seven behaviors.

1. Buying lists with hundreds or thousands of “leads.

You call it lead generation; recipients call it spam. While some marketers would argue that you need to start with a massive list and wait for opt-outs or bounce-backs to get to the real leads, the reality is that this approach is detrimental to your reputation. It also puts you at risk of being blocked from prospects who could actually convert to customers.

2. Capturing contact information from website visitors and not asking permission to e-mail them. 

If you’ve set up a mechanism to capture the e-mail of a site visitor, don’t assume this is a green light to start sending. While they may have a passing–or even a fervent–interest in your business, without their permission to e-mail them your behavior may be very unwelcome.

3. Sending mass e-mails more than once a week.

There’s something to be said about absence making the heart grow fonder. What you want your e-mail to be is a pleasant yet expected surprise in the inbox, not the prompt for an eye roll and a subsequent delete.

To read the rest of these mistakes check out my latest contribution to to American Express’ OPEN Forum, “7 Biggest Mistakes in Email Marketing