Editor’s note: This post comes from our Constant Contact UK office. You can view all the posts from our UK team here. Or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

If you read my article about how virtual teams and tools can change your business for the better, you’ll already know that outsourcing and using online software like Constant Contact are brilliant ways to grow and increase profits.

However, despite being really easy to use, there are a few common mistakes that can undo the benefits of online tools:

1. Not using what you pay for

How often have you seen someone (maybe you!) sign up for a tool or service, and then fail to actually use it? I see this ALL the time, and it makes no sense. The thing about tools like Constant Contact and FreeAgent, or outsourcing through Elance, is that just signing up does not magically fix your problems or move you forward. You have to actually DO something with them.

Error avoidance tip:

When you sign up for a new virtual tool or service, start using it straight away – even if it’s just on a small test project or task. This will prevent you from getting stuck in limbo, and will get your virtual tools and resources working for you as quickly as possible.

2. Lack of monitoring

Once you’re up and running with your tools or outsourcers, it’s important that you check in to see that all is working as you’d hoped, so that you can make adjustments as necessary. If you just ‘set it and forget it’ all sorts of problems may occur.

Error avoidance tip:

Most virtual tools have in-built reporting, so use it. For example, with Constant Contact each email you send out has its own report, so you can see if your message is being opened, which links get the most clicks, as well as new subscribers/unsubsribes.

3. Flogging a dead horse

If you are monitoring the teams and tools that you’re using, you should know if they’re working for you or not. The job doesn’t stop there though, you need to look at the things that aren’t doing as well for you as you’d hoped, and decide if they need changing or if you should leave them to run as they are for a little longer.

Error avoidance tip:

As our CEO, Gail Goodman, likes to say ‘hope is not a strategy’. So stop hoping that things will improve if you ignore them, and start testing different ideas that could help. Testing isn’t complicated, it just means that you try something new, and then see if it works.