As a tech company, how you market is essential to success. You can have the best solution or product out there, but if you fail to effectively position and promote it \u2014 and guide your prospects to \u201cyes\u201d \u2014 you are destined to struggle to win new business. Your prospects are often tech-savvy themselves and do a lot of research before making a decision. Make one bad impression, one misstep in your digital marketing efforts, and it could cost big bucks in the long run.\nHere are four of the worst practices I\u2019ve seen in the world of tech marketing \u2014 and the best practices that should replace them.\n1. Forgetting the funnel.\nI can\u2019t tell you how many emails I\u2019ve gotten from companies I\u2019ve never heard of, offering me an appointment to discuss a service I\u2019ve never even considered.\nIt\u2019s about as close as an email can get to an awkward cocktail party conversation.\nCompany: \u201cYou\u2019re that customer who knows all about us, has a problem my software solves and is ready to buy, right?\u201d\nMe: \u201cWho are you?\u201d\nLook \u2014 the cold sell is never a good bet. A better approach is to meet your customers where they are, using what we marketers call the \u201cConversion Funnel.\u201d\nAt the top of the funnel, prospects are looking for content to help them understand the problem on a surface level (Think: \u201cWhat is big data and how do I leverage it?\u201d) Once they have built some trust with your company, you might offer a white paper presenting a general solution \u2014 with a subtle plug for your services. And, finally, for your hot prospects at the bottom of the funnel, you\u2019ll want to serve up a persuasive case study and a clear call to action.\nBottom line: the buyer\u2019s journey follows a natural course. There are no shortcuts, and there are no detours. The best you can do is stay visible, stay relevant and nurture your prospects every step of the way.\n2. Never getting past the gatekeeper.\nI once worked with a tech exec who was insistent that the best way to get to busy institutional decision makers was with an oversized direct mail postcard. Now, don\u2019t get me wrong, direct mail can be effective for the right audience under the right circumstances. But, realistically, if you were to do a mailer, about how many do you think would actually make it onto your prospects\u2019 desks?\nI agreed to send the mailer, but only if I could run a simultaneous, job-title-targeted LinkedIn campaign to hit our prospects\u2019 inboxes directly.\nResponses from the postcard? Zero. Qualified leads via LinkedIn? Sixteen.\nMoral of the story: don\u2019t be afraid to test new technologies to reach your audience. Out-of-the-box digital marketing can only further support your brand as a bold technology innovator.\n3. Using shady email practices.\nAnother time, I was talking to someone at a networking event who was asking me about blasting an email out using a list of 7,000 names that had been collecting dust. I told him that rather than risk, at best, a staggering number of bounces, and at worst, being flagged as a spammer, he should run the list through a third-party email validation service.\nHe took my advice and, at $0.01 an email address, it cost him just $70.00 to realize that 5,000 contacts were no longer valid. Once his list was clean, he sent out the email and saw a 40 percent open rate.\nIt\u2019s considered best practices to clean your email marketing list with each send, making it easy to opt out, auto-retire dead email addresses, etc. But it\u2019s also important to do a qualitative scrub at least every few months to confirm you aren\u2019t emailing competitors or other non-prospects. Use your email service provider or another third-party tool, or \u2014 gasp! \u2014 do it manually if you have to. Anything to ensure you aren\u2019t wasting resources contacting the wrong people.\nFinally, I beg you: give your recipients an easy out with a clear and easy unsubscribe option. There is nothing worse than having to bend over backwards just to let someone know you don\u2019t want to hear from them.\n4. Not optimizing for mobile.\nIt pains me to even have to list this, but believe it or not, this is still an issue \u2014 even among tech companies.\nI recently did a Google search on my iPhone, leading me to the website of a company selling network infrastructure. I clicked on the link and waited for the site to load. And waited. In 10 seconds flat, a bad impression had been born. And I\u2019m not the only one \u2014 60 percent of users won\u2019t recommend companies with poor mobile site experiences.\nWhen your top prospects and key decision makers include busy executives, your site\u2019s ability to adapt to the device that\u2019s accessing it is essential. There is no excuse for not having a fully responsive site that offers optimized mobile browsing, rapid load time and intuitive interactivity. If your prospects struggle to read the landing page about your latest innovations, chances are they won\u2019t see them as so cutting-edge.\nTake a look at your website analytics. Compare load times and bounce rates for desktop versus mobile. Do everything you can to ensure that, no matter the device, your website is representing your business the way it should.\nMost tech companies spend years designing the technologies that fuel their innovations. But, remember, R&D isn\u2019t confined to the workroom. By investing time and resources into your marketing program, you can showcase your company\u2019s ingenuity, industry leadership and ability to meet customer needs long before the point of purchase.