| May 8, 2024 | | 7 min read

10 Keys to Crack the Code to Email Lead Generation Success



With so many shiny, new digital marketing tools available, it’s easy to lose sight of the powerful, reliable techniques already at your fingertips, like email. When generating leads, few approaches come close to the return on investment (ROI) of email lead generation.

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Whether you’re interested in building a healthy lead pipeline for your agency or you’re tasked with lead generation for a client, mastering lead generation through email can be transformative. Even if you’re already having success with your email lead gen efforts, continuous optimization is key to making the strategy work long-term. Read on, you might find some tweaks and insights you can start using right away to take your results to the next level.

What is email lead generation?

Email lead generation refers to the process of acquiring prospects’ contact information, often through campaigns designed to encourage newsletter subscriptions.

Thanks to its healthy average ROI of 36%, email lead generation enables businesses to maintain a full lead pipeline in a cost-effective yet powerful way (Constant Contact). Unlike some other lead generation strategies, it’s just as accessible to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) as it is to their larger counterparts. This makes it an excellent service to offer for agencies serving local business clients.

In this blog, we’ll dig into the details of exactly why email lead generation should be on your radar and how it can benefit your business. We’ll also discuss 10 actionable tactics for more effective campaigns, along with some common challenges and mistakes to avoid regarding lead generation. 

Benefits of email lead generation

Email lead generation can positively impact many aspects of your business, without breaking the bank. If you’re spending effort and funds on other types of lead generation strategies with limited success, diverting some of those resources to email can be transformative. Here’s why it needs to be on your radar:

  • Boost your sales and revenue: Since the cost per lead for this strategy is relatively low, it’s possible to scale your efforts, develop a more robust pipeline, and nurture more clients successfully to conversion. This results in more sales and a better bottom line.
  • Find clients in your niche: Whatever your marketing agency niche is, email is well-suited to effective targeting of specific demographics, industries, and preferences. With this strategy, you can focus your efforts on the right audience and find more of those well-aligned dream clients.
  • Supercharge agency networking and build stronger client relationships: Email remains an excellent platform for ongoing communication and relationship-building with potential customers. Through regular newsletters, updates, and personalized messages, you can foster trust and credibility in your agency’s brand, and position yourself as an excellent partner both for clients and for potential agency partners.
  • Comparatively budget-friendly: You don’t need a huge upfront investment to launch an effective automated lead generation campaign. Given its low cost to run and high potential returns, it beats many other lead generation ideas by a mile.

Challenges of email lead generation

The healthy ROI and plethora of useful tools that put much of email lead generation on autopilot make it seem virtually foolproof. However, some things can get in the way of your next lead-gen campaign being a roaring success. Familiarizing yourself with the common challenges agencies encounter will help you avoid the usual problems so you can focus on finding—and converting—those leads.

Low open rates and click-through rates (CTRs): No matter who your audience is, one thing is guaranteed: they’re busy. Engaging recipients and motivating them to take action is key, and simply landing in their inbox won’t cut it. You need to write subject lines that are compelling enough to open, and consistently provide quality content that encourages readers to click through to find out more. 

Compliance with data protection regulations: As regulators around the world become more focused on privacy, adhering to data regulations is a must. Markets should be aware of the relevant regulations in their audience’s regions. In the US and many other countries, this includes using consent-based opt-ins and providing clear, visible unsubscribe buttons in every email.

Competition in the inbox: The average professional receives 121 emails per day (121). That’s a lot of competition in your customer’s inbox. It’s more important than ever to stand out using strategies like personalization and email segmentation. This also underscores the importance of consistently delivering high-quality content to avoid having users unsubscribe. 

Keeping email lists clean and up-to-date: Most email marketing platform pricing structures are based on the size of your email list. Regularly removing inactive or disengaged subscribers is a good way to control costs and maintain high deliverability and engagement rates, which help keep your emails out of the junk mail folder.

10 tactics for email lead generation

1. Create compelling opt-in forms on your website

Getting prospects on your landing page is just the first hurdle. To earn your lead's contact details, be sure to focus on designing attractive, unmissable opt-in forms. Reiterate the value proposition of subscribing—keep it brief—and place the opt-in prominently above the fold. You can always add additional places to opt in further down the page but don’t assume users will scroll to the bottom. Keep the form fields concise and relevant to encourage sign-ups.

2. Offer valuable content in exchange for email addresses

Inbound lead generation works best when you adopt an attitude of providing value to prospects before they become paying customers. This helps them see how great your company is and makes it easier for them to decide to buy. Valuable content can take the form of white papers, webinar access, marketing guides, reports—anything that helps to address your audience’s interests and pain points.

3. Segment your email list for targeted campaigns

Part of any successful email lead generation process is audience segmentation. This refers to the process of dividing your email list into smaller groups based on lead source, demographics, age of lead, or any other characteristic that can impact the ideal content for the audience segment. Then, switch up your email campaigns to more narrowly address the needs and interests of each segment. This means every recipient has a more relevant and positive experience when they open an email from your business. 

4. Personalize your emails based on user behavior

Another key to successful segmentation is personalization. Use an email marketing tool that provides data about how subscribers interact with your emails and website. Then, use that data to inform your segmentation choices and provide the best possible content. This technique shouldn’t end when the lead becomes a paying customer: continue using personalization and segmentation for active customers to keep them engaged.

5. A/B test subject lines and email content

Always test different subject lines, email layouts, and content variations to discover what produces the highest open rates and CTRs. Just make sure to test a single element at a time so you can accurately attribute the impact of each change. This constant refinement will help you get the most bang for your buck for each email you send.

6. Use social proof and testimonials in your emails

We’re most motivated to buy when we see others just like us benefiting from a product or service. Testimonials, reviews, user-generated content (UTC), and other forms of social proof are effective lead generation ideas because they feel more authentic than, say, a polished ad.

7. Implement a referral program to grow your email list

Personal recommendations are powerful motivators. One of the ways to find more digital marketing clients is to engage your existing clients to spread the word. Offering incentives like discounts on future services enables you to show appreciation to customers while getting the word out to more prospects.

8. Use automation for lead nurturing

Put lead nurturing on autopilot by using automated email flows. These can be set up to respond to subscriber actions or triggers, enabling you to engage prospects when they’re hot. Your lead nurturing flows should focus on sharing information about your products and services with prospects and addressing their common questions or objections.

9. Optimize emails for mobile devices

People still tend to design from a desktop-first mindset, but many people open emails on their mobile devices. Make sure to use templates that easily adapt to smaller screen sizes, and think about the user experience of engaging with your email on a phone.

10. Monitor and analyze email performance metrics for continuous improvement

One of the most important principles in digital marketing is that everything should be tracked and analyzed. The same holds for marketing agency lead generation. Set up analytics tools to track the open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates for your campaigns, and keep an eye on these metrics as you A/B test and try different strategies.

If you want more insights on turning your email campaigns into lead nurturing machines, this video is worth a watch: 


Things to avoid in email lead generation

Whatever your approach to email lead generation in digital marketing is, stay away from these no-nos:

  • Buying email lists: This will hurt your agency’s brand reputation and can lead to spam complaints, which can severely damage your email deliverability.
  • Sending too many emails: You don’t want to overwhelm and annoy your audience. Send emails regularly, but leave a healthy interval between each one.
  • Ignoring unsubscribe requests: This doesn’t just damage your audience’s trust, it can also open your agency up to legal action.
  • Using misleading subject lines: Always respect your audience. You’re not trying to trick them into buying from you, so don’t trick them with a misleading subject line.
  • Neglecting to test emails before sending: There’s nothing more frustrating than spotting an error after an email is sent. Test emails and get some extra eyes on them before they go live.

About the Author

Lawrence Dy is the SEO Strategy Manager at Vendasta. His career spans from starting as a Jr. Copywriter in the automotive industry to becoming a Senior Editorial Content Manager in various digital marketing niches. Outside of work, Lawrence moonlights as a music producer/beatmaker and spends time with friends and family.

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