Social media is great for audience engagement, performance is good for generating brand awareness and influencer marketing might work if you want to establish some credibility. But email has proven to be the most effective tool when it comes to the actual business of generating leads for your business.

Having an active and engaged list of email subscribers is an incredibly valuable asset. Once you’ve gained your readers’ trust, you can have a conversation with them, gather their opinions, continuously get readers on your new content and sell your products and services. That’s why the potential of email marketing is huge. It can take ages to gather such a list. But it doesn’t have to.

That brings us to the question, ‘What are the main benefits of email marketing for lead generation?’

Email marketing for lead generation offers several key benefits. It helps in building a targeted audience, nurturing relationships through personalized content, and guiding leads through the sales funnel. It's cost-effective, provides measurable results, and allows for segmentation and automation, enhancing engagement. Overall, email marketing is a powerful tool for generating and converting leads effectively.

What is An Email Lead?

When you get an email address of a person via a subscription/opt-in form it's called an email lead. If you were filled in your email address, along with any other information for a free PDF, report, or free workshop, you were an email lead for the business you interacted with.

An email lead is more valuable than a social media follower because now you have their undivided attention when you send them an email and permission to be in their inbox which builds trust with the brand.

Why are Email Lead Generation Strategies Critical for Businesses?

There would be a lot of people who would give their email addresses for a freebie but not all would be your potential customers. That's why you need a strategy rather than the 'spray and pray' technique of growing your email list.

Email lead generation strategies will help you

  • Reach your target audience and get their information
  • Build a relationship with your subscribers and convert them into customers
  • Increase your brand awareness

Here are 9 strategies to boost your email marketing lead generation. Some of these email lead generation strategies are aimed at people who are at the beginning of their email marketing lead generation efforts. Other strategies are useful for managing and optimizing a large email list.

1. Create Content Upgrades and Gated Content

Offering content upgrades is one of the most effective ways for email marketing lead generation. It’s a simple way of offering extra valuable content to your readers in a non-intrusive way in exchange for subscribing to your email list.

Content upgrades can take many forms. Perhaps the most popular type of content upgrades are free handbook PDFs, which would be sent to the subscriber’s email. For example, a blog post about the basics of LinkedIn ads could feature a 20-page LinkedIn Ads Handbook PDF as a content upgrade.

Content upgrades example
Source: audio content upgrade

There are tons of other types of content upgrades you could offer to your readers, for example:

  • A checklist
  • A data-backed industry-specific report
  • An in-depth full guide
  • A list of resources
  • A case study

All of these usually come in the form of PDFs.

If you’re teaching a specific method to your readers and you want to encourage your readers to take action, your content upgrade could be an excel worksheet or a template. These make it really easy for the reader to start thinking in terms of their goals and actually do their homework. You can also recommend personalized content with the help of a quiz maker that answers users’ most pressing concerns in the form of an engaging quiz.

Content upgrades usually have a longer format and therefore they offer deeper and more valuable insights and actionable tips for your readers. That’s why people love them and easily give out their emails in exchange for it. That’s why they’re such an effective strategy for email marketing lead generation.

2. Host Industry-Specific Webinars

Another type of email marketing lead generation method, which deserves extra emphasis is hosting niche-specific webinars. Webinars are especially effective because they usually teach a new skill or share important insights in a specific industry.

That’s also the reason why webinars attract highly targeted leads. Your webinar attendee has to be particularly interested in the subject to give out their email, show up at a specific time and attend a 1-hour webinar. This investment proves that they’re qualified leads.

Furthermore, webinars are also an excellent way to turn those leads into customers. If the webinar host is an expert in their field, they’re able to establish authority and trust among the audience. The attendees are far more likely to buy something from a person, who they trust.

industry specific webinar example
Source: live webinar in progress

The live element of a webinar enables you to connect with the audience on a deeper level. By showing your face, sharing your knowledge for free and answering their specific questions creates this connection.

To further leverage webinars for email marketing lead generation, create a post-webinar email follow-up sequence. Most professional webinar platforms have built-in email follow-up and segmentation features. To maximize your conversions, include these elements in your webinar follow-up email:

  • The webinar recording
  • The webinar materials and a short summary
  • A clear call-to-action

3. Spark Up Partnerships and Collaborations

Speaking of webinars, you don’t always have to host your own webinars to generate leads. You could also appear as a guest or a co-host on a webinar hosted by another brand. It works the same way with podcasts and writing guest post articles.

By offering extra value on a webinar or a branded podcast, you’re able to tap into new audiences and sometimes thousands of new viewers and listeners. There could be dozens of new potential customers among those new audiences.

An important aspect of any media or event partnership is cross-collaboration. Once the webinar, podcast or article is published, make sure you and your partner promote it to their audiences in their most important channels. That’s where you can plug your call-to-action for new audiences.

There’s a caveat, though. Try to have your guest appearance for a brand that’s closely related to your, but not a direct competitor. Attempts to cross-promote for a direct competitor can get ugly, so try to avoid that. It’s always a good idea to agree on promotional channels and perhaps even the copy before making your appearance.

Partnerships can go a long way, so don’t be discouraged if you’re not reaping massive rewards right away. Generating email leads through your own website takes time. It might take even more time through your partners’ websites. But don’t give up! It’s always better to have someone else recommend your products or services instead of you tooting your own horn.

4. Utilize your Homepage to Capture Emails

One of the easiest ways to boost your email marketing lead generation is adding a couple of email opt-in plug-ins on your website. Converting visitors on your website to email leads is probably the most straight-forward way of email leads generation. Optimizing your homepage can work wonders for your lead generation efforts.

One of the most obvious ways is including a newsletter sign-up in the footer of your website. That way the newsletter sign-up option is shown on every page of your website. And, it also functions as a call-to-action at the end of every blog post and page of your site.

The newsletter CTA to join at the end of a blog post.

Keep your opt-in forms short and sweet. Short forms convert better and therefore will capture a lot more emails. Asking for just their name and email is enough.

Another effective way for email marketing lead generation is using exit intent pop-ups. Yes, pop-ups are annoying for most people. But have you ever wondered why are they still in existence if they’re so annoying? Because they work. analyzed over 1.7 billion pop-ups  and found that the average pop-up conversion rate is 3.09%.

However, if you’re able to offer a special discount or a unique deal in a pop-up just when your visitor is about to leave, you could hit as high as 9.3% conversion rate on your pop-ups.

5. Leverage Your Social Media Presence for Email Marketing Lead Generation

Social media could be a smooth bridge to get your followers to your website. So, the first and easiest step would be to properly set up your company Facebook profile and include a call-to-action, like “Sign up” or “Subscribe”.

An effective strategy is being active on relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups, answering people’s questions and helping them. Whenever someone is experiencing some type of issue that you’re knowledgeable about, offer them your help by giving 3-4 sentence answers. You could extend your suggestion by referring to one of your blog posts that touches on a similar topic.

If your target audience is rather found on Instagram, then put your money on that channel. However, there are no groups on Instagram, so it’s important to invest in getting followers. By being active on relevant social media groups, you’re laying the foundation for transparent and trustworthy communication.

6. Offer Referral Bonuses and Incentives

Luckily, your email marketing lead generation efforts don’t have to rely on just yourself. Smart marketers have created attractive incentives and referral programs with rewards.

This is best demonstrated with SaaS products or apps, which have an invite-based rewards system. The user would get a small reward if they invite another user to sign up for the trial. A user who signs up for a trial could also be considered as an email lead. They’re just a bit more invested already.

Example of a referral program that incentivizes both parties

The best referral programs are the ones, which offer rewards for the inviter and the invitee. If you incentivize inviting people and signing up, you’re effectively rewarding both parties. For example, Uber offers $10 for both the referrer and the new user. Another example would be Airbnb, where the referral host would receive $75 in credit. Referral programs have a multiplier effect and can set your email marketing lead generation campaigns on a trajectory of exponential growth.

Airbnb Referral program

7. Use Lead Scoring for Email Marketing Lead Generation

Lead scoring is the process of assigning “points” to each lead that you generate for your business. You can set up lead scoring for tons of different actions and activities, which your visitors take.

First, it’s important to understand your visitor intent and which actions constitute “high intent” in terms of converting to a sale. For example, reading a blog post on “How to create automated email campaigns” could be a signal that your visitor is interested in email automation software. If your company is selling such software, this visitor action could be worth, say 25 points. If that particular visitor reaches 100 points, you could trigger an outreach action for that visitor.

These points could be assigned to action across different channels and platforms. For example, email engagement and social media interactions.

8.Boost Your Open Rates with Attractive Subject Lines

An email list is a living asset, which needs to be nurtured. Without engaging with your email list, its value is slowly starting to degrade. Once you’ve accumulated a large email list, you have to keep your readers engaged. An excellent way to do that is by sending out a weekly newsletter.

To keep your readers subscribed to your email list, you have to frequently keep offering valuable content and insights. And once in a while, you can reap the rewards by promoting your products or services in one of your emails.

To keep your readers engaged, you first need them to open your emails in the first place. Your email marketing lead generation efforts will all go down the drain if your emails are not even getting opened by your readers. That’s why an attractive email subject line is crucially important.

 Sumo’s email subject lines with highest open rates

Read more about how to write a killer subject line, which guarantees your emails will have sky high open rates. To further optimize your subject lines, try to A/B test and tweak them for best results.

9. Encourage Taking Action with an Intriguing Call-to-Action

A call-to-action in email marketing is a button or a hyperlinked text, which directs the reader to your website or encourages them to make a purchase. The point of a call-to-action is to drive readers to take action. Essentially, a call-to-action is something that distinguishes a good email from a bad one.

Start out by thinking “What do I want the reader to do?”. Craft your messaging and call-to-action accordingly. Here are some examples of a good call-to-action texts:

  • Curious? Read more
  • Read the full story
  • Watch now
  • Save me a spot
  • Start your free trial
  • Complete our 5-minute survey
  • Yes! I want one
  • Buy now. Pay later

Having a high converting call-to-action is where you’ll start seeing the benefits of your email marketing lead generation strategies. Fortunately, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, because a lot of email marketing templates already feature a call-to-action button.

However, keep in mind, your readers are unique. So, what works for someone else, doesn’t necessarily work for your readers. That’s why it’s important to A/B test your call-to-action texts for maximum results.

Key Takeaways to Boost Your Email Marketing Lead Generation

Having an active and engaged list of email subscribers is a valuable business asset. There are multiple strategies you could use for email marketing lead generation. The easy-wins are creating an email newsletter opt-in for your website. Exit intent pop-ups with special offers have also proven to be effective.

Another effective strategy is offering content upgrades, like PDF handbooks or templates to download after they’ve signed up with their email. Webinar signups are another email marketing lead generation strategy worth mentioning. Co-hosting webinars or appearing as a guest could unlock new audiences and perhaps even new markets. Once your email list is over a hundred subscribers, you should keep them engaged. Keep putting out weekly newsletters that give value. Don’t reinvent the wheel and use well-converting email templates. Optimize your subject lines and call to actions for highest conversion. Growing your mailing list and optimizing your open rates and click-through rates is an ongoing process and can never be fully “done”.

Make Your Email Marketing Profitable


1) What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of attracting prospects and converting them into leads who are interested in your products or services. It’s the set of actions that turn an organic visitor into someone who might become your customer.

2) Can you share some strategies for me to boost my email marketing lead generation?

Some of the best strategies to boost your email marketing lead generation are listed below:

  • Create content upgrades and gated content.
  • Host industry-specific webinars.
  • Spark up partnerships and collaborations.
  • Utilize your Homepage to Capture Emails.
  • Leverage your Social Media presence.
  • Offer referral bonuses and incentives.
  • Use lead scoring for email marketing lead generation.
  • Boost your open rates with attractive subject lines.
  • Encourage taking action with an intriguing CTA.

3) Can I leverage my social media presence for email marketing lead generation?

Yes, of course. You need to properly set up your company Facebook profile and include a call-to-action, like “Sign up” or “Subscribe”. Be active on relevant LinkedIn and Facebook groups, answering people’s questions and helping them. Invest in getting Instagram followers if your target audience is rather found on Instagram.

4) What is lead scoring for email marketing lead generation?

Lead scoring is the process of assigning “points” to each lead that you generate for your business. You can set up lead scoring for tons of different actions and activities, which your visitors take.