Many marketers rely on email as one of their primary distribution channels. However, with so many businesses vying for attention in crowded inboxes, it can be challenging to make your message stand out.
Whether you've built your email list organically or you find the email somewhere on the web, the struggle remains the same: how do you optimize your efforts and convert more leads? You can be spammy and helpful in both email lead generation techniques.
In the article, we will discuss email campaigns that are targeted at prospects — people who don’t register on your platform or buy your product. We don’t cover onboarding or upselling mailings.
What are email leads?
Email leads are the email addresses of prospects interested in your email content and product. The main options to generate email leads are collecting contacts via opt-in forms, optimizing the current newsletter, and sending cold email campaigns to new prospects.
Where to find email lists for lead generation?
- Source 1. B2B databases
- Source 2. Lead magnets
- Source 3. Purchased email lists (a risky tactic)
Source 1. B2B databases
There are tools that legitimately amass emails from publicly available sources or generate them based on company email patterns. Besides, the software verifies the email list to avoid high bounce rate and spam traps.
It is a great option if you don’t have time or money to promote gated content and receive emails from interested users.
If you go with cold email marketing to generate leads, your lists should be very small and targeted. In this case, recipients don’t expect you will contact them. That’s why your message should be extremely relevant. B2B databases help to achieve it with filters.
GetProspect is one of them. You need to sign up for free and head to the Search section. Here you can create a targeted email list with 17+ filters, including the website technology they use, job title, company headcount, location, and LinkedIn profile keywords.
You can use the lead enrichment feature if you already have a list of names or companies you would like to work with.
Take a look at the short video below to learn how to use the database effectively:
The downside is that people aren’t always happy receiving unexpected emails. Though if you send it to their professional email address in an attempt to help, your lead-generation email campaigns are unlikely to get negative feedback or be marked as spam.
Source 2. Lead magnets
Lead magnet is the most common way of acquiring contacts for email marketing. You provide prospects with something of value in exchange for their email. Examples for B2B organizations:
Reports — industry research, typically with fresh data points
Guides — unique insights in a format larger than a blog post
Templates, checklists, cheat sheets, infographics
Free trial and demo
How you can distribute the opt-in form to find the email leads:
place on your website as a pop-up or banner, blog, and other content marketing efforts such as podcast, YouTube, Twitter, etc.
advertise on social media,
share in communities (including social media comments and groups) under relevant discussions,
guest on podcasts or YouTube shows where a host will mention the link
link in guest articles,
pitch the link to a well-known newsletter.
Important: People misspell and enter one-off email addresses to get your content. So we recommend verifying your email list before sending a campaign. You can check each email sales leads list separately or embed the email verification API on your website.
The pitfall: if the content is barely related to the problem you solve and your product, you will collect many low-qualified leads who are only interested in getting the freebie and barely care about your business. Even your perfect email sequence won't help in this case.
Source 3. Purchased email lists (a risky tactic)
Traditional lead lists for sale imply extensive databases of one and all. One who buys email sales leads wants to get as many emails as possible quickly.
Sending the same marketing email to everyone is an obsolete and dangerous strategy.
You can sort out the list into segments. The option is basically the same as filtering leads in a B2B database. The difference is that the list provider not necessarily guarantees the data is updated and emails are recently verified.
Bear in mind that by purchasing such lists, you won’t have exclusive rights to email marketing leads. Other list buyers will also send their campaigns to the same recipients. The prospects will be flooded with pitches. As a result, low open rates will drive up the cost per lead, even if your content is well-written.
How to generate email leads: advance your email campaign efforts
- Pillar 1. Humanize: stop sounding like a marketing email
- Pillar 2. Segment: personalization for small groups
- Pillar 3. Watch deliverability to reach more email leads
- Pillar 4. Brainstorm subject lines to capture the attention
- Pillar 5. Be an assistant in the email body and seller in signature
- Pillar 6. Make it clear what recipients should do next
- Pillar 7. Experiment with sending times
- Pillar 8. Balance frequency for getting email leads
Pillar 1. Humanize: stop sounding like a marketing email
One of the ways to make your email inspire trust is to show there are real humans behind the mass campaign. Here are some of the practical ways how to do it:
Be wary of marketing cliches. Research your inbox, and write out the phrases that make the emails feel like they are selling something. And don’t use them. Example messages: «we are the best option», «limited time offer».
Make your email leads laugh. Joking establishes a connection between the two. Prospects are likelier to engage with your message even if they know zero about your company.
Notice the elephant in the room. Cover any doubts readers may have related to the topic you talk about, your niche, company, job, etc. You should speak up if something affects a person's decision and no one is discussing it. A vivid example of the tactic is the Postmark article comparing alternatives.
Describe how you're feeling, such as being lonely while all colleagues at holiday, wired on too much coffee.
Share personal information. Example from SparkToro
Pillar 2. Segment: personalization for small groups
When sending a cold email lead marketing campaign, we recommend having narrower groups. They don’t expect your email, so it should be as targeted as possible. Examples of groups:
health tech startups raised a series B round
organizations that just hired CMO
businesses that are using a particular CRM
In email marketing campaigns, where recipients know your brand, you can have broader segments. For instance, based on:
Tip: be careful with overpersonalization. Don’t mention too personal nuance to avoid sounding creepy and frightening potential customers.
Pillar 3. Watch deliverability to reach more email leads
Email deliverability is the percentage of emails that reach the prospect’s main inbox. In degradation order, recipients are less likely to see emails when: they land in the Promotion or Social folder → Spam folder → the email is returned to your mailbox.
High deliverability doesn’t help with conversions directly. Here is how it influences: more people will open your email → read → click → buy.
Ways to improve and maintain good deliverability in lead generation email marketing:
Ensure that your email list is clean. In case of a cold email campaign, keep your email list in the verification tool as GetProspect, so invalid contacts will automatically be removed from your list. You can also use integrations and API to keep your emails valid in other databases. Also, set up your email tool to delete inactive accounts.
Use several accounts and domains. Allocate the email contacts across the accounts. For cold B2B email lead generation, there are stricter limits of up to 50-100 emails per day per account.
Make it easy to opt out. Prospects may block or mark your mass email as spam if they cannot find how to unsubscribe from your sequence.
Senders typically include a link that lets recipients unsubscribe. Alternatively, you can ask recipients to reply «Unsubscribe» to your message. Unsubscription responses will increase your reply rate while enhancing your email reputation.
An even better way is to give your email sales leads several unsubscribe options. For example, let them choose to receive emails of only certain types, reduce the number of emails they get, or offer temporary unsubscription.
Be careful with links, media, and attachments. Email providers consider heavy emails unreliable.
Choose the right software. Besides good reviews, pay attention to typical use cases of email software. Sending cold emails needs a more advanced deliverability setup. It will be unsafe to send direct emails from software for newsletters.
Pillar 4. Brainstorm subject lines to capture the attention
A subject line is your email face. People choose what they click on and explore further by subject line. Less frequently — by the brand name and email first lines. Check if your B2B lead generation email marketing follows these subject title practices:
Understand what your prospects care about. If you are in contact with customers and customer insights, you will know what can potentially hook your prospects.
Collect feedback from prospects and users. Or at least from colleagues.
Test the best options before a mass campaign. You'll be surprised by how elusive your opinion can be.
A subject should relate to an email body. Clickbait lead generation emails’ titles will boost opens rather than lead generation.
Keep the length under 40 characters. Long subject lines will be cut on mobile devices.
Here are some great examples that I (a content marketer) recently clicked on:
Middle of funnel campaign: the first emoji caught my attention.
Pillar 5. Be an assistant in the email body and a seller in signature
Your primary mission in any content (email including) is to help your audience. Take into account the buyer journey stage and support their success. Ideally, with your product :)Examples to cover in the lead generation emails’ body:
Describe a solution to a typical problem for their job in bullet-point format. It can be a feature launch, reused use case or case study, recent blog, or guide. You will link it so they can learn more.
Research fresh industry numbers and include your product data among them if possible.
Use your email signature as space to link your website, and mention your achievements and top clients.
Pillar 6. Make it clear what they should do next
Call-to-action is the part that motivates engagement → email marketing lead generation. Depending on an email goal, you can call your readers to… try your product, read or watch your content, register for an event, etc. To make recipients click:
Make CTA sound like an easy and fast process rather than cumbersome and long.
Clearly explain where they end up once click a button or link. «Check cold email examples» vs. «Open pandora's box».
Experiment with wording to catch attention in your email marketing B2B lead generation. Go beyond «request a demo», «try now».
Test what CTAs will get more clicks.
Pillar 7. Experiment with sending times
Consider your buyer persona's typical routine. If they work with a lot of communication, they are likely to get your email at any time of the day. In case they tend to spend hours in deep work, you will try hours before or after work.
Normally people check their emails in the morning. That’s why many researchers recommend sending lead generation email campaigns at 10 am, your reader’s time zone.
We advise against blindly adhering to the most popular email-sending times, as other marketers are also aware of this data. Consequently, recipients may receive numerous emails simultaneously. For instance, I received seven emails from seven different brands within a two-hour window, with some arriving nearly simultaneously, while none were received earlier in the day.
Some recipients may simply don’t see your emails in the pile of other newsletters. By experimenting with times + regularly sending in different times, you can uncover when most readers will see your message at the top of their inbox.
Pillar 8. Balance frequency for getting email leads
It's an obvious point, but more emails ≠ more leads. Even the opposite is true. People are likely to unsubscribe from a newsletter bombing them with (even helpful) emails. When you see many emails from the same brand, you, at some point, stop noticing them. It is comparable to banner blindness.
Tailor email marketing for lead generation frequency to your audience and product peculiarities. The most common frequency is weekly.
Some subscribers may appreciate getting emails several times a week, while others may prefer a biweekly or monthly newsletter. Identify if it is relevant and makes sense for your niche. You can also check the email engagement. For example, it might turn out that people engage with every second email, so you will cut the sending amount twofold.
Seasonal products and services change their email lead marketing frequency during the year. Organizations selling to technical audiences see it reasonable to send emails bi-monthly and pack the most value inside. This is due to the segment's sensitivity to spam.
Where do leads come from in email marketing?
Content link clicks. You provide links to blogs, guides, and templates on your website. People read the content, learn more about your solution, and can register/request a call later.
Website clicks. You refer to the main page or product pages in the email signature. They read your newsletter for a while, enjoyed it, and, at some point, were ready to consider your solution.
Replies to your messages. Recipients like your lead generation email example and what to know more, want to arrange a meeting with you.
Event registrations. You promote your event via a newsletter or cold email campaign. Recipients register and move down the funnel. Attendees learn more about your expertise and product during the event. They can then be interested in trying your product.
Use B2B databases to find leads for a cold email campaign.
Experiment with lead magnets to grow your newsletter subscribing.
Be really careful with finding leads by purchasing email lists.
To advance email campaign efforts: humanize your message, segment your email list, watch deliverability, brainstorm subject lines, be a friend in email body and seller in signature, clarify what they should do next, experiment with sending times, and balance frequency.