15 Best Email Lead Generation Techniques and Strategies

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Ready to start or improve your email lead generation strategy?

Email marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies around. You can use email for generating leads as well as bringing them through your marketing funnel towards closing the sale.

This list will go through the top 15 email lead generation techniques to help you bring in more customers.

First, let’s make sure we understand exactly what we mean by email lead generation.

What Is Email Lead Generation?

Email lead generation is collecting contact information from leads, or potential customers who are interested in your product or service. There are 2 types of email lead generation:

  • Inbound: Attracting leads to sign up for your email list on their own
  • Outbound: Sending cold emails to prospects in your target audience

Lead generation is not just about collecting leads but also nurturing them along the journey towards a purchase decision.

Why You Need an Email Lead Generation Strategy

Email marketing is a top lead generation channel and most likely always will be. Generating your leads through email is a good investment now and in the future for several reasons.

First, email automation lets you run your lead generation efforts on autopilot. You can set up an automated welcome email, a nurture sequence, abandoned cart and other automations that can then be reused for every new lead.

Second, customer targeting and personalization is much more easily done with email marketing campaigns than social media posts. Every customer or lead has an email address associated with them, so you can tell exactly which emails they’ve opened or links they’ve clicked on. This data helps you send the right marketing materials to customers at the right time.

Email marketing is also easy to measure. You can immediately tell whether an email campaign has been effective at engaging your audience through metrics like open rates, clickthrough rates, and conversion rates. Plus, split-testing lets you fine-tune and optimize your email marketing strategy over time.

Finally, you can qualify and score leads based on their email behavior and direct your sales and marketing efforts appropriately. This prevents time wasted on misdirected marketing.

Now let’s look at some specific email lead generation strategies you can use today!

Top Email Marketing Lead Generation Techniques

The strategies we go through below can apply to the emails you send as well as the optin forms your customers use to sign up. Let’s get started!

1. Personalization

Personalized emails and signup forms can boost your conversions significantly. Personalization includes adding the customer name or other information to your marketing content, sending marketing materials based on behavior like product views or link clicks, geotargeting, and personalized product recommendations. Check out these eCommerce personalization examples for inspiration.

personalized email lead generation

2. Eye-catching Subject Lines

The subject line and preview text of an email have to do a lot of work. It’s often your first and only chance to persuade subscribers to open your email instead of deleting it.

The same goes for the headlines on your optin forms. Make sure to give readers a clear idea of why they should sign up or open your email.

To help you out, we’ve gathered lists of the best sales email subject lines, abandoned cart email subject lines, and over 100 email subject lines for any use.

3. Scannable Emails

This may sound obvious, but your emails need to be readable! And not just technically readable, but easy to look through quickly.

Most customers are in a hurry and won’t take the time to read a long block of text or wait for dozens of images to load. Plus, many people are reading from mobile devices, so email isn’t really the place for ornate designs.

Choose readable fonts and use formatting like bold, underline, or color to draw the eye to the most important information. You can use emojis for accents as long as you don’t overdo it. And always remember to include a clear call to action (CTA) in every email. Most of the time, you probably only want one CTA to avoid confusing subscribers.

4. Strong Call to Action (CTA)

Speaking of CTAs, you can boost your email lead generation simply by strengthening your call to action.

Use active, benefit-driven text:

  • “Start Sewing Today!” instead of “Subscribe”
  • “Write Better Now” instead of “Sign Up”
  • “Get Your Free Guide” instead of “Download”

You can also experiment with using CTAs written from your subscriber’s point of view, such as, “Yes, send me my free gift!” instead of “Join now.”

Keep your CTA short and consider using the urgency of limited time, quantity, or opportunity to drive more conversions.

5. Content Upgrades & Gated Content

Did you know you can turn your most valuable content into a lead magnet?

Content marketing is a great way to generate email leads, and you don’t even have to create new content every time!

A content upgrade is something extra that subscribers get in exchange for signing up with their email, such as a checklist that corresponds with a blog post.

Gated content is only accessible after visitors enter their contact info. For example, part of an article may be hidden until the reader signs up with their email address.

6. Automated Campaigns

Email automation lets you generate new leads around the clock, while you’re on vacation, or doing other things you need to be doing. There are many different automated emails you can send for lead generation:

  • Welcome emails when new leads join your list
  • Cart abandonment emails when they add items to the cart but don’t purchase
  • Webinar registration emails to add the webinar to their calendar and prepare mentally
  • Sales follow-up emails to make sure they’re happy with their purchase, offer to troubleshoot or process returns if needed, and ask for reviews and referrals

If this sounds complicated, don’t worry! There are plenty of email marketing automation tools you can use to make your life easier.

7. Social Media Outreach

Even though social media marketing has gotten more competitive over the years, people are still using social platforms to feel connected and find information. You can use this for lead generation and building brand awareness without spending tons of money on ads.

Start by adding an email signup link to your social media profiles. You can promote your content upgrades and lead magnets in your posts, then direct your audience to that signup link.

On your website, add social share buttons to your content so readers can share to their networks and bring in traffic for you.

While you can arguably generate leads on any social network, pay attention to where you audience likes to hang out and get their information. For example, LinkedIn is a great platform for B2B lead gen, while Instagram is probably a better bet for B2C businesses.

Learn more about how to increase sales with social media.

8. Valuable Content

The beauty of email lead generation is that you can nurture leads over time. In fact, you shouldn’t immediately blast new subscribers with sales pitches. Instead, send content in the first few emails that helps to build trust. Once you’ve helped them solve a smaller problem, then you can offer the chance to become paying customers. Take a look at these masterful content marketing examples if you need some ideas.

9. Giveaways

Giveaways are the perfect lead generation strategy because everyone enjoys winning. Simply set up a form where participants can sign up with their email address, then pick a winner when the contest ends. Or, pick a winner every month from your current subscribers. You can also give entries for sharing the giveaway, following your social media profiles, commenting on a blog post, and other forms of engagement with your content. RafflePress makes it easy for WordPress users to run lead generating giveaways.

10. Referrals

Another email lead generation strategy is to start a referral program. This is when existing customers who have experience with your product can earn discounts or gifts for referring their friends to your brand. Referrals tend to be better qualified leads, since most customers will only refer to their contacts that they think are a good fit. You’ll probably have an easier time nurturing and converting those leads because the referring customer has already vouched for your brand.

11. Lead Scoring

Lead scoring means ranking your leads based on how likely they are to convert. A brand new subscriber may have a lower lead score than someone who’s been getting your emails for a few months, though this isn’t always the case. Regardless of where they start, you ideally want each lead score to go up over time as they progress through your sales funnel.

Lead scores are calculated based on demographic, psychographic, or firmographic data, traffic source, and engagement metrics such as click and open rates.

13. Custom Forms

Most email signup forms just have fields for a name and email address, but you can gather more than just contact info!

You can add radio buttons, checkboxes, text areas, number fields, lists, and many other custom fields to your lead generation forms.

Custom lead generation forms are a good way to learn about what individual customers are interested in, as well as demographic and other information that can help you send more personalized information either automatically or from your sales team.

Plus, those who take the time to fill out a slightly longer form will also tend to be higher quality leads. That tells you they weren’t just looking for a freebie but are actually interested in what you have to say.

12. Split Testing

Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is the process of testing different variations of your marketing emails and signup forms to see what performs better. For example, you might change an image to see which gets more clicks:

You can split test anything: headlines, subject lines, images, CTA buttons, or anything else you can think of. To see what a difference it can make, take a look at how EczemaCompany.com increased their conversions 158% with split testing.

14. 2-Step Optins

2-step optins are signup forms that first present visitors with a multiple choice question before showing the email signup.

This may seem like an unnecessary extra step, but it actually primes visitors to subscribe with their emails. If they click Yes, they’re more likely to follow through the process they’ve started and give you their email address than if you simply ask for an email address right away.

In addition to 2-step optins, OptinMonster can also launch a signup form from any link or button on your website.

15. Exit-Intent Popups

Finally, our favorite lead generation strategy is the exit-intent popup.

Visitors are about to leave your site anyway, so why not make one last bid to catch their attention?

There are many different kinds of exit-intent popups you can add:

  • Coupon codes
  • Free shipping offers
  • Countdown timers
  • Product recommendations
  • Content upgrades
  • and so much more!

Check out our extensive list of exit intent popup examples for more ideas.

Best Email Lead Generation Software

Before we wrap up, we wanted to share our favorite email lead generation tools that you can use to carry out the strategies in this article.


First, there’s OptinMonster, the best email lead generation tool for business websites in any industry.

You can create beautiful lead generation forms without any coding or design know-how since OptinMonster comes with dozens of professionally-designed templates and a drag-and-drop builder to customize or create your own.

templates from optinmonster

OptinMonster also makes it easy to personalize your lead generation forms, split test your campaigns, build custom forms, and do many other lead generation techniques from our list above.

Geotargeting contest to boost participants

Your lead generation forms will integrate with practically any email service provider or CRM software on the market, making it easy to add OptinMonster to your existing marketing system or start your email list from scratch.

Get Started With OptinMonster Today!

BONUS: Done-For-You Campaign Setup ($297 value) Our conversion experts will design 1 free campaign for you to get maximum results – absolutely FREE! Click here to get started →


RafflePress is an easy-to-use WordPress plugin that lets you run lead-generating giveaways in WordPress.

RafflePress is easy to use, has a wide variety of giveaway templates, has viral sharing features, and can be used to boost your social media following and email list alike.

Read our full RafflePress review here.

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is an email marketing software you can use to keep your list of email leads that you collect with OptinMonster or another lead generation solution.

If you’re just starting out with email lead generation and don’t have your own website yet, you can just sign up for Constant Contact because it lets you build landing pages for collecting email addresses that connect directly to your email list.

We think you’ll eventually want your own website and a more powerful lead gen tool like OptinMonster but Constant Contact is a fine place to start.

For more information, check out our complete Constant Contact review.

Brevo (formerly Sendinblue)

brevo homepage

Like Constant Contact, Brevo (formerly Sendinblue) is an email marketing tool, but it also has SMS marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) features.

It’s truly a one-stop shop for all your lead generation needs. You can collect email and SMS leads, send manual and automated marketing messages, and manage your sales pipeline all in one place.

Read our Brevo review to see if it’s right for you.

Email Lead Generation Made Easy

Hopefully this guide to email lead generation gave you some ideas to try. To summarize, here are the best email lead generation techniques:

  1. Personalize your email content and optin forms
  2. Write catchy subject lines and headlines
  3. Make your emails easy to read
  4. Include a strong call to action
  5. Create content upgrades to grow your email list
  6. Automate campaigns to reach your customers whenever they’re ready
  7. Promote your email list and content upgrades on social media
  8. Deliver valuable content
  9. Run giveaways
  10. Start a referral program
  11. Use lead scoring to focus your marketing efforts
  12. Collect more detailed information with custom forms
  13. Split test everything to find the optimal copy, design, and CTA
  14. Prime visitors to subscribe with 2-step optins
  15. Grab customers’ attention with exit-intent popups

If you found this article helpful, don’t forget to explore these 8 Product Recommendation Email Examples to Drive Sales.

OptinMonster makes it easy to use many of these techniques on your website. Try out OptinMonster risk-free today!

Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

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