Even with all of the new marketing technologies and tactics available to us, email lead generation remains the most effective for getting new customers. Research shows that email marketing ROI is $36 for every $1 spent, which is higher than any other marketing channel.

To get the most out of email lead generation, marketers must build an opt-in list of leads and prospects who anticipate communication. Your team then needs to nurture those relationships by sharing high-quality content.

In this post, we’ll share best practices for generating and closing leads with email marketing. Let’s jump in.

What is email lead generation?

Benefits of Email Lead Generation

Email Lead Generation Best Practices

Designing Email for Lead Generation

What is email lead generation?

Email lead generation is the process of collecting customer leads through an email opt-in form. The opt-in form gathers potential customers’ information, such as name and email address. That information is stored in an email marketing database.

Email marketing can generate leads and nurture relationships with potential customers by sending them content that will eventually convert them into paying customers.

Benefits of Email Lead Generation

Email is a direct channel that can assist with lead generation. A solid email marketing strategy is an effective way to target leads, communicate directly with potential customers, and ultimately build your customer base.

Even with all of the other marketing channels available, email engagement isn’t showing signs of slowing down anytime soon. In fact, 77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last year.

Not only were people more engaged with email, but email marketing had a major impact on many companies’ bottom lines. According to HubSpot research, 64% of B2B marketers say their email marketing strategy was effective for meeting business goals in 2021.

When done right, email marketing can help your business:

  • Grow brand awareness and trust.
  • Build relationships with potential customers.
  • Provide value and education to prospects.
  • Convert prospects into loyal customers.

Email Lead Generation Best Practices

To get the most out of your email opt-in strategy, here are the top lead generation best practices to follow.

1. Target the right customers.

With any lead generation campaign, you first need to determine who your customers are so you can tailor your marketing efforts to their needs.

When you talk about generating leads with email marketing, it’s important to define what a lead is for your business. Is a lead someone who fills out a form on your website? Someone who downloads your ebook? Or maybe someone who attends a company-sponsored webinar?

It’s also important to note how not to use email marketing — that includes sending unsolicited emails. The days of buying an email marketing list, loading it into your CRM, and sending unsolicited emails are over.

With legislation like CAN-SPAM and advances in email filtering, these antiquated tactics will most likely get your ISP blocked and prohibit you from sending emails at all.

Pro tip: Target your ideal customer and get them to opt into your email list by creating valuable content.

2. Create a valuable opt-in offer.

To encourage prospects to share their contact information with you in the first place, you need to offer something valuable in return. Consider what your potential customers are looking for when they first land on your site.

What are their pain points? What do they want to learn more about?

After you determine what your audience wants to know, put this information into a valuable piece of content that prospects receive once they opt-in to your email list.

Types of email opt-ins include:

  • E-books.
  • Research reports.
  • Webinar sign-ups.
  • Courses.

Pro tip: Experiment with different opt-ins to see what captures the most leads and refine your offering from there.

3. Create a simple opt-in form.

While it may be tempting to include several specific fields in your opt-in form, asking for too many details may decrease your sign-up conversions.

Customers don’t want to spend time filling out a long form in order to download an ebook or secure their spot in a webinar. Ask for too much and they may leave your page altogether.

This opt-in form from Productboard is simple and only asks the prospect to provide a few details, including their name, business email, job title, and company. The prospect can also select whether or not they want to opt into the email list or just receive the e-book download.

An opt-in form and landing page for Productboard’s ebook which is being used for email lead generation.Image Source

Pro tip: To increase your chances of leads completing the sign-up, your opt-in form should be simple and easy. Stick to asking for their name, email, and perhaps one more detail, like company or job title.

4. Optimize the landing page.

Whether you offer a piece of content as an email opt-in or simply have an email sign-up form, every lead generation campaign needs a landing page. The landing page acts as a central hub where prospects can learn about your offering, sign up for your email list, or find out more information about your company.

Landing pages are also essential for converting leads. For lead generation landing pages, the average conversion rate across industries is 4.02%. To make sure your landing page is optimized for conversions, each element of your landing page needs to speak to your target customer.

One of HubSpot’s own landing pages offers a great example. The headline clearly states the offering, while the CTA button uses strong messaging and has a clear next step. There’s even an image that lets people preview what they’re about to download.

A landing page for HubSpot’s Social Media Content Calendar Template which is used for email lead generation.Image source

From the messaging to the copy placement, and even the images you use — everything on your landing page should be created with your customer in mind.

Consider what the value of your offering is, whether that’s an e-book that will educate them or a template they can customize. Make sure that value is reflected throughout the page so customers are encouraged to opt in.

Pro tip: You can use Hubspot’s free landing page builder to create and test beautiful landing pages that generate leads.

5. Leverage lead scoring through email automation.

To ensure you’re collecting the right leads (the leads who are most likely going to convert into customers), use lead scoring.

Lead scoring allows you to sort through leads and categorize them based on the quality of the lead. The process involves analyzing customer actions and sentiment in order to capture higher-quality leads to send the right message at the right time.

And to help with the lead scoring process, email automation software is useful.

Marketing automation software allows marketers to build out email marketing “tracks” from within the software. A marketing track is a collection of emails delivered over time for a specific type of buyer, or a distinct area of interest.

For example, if you were a marketing manager at an IT consulting firm, you might build out marketing tracks for individuals like the technical buyer, the financial buyer, and the end user. Additionally, you might build out marketing tracks for topics like data security, scalable infrastructure, and system backup.

As the marketer, you're able to create and schedule these emails in advance through your automation software, allowing you to craft cohesive communication that will be highly valuable to your audience.

Then, once your marketing tracks have been developed, you can quickly and easily place people into these correspondence streams either manually or based on user behavior triggers.

Pro tip: This consistent and highly relevant email communication helps you build credibility and trust with leads. Additionally, it keeps your brand top-of-mind when decision-makers are ready to select a solution.

6. Be timely.

When is the best time to reach out to a lead? As soon as they download your e-book? After they attend your webinar?

Timeliness is a key factor in successful email marketing. It’s important to connect with a lead when your product is already top of mind for them.

You can use marketing automation software to set up automated emails that are triggered to send based on certain behaviors.

For example, you may send an automated email to customers who attended your webinar and include follow-up information about your product. Or you can set up a welcome email to be sent as soon as a customer signs up for your list.

Pro tip: The best results come when you reach out to inbound leads within minutes of their conversion action.

A preview of an email from MailerLite, which sends out a welcome email to new subscribers.Image Source

7. Personalize your emails.

Personalize your emails as much as possible.

Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. What’s more, 58% of people are more likely to convert when they receive content based on their previous behavior.

If you want to increase your chances of people not only opening your emails but clicking through the content, then add a personal touch that resonates with them.

Pro tip: If you use email automation software, you can segment your email list based on certain parameters such as location, activity, and behavior. By segmenting, you can send emails that are more personal to the receiver than something generic.

8. Share relevant content.

Once quality leads have opted into your email list, you want to build trust with those leads to further convince them that they made the right choice.

The one thing that will jeopardize the trust you’ve built? Sending emails that aren’t relevant to them.

Instead of sending an email simply for the sake of getting into your customer’s inbox, always share email content that is relevant, personal, and timely.

If they opted into your emails after attending a webinar, send a follow-up email with a free e-book that further expands on the topic. Or, if they downloaded a free template from your site, send a series of emails that answers relevant questions they may have about the template or its uses.

Pro tip: The key here is to share relevant, valuable content as you nurture the relationship rather than selling to them as soon as they opt in.

9. Conduct A/B testing.

To get the most out of your email lead generation efforts and refine your strategy, conduct A/B testing.

A/B testing, or split testing, is when you send different versions of an email to subscribers. This process allows you to experiment with various elements of your email to see what subscribers engage with most.

You can test every element of your emails, including

  • Subject lines.
  • Preview copy.
  • Images.
  • Design.
  • CTA buttons.

Pro tip: After a few rounds of A/B tests, you will have a better understanding of which subject lines get your subscribers to open their emails and what type of CTAs get them to click through.

10. Clean up your list regularly.

You’ll inevitably get people on your email list who aren’t active or engaged. Maybe they initially opted in to get your e-book but never had any interest in your product or service. Perhaps they found a solution somewhere else but never took the time to unsubscribe from your list.

No matter the reason, these unengaged subscribers will bring down the overall engagement rates of your email marketing efforts. To keep your list engaged and focused, it’s important to clean up your list regularly. This can be done through email scrubbing.

Email scrubbing is the process of removing subscribers who are inactive or unengaged from your list. By doing this, you’re ensuring that the only people on your list are those who want to receive your content. This ultimately helps increase your open rates and click-through rates.

Pro tip: Clean up your email list on a regular basis (every six months or so). You can also check in whenever you notice a steep decline in open rates or click-through rates or an increase in unsubscribes.

Designing Email For Lead Generation

When developing email marketing tracks, there are a few design and copywriting elements that marketers should be mindful of. Below are some of these tactics.

Subject Lines

The subject line is how leads determine if they are going to read your email. So spend time thinking about ways you can improve your subject line.

You can create subject lines that clearly address your leads' business problems or personalize subject lines. Consider making subject lines actionable like “attend our webinar” or “download our latest ebook.”


Leads and prospects are bombarded with massive amounts of emails every day. Not to mention, most people open emails on mobile. Keep your email concise, engaging, and easy to read on the go.


To quote a fellow inbound marketer Amanda Sibley, the brain comprehends images 60,000 times faster than text. By using images that reinforce your copy, you more quickly deliver your message to your intended audience.

Social Integration

As marketers, we want our readers to be sharing our content with their network. The best way to facilitate this is by incorporating social media sharing links into your emails.

Each recipient will have their own favorite social network. Give them options to share on Facebook, Twitter, or Linkedin.


To effectively move leads further into the sales funnel, you need to educate them on your product or service. The way to educate them is to have them consume your content — whether that content is ebooks, webinars, case studies, slideshows, or videos.

In your email, you need to effectively advertise your CTA or call-to-action. Use action words like attend, download, register, read, and try now. Give them a next step to take after reading your email, like registering for an upcoming webinar.

Making the Most of Email Marketing

Email marketing is still one of the most effective in moving leads efficiently through the sales funnel. If you manage a large database of leads at all different stages of the buying cycle, implement a marketing automation software application for your business. Then, build out marketing tracks and start engaging in relevant conversations at scale.

Finally, remember the basics of creating a great email: Add an engaging subject line, concise, and relevant images, integrated social links, and provide a next step for readers. Implement these tactics, and you will see your email lead engagement take off!


Originally published Feb 17, 2023 7:00:00 AM, updated January 24 2024


Email Marketing Lead Nurturing Marketing Automation