Saying that businesses need customers is like saying people need air — not exactly breaking news. But where do these customers come from? Used to be, people would just walk through the front door of the new store in town, but that was probably half a century ago. With all the competition and almost everything happening online, it’s critical to discover people you can sell to, aka leads.

If you want your small business to thrive and grow, you’ll need a steady stream of new customers. That means generating leads. Lead generation means finding ways to get the people visiting your website to provide their contact info when signing up for your newsletter.

So far, so good — or not. Why should anyone volunteer their contact info? It’s not like anybody actually enjoys their mailbox crammed full of marketing emails. So, how should you go about convincing them to sign up? That’s what this article is about, of course! Actually, there is a short answer: you offer them something valuable, something they’ll want.

Here I’ll be more practical, revealing techniques you can use today to get better leads and conversions in 2022. First, though, let’s go over some fundamental rules and definitions, which will help us put things in perspective, so stick around even if you already know your stuff.


What is Lead Generation in Email Marketing?

Email marketing continues to be a significant source of customer conversion for businesses of all sizes. That goes double when it comes to small businesses. Considering how email marketing is both effective and affordable, it’s the small business owner’s first line of offence in any effort at lead generation and growth.


10 Email Marketing Lead Generation Techniques

Lead Scoring

True, any lead is a potential customer, even if only in the long run. However, for small businesses, every lead also represents a cost, the time and resources that go toward nurturing them via email and offers. So, instead of giving the same amount of attention to everyone, it may be a good idea to rank your leads. Lead scoring is the method marketing people usually use to do just that — you assign each lead a number between 1 and 100 based on how likely they are to buy from you. The higher their score, the higher the chances of converting them to customers. Of course, lead scoring is never easy. You’ll need some experience to know what signs you should look for the most. There are, however, a few metrics and factors that you can use to score leads even without much prior experience. They are:

  • Job title
  • Industry
  • Web site visits
  • Email engagement

From the top, these facts can help you determine if the lead has the required purchase power, if they’re in your target niche if they’ve actually been reading your content online, and if they open and read through your newsletters and emails. There are many other factors, some more important than others — but they’re not exactly straightforward. That’s why the best solution to lead scoring is to use a CRM with email marketing tools like RunSensible. With RunSensible, you can integrate all the info you have on your prospects and combine it with what you get from your lead magnet to get the ultimate lead score for each potential buyer.

Strong Subject Lines

Your email marketing campaigns will be only as effective as the emails your leads will open and read. So, even if you generate dozens of leads per day, you won’t see much of a change unless you can get them interested enough to open those emails. The only thing the recipients will see of your emails in their inbox is the subject line. That’s your time to shine. Pick a clever, intriguing subject line that brings together the recipient’s interests, your solution, and maybe some recent piece of news. There are a lot of resources you can use to learn how to write the ultimate subject line. Journalists have been doing the same for decades, choosing headlines for their articles.

Apparently, the one way to really up the chances of your email being opened is to use sensational language. You know those clickbait headlines you can find in some ads online? Something like “What You’ll See Here Has SHOCKED All Readers!” I’m sure it sounds familiar. Now, for your email marketing subject line, try the same attitude — just bring it down a notch. You don’t want to promise something you can’t deliver on. If your newsletter promises “3 Reasons Why You’re Actually in The Shining,” you better deliver those three reasons. So, avoid making claims that are obviously not possible. Some content writers prefer to use a trick where the subject or headline seems to say one thing, but it turns out to mean something entirely different once you read the article. It’s up to correct you to decide how much you want to go down that road. Personally, I recommend sticking closer to “creative and true” than “irresistible and false.” It may be harder to pull off, but it will give you much better conversion rates.

Gated Content

I know that I’ve given out my email address to get this or that piece of content more than a dozen times in the last six months. I just had to get my hands on this or that nifty ebook or spreadsheet or template — you know how it is. When you offer something valuable to your visitors, they will trade for it. This lead magnet is a vital part of any email marketing effort and you can’t go wrong spending time creating the right one.

One of the more common and popular types of lead magnets is the so-called gated content. That’s usually an ebook or paper that only becomes accessible for download (or reading) after the user enters their contact info. So, if you write a great blog post and get a lot of traffic because of it, you should consider expanding it into a gated ebook.

To make the most out of your gated content, you should also put some work into the “gate” itself. What info will you ask your visitor to provide? How much of it will be optional? Designing the right form is critical to getting more high-quality leads. Basically, you have to settle with a design that’s not too much of a hassle. For example, you should probably avoid asking visitors to answer a dozen questions before giving them the download link.

Automate the Whole Thing

Manual email marketing and lead generation is the quickest way to get nowhere. If you’re going to use email marketing to grow your business and increase profits, you may as well use its full potential. The right email marketing tool will handle the subscription process automatically and right from the start. With RunSensible, our SaaS CRM and marketing tool, you can streamline everything from lead scoring to lead nurture, transactional email triggers, and bulk emailing.

Content Upgrades

Writing a more extended version of your blog posts, or even an entirely new article, isn’t the only way you can leverage content to generate more leads. A trending method for supercharging your email marketing lead generation is content upgrades. But what are they?

A content upgrade is a type of additional content that gives users an extra value on top of an article or blog post they can read freely. Two of the more common examples of content upgrades are spreadsheets and templates. Suppose you’ve been reading a blog post on how to write a good email. Naturally, you’d appreciate it if they had templates that could make things faster and easier — all the more so if it’s free.

Clear CTAs

Don’t hesitate to tell your visitors what you want them to do — better yet, guide them toward it. In email marketing lead generation, that means getting visitors to provide their email addresses as soon as possible. So, make sure all the Call-to-Actions on your landing page are asking for the same thing (in this case, signing up for your newsletter). There are some game-changing best practices you can follow to create more compelling CTAs. We can’t go over all of them now, but here are a few pointers:

Be Direct

CTAs are meant to be short and to the point, helping the user know the next step in case they are interested. It’s not rude to be curt and direct.

Mind the Verbs

How you write each CTA is probably the most crucial factor. Try to start your Call-to-Actions with a verb that encourages an action: “Claim your Reward” or “Schedule a Meeting.”

Don’t Get too Creative

Creativity and difference are, of course, the touchstones of marketing. However, they are not always a good idea, at least not too much of them. A CTA is supposed to get people to act, not make them think and hesitate about what things mean.

Readable, Sleek Emails

No, this is more than just about the usual obsession with recent design trends. True, modernism has been popular for years now, but that’s only part of the issue. To make the most of your email marketing lead generation, your emails need to be readable. So, instead of cramming each marketing email full of content and links, try putting information and ease-of-use first.

A readable email is one with just a couple of fonts and a clean, sparse design — plus, the text in your email should be well-spaced and well-organized. Avoid using blocks of text that turn most people away. Using a few bullet points and subheadings can go a long way to break the monotony of your email. Also, remember that keeping things minimal is not just about presentation. A good, clean email is also about short sentences, simple words, and getting what you mean across.

Combine with your Social Media

Just because you’ve decided to go with email marketing, it doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t use other channels to boost your lead generation. There are different ways to use your social media to grow your email list and generate more leads. For example, it makes sense to start a series of daily posts promoting your gated content or free download (your lead magnet) on your favorite platforms. Make sure to also include a compelling CTA that will actually get your followers to sign up for your newsletter.

You can also use some smartly chosen social media ads (like Facebook ads) and boost your marketing in the right direction to get things going. Of course, new and gated content are not the only types you can promote on your social media profiles. Remember how we talked about content upgrades above? Your social media profile is an ideal method for letting people know about the upgraded content.

A/B Testing

Feedback is every business owner’s best friend — or something just as vital. You can never be absolutely positive that your lead magnet can’t be done better, that your lead generation funnel is as perfect as it looks. That’s why A/B testing (aka “split testing”) is so critical to any marketing effort, including email marketing lead generation.

The usual way to use A/B testing in email marketing lead generation is in the emailing phase. You split your emails into two types, for example, and use a different CTA in each. You then watch your marketing tool analytics to see which one has done a better job. When it comes to sending emails, you should try split testing your subject line, images, layout, and even sender name. Of course, there is also the CTA split testing I just mentioned, which is an absolute must in all your marketing projects.

Usually, that’s when most marketing blogs stop — with A/B testing as just a tool for improving your email. But, in fact, A/B testing can improve your lead generation as well. Try using split testing on your lead magnet landing, changing the page copy or layout, or even different value items.

Naturally, to run and keep track of any decent A/B testing is going to take a lot of time and effort, not to mention coordination. The solution? Getting the right tools for the job. RunSensible’s email marketing suite has automated A/B testing capabilities that take your email marketing to the next level. You’ll just need to plug in the different versions and watch our handy split testing feature at work.

Encourage Referrals

“Tell your friends!” That’s the age-old idea of referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. It’s been a practical and affordable strategy in business growth for a long time now, and it continues to be a popular method today. So, how do referrals relate to email marketing lead generation? The answer is quite simple — get your existing subscribers to invite their friends to sign up for your email list. But how?

In the classic approach, you build up enough customer loyalty to create organic referrals. However, lead generation referrals are about incentivizing current subscribers to add their friends to your email nurture list. The reward you use to encourage referrals should be attractive enough to persuade your subscribers. Usually, that means a discount or voucher on their next purchase. Of course, you also have to make sure the reward is not too good — you don’t want your business to suffer just to grow your email list.

But will the referrals actually work? Usually, a referral is about getting a friend to buy something. That can be a big challenge. With lead generation, however, things are much easier — the friends referred are only going to subscribe to a newsletter. There is no risk, which means less resistance and more emails on your list.

Think in Terms of Value

I’m sure you’re tired of hearing this by now, but quality does beat quantity every time, especially when it comes to content. If you’re going for gated content (see the Gated Content section above), you want it to be the best, most valuable content on that subject. If you’re designing an email for your newsletter, you have to pick the most powerful pieces of content. It may seem like it’s too obvious to be called a technique, but when you look at the many small business owners doing the exact opposite, you’ll realize how vital a value-oriented outlook can be.


The Ultimate Strategy for Lead Generation and Customer Conversion

So, what is the ultimate email marketing lead generation technique? We discussed 10 of the most vital strategies to gain more customers using lead generation. Are some of those more vital than others? How can you decide which to do first?

Well, when you’re just beginning to use email marketing and lead generation, you may want to focus on the first few items on our list, including lead scoring and gated content. There is also email marketing automation, which is a must in all email marketing stages. RunSensible, for example, brings all the tools you need to automate and manage your lead generation. With extra useful features like split-testing and intuitive reporting, RunSensible is a powerful CRM and marketing tool tailor-made for small businesses.

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