9 Email Lead Generation Strategies That Hook Customers

Email isn’t dead - far from it. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to not only generate leads for your business, but turn them into customers over time.

According to OptinMonster’s extensive study of email marketing, 61% of consumers still prefer to be contacted by brands through email. Compare this to social media: constant competition with paid ads, and no guarantee that people actually see your message.

As for what this means for your lead generation? If you aren’t implementing email lead generation best practices, you’re leaving customers on the table. Today we cover three tricks for getting more email subscribers, and more importantly, 9 best practices for turning your email lead generation into a steady stream of customers.

How to convert a web visitor into an email lead

The results of email marketing only come after you’ve converted somebody into a lead and are able to nurture them. That’s why it’s essential to perfect the process of converting website visitors into email leads. This comes down to three main things:

Have great content that people want to consume

Content is how you attract people to your website. Great content, according to Ahrefs, should be useful, in-depth and have insights from an expert. Let’s take a look at what this means in practice:

  • Useful: people want content that is easy to act on and actually solves their problems.
  • In-depth: your content should be more detailed than what already exists. Content marketing isn’t worth much if it blends into everything else that’s already out there.
  • Have expert insight: people want to learn from experts in their field. Insider knowledge not only convinces more people to consume your content, but positions your company as a trustworthy authority on the topic.

Provide some sort of value to subscribers

It’s not enough to simply ask people to sign up for your email list. It’s no longer the early 2000s: people expect value up front. There are tons of businesses in your niche that are willing to try a little harder in catering to new email subscribers.

cartoon of fish swimming to magnet

When creating your sign up forms, ask yourself: what can people expect to receive as your subscriber? Better yet, what is something you can offer immediately to sweeten the deal in signing up? These are called lead magnet templates and can be anything from checklists to free e-books.

At Userlike, for example, one of the topics we write about is WhatsApp for business. In our WhatsApp articles, we give readers the option to download a free, comprehensive whitepaper on the topic in exchange for their email address.

Make it easy for people to join your email list

Every step that a person needs to take to sign up for your list decreases the chance that they actually do. Here are a few tactics you can use to make signing up as easy as possible:

  • Implement live chat. This tool makes it easy to collect sign ups before the chat begins or send lead magnets to your site visitors in real time. Plus, personal conversations reveal the problems your potential leads face and how you can help them, which feeds directly into the type of content and lead magnets you create.
  • Set up a chatbot. Chatbots are a quick, low contact barrier method for engaging with your site visitors. When a customer lands on your website, they want something from you. Chatbots can proactively approach them, send lead magnets and collect their email in the process. Learn more about how chatbots make lead generation easier in our post.
  • Embed clever sign up forms. Try using well-timed pop-ups, an in-chat form or quizzes that ask for the visitor’s email in exchange for their result. For more quick win ideas, check out our post on optimizing your website for lead generation, or get started with Sumo, one of our favorite email capture tools.

Email marketing, when done right, can build relationships with your subscribers, resolve their problems and turn an email list into a money making machine.

Screenshot of email sign-up form
Career platform The Muse empowers visitors to sign up by positioning it as a career tip and being transparent about what you’ll receive.

Email marketing has also been modernized to integrate well with tools like customer messaging from Userlike and a CRM, like Lime’s. Plus, with an ROI of $36 for every one dollar you spend, you’re losing money if you don’t implement email lead generation.

You just have to make sure you do it right.

9 best practices for excellent email lead generation

  1. Welcome people as soon as they sign up for your email list
  2. Use effective subject lines
  3. Tag contacts to send them targeted emails
  4. Use the right kinds of automations
  5. Give your email subscribers benefits that nobody else receives
  6. Send invites to industry-specific webinars
  7. Send a weekly newsletter
  8. Send polls
  9. Offer a quicker way for people to contact you

Welcome people as soon as they sign up for your email list

Assuming you followed our advice of providing value to your email list, it’s likely you will automatically send the lead magnet you promised — but you don’t have to stop there. The content of your initial email is a great opportunity to get your relationship started on the right foot.

Here are some things you might consider for your first emails:

  • Your origin story. People want to know who is writing to them, as email marketing platform Klaviyo points out.
  • A collection of your best content. What are your best-performing articles? New subscribers will probably find them valuable as well.
  • Discounts on your products. A “one time offer” may entice somebody to buy immediately.
screenshot of Titus coupon sent to a subscriber
Skate shop (and Userlike customer ) Titus offers you five Euros off your first purchase in their welcome email.

Use effective subject lines

One of the first steps in getting people to actually open your emails is the subject line. Fail here, and with lower open rates, your email lead generation will underperform. Here are a few things to keep in mind when crafting your headlines:

  • Keep it short. Anything over 40 characters (about six to seven words) won’t fit.
  • Make an enticing promise. After all, people want your email to provide something useful. Make it obvious what they’re getting at first glance, and make it good.
  • Use a little bit of humor. Make your subscribers smile and you instantly stand out from the rest of the emails in their inbox. Just check out Kim Krause Schwalm’s subject line below.
screenshot of an amusing email subject

For a master class in writing engaging headlines that get people excited to open your emails, check out this article by CoSchedule. In it they share 73 tips for writing headlines that capture a reader’s attention.

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Tag contacts to send them targeted emails

The best kind of email lead generation focuses on relationships. But how exactly do you build them? If consistent, valuable emails are one part of the process, relevancy to your list is the other. As much as possible, you want your subscribers to open your emails and think: “Wow, this feels like it was written specifically to me!”

While this kind of targeting sounds difficult, tagging is how you make it possible. Tags are specific information you add to new subscribers (“wants to lose weight,” “learning Spanish,” “likes Death Cab For Cutie” - looking at you, Spotify ) to make organizing subscribers into different groups easier.

Image showing how to add a tag in Lime
Check out a tool like Lime if you want a CRM that makes this tagging easy.

Use the right kinds of automations

Emailing your list “whenever you feel like it” is a strategy doomed to fail. You will inevitably end up sending less emails than you want to, and might even neglect your list completely. In fact, emails are usually quite important, but hardly ever urgent. This means you are likely to prioritize other tasks that are more time sensitive (talking to clients, taking part in meetings, collaborating on content).

Matrix of email importance
Soumil Rao explains different marketing activities and where they fall in each category.

That’s why automated email sequences are so effective: they put relationship building and selling on autopilot. It doesn’t matter when your lead signs up for your list, if you are sick, or if you are focusing on more urgent tasks at your business. Email automations will still go out.

Of course, setting up these automations (much easier when you have started with tags from the previous tip) takes some work. Once you do, however, you have people constantly receiving emails that build a connection over time.

Pro tip: The most important automations are your welcome sequence and your cart abandonment sequence. Set these up first to start building your contact list.

Give your email subscribers benefits that nobody else receives

Being on your email list should bring advantages (remember, value first!). This creates a feeling of exclusivity and builds a connection like few other platforms can.

Screenshot of an email calling its subscribers superfans and one percenters
Copywriter Robert Allen goes a step further by giving even better deals to his most active readers.

What exactly you give your subscribers will depend on your business, of course. The benefit can include access to exclusive content that nobody else receives. Like the Robert Allen example, it can also include discounts on your products.

Send invites to industry-specific webinars

Subscribers who sign up for and attend your webinar automatically become qualified leads. Webinars are also a great chance to get to know your customers on a more personal level. That’s why they can be a great addition to your email lead generation strategy.

Plus, because they provide flexible, industry-specific content from an expert, on-demand webinars are also great lead magnets. Check out more webinar benefits in Tajana Spanic’s LinkedIn article.

To get the best results possible, make sure you start sending emails at least two weeks ahead of time that cover what a subscriber can expect to learn about in the webinar. For example, a short bulleted list of the main discussion topics plus a promised on-demand webinar link for those who can’t attend a live session.

Screenshot of Asana's webinar email ad
Asana kept their webinar invitation short and sweet with three intriguing discussion topics.

While there is no hard and fast rule for the number of emails you send, it’s important to create a great webinar invitation email as well as a few “reminder” emails.

You can also include some sort of bonus for signing up through your email, such as a link to content that is usually behind a paywall. This will not only increase the conversion rate of sign ups, but gives your subscribers the feeling that they are getting preferential treatment.

Send a weekly newsletter to your email subscribers

Your email list isn’t full of digital avatars without feelings - your subscribers are people. They don’t want to read an aggressive sales pitch every email. Effective email lead generation takes the time to actually connect with your subscribers, and a consistent newsletter is one of the best ways to do that.

Screenshot of an email series from James Clear

What you talk about in your newsletter is up to you. Like James Clear’s “3-2-1 Newsletter,” it could be a roundup of ideas. It could also be a collection of all the content you have published that week.

A great benefit of this style newsletter is that you can drive constant traffic to each piece of content you create ( join Medium’s newsletter for a great example in action). Whatever you use it for, a newsletter is a great way to build a much more intimate connection with your email leads.

Send polls to your email list

Polls are great for product and service feedback. By asking your audience what they think, you may get insights into how you can improve your offerings that you might not otherwise think of.

It’s best practice to make polls quick and easy to fill out. Otherwise you risk people not completing them. Be sure to specify how long it will take (“Give us your feedback, it only takes a few minutes.”) As for how often you should send these polls, there’s no specific rule. You want to give people the chance to express themselves, but you also don’t want to bog them down.

More generally, sending polls (and actually listening to the feedback that you get) shows that you care about your audience’s opinion. This builds trust and appreciation among your subscribers, which has a positive effect throughout your email lead generation.

Offer a quicker way for people to contact you

Email marketing builds long term relationships with your leads. It’s a great way to provide consistent value over time, and as we’ve seen, has one of the highest ROI’s of any lead generation platform.

But sometimes your leads need answers fast. And when they do, a tool like live chat is the perfect option. While there are a number of live chat benefits, live chat benefits, one of the biggest is the speed and ease with which your website visitors can talk to you. After all, website chat is the only channel that is both on-site and real time.

Plus, there’s no reason email and live chat have to be completely separate. If you want these channels to work together, it’s a great strategy to mention your contact channels in your emails. For example, direct links to your website chat, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc. makes it easy for your subscribers to get quicker answers.

In addition, video calls, such as Userlike’s, makes it easy to escalate from a faceless email to a call with an actual person. This feature is great for when you have a complicated issue that simply can’t be resolved through text.

The optimal tool to use in your email lead generation strategy

Userlike lets you generate leads naturally from chat conversations, no matter if they happen on your website, or a messenger like WhatsApp or Telegram. Our product allows you to proactively approach your customers and offer immediate assistance to prevent them from abandoning your site.

Website chat is also a greater value than channels like phone, and has customer satisfaction rates of over 90%. For Userlike, this is because we offer an all-in-one product that is based on a “messenger hub” concept. This means that with just the click of a button, you can connect with your audience on your website and on all popular messaging platforms, such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Telegram. This makes your company more approachable and your email lead generation efforts quicker and more efficient.

infographic of messaging support in the adoption curve, a major customer service trend
Collect your site visitor’s email address before the start of the chat. Remember to be transparent about what it’ll be used for in your introduction.

Simply put, customer messaging is fast and easy to use — plus it pairs well with other communication channels, such as email, for well-rounded customer service. Want to generate more email leads for your company in the next five minutes?

Sign up for a free Userlike trial.