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What are email leads and how do you generate them?

By Stacy Kimbell

June 18, 2024

Email marketing allows businesses to grow. It remains the most powerful marketing channel, holding its top position despite the emergence of newer strategies like social media and influencer marketing.

To put that in perspective, consider this stat. Omnisend clients of all sizes earned a whopping $72 for every $1 spent on email marketing. To reap such a high email marketing revenue, you need a strong strategy and quality email leads. 

If email lead generation is your current business focus, this post is for you. We’ll discuss expert-recommended ways to generate high-quality leads. 

Let’s begin.

What are email leads?

Email leads (also known as email subscribers) are potential customers who have shown interest in your business’s offerings and have presented their email addresses for further communication. Nurturing these leads is key to growing your business.

A well-nurtured email lead generates sales and fosters long-term customer loyalty, ensuring a steady revenue stream. The more qualified email leads, the more opportunities there are to gain recurring customers.

What is email lead generation?

Email marketing relies on a database of email contacts interested in receiving your emails. Building this email list of potential customers is an important first step, and this is what email lead generation is all about. 

Businesses employ email lead generation practices to build their subscriber base and fuel their email marketing efforts. 

Here are some key benefits of effective email lead generation:

  • Grows your income: One of the most important benefits. The database of engaged audiences is a dream of every marketer. It allows you to generate money in a stable and cost-efficient way.
  • Builds relationships: Regular communication nurtures trust and loyalty with potential customers
  • Reduce marketing costs: Compared to other marketing channels, email marketing is relatively inexpensive

How to generate email marketing leads

Attracting quality leads requires a solid marketing strategy and an effective email lead generator. Your goal should be to capture email leads, nurture potential customers, and deliver value simultaneously. 

Here are some expert-recommended tips to get you started:

Attract leads with an effective content strategy

Develop a solid content strategy to acquire quality leads by creating valuable free content, known as lead magnets. These can include ebooks, whitepapers, checklists, and webinars, which consistently attract new email leads.

For example, if you run a gardening business, you can offer a free guide on gardening tips in exchange for a contact’s email address. Promote this gated content through your website, social media, and other channels to maximize reach.

Your audience will be eager to exchange their email address for exclusive, relevant content. 

Optimize signup forms and popups

A well-designed opt-in form can greatly increase your conversion rates. When designing signup forms for your website, pay attention to the following:

  • Clear design: Make sure the design is not cluttered with multiple details. Keep it minimalistic.
  • Timing: Depending on the proposition, consider exit-intent, or the signup form after three clicks on the website. You can also launch a few and test which works better.
  • Double opt-in: Use double opt-in to confirm interest and maintain list quality
  • Compelling CTA: Create a strong, persuasive call to action
  • Value offering: Offer incentives, such as discounts or gated content, for signups

Let’s consider this opt-in form by a furniture brand. With a simple and clean design, the signup form entices visitors to join the email list. To show appreciation to new subscribers, the brand offers a 10% discount on their first order.

Image via Pinterest

Create urgency with limited-time offers

Create a sense of FOMO by offering a deadline or limited opportunities for sales offers or giveaways. 

For example, you can add the words ‘Lasts until today’ when offering a discount or ‘Only 50 slots remaining’ for a free webinar. 

Optimize your landing page

Speaking of the landing page, it should be clear, visually appealing, and focused on a single goal: getting visitors to sign up. Remove distractions and keep the message as simple as possible. 

One extremely important thing is that the language of your ad banners and landing pages should match. Make sure the copy in the ad and the landing page are the same and as clear as possible.

Craft personalized email campaigns

Personalizing your email campaigns entails more than just addressing your subscribers by their first names; it also involves tailoring the content to their interests. Leave a lasting impression from your welcome email. 

Here’s an example: 

“Hey, Jane! 

We’re thrilled to have you. 

Here’s a guide to our bestsellers that you would love.” 

You can also offer helpful resources and links for the subscribers to learn more about your offerings.

This approach builds a strong connection and moves prospects forward in the sales funnel. 

Segment email lists for targeted campaigns

Failing to segment email lists can result in missed opportunities and disengaged subscribers. Consider segmenting based on demographics, purchasing behavior, engagement levels, and other criteria. 

For instance, an online clothing store can segment leads based on gender, past purchases, and browsing behavior. This approach can lead to:

  • Increased engagement: Content is more relevant to specific audiences
  • Higher conversion rates: Tailored messages resonate better with recipients
  • Improved customer retention: Subscribers feel understood and valued
  • Enhanced campaign performance: Marketing efforts are more efficient and effective

Integrating email with other marketing channels

Using multiple channels improves your email marketing lead generation efforts. It helps you reach a wider audience and potentially make more sales. 

Here are some ways to do this: 

  • Content marketing: Include signup forms in your blogs and social media posts
  • Online and offline events: Ask attendees to sign up for your email list to receive follow-up information
  • Referral programs: Encourage your existing subscribers to refer their friends for an incentive
  • Paid ads: Use online ads to drive traffic to your email signup page

A/B test for email optimization

To ensure the effectiveness of your forms, landing pages, and email campaigns, regularly conduct A/B tests. This involves creating two versions of a design or message that you test on a small portion of your audience to see which performs better.

Here are some of the ways to conduct A/B testing:

  • Subject lines: Test different structures of subject lines and compare their open rates
  • Send times: Send emails at various times to determine the optimal sending time
  • Email designs: Experiment with different design elements and compare the performance of a minimalistic vs. a complex design 
  • Call to action: Move away from the standard CTAs like ‘Sign up Now’ and experiment with more targeted ones
  • Tone and style: Compare casual messaging vs. formal tone

Email lead generation best practices

You need proven strategies to stand out and attract high-quality leads. Here are some best practices to help you succeed:

Maintain email list health

One of the biggest challenges in email lead generation is keeping your email list engaged and active. Regularly clean your email list to ensure your audience remains interested and responsive. Failure to do this can hinder your efforts and waste your resources. 

Some email marketing tools can help you clean your email list periodically. You can also monitor engagement metrics to determine which subscribers no longer open your emails. Duplicate emails should also be removed. 

A clean email list improves deliverability and several metrics, such as open rate, click-through rate, and conversion rate. 

More about healthy list maintenance read here.

Enhance email deliverability

Poor deliverability can harm your engagement and conversions. If your emails aren’t reaching the intended recipients, it’s essential to troubleshoot and address any issues promptly. 

Here are some key strategies to enhance email deliverability:

  • Use double opt-in: This verifies email addresses, thereby reducing bounce rates and ensuring subscribers are interested in receiving communication from you
  • Avoid spam traps: Regularly update your email list to remove any potential spam traps
  • Authenticate emails: Implement DKIM, SPF, and DMARC to enhance your email’s credibility
  • Maintain a good IP reputation: Avoid sending too many emails simultaneously, which can damage your IP reputation. To learn more about the warming up process and deliverability, you can ask customer support at your email service provider. Usually, they have beginner plans developed and can help you start on the right foot.

Craft compelling calls to action

Your CTA should be clear and direct. Use action-oriented words like “Download Now,” “Sign Up Today,” or “Get Your Free Guide.” Place it in a prominent spot and make sure it stands out by using contrasting colors and larger font sizes.

Take a look at how Impossibrew placed CTA buttons in their marketing email. The buttons are easy to spot and written in capital letters on black buttons that sharply contrast the cream-colored background.

Image via Really Good Emails

Tools for email lead generation

Using the right email lead generator tools can help you engage, nurture, and convert leads into customers more effectively. 

Here are four top tools for 2024:


Omnisend is an email marketing platform built specifically for ecommerce businesses. Its key benefit is an all-in-one solution combining email, SMS, push notifications, and more.

We recommend Omnisend because it has an extended collection of signup form designs. You can launch and use them out of the box. In addition, Omnisend offers multiple options for signup forms, including gamification options, multistep popups, teasers, traditional popups, etc.

Key features

  • Popups and forms for growing email lists
  • Drag-and-drop email builder
  • Access to 250+ email templates
  • Automated ecommerce workflows
  • Advanced contact segmentation
  • Send time optimization
  • Campaign performance and automation reports
  • Cart abandonment campaigns
  • Order notifications and updates

Omnisend offers a feature-rich free plan and award-winning customer support. Its paid plans, on the other hand, are strategically designed to cater to businesses of all sizes.



Mailchimp is a user-friendly email marketing tool that’s great for small businesses. It has an easy drag-and-drop email builder and modern templates. 

Key features

  • Signup forms and landing pages
  • Basic segmentation
  • Audience analytics dashboard
  • Basic autoresponders
  • Marketing automation
  • Ads integration
  • Contact management

Mailchimp offers affordable pricing, an easy-to-use interface, and all-in-one features. It’s a great email marketing tool for beginners just starting with list-building and lead nurturing campaigns.


Marketo offers sophisticated enterprise marketing automation software. It uses AI for lead scoring and account-based marketing. This scales well for large B2B companies with complex needs.

Key features

  • Lead management and nurturing
  • Dynamic email builder
  • Multi-channel campaigns
  • Sales insight integrations
  • Customizable engagement programs
  • CRM integration

Marketo integrates well with CRM systems and handles complex marketing tasks. It helps businesses execute precise lead generation and nurturing strategies with smart automation. However, its robust feature set comes at a higher price point.


  • Though a classic cornerstone of digital communication, email marketing still retains its effectiveness.
  • Email lead generation requires good content in exchange for customer information.
  • Signup forms on the website, paid ads, and invitations on social media – everything can work. Test what works best for you and double down the energy on that.
  • Keep your email list fresh and always up to date. Keeping emails of unengaged subscribers costs you extra money and hurts performance metrics.
Stacy Kimbell
Stacy Kimbell
Co-founder & Chief Editor
Stacy Kimbell has nine years of experience in email marketing. She's worked with different email platforms and created many successful email campaigns for online and offline, well-established as well as family businesses. Stacy is excited to share her expertise with readers.

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