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Top 11 Tips for Email Lead Generation

I've been publishing Web Digest For Marketers for over 11 years now. Most of the advertisers in it expect to see qualified sales leads from the ads they run, and from the solo emails you sometimes receive. Below are my Top 11 Tips for generating sales leads with this most efficient medium we all can't live without, namely, email.

Top Tip #1:
Images Have Been Blocked

Remember, it's likely over 50% of your audience is looking at your newsletter, solo email or newsletter ad without seeing the images. This is because Outlook and other email readers now default to not pulling in the images, and few people are wonky enough to go in and change this setting.

If there is critical information in the graphics, it's a good idea to repeat it in the text.

Top Tip #2:
Remember the Preview Pane

You yourself may be reading this in the preview pane. Vast segments of the online population read entire emails in the preview pane without opening them up to full screen. This means you have to put the core value of your message and proposition in the first couple of inches of your email so as to induce readers to continue with you instead of deleting you and going on to the next email in their inbox.

Over the years I've run numerous test with multiple links in solo emails and found that the most popular links are the ones at the very top and at the bottom, usually.

Top Tip #3:
Keep the Message Focused

Do not try to get more than one offer or concept into a single ad or solo email. I'm sure there are exceptions to this rule, but my experience is the response rate suffers greatly because you're asking the reader to split his attention up instead of using your space and time to drive home a single-minded call to action.

Top Tip #4:
Loss-Leader White Papers & Webinars

The Internet is an information treasure trove. People typically turn to it to learn something they don't already know. You may have noticed that most of the ads and solo emails you get from me are offering white papers and Webinars. That's because people subscribed to this list to gather information about a very specific function, namely, Internet Marketing.

So, it stands to reason that readers of Web Digest For Marketers are attracted to PDFs and Webinars on that subject. Offering discounts on services and products doesn't work as well because these readers aren't in buy-mode, they're in information-gathering mode.

Now, this happens to be my experience with my audience. You know your mileage may vary, depending upon your target audience and the venue in which you advertise. But my point here is to examine closely the vehicle in which you advertise and what sort of offers are apt to meet with satisfying response rates. Think about the modality your audience is in when they see your message, be it a newsletter, a solo email, an advertisement within an email newsletter, a website advertising banner, etc.

Top Tip #5:
Avoid Landing Page Disconnect

I advise against making one landing page that fits all outbound messages. The first job of a landing page is to confirm that the readers of your outbound message have indeed come to the right place.

Some of my advertisers have noticed very substantial increases in conversion rates when they say right at the top of their landing page: "Welcome, Web Digest For Marketers Readers."

If you've advertised one white paper, but you have four others to offer, first pay off the one you originally heralded before you present the others. You may offer the other three white papers after the advertised white paper or on a subsequent screen, but do lead with the original offer.

Yes, some forms of email marketing "bury the lead or offer" and force you to read through hundreds or thousands of words of copy, and this can work. But you really need to know how to do this right. The delayed gratification offer better be so juicy as to keep visitors reading on and on before hitting pay dirt.

Top Tip #6:
Go Beyond Clickthroughs

As PPC (Pay-Per-Click) marketers know, some keyword phrases will draw more clickthroughs but fewer conversions, while other keyword phrases will draw fewer clicks but higher conversion rates. Similar realities are true in email marketing.

You can offer a shot at winning a tee shirt or a car. But if you're selling a sales automation system, how many of those people who clicked are really going to be qualified?

Top Tip #7:
Don't Hammer, But Don't Beat Around the Bush

I know of very few people who like to be bludgeoned with a sales pitch. That said, I'm also amazed at how many email messages and websites don't get around to asking for the sale, as if it's in bad taste or something.

Get to the point, when there is one to be made. People actually do like relevant pitches. The key word is "relevant". As the late great marketing legend Mac Ross said, "An irrelevant pitch is junk mail. A relevant pitch is a good deal."

Top Tip #8:
Email Yourself

I'm not kidding. When I was a copywriter on Madison Avenue, I pasted the spec ads right into the magazine or newspaper in which they were to run. My clients saw exactly how their ads stacked up against the adjacent editorial and competitive ads with that publication.

The exact same thing applies online. Take your creative and put it into the environment in which it will run. How does it look? Does it pop? Does it get lost? If you're scrolling and skimming as so many do, what would make you stop and read your ad or solo email? Some graphics or keywords that pop out at you?

If your offer doesn't pop out at you, it isn't going to do so for a perfect stranger whom you're trying to convert into a client. If it's a "blah-blah" ad, the only people who will notice are your competitors.

Top Tip #9:
Get Help From Your Competitors

Before you spend any money, before you budget any funds, see what your competitors are doing. What email channels are they employing? Solo emails? In-line ads within newsletters? Do they have their own newsletters? How do they get new subscribers?

Do your competitors run offers similar in nature month in and month out? If so, it's probably working for them, or else they'd do something different. Mind you, sometimes they're testing and don't know themselves if a given campaign is working, which is why you want to track them over months, not weeks.

Top Tip #10:
Make New Rules

It's all well and good to closely track and mimic you competitors (see Top Tip #9), but you don't want to do that exclusively or else you only follow in their footsteps. Look for venues where they are not. There may be a good reason why they're not there, or it may be an oversight, or a personal preference that causes them to overlook an opportunity rife with prospects.

Top Tip #11:
Vet Your Venue

Be careful where you allow your brand and offer to appear. Don't take a sales rep's word for anything. Get proof. Where do new subscribers come from? How many inbound links do they have to their website? What do testimonials say from previous and current advertisers? What's their Alexa rating?