We’ve all gotten caught up with digital marketing’s shiny new toys—the latest Instagram Story update, multi-screen Live videos, and any branded filter in line with the current blockbuster movie.

It may seem counterintuitive to the continued evolution of digital media and the way it’s consumed, but when it comes to lead generation (and digital marketing for that matter), email remains to be the most cost-effective platform there is.

And with the breadth of communication channels providing access to an ocean of prospective leads, automating email campaigns have almost become a must for businesses. This article will be providing tips on how to use email automation to generate more leads–a key element in growing your business.

Why Do You Need Email Automation?

 As alluded to earlier, among all the tools and platforms available to marketers, email still promises the highest ROI.

According to Every Cloud Tech, email accounts for 87 percent of all corporate communications, while a survey by Marketing Sherpa found that 81 percent of marketers said email marketing was their top channel for generating leads.

But in this age of personalization and targeted messaging, automation has become a necessary tool for businesses.

Because consumers expect to be treated as individuals, in order to truly build lasting relationships with them, you need to lean towards one-to-one communication—something that’s virtually impossible to do manually.

Not only should your recipients get emails relevant to them just from the subject line alone, they must be able to immediately know how that particular email can be useful to them. As noted by Every Cloud Tech, if the value isn’t obvious right away, then you’ve failed to generate a potentially valuable lead.

How To Use Email Automation To Generate Leads

Here are 6 tips on how to use email automation to generate leads:

  1. Use email drip campaigns 

Drip campaigns are great at helping you send out personalized, relevant emails that go out based on specific set time periods and/or user actions.

As noted by Zapier, drip campaigns are about giving people the right information at the right time. A study has shown that relevant targeted emails are able to produce 18 times more revenue than the globally broadcasted ilk. As well, when people read your drip emails, there’s a 119 percent increase in click rates.

There are a number of uses for drip emails (nurturing leads, abandoned carts, renewals, among others), but for the purpose of generating leads, let’s stick to welcoming drip emails.

Image source: https://zapier.cachefly.net/storage/photos/6fb1bde64c369d316a38fb8cdf0a5ef8.png

Take this example from meditation app Headspace. In this welcoming email, recipients are immediately able to learn more about the app, its benefits, and what they can expect from the product.

And as you can see in the full email, there are a number of CTAs (more on that later), which, depending on how they act, will trigger yet another targeted drip email. This helps establish a relationship that could turn a prospective lead, into a qualified one.

  1. Understand who to speak to, and how you can help them

Having thousands of emails on your list can be a good thing. But if you don’t want to risk increasing your unsubscribe and spam rates, then you’d be wise to use email automation to help you narrow down your focus and send out targeted, personalized messaging.

Once you narrow down your list, you need to ensure that you understand your target audience. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself these questions:

  • What would be their pain points?
  • What do they value?
  • And how can you help address those?

Answering these questions can help you come up with a drip campaign that can help you generate and nurture valuable leads.

  1. Make your CTAs irresistible

Image source: https://www.campaignmonitor.com/assets/uploads/2016/03/iPhone-mazda-1.png

In sending automated emails designed to generate leads, you basically want to have three things: 1) A strong subject line that will get your email opened; 2) A solid offer that the recipient could find valuable; and 3) An enticing CTA that will get them to click.

Campaign Monitor provides a comprehensive list of tips to improve your CTAs, but some of the basics include:

  • Use of action-oriented text – Instead of yawn-inducing words like “submit,” or “click here,” use more compelling ones to draw readers into action like “RESERVE YOURS NOW” or “See in Action.”
  • Create urgency – It doesn’t seem like FOMO is going away anytime soon, so you should take advantage of it in your CTAs. Examples could be: “50% off today!” or “Get yours now (only 5 remaining).”
  • Keep it above the fold – It’s good to give recipients a number of CTAs to choose from, but make sure they don’t miss the most important one by keeping it above the fold. That is, near the top of the email, thereby increasing the scanability of your main message and value proposal.
  1. Think about the timing

While it’s automatic for businesses to send a welcome email when someone subscribes (and the eventual drip that follows), automation helps you send out more and more relevant emails with time.

Apart from relevance, the timing of your email is crucial. Not only do you want to have the email sitting in their inbox when their mostly likely to check their mail, you want the content to be as timely as possible.

Is there a product you offer that the season could call for (say Christmas or a birthday), or has it been a few weeks since they visited your site after subscribing?

Speaking of sales-oriented emails, according to DMN News, the average open rate for an e-commerce company is 16.89 percent. The report notes that, as was the case with e-commerce company Gazelle, Apple events generated email open rates at 37.3 percent. If this type of things apply to your business, make sure you keep them in consideration when sending out automated emails.

  1. Make your landing pages work with triggered emails

We’ve already touched upon triggered emails in our brief discussion of drip campaigns–that is, automated marketing messages based on prospects’ actions and behavior –and how triggered emails are inherently relevant and timely.

But when it comes to lead generation, you want the people who have shown the slightest amount of interest in your company to receive triggered emails that are aligned with your landing pages.

This consistency (whether in messaging, look, or feel) nurtures trust – ushering them down the funnel from being a lead, to a marketing qualified lead, to a sales qualified lead, and eventually, to a customer.

Here are some tips on how to align your emails with your landing pages:

  • Have a clear campaign objective
  • Design a consistent visual for both your email and landing pages
  • Use complementing copy for emails and landing pages
  1. Test, measure, rinse, lather, repeat

Of course, as with anything in digital marketing, testing and measuring your campaign is vital. You never want to run a strategy blindly without having the means (benchmarks, goals, and objectives) to measure its effectivity.

As noted by Every Could Tech, while it’s often not easy to make sense of all the available data and apply it to real world situations, a full-featured email automation platform should be able to help enormously.

And when it comes to testing, it applies to everything mentioned above. Didn’t get a favorable response from a certain email drip set? Tinker with it. Not getting the open rate benchmarks you set? Alter your audience targeting. Low click-through rates? Adjust your CTAs. If you do enough testing, you’re bound to come across something that works.


Email automation, as with marketing automation in general, is a process that requires constant refinement. And while automation can help your campaigns greatly, you must not overuse it and risk losing the human element of your brand.

See which aspects of your business could benefit from automation, and find out where email can fit to address those needs.