If you’ve ever deleted an email from an unknown vendor without opening it, you’re not alone 💯

Study shows that the average open rate for cold emails sits around 14-23%.

That can be pretty disheartening to the sales team, who have spent a lot of their time researching the prospects they are reaching out to. Or a lot of time crafting a message that will never be read.

However, there are ways to increase the chances that your cold email is not only opened but acted upon!

In general, the study shows that a good goal to aim for when sending out cold emails is a 30% open rate and a 50% email campaign rate (conversion).

But how do you achieve it? 🧐

The answer: Use content marketing automation techniques to turn cold outreach into warm prospects as a part of your user acquisition strategy.

Content marketing can help by familiarizing potential clients with your company before you reach out for a meeting.

But, there are a few best practices you need to know to be effective with this strategy.

In this blog, we’ll walk you through our top six guidelines you need to be using to warm up your sales leads.

But first, let’s do a quick introduction to email marketing:

What Is Content Marketing And How Can It Help with Email Lead Generation? 💁🏻‍♂️

Content marketing strategy is used by marketers and involves creating and sharing online content in videos, blogs, and social media posts.

The content created for content marketing purposes usually does not explicitly promote your brand but is intended to stimulate interest in your company.

For example, let’s say you own a car insurance business.

A good content marketing campaign might be centered on a series of blogs that educate users on caring for their vehicles during the different seasons.

Not only does this give the reader value (which creates trust in the brand), but it can also guide the reader toward the benefits of having car insurance.

The main goal of content marketing is to earn a reader’s trust by delivering helpful content that educates, informs, or helps the reader solve a problem. Its secondary goal, of course, is to generate qualified leads from gaining that reader's trust.

And trust is a huge factor in getting leads and improving customer loyalty.

In fact, 75% of global respondents in a recent survey said they would continue to buy from a brand they trust, even if another suddenly became more popular.

So, how can you effectively use content marketing for email lead generation? Here are our proven tips:

1. Know Your List 📝

The first step to successful lead capture through email starts with knowing exactly who you will be reaching out to.

If you don’t build a quality email list full of contacts you know would make good customers for your company, you’ll never find success in this strategy.

And not only should you know your list is full of great prospects, but you also need to know some important things about them.

To figure out what type of content to send that your prospects will find appealing, you need to understand factors like:

  • What are their pain points?
  • What value can you deliver to their business?
  • What hurdles would they need to overcome to work with you? (i.e., budget, approval from management, non-disclosures, etc.)
  • What’s important to them in choosing a vendor to work with, etc.

The more you know about your prospects, the better.

Try separating them into different lists based on different metrics such as industry, job title, or other important traits. Segmenting your lists as much as possible will help you immensely in our next step.

2. Personalize Your Message 🥰

Personalization is key for email lead generation. Experts have calculated the average person receives close to 121 emails every single day!

That bombardment can lead to serious email fatigue for prospects and a quick trip to the trash box for unsolicited emails.

But there is a way to combat this.

Sales professionals can personalize their outreach emails to stick out in a prospect’s inbox.

Normally, this involves giving away valuable content that helps your prospect solve a specific problem.

First, make it evident in the subject line what your email is going to be about. Then, craft the content of your email (or work with your digital marketing team to craft content) that does not focus on what your company does or sells if it's eCommerce, let's say, but how to solve a problem that your company knows a lot about.

Most importantly, (especially in the first few emails you send) this information that you give away needs to be FREE — with no strings attached.

This means no filling out a form, no downloading an eBook, scheduling a call, no call-to-action needed on the prospect’s end.

That way, instead of being just another salesperson, you become a valuable resource to your prospect.

It’s possible — probable even — that your prospect may not need your company to solve their problem right at this moment.

However, the more you build your reputation as a go-to resource in your field, the more likely a lead is to reach out to you when they do have a problem you can solve. And voila, you’ll soon have a stream of warm new leads pursuing you.

3. Do Not Ask Your Prospect For Anything 👈🏽

For most trained sales professionals working in B2B lead generation companies, asking is the most important part of the job.

However, when it comes to warming up sales leads with content marketing, it’s of the utmost importance to restrain that urge!

Email lead generation strategy through content marketing works because it requires no effort from a prospect.

Your potential customers feel they are getting something of extreme value for free, and that’s why they begin to give you their trust, making your lead generation campaign successful.

So, when you’re delivering content you feel would help your prospects, make sure you don’t ask them for anything in return.

4. Build Credibility 👏🏼

Building credibility with your contact list boils down to one major goal: Deliver quality content consistently.

Try not to get bogged down with questions like:

  • How often should I send follow-up emails to the prospects?
  • How long should they be?
  • How many images should I include? etc.

While those details may cause a minor difference in your response rate, they don’t matter nearly as much as your content quality. Quality reigns overall.

If you don’t have anything that you think would be advantageous to send to your prospects, don’t send anything!

Your quality is what should be consistent, not the number of times you show up in your prospect’s inbox.

Over time, they’ll look forward to receiving your emails, knowing that it is helpful, relevant content inside.

5. Use Email Automation Software 📧

If you’re planning on making email lead generation part of your sales strategy, consider using an email marketing platform like Mailchimp, Constant Contact, or HubSpot.

There are numerous benefits to doing so.

First, you’ll get more in-depth analytics on your emails. Wondering if a prospect clicked on your link? Or how many people opened your email messages multiple times?

Other than lead generation tools, most email marketing software has built-in analytics that provides these answers.

But knowing these stats does much more than merely satisfy your curiosity. These analytics give you critical insights into what specific type of content your target audience finds most appealing. You can then, of course, send more of that type of content their way.

For example, say you send an email with a valuable infographic and notice you got a 90% click-through rate. Then, you send an email with similar information in a blog format, and you only get a 30% click-through rate.

That would signal that your reader finds value in your infographic. Wich will eventually improve your conversion rate.

Most of the email marketing software also has built-in automation functions you can leverage to your benefit.

These automated emails send once a prospect performs some unique ‘trigger.’ For example, a trigger could be that a prospect hasn’t opened your emails in a few months.

Once you have this information, you can send out an email with a subject line or content that helps recapture their attention.

6. Test Out Your Call To Action 🧑🏽‍🔬

Every email that you send should include a call to action. This is basically a sentence or two at the bottom of your email that tells your reader how to take the next step in learning about your business.

Don’t confuse the call to action with asking your reader to do something — it should not be part of your email's main body or something a reader must do to gain access to your content.

They should entice the reader to get in touch with you if they’re interested in talking about what your company can do for them. Common calls to action include:

  • Get in Touch
  • Click Here to Learn More
  • Schedule a Call
  • Subscribe, or
  • Visit Our Website

All these options give the reader a logical next step to learning more about your company if they want to.

It’s always a good idea to test several calls to action (using the analytics we discussed above) to see which performs best with your prospects.

It’s also a best practice to slowly increase the commitment to your call to action.

For example, in your first email, when your customer is just learning about you, a good call to action might be visiting your website to learn more and increase the number of your website visitors and subscribers to the landing pages.

Once you’ve been nurturing potential leads for a while through your emails, you can advance by asking the lead to get in touch.


This article was written by Michael. Michael is a member of the editorial team at Leads At Scale. His main areas of expertise include business growth, inbound and outbound marketing & sales. He is a walking wanderer and a travel enthusiast.

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