A Detailed Guide to Email Lead Generation

Email lead generation is an outbound lead generation strategy that uses cold emails to find new customers.

Ask any salesperson, and they’ll tell you that booking a sales conversation with a prospective customer is like striking gold. Zoom, video, or face-to-face sales meetings help build rapport and a foundation of trust with potential customers, while products and services are that much easier to present and explain in person.

That said, finding and reaching potential leads who are interested in a sales meeting is an ongoing challenge for both marketing teams and sales teams alike. This is where email lead generation, or cold email marketing, can serve as an effective strategy for targeting and creating new and receptive leads for your business.

Email lead generation entails collecting contact information for potential customers — what we call ‘cold email prospecting’ — who can then be contacted via a cold email campaign strategy. Follow-ups with leads are done through a sequence of automated emails aimed at nurturing the new relationship while prompting them to join the sales conversation. We’ve put together a short but comprehensive guide to answer some of the more frequent questions about email lead generation.

Watch our short video on mastering cold email outreach.


Download our Mastering Cold Email Outreach Guide here.


A crash course on cold email marketing

Before we dive too deep into the wonderful world of email lead generation, it’s important to understand what lead generation is from a broader perspective.

What is a lead?

What is lead generation?

And what is the difference between outbound and inbound lead generation?

Let’s take a look.

What is a lead?

In marketing terms, a lead is someone who has taken an interest in your products or services. Before they are a lead, they are a completely oblivious to who you are or what you have to offer them. That said, these strangers are viable customers or clients. They fit the description of your ideal target market and, given the opportunity, could well be a match made in marketing-heaven — if a meeting could be arranged.

Strangers become prospects once you have their contact information — a name and email address, for example. Once you have this information, you can target them with more information about who you are, what you do, and why they need you.

If you are a business-to-customer (B2C) company, this lead would be a direct consumer of your products or services. If you are business-to-business (B2C), you would target the most relevant person working in a targeted business or organization.

What is lead generation?

Now that you know what a lead is let’s talk about finding leads for your business.

Lead generation is the process of sourcing viable leads for your business. It’s the art of targeting the right people across various online channels, including social media, paid media, and even email. These are the people who will respond favorably to your outreach activities and transition from being leads to delighted customers, to become strong advocates for your products, services, and brand.

Outbound vs. inbound lead generation

Lead generation can follow an outbound or inbound approach. As the name implies, outbound lead generation, or outbound marketing, is where a company reaches out to initiate contact with a potential lead.

On the other hand, inbound lead generation refers to drawing possible leads to your website via SEO strategies and online marketing channels or campaigns. They are then given the opportunity to provide you with their contact details or opt into some form of communication with you.

Is there a difference between email lead generation and email marketing?

Email lead generation refers to cold email marketing, which is the strategic sending of unsolicited email messages to contacts who haven’t yet engaged with your company.

Email marketing targets existing prospects or customers with newsletters, drip campaigns, or product emails to encourage them to buy a product or use your services. Email marketing, therefore, forms part of a retargeting marketing strategy.


The benefits of cold email marketing

Not every lead is going to come to you of their own volition. Depending on your industry, the clamor of competition for a possible lead’s attention on any given day means they might never even find out about you.

This is where cold email prospecting and email lead generation strategies are highly effective for brands seeking new and viable leads.

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Cold emails are direct

They put you in control of the narrative of your client conversations right from the start. They are also a great way to get a foot in the door to start setting up meetings with people who may become valuable customers for your company.


Cold emails are cost-effective

Depending on your email database’s size, monthly subscriptions for email marketing platforms range from $0.00 to $99.00 per month. That’s a far cry from the budget you may have allocated to your PPC campaigns.

Cold emails aren't time-based

Unlike social media posts, which depend on users being online at the right time and on the right channels for ads to be seen, emails can be sent directly to a prospect and be seen the minute they check their inbox.

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Cold emails deliver engaging content

Emails can be used to send prospects information packaged as case studies, links to online product videos, testimonials, and the like.

Cold email prospecting

Before you can send cold emails to potential leads, you need to have their email addresses.

Cold email prospecting involves finding high-quality prospects for a business with whom relationships can be built that lead to booked meetings with your sales team.



What are the challenges of cold email prospecting?

It’s essential to have the right leads on your email campaign list. Speaking to the best ten people about your business is much more valuable than shouting at 200 wrong ones. That said, knowing who to contact isn’t as simple as it sounds. While finding leads is obviously important, these leads’ quality will ultimately determine your campaign’s overall success.

Vetted, well-researched, and viable leads are the key to effective email marketing, which is why our team of lead generation experts work hard to bring you a lead list that’s not only relevant but more likely to convert with your brand.

How do you find the most suitable leads for adding to your sales target list?

Cold email prospecting in three steps

Email Lead Generation

Identify pain points your business solves

Going through the process of finding your ideal leads is pretty useless if you don’t have an offer they’re going to love.

If you know your audience and understand the problems they face, it’s much easier to offer them a solution that will entice them to take your call.

Email Lead generation

Identify your ideal customer

To do this, ask yourself the following key questions:

  • What job title(s) do your prospects have?
  • What industries will you be targeting?
  • Where are these prospects located?
  • If you are B2B, what is the companies’ typical size to whom you are reaching out?
Email Lead generation

Find email addresses of ideal customers

You can use several online tools to track down the email addresses of prospective leads. Platforms like LinkedIn are another great place to start, giving you a good overview of the company you’re targeting. Email permutations are also handy, providing you with a list of the different combinations an email address could be, based on the contact’s name and company.

Once you’ve got the different combinations, you can run them through an email verifier to see which one sticks!

Cold email prospecting tools

Here are some of the top cold email prospecting tools on the market today:

  • Autoklose offers a database of verified B2B leads and a tool for verifying email addresses found elsewhere.
  • Hunter is a search tool that allows you to find company domains in bulk, along with professional email addresses that can then be verified using their Email Verifier.
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator — Find leads in your target market and vertical by using the biggest business platform out there, LinkedIn Sales Navigator. You can use this tool to search LinkedIn’s 500+ member network for prospects by industry, title, region, and seniority. Sales Navigator also allows you to save and track leads and keep up to date on your industry’s job changes and movements.
  • Prospect.io — This sales automation platform offers an email finder tool that is ideal for list building. It uses a Chrome extension to find emails as you browse the internet or social media platforms; it then enables you to verify email addresses to protect your email reputation and deliverability.
  • Zoominfo provides business intelligence for B2B companies through information provided by voluntary contributors, third-party sources, and their own machine learning software designed to scan websites for company data.


What if the criteria for your target audience are too narrow?

Here’s the scenario. You’re a B2B service provider looking for prospects — business owners, founders, and CEOs (or their employees) — who run companies in a start-up industry. These prospects aren’t necessarily on LinkedIn with job titles that match any search criteria. The company may operate with a small team, with employees wearing many hats and no dedicated staff member for the role you are targetting. What then?

This is when you need to pull up your sleeves and “go manual”— in other words, start Google prospecting.

While it sounds fancy, Google prospecting is simply a manual search on Google to find potential companies and websites that match your criteria. You can also do a Google search for LinkedIn profiles. After finding these profiles or companies, you will need to do a manual search on the business websites for emails.

Another way to find prospects’ emails is to search Twitter bios or sign up for company newsletters.


Configuring your lead generation campaign

Think of the following steps as the support structures around your campaign that are needed to keep it from collapsing. They are behind-the-scenes steps and activities that will ensure a solid campaign performance.

1. Clean and verify your data.

Before sending any emails, ensure you’re speaking to real people — and the right people — by verifying your prospect list. This lets you avoid high bounce rates and protects your email domain reputation.

Tools recommended for cleaning and verifying your data to prevent undelivered emails include Zero Bounce, The Checker, Mailfloss, or NeverBounce. Breadcrumbs is a free tool for quick spot-checks to verify a single email address at a time.

2. Ensure your domain’s credibility

DNS records translate your website name into its IP address, making it discoverable across servers and allowing people to find it. Domain authentication proves to email platforms (like Gmail) that you are who you say you are. If your DNS records aren’t properly configured, your domain doesn’t look trustworthy, and your emails are more likely to be marked as spam – which means a smaller audience reached and fewer potential sales discussions.

Looking for tools to ensure domain authority? Mailwarm is a tool often prescribed for building a domain’s credibility. This is especially important if you set up a new email domain, which doesn’t yet have regular email activity, and is likely to be identified by email providers and spam filters as dreaded spam.

As its name implies, Mailwarm “warms” your email domain by mimicking the behavior of an online user: it sends requests on your behalf, signs your email address up for newsletters, and builds your domain authority by sending and receiving emails daily. This interaction raises your reputation with email service providers (ESPs) clients and ultimately marks you as a trustworthy sender.

3. Set up any necessary technical configurations

Sending limits: Find out if your ESP has weekly, daily, hourly, and/or per minute sending limits as this will directly impact the number of emails you can send per 24 hours. Gmail, for example, limits regular Gmail accounts to 500 emails per 24 hours! This is where we recommend using a commercial ESP for sending high volumes of email.

Email authentication: Another thing to ask the domain host to set up is the various email authentication methods needed to ensure your emails are delivered and not marked as spam.

One of these methods is Sender Policy Framework (SPF), which helps prevent spoofing by specifying the mail servers that are authorized to send emails from your domain. SPF helps receiving servers verify that your domain hasn’t been forged, so your emails don’t land in a prospect’s spam folder.

Other Domain Name Server (DNS) records to set up for email authentication are your DKIM, CNAME, and DMARC records.

4. Choose your automation software

Numerous software programs allow you to set up email sequences and schedule your emails to send automatically to your list of prospects. This platform will be the hub of most of your email outreach work, so it’s important to find one that suits your needs.

Consider things like the user interface and how easy it is to navigate and understand; the support team and whether or not you can speak to a human being when things go wrong; and (this one’s important) how easily it integrates with your existing software systems.

Examples of cold outreach automation software include Mailshake, Lemlist, and Klenty:

  • Mailshake is a cold email campaign builder that allows you to send cold emails at scale. It integrates with GSuite and Outlook ESPs, as well as other email providers via SMTP. Integrations with popular CRMs like Salesforce, Pipedrive, and Hubspot mean you can monitor all leads from one central dashboard.
  • Lemlist allows you to send highly personalized cold emails. It has a built-in email warmer called lemwarm to warm your domain, lower your bounce rate, and protect your domain reputation. Lemlist also integrates into popular CRM software and allows for setting up dynamic landing pages for capturing leads.
  • Klenty is a sales engagement platform that ticks all the same boxes as Lemlist and Mailshake. Klenty’s subscriptions start at $35 per month, while Lemlist and Mailshake kick off from $59 per user per month.


5. Schedule emails

Before sending out your emails, you need to set up time restrictions, schedules, and triggers that dictate how emails send. These timings and triggers are based on the best times to send emails, how your contacts respond, and which step a prospect is in the sequence.

For example, at SiteCare, we want to give prospects time to get over the morning hustle before reaching out to them. That’s why we don’t schedule emails to send first thing in the morning; we always aim for between 10 am and early afternoon.

6. Set time limits

To prevent overloading your email service with hundreds of emails going out at once, you’ll need to set the time limits. These are time gaps set up between each email you send in a batch. We recommend setting emails to send with one-minute gaps to allow for a nice even flow of emails from the system.

Writing a cold email sequence that works

After deciding how many emails in your sequence you would like to send to your prospect list, you need to start writing. These are our go-to tips for writing effective email lead generation sequences:


Tip 1: Utilize the problem-solution-offer dynamic

Present a problem, explain how you can solve it, and close it out with an irresistible offer. For example:

Hi [name],

I thought I’d reach out directly to you to find out if we can help [company] with [problem].

2020 was hard enough for everyone, and I bet this year the last thing you want to be dealing with is [reinforce problem].

Truth is, [name], both happen.

That’s why I’m in your inbox.

Because we can help you avoid [problem].

We [describe what you do and why it is a solution].

If you’re interested, you can [explain offer and include a call to action that includes a link to a relevant landing page].

Otherwise, I’m happy to jump on a call and explain everything to you.

When are you free to chat?


[Your name]


Tip 2: Write, sound, and send like a human

This refers to tone, timing, and content. Remember, while they may be called “cold” emails, your tone should be warm and engaging. Yes, your email won’t be worth anything if it gets blocked by spam filters, but it won’t perform well either if your recipient doesn’t actually want to read it.

Strike a balance between enticing and spammy by avoiding typical spam-triggering words and symbols, sending your emails as a steady flow rather than all at once, and using accurate and relevant subject lines. Here are some examples of some compelling email subject lines you can use.

Try to avoid using words like these in your subject lines.

  • RE: (if it’s not a reply)
  • Exclamation points
  • Numbers or percentages, such as ‘10 minutes’, ‘5 times’, ‘10 ideas’ etc.

Tip 3: Personalize your messaging

Ensure your emails are personalized to the reader by using custom fields and tags and setting up conditional sending parameters. Custom fields, which contain information unique to a prospect, can be included in subject lines and the body of an email to pull in information unique to that prospect to personalize email messaging.

Examples of general fields that can be included in an email would be a prospect’s name {{name}}, surname {{surname}} or company {{company}}. An example of a custom field would be a prospect’s title {{title}} or email address {{domain}}.

Things like engagement with past emails, time since they’ve been added to the sending list, and whether or not they’ve clicked a link before would all come into play to allow you to send personalized emails.

Tip 4: Include strong calls to action

Keep your call to action (CTA) accurate and enticing, with a clear connection between what you’re asking people to do and what you’ve told them in your email. Ensure that all hyperlinks lead to the right landing page — where they can read more about you, take the next step in contacting you, and are tracking accurately and securely.

Spam filters aren’t fans of misleading links, and neither are we. Avoid overly-linked emails and keep the focus on your CTA and what the client can do next. Where you do use hyperlinks, always make sure you test them before deploying your campaign. Your CTA should always speak to your overall conversion goal — setting up a sales conversation —and lead clients to the page they expected to visit.

Tracking of links: Adding UTM codes, or tracking tags, to your links will help you track the traffic generating by your emails to your website. You will be able to see how many prospects visited your website by clicking on your link. You can build these UTM tags out in Google Analytics.

Tip 5: Polish your signature

People easily overlook their signature when tailoring their email for optimal deliverability, but it can contribute to spam filtering when done wrong. Tidy up your footer’s HTML and remove any use of phone numbers or postal codes. Where you need to add links, keep them at a minimum.

Tip 6: Run email deliverability tests

Before you send any emails to your prospects, you’re going to need to run extensive deliverability tests to ensure your emails end up in the inbox rather than spam. We recommend running these tests regularly to ensure everything is still running as it should — even more so if you suddenly start to notice lower engagement rates or higher bounce rates.

Mail Tester: Mail tester lets you run your email through a test to see how likely it is to be blocked as spam, allowing you to make the necessary changes before any damage is done!

Tip 7: Split campaigns to test the effectiveness of messaging and scheduling

As the adage goes, it’s never good to put all your eggs in one basket. The same applies to your email campaigns. Splitting your prospect list and sending variations of your message to different people at different times lets you A/B test each email’s outcome and find the right messaging for your target audience.

Email Lead Generation

Get started with email lead generation.

Contact SiteCare to see how we can help you achieve your lead generation goals.

Get in touch today.

Email lead generation FAQs

  • Do you build prospect lists?

    We don’t build prospects lists due to the low response and conversion rates we see when sending emails to these lists. We know reaching out to a warm audience, yields 5 to 10 times better response rates. If you do require prospects lists to be built, we can introduce you to a few of our trusted partners who can build prospecting lists for you.

  • Do you use a third-party service to deliver emails?

    No, we send our emails through your email account. Because all emails we send are sent from your email address, you’ll even see them in your “Sent” folder.

  • Why is it important to clean up my email list?

    Cleaning up your email list improves the deliverability rate of your emails and strengthens your domain’s reputation by decreasing bounce rates, increasing open and click rates, and reducing spam complaints. Purging your list of unengaged subscribers also empowers you with more accurate reporting data and can even save you money if your email marketing service charges you per subscriber.

  • How often should I clean up my email list?

    Generally, we recommend scrubbing your email list every year to get rid of any invalid email addresses and potentially remove email addresses that haven’t opened any of your emails in the past 6 months.

  • Do “out-of-office” replies count as replies or bounces in a cold email outreach campaign?
    • An out-of-office reply is automated and can be sent for various reasons that wouldn’t count as a bounce or a reply. A bounce occurs when the email couldn’t be delivered for whatever reason – an out-of-office is actually a confirmation that someone has received the email; they just haven’t been able to read it.
    • Keep tabs on these auto-replies and take note of when they occur most often. An out-of-office isn’t a stop sign, though! In fact, it would be a good idea to channel these replies into a follow-up flow, allowing you a second (and third) chance of reaching someone who hasn’t seen your email yet and is likely returning to an overflowing inbox after their mid-year break.
  • What happens when a prospect replies?
    • When a prospect replies, we ask that you keep the reply in your inbox for 24 hours so that our software can pick up the reply and remove the prospect from the sequence, ensuring that they no longer receive any more emails. Clients can then take over the conversation and reply to the prospect like any other email. From here on, it is up to the client to foster the conversation with the prospect.
    • If a prospect responds negatively, unfortunately, this is part and parcel of cold emailing. It will happen. We recommend just leaving the reply in your inbox for 24 hours so that our software can pick up the reply and remove the prospect from the sequence, ensuring that they no longer receive any more emails, and not responding. Once a prospect has responded, and the reply has been left in the inbox for 24 hours, that is the end of the campaign for them and they will no longer receive any communications
  • What is the difference between email drip campaigns and cold email campaigns?

    Both types of campaigns have the same goal: getting the customer from their current point into a stage where they’re accepting your meeting request and using your service or product.

    The key difference is that the email drip campaign customer opted into your subscriber list, while the cold email campaign audience consists of leads you seek out.

  • How does cold email marketing actually work?

    We’ve put together a comprehensive guide to explain SiteCare’s process and everything you need to know about cold email marketing.

  • Email lead generation glossary of terms


    B2B stands for business-to-business and refers to the process of selling products or services to other businesses or companies within a supply chain rather than straight to consumers.


    Short for Customer Relationship Management, CRM refers to a strategy, process, or software tool that businesses use to manage their interactions with customers and leads. Client relationships are usually managed using a CRM platform, which stores and tracks contact information and all customer interactions with the business, making it possible to analyze it and use it for lead nurturing and sales conversions. Examples of popular CRM software include SalesForce, Teamwork Desk, and Freshworks.

    Call-to-action (CTA)

    A Call-to-Action is a marketing term for the wording or phrases used to prompt or motivate a customer towards a desired action. An example would be a SHOP NOW button on a web banner advert or an invitation in an email to click on a link provided to download a resource or get in touch with a sales team member.

    Click-through rate

    In email lead generation terms, click-through-rate is the proportion of email recipients who clicked on a CTA or link in an email (to visit a website or a landing page) versus those who took no action. It is a metric used in cold email marketing to measure the success of a campaign.

    Click-through-rate = total number of clicks / delivered emails × 100


    Deliverability, or inbox placement, relates to your cold email delivery rate — i.e., how many of your sent emails were actually delivered to email inboxes and how many bounced or made it to spam? Strong email deliverability is achieved through building domain reputation, setting up technical requirements for proper identification, and creating great content and content formats that won’t be identified as spam.

    Email automation

    Email automation is the process of automating email communication to be time or action-triggered. Email automation software, like Mailshake or Salesforce, can be used to set up and send email sequences based on recipient engagement, or lack thereof.

    Email Bounce rate

    Email bounce rate refers to the number of cold emails that never made it past an email server to a prospect’s inbox. Bounce rate is calculated by dividing the number of emails that bounced by the number of emails sent and then multiplying this number by 100 to get a percentage.

    Bounce rate = bounced emails / sent emails × 100

    Email list verification

    Email list verification is the process of cleaning an email database to confirm that email addresses are valid and deliverable. Email addresses collected while cold email prospecting can be incorrectly formatted, have an invalid domain, or may belong to a role (i.e., [email protected]) instead of a person. They might not even belong to an actual email inbox. The quickest way to verify email addresses is to use a bulk email verification tool, such as ZeroBounce or The Checker.

    Sales funnel

    A sales funnel represents the different stages, or phases, of the customer journey. These are the top, middle, and bottom of funnel phases. Prospects move from the top of the sales funnel down to the bottom, transitioning from unknown entities to leads and then onto qualified leads and, finally, customers or clients. The top of the sales funnel is the awareness and discovery phase, the middle of the funnel is the solution research phase, and the bottom of the funnel is where leads make an educated decision about which solution or product they wish to choose.


    Email spam, or junk email, is an unsolicited and undesired email message sent to recipients in bulk.


    When an unknown source or network intruder forges an email domain to send fake emails for malicious purposes, this is known as spoofing. Forged domains are able to bypass network security measures in place as they appear to have a valid IP address.

    Additional resources on email lead generation

    Book more meetings with ideal clients.

    SiteCare’s email lead generation experts are here to help.

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