Over 333 billion emails work their way across the internet each day.

With this many emails flying around, you want to use the best tactics to stand out in a crowded inbox. You want email subscribers to open your messages and respond to your call-to-action (CTA).

But first, you need subscribers to send them to. Enter email marketing lead generation. This technique involves capturing and registering lead data using subscription forms, which then gives you a list of subscribers that you can nurture and convert (or sell your products or services to).

In this article, we’ll discuss 11 email marketing lead generation strategies, including how to:

  • Use TikTok for audience building
  • Use YouTube and Instagram, too
  • Get subscribers to forward your emails to friends and family
  • Drive sign-ups from your social media posts
  • Drive sign-ups from your blog
  • Segment your subscribers
  • Find more relevant topics to cover
  • Use content upgrades to drive more sign-ups
  • Use webinars to drive more sign-ups
  • Get on audience-relevant podcasts
  • Track performance and focus on what’s working

But first, let’s talk about why lead generation is important.

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Why lead generation is important for your email marketing strategy

Growing your subscriber list (and your business) is difficult without an email lead generation strategy. If you don’t reach out to convert your target audience, they may never find you on their own, let alone sign up for your email list. 

Here are three more reasons lead generation is vital to your email marketing strategy:

  • Using lead generation tactics promotes engagement, which is a gift for marketers. Over half of B2B marketers say engaging email subscribers is a major challenge.
  • Higher-quality leads are more likely to become paying customers. In fact, almost half of B2B marketers believe email marketing is the most effective tactic for improving lead quality.

11 email marketing lead generation strategies your subscribers will love

Below are email marketing lead generation ideas that will drive more subscribers to your email list. See which ones resonate with your business model.

1. Use TikTok for audience building

If you only have time to focus on one social media platform, make it TikTok.

Over 1.7 billion people now use TikTok. The growth of this platform skyrocketed by 85% in 2020, and almost three-fourths of users say they feel a deeper connection to brands on TikTok than on other platforms.

So the question isn’t whether your business should be on TikTok, but rather ‌how you can use this channel to increase subscribers. Here are some tips for building brand awareness on this platform:

  • Play up hashtags. Pick five to six hashtags that best align with your content to help get your account discovered.
  • Put a link in your bio. Send new visitors reading your bio straight to your lead capture form.
  • Include a CTA in each video. Encourage followers to subscribe, click or outright give you an email address.
  • Do online giveaways. Grow your fan base and increase engagement by offering freebies in your videos. In the example below, music teacher Emily Anderson Karst uses a link in her bio to build her mailing list. She directs her followers to her freebies page, where they will also find a popup form to sign up for her newsletter.

Interested in making passive income from your TikTok audience? Read How to Launch an Affiliate Email Marketing Campaign & Boost Commissions.

2. Use YouTube and Instagram, too

If you have the time and resources, add YouTube and Instagram to your audience-building strategy as well. YouTube has over 200 million viewers while data experts expect Instagram to have 1.2 billion users by 2023.

Here are some strategies to generate leads through this channel:


  • Add a CTA to your header. Ask potential subscribers to sign up for your newsletter straight from your homepage. 
  • Give a CTA in the video description. Offer a freebie that will prompt potential subscribers to submit an email address.


  • Include a CTA in your bio. Drive newsletter sign-ups by asking users to subscribe through a link in your bio. 
  • Use all features of the platform. Use Stories, IGTV and Reels along with feed posts to promote your newsletter as much as possible. This is an especially effective email marketing tactic for photographers.

For example, business coach Lisa Jean-Francois uses YouTube’s video description to grow her mailing list. She provides a direct link where viewers can subscribe to learn about new videos and giveaways.

3. Get subscribers to forward your emails to friends and family 

Social proof is everything. If you provide valuable content to your subscribers, they’ll want to share your emails with people who share their interests—and those potential subscribers will likely be receptive to a recommendation from someone they trust. As a result, it’s more important than ever to optimize your emails.

Take advantage of free marketing and make it easy for subscribers to forward your emails by:

  • Asking for the share. Come right out and ask subscribers to “forward to a friend” at the bottom of the email. 
  • Throwing in a coupon. Encourage subscribers to pass on a great deal to their friends and family.
  • Offering useful information. Create relevant, helpful content subscribers want to forward to others.

In this example, ZooShoo tells subscribers to “forward this link to your friends” so both groups can get $10 off a purchase. The business motivates the friends to become subscribers by offering discounts for referrals.

For a full guide on how to make money with your newsletters, read How to Monetize a Newsletter: 6 Proven Methods (With Examples)

4. Drive sign-ups from your social media posts

People may love interacting with your business on social media. But if those platforms shut down (and they can) or your accounts get suspended, you lose your audience—unless those followers are also on your email list.

 Here’s how to get your followers to subscribe to your list:

  • Promote gated content. Encourage your followers to sign up to receive eBooks and white papers that come across as helpful guides and useful reports instead of sales pitches.
  • Leverage LinkedIn. Optimize your profile, set up a group, nurture connections and offer freebies that prompt followers to submit email addresses.
  • Hold a contest. Use a catchy and descriptive hashtag, show a picture of your prize and provide a link to a landing page with a sign-up form.

For example, freelance coach Laura Briggs offers free resources for starting a freelance business in this LinkedIn post. She gathers a first name and email address every time someone signs up for this freebie.

5. Drive sign-ups from your blog

The top reason people read blogs is to learn something new. If they’re already turning to your business as a resource, why not offer even more content through a free subscription? 

Here are a few ways to generate leads through blog posts:

  • Attract the right traffic. Make sure you’re creating content that’s tailored to your target audience to ensure you’re generating high-quality leads.
  • Make subscribing simple. Give potential subscribers sidebars, popups and embedded forms to make signing up easy to do in the moment.
  • Promote posts on social media. Drive traffic to your blog and newsletter sign-up form by posting content links on your social media channels.

For example, course creation specialist Sarah Cordiner puts a form at the top of her blog to encourage readers to subscribe to her emails. Making it easy to subscribe from the start means readers don’t have to go searching for a sign-up form if they like what they see.

6. Segment your subscribers

Segmenting your subscribers based on goals, interests and pain points helps you meet their needs with personalized content. The more relevant content is to a subscriber, the more likely they will vouch for your business and recruit new subscribers.

Consider these segmentation methods to build your email list:

  • Send geotargeted emails for events. Let subscribers know about upcoming events in their area they’ll want to tell their neighbors about.
  • Create specific offers. Produce content that segments subscribers by interest to keep them engaged with relevant topics. 
  • Track user engagement. Use engaged, cold and inactive labels to discover which subscribers are most likely to recommend your newsletter to friends and family. 

In this email example from Allison Patel Photography, the subscriber receives curated content about family photoshoots. They can easily share this information with interested friends and potential subscribers.

Want to know how to build a successful targeted email marketing campaign in five simple steps? Read How to Use Targeted Email Marketing to Boost Conversion Rates and discover our favorite lead-nurturing email examples.

7. Find more relevant topics to cover

Take some time to figure out what content best connects with your subscribers. By giving them what they want, you increase the chances they’ll recommend your newsletter to their inner circle, which helps you add more subscribers to your email list.

Take a look at these strategies for coming up with relevant content:

  • Talk to your subscribers. Send out surveys to generate topic ideas and assess pain points.
  • Pull from social media channels. Read posts, comments and conversations related to existing content. 
  • Ask Google. Type in a keyword, look at Google’s suggestions and check out the “People also ask” section.

Flodesk makes it easy for you to find out what your subscribers want to hear. Using Flodesk’s Subscriber Preferences, you can add a preferences checkbox to your sign-up form to segment your subscribers based on their interests.

For example, this checkbox asks email subscribers whether they want to know more about social media strategy, early bird course registration, or weekly news. These categories help the business determine what type of content will be most helpful in the future.

7. Drive sign-ups with content upgrades

Content upgrades are special perks associated with existing pieces of content. For example, as a potential subscriber reads a blog post, you may use a pop-up window to offer bonus content if they enter their email address.

Explore some of these content upgrade ideas:

  • Cheat sheets. Pull out the key takeaways from a lengthy article and organize them in a skimmable format.
  • Transcripts. Take a video or audio recording and turn it into an article the visitor can read.
  • Case studies. Go deeper into your topic with a real-life experience that validates the existing content.

For example, in this blog, Maui Mastermind, a business coach offers the reader a free plan template and a free training webinar to grow their business. When someone downloads the template or signs up for the webinar, the business adds another email to its list.

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8. Use webinars to drive more sign-ups

Webinars establish trust and credibility and can help you capture high-quality leads. If you make these informative sessions worth someone’s time, they’ll want to sign up for similar content.

Follow these best practices to generate leads from webinars:

  • Promote the event. Make a landing page explaining what the attendee will take away from the experience to encourage them to submit an email address.
  • Recycle the webinar. Publish the video on your website, embed it in an eBook and post it on social media. With Flodesk’s Video Block, you can put a video preview of your webinar straight into your emails, customize the play button and add a title.
  • Follow up. If attendees didn’t subscribe to your newsletter, reach out for feedback on the event and use it to determine your next steps.

In this example, the business offers three opportunities for a YouTube viewer to sign up for a webinar. Multiple time slots increase the chances of the viewer being available and the business capturing their email address.

9. Get on audience-relevant podcasts

About three-fourths of podcast listeners tune in to learn something new. So making guest appearances on podcasts is a great way to build your brand authority, nurture connections with your audience and grow your email marketing list.

Follow these tips to tap into this market:

  • Aim for high-quality shows. Choose ‌podcasts that hook listeners and keep them coming back by delivering valuable content that applies to your target audience.
  • Promote your appearance. Spread the word before the event, and then share the podcast episode with your followers once it’s published.
  • Connect with the audience. Tell your story, share a lesson you’ve learned or talk about a change you’ve made in your life.
  • Leave room for a CTA. If allowed, offer listeners a chance to sign up for your newsletter with a mention at the end and a link in the show notes.

If your business has a podcast, you can even use Flodesk’s Podcast Icon to give new subscribers a link to your episodes.

See these 15 examples of lead generation forms for inspiration

10. Work with partners for cross-promotion

Self-promotion will only get your business so far. When you collaborate with another business or individual, use that connection to reach a new audience and grow your email list.

Here are ways to use a partnership to get new subscribers:

  • Run a promotion on your partner’s website and social media accounts. Provide a link to your website that directs visitors to a sign-up form.
  • Create an eBook or webinar together. Share the work, gate the content and gather email addresses that come in from the downloads or registrations. 
  • Write guest blogs for each other. Offer valuable information and include a CTA at the end to sign up for similar content.

For example, freelance writing coaches Kaleigh Moore and Emma Siemasko created a website to go along with their podcast, “Freelance Writing Coach.” They collect email addresses when listeners sign up for their newsletters and new episode notifications.

11. Track performance and focus on what’s working

Of course, you can’t dive into all these strategies at once. Start out with one or two tactics, track your performance and adjust from there. Stick with the methods that work, drop the strategies that fail and add in some new tactics to try. Weigh the effort put into a specific strategy vs. the number of leads generated. 

If you’re wondering if your newsletter is worth the investment, read The Ultimate Newsletter Cost Breakdown to Maximize ROI.


Now, you have plenty of email marketing lead generation ideas to delight your subscribers. But lead generation is just the first step—you also need to make sure your emails and newsletters keep your subscribers coming back for more.

Small business owners and creative entrepreneurs use Flodesk to design emails people love to get. Sign up for a free trial to see how we can help you impress your email list.