Dos and Don’ts for using e-mail to generate leads

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While e-mail can be an effective way to generate leads, it can also present pitfalls if not used carefully. Sam Eidson, a partner at Denver-based interactive agency 90octane, offers some “dos and don’ts” for b-to-b marketers that are using e-mail as part of their lead generation programs, based on work done for its clients, including Gates Corp., a manufacturer of belts, hoses and hydraulics.


1) Do start with a well-defined goal. “You need to determine how many leads your sales force can handle over a certain period of time, then work backward,” Eidson said.

90octane has developed a program called “lead calendar” that helps companies calculate how many leads they need to generate based on factors such as revenue goals, sales cycle, average revenue per sale and the capabilities of the sales force. “You really have to get buy-in from the sales force and tailor the number of leads to what they can handle,” Eidson said.

2) Do determine the optimal media mix to achieve goals. “You need to keep up with the performance history of offers and media, and the best combinations of offers and media,” Eidson said.

While e-mail is often part of the mix, other media elements such as advertising and search engine marketing can also be used to help generate leads.

3) Do understand what types of offers work best. For example, “Design engineers respond well to targeted offers,” Eidson said.

Gates recently sent an e-mail inviting design engineers to download a software program called Design Flex that helps users design industrial belt drives. The offer resulted in more than 1,300 downloads within a week.


1) Don’t send too much e-mail to your house list. “Your internal list is such a valuable asset, the last thing you want to do is send them a whole lot of marketing messages,” Eidson said.

He recommended communicating no more than once a month with valuable prospects on your internal list.

To help manage e-mail communications with one central list, companies should takes steps such as segmenting the database and setting up a communications schedule that shows which marketing messages are going out each month.

2) Don’t generate too many leads in a short period of time. “More is not always better,” said Rich Carvill, industrial power transmission marketing manager at Gates. “You have to measure the flow of leads to the appetite of your sales force.”

3) Don’t ignore CAN-SPAM. “Make sure you have a physical address, you don’t have misleading subject lines and you have a clear privacy statement,” Eidson said.

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