For all of the cynics’ claims that email is dead or dying, the reality is that it’s never been a more relevant or valuable channel for online marketers. Unfortunately, much of what passes as email marketing in 2013 looks as though it is from the Y2K era. This is especially the case with email lead-generation tactics.

To improve their customer acquisition campaigns, brands need to give their email marketing a serious review. It’s time for marketers to step up and get their email lead generation up to speed with the rest of their digital and mobile marketing strategies.

Here are five strategies that will help you generate more leads and sales opportunities from your email marketing campaigns. These strategies are based on experiences advertisers have had after working with MediaWhiz.

1. Implement real-time replies

Your company’s email marketing campaigns will yield huge troves of data. Rather than being overwhelmed by all of that data, or do nothing with it, use it to your advantage and create real-time response and customer acquisition segments. This typically follows one of three basic patterns:

Real time/trigger

In this situation, a user segment is developed based on real-time data; however, a response email is not sent until a pre-determined time. This method will allow you to refine your messaging and offer based on certain criteria of the subscriber and his or her action.

Real time/real time

In this scenario, a subscriber’s real-time action elicits a real-time response. As soon as a subscriber takes some action with your email, say, by clicking on a “Learn More” button, a relevant follow-up email is auto-generated containing more information about your brand or offer.

Real time/ad hoc: This is a highly manual, but very effective, form of real-time email marketing. In this scenario, a marketer watches his dashboard and uses the real-time data coming in from email actions to develop personalized messaging and offers for specific consumers.

2. Add click-to-call to every email.

Click-to-call should be in every digital and direct marketer’s toolkit. This form of search marketing enables consumers to easily contact your business via a one-step dialing process. By implementing a click-to-call feature in every email, you ensure that consumers who want to take an action now with your business can do so and don’t have to find your phone number within the email and dial it themselves. Click-to-call does the hard work for them and will help you generate many more leads than emails that don’t contain this handy function.

3. Use mobile wisely

One of the best ways to improve your lead generation and customer acquisition efforts is to mesh mobile and email. Our internal analytics show that for many merchants, between 30%-60% of their marketing emails are now being read on a mobile or tablet device. Marketers should take advantage of this by segmenting their subscribers by device and operating system and send messages that include specific keywords to text that allows the consumer to take an action based on the email.

4. Design your emails for mobile

Seventy-six percent of consumers use their smartphones to sort emails before viewing on a computer, according to BlueHornet. Your email campaigns should be designed and optimized for mobile since more than 80% of non-optimized emails will be deleted without being read and 30% of consumers will take the additional step of unsubscribing entirely. A clean, simple email design is more likely to produce an action from a consumer using a mobile device than a complex, multi-layered email that will eat up the battery life of a consumers’ mobile device.

5. Use compelling creative

While too many images in your email is a recipe for disastrous click-through rates, having compelling email creative is a must. Inboxes are highly cluttered these days. It’s important to make sure your email stands out by employing creative that complements the “from” and “subject” lines. Email creative should compel a subscriber to take a specific action, hopefully one that the creative has highlighted for him or her. Once the consumer opens the email, make sure the creative follows what the “from” and “subject line” promised. Consumers will quickly delete your message, or unsubscribe to your offer/list, if you falsely advertise in the subject line.