What is Lead Generation? Guide & Best Practices (2024)

What is Lead Generation? Guide & Best Practices (1)

When you understand the basics of lead generation, you'll turn interest into conversions. Here's what you need to know.

What is Lead Generation? Guide & Best Practices (8)

What is Lead Generation? Guide & Best Practices (9)

Lead Generation 101

It’s no secret that people are inundated with countless messages and offers daily. Marketers have to find a way to capture attention and build genuine interest in their products and services using the right marketing platform. Chief marketing officers (CMOs) cite customer preferences and expectations as their number 1 influence on digital strategy according to the State of the Connected Customer report. The goal is lead generation: building interest over time that eventually leads to a sale.

Let’s break down exactly what lead generation is, how artificial intelligence (AI) plays a role, and what steps to take to make sure you’re finding and nurturing leads the right way.

Lead Generation Table of Contents

  • What is lead generation?
  • What are the most effective lead generation strategies?
  • How do lead qualification and nurturing work?
  • What are some methods for nurturing leads?
  • What are the current trends in lead generation?
  • How do you measure the success of your lead gen strategy?
  • What are the best practices for lead generation?

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of building interest in a product or service and then turning that interest into a sale. Lead gen makes the sales cycle more efficient because it focuses on the strongest and most valuable prospects. The result is greater success in new customer acquisition and conversion rates.

There are three types of leads:

  • A qualified lead is a prospect who has demonstrated a genuine interest in a product or service and is more likely to convert.
  • An unqualified lead lacks the necessary interest level to become a customer.
  • A warm lead falls between these two – they’ve expressed some interest, but it’s up to sales to follow up and determine if the lead can become qualified.

The lead generation process begins with creating awareness and interest. You can start by publishing blog posts that educate your audience and engaging users through social media. You capture potential leads through sign-ups in which a person voluntarily gives you contact info to stay in touch. This can be through an email newsletter or ”gated” content such as webinars, virtual events, live chats, whitepapers, or ebooks.

Once you have leads, you can use their contact info to engage with personalized communication and targeted promotions.

What are the most effective lead generation strategies?

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of lead generation, how can you start to move people from prospect to buyer? Start with creating, sharing, and testing content that grabs your audience’s attention.

Make sure your content addresses pain points

It all starts with creating strong content. Focus on your target audience’s pain points and how your product or service can solve those.

For example, if a business offers project management software, it would be a good idea to create a series of videos about project planning tips or case studies showcasing some examples of successful timeline implementations. Customers like seeing proof that companies can actually do what they say, so make it a point to show your customers exactly that.

Set up a lead scoring system

You also need a lead scoring system. This is when you assign points based on specific actions, such as webinar attendance, whitepaper downloads, or engagement with high-value pages on your website.

If leads consistently engage with product features on your site, assign them a higher lead score than someone who only occasionally visits your homepage. By prioritizing efforts on leads with higher scores, sales teams can focus on prospects more likely to convert to save time and money.

Go where your audience is

Figuring out which social media channels your target audience uses matters. If you’re fishing for clients, you have to be in the right spot. You’re not going to use X if your business targets a visually-oriented demographic, right? Using platforms like Instagram or Pinterest to share visually appealing content, you’ll have better results.

Dial in a great call-to-action

Regardless of the channel, you’ll need a clear and compelling call-to-action and a user-friendly design. You’ll get better conversion rates for subscription-based services by featuring a persuasive sign-up form on the site’s landing page, accompanied by customer testimonials.

Perform A/B testing for best results

Use A/B testing and analytics to refine things like headlines, visuals, or calls-to-action based on real-time performance data. (Remember, A/B testing is a way to compare multiple versions of a single variable to determine which of the variants is more effective.) On email subject lines, analyze open rates to determine the most effective messaging, ultimately optimizing your email campaign for better engagement and lead conversion.

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Need a crash course in lead generation, or just want to brush up on basics? Check out this lesson on Trailhead, the free learning program from Salesforce.

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How do lead qualification and nurturing work?

Talking about how to evaluate your leads involves some acronyms that can feel like a mouthful, but understanding why they’re important will help your marketing efforts.

The first thing to do is define your ideal customer profile (ICP). That just means assessing potential leads based on the information you have. Do you know their level of interest? What do you know about their budget or buying authority?

The BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timing) framework is valuable because it establishes key criteria for assessing lead readiness, guiding marketers to prioritize efforts on prospects with a higher likelihood of conversion.

Let’s say you have a software company and you’re using BANT to qualify leads. Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • Budget: Does the lead have the financial resources to invest in my software? I want to make sure I’m targeting prospects who can afford my product.
  • Authority: Does the lead have decision-making authority? I want my sales team to engage with individuals who can make purchasing decisions.
  • Need: Do the lead’s specific needs align closely with what my software offers?
  • Timing: Does the lead have near-term timing to purchase my software?

These criteria are like a filter that help prioritize leads who are ready to take action.

Lead scoring is a lot like what it sounds. By assigning numerical values to leads based on their behavior and interactions, you can prioritize follow-up efforts. For example, a lead downloading a product demo will receive a higher score than one who only visited the homepage.

Lead grading complements scoring by evaluating the overall fit of a lead within your target market. A lead from a large enterprise in your target industry would receive a higher grade than a lead from a smaller, unrelated business. Use them both and you’ll get a nuanced understanding of lead quality.

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What are some methods for nurturing leads?

Once you’ve established your scoring and grading, your next step is to strategize ways to nurture your leads. You can do this with:

Email drip campaigns:

An automated email sequence like a welcome note to new subscribers helps nurture them toward a first purchase. The goal here is to keep leads engaged over time by delivering a sequence of targeted and relevant messages. The automated approach allows for consistent communication, which gradually builds trust and familiarity.

Webinars and virtual events:

These allow you to get customer insights and interact directly. A software company, for example, might organize a webinar series showcasing advanced features with a Q&A at the end.

Personalized content:

Tailoring content to individual preferences enhances engagement. An example of this is an online fashion retailer sending product recommendations based on a lead’s browsing history.

Social media:

It’s crucial to understand which social media channel your prospect uses, but active participation on platforms like X, LinkedIn, or Facebook is always a good idea. Anytime you can engage in industry-related discussions, share relevant content, and respond in the comments, you build awareness and credibility with leads.

Interactive content:

Quizzes or assessments keep leads engaged while providing valuable data about their preferences. A fitness app could create a quiz that helps leads determine their ideal workout routine, simultaneously collecting first-party data to tailor future content and promotions.

What are the current trends in lead generation?

It seems like AI is influencing every part of the marketing landscape — lead generation included. Here’s a look at some ways marketers are improving their lead gen skills.

AI tools

The job of marketers is to understand lead behaviors and preferences — and AI-driven lead generation tools have made it easier to do just that. Machine learning algorithms can even predict the content a lead is most likely to engage with based on their past interactions.

Use AI to analyze a customer’s purchase history and recommend complementary products. The analysis can give you a nuanced understanding of the customers’ specific interests and help identify broader trends within your big-picture customer base. And it helps improve targeting and personalized marketing strategies.

Automation and personalization

Marketing automation tools can also help automate processes and deliver personalized content at scale. When you created dynamic email campaigns, adapt content based on lead behaviors, prompting the tool how to tailor communications. Customers feel special when they are “seen” by businesses. With personalization, you can extend beyond the initial lead generation phase. Clients will be more satisfied, and you are more likely to get repeat business.

Video marketing

Video marketing is another way to offer a dynamic experience. People are naturally captivated by the visual and auditory appeal of videos, so you can draw more attention by promoting them across your social media, website, and email campaigns.

Make sure the content is compelling though – short product demonstrations, testimonials, or educational pieces can enhance the lead generation process. You’ll earn brand ambassadors when you make it memorable. Use a shareable format so leads respect your concise style and usability.

How do you measure the success of your lead gen strategy?

Having metrics as part of your toolkit for evaluating lead generation efforts is crucial for several reasons. Number one, they offer a clear understanding of what is working and what needs work. Number two, these metrics contribute to accountability.

When you quantify the cost-effectiveness of acquiring leads and assessing their quality, you can better allocate your marketing budget. Last, having measurable metrics encourages you to set realistic benchmarks for the kind of progress you hope to make over time.

Key metrics for evaluating lead generation efforts include:

  • Conversion rate: Track the percentage of leads that take a desired action, such as filling out a form or making a purchase.
  • Cost per lead (CPL): Calculate the cost incurred for acquiring a single lead, dividing the total spend by the number of leads generated. If a marketing campaign costs $1,000 and generates 200 leads, the CPL is $5.
  • Lead quality: Assess the quality of leads based on their likelihood to convert into customers. For instance, if a business uses lead scoring and finds that leads with a score above 80 are more likely to convert, it indicates the effectiveness of the lead generation strategy.

Return on investment (ROI): Measure the overall effectiveness of lead generation efforts by comparing the revenue generated to the total investment.

What are the best practices for lead generation?

Best practices in lead generation are not just about increasing leads. They’ll also help you earn the respect of your customers and keep connections positive and ongoing. When you adhere to a quality work ethic, you signal a commitment to transparency. This is crucial in a landscape marked by privacy concerns. You’ll gain more leads and earn their respect if you consider the following tips:

  • Target the right audience. The better you understand your buyer personas, demographics, and behaviors, the better you can use data analytics to prioritize segments that align with your product or service.
  • Reliable lead qualification and scoring requires clearly defined criteria. Regularly review and adjust your scoring system based on data analysis and feedback.
  • Consistent brand messaging and delivering on promises builds trust and credibility. This might mean sharing customer testimonials and showcasing industry awards or certifications.
  • Use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool that features lead scoring, activity tracking, and communication history to ensure a comprehensive view of each lead’s journey.
  • Keep lead capture forms concise. Focus on key details and use strategic placement on landing pages.
  • Use A/B testing to refine elements like form fields, layout, and CTA language. Track these metrics: conversion rates, CPL, lead quality, and ROI.
  • Use AI and machine learning algorithms to analyze data, predict lead behavior, and automate personalized interactions. AI-powered chatbots (copilots) help with real-time engagement and use predictive analytics to identify high-value leads.
  • A culture of iterating on strategies means regular assessments. Ask for feedback from your sales teams. Ask yourself: Is our workflow agile? How can we improve?

Lead generation is how you build trust with and bond with your audience. It takes some work to set up properly. But do it right and you’re more likely to earn more business – and create those lasting, meaningful relationships with customers.

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What is Lead Generation? Guide & Best Practices (2024)


What is Lead Generation? Guide & Best Practices? ›

Lead generation can be defined as the process of attracting prospects and converting them into someone who has an interest in your company's products and services. Modern brands make use of various lead generation strategies such as: Blogging. Email marketing.

What is lead generation answer? ›

Lead generation can be defined as the process of attracting prospects and converting them into someone who has an interest in your company's products and services. Modern brands make use of various lead generation strategies such as: Blogging. Email marketing.

What is the best description of lead generation? ›

Lead generation is the process of building interest in a product or service and then turning that interest into a sale. Lead gen makes the sales cycle more efficient because it focuses on the strongest and most valuable prospects. The result is greater success in new customer acquisition and conversion rates.

How do you explain lead generation in interview? ›

During the interview, explain your lead generation process in a clear and concise way. Show how you identify your target audience, research their needs and pain points, create and distribute valuable content, capture and nurture leads, and measure and optimize your performance.

What are the basics of lead generation? ›

What is the lead generation process?
  • Identify your target audience. Start by conducting research to understand your target audience's needs, preferences, and challenges. ...
  • Attract online visitors. ...
  • Capture your leads. ...
  • Qualify your leads. ...
  • Nurture your leads. ...
  • Handoff to sales. ...
  • Convert your leads. ...
  • Analyse and optimise.

What is an example of lead generation? ›

Lead generation is the process of attracting prospects to your business and increasing their interest through nurturing, all with the end goal of converting them into a customer. Some ways to generate leads are through job applications, blog posts, coupons, live events, and online content.

What is the simple definition of lead generation? ›

Lead generation is the process of gaining the interest of potential customers in order to increase future sales. It is a crucial part of the sales process of many companies. A lead is anyone who has shown interest in a company's products or services but may not yet be qualified to buy.

What is the primary purpose of lead generation? ›

The purpose of a lead generation campaign is to guide prospective customers into the sales funnel and through the sales pipeline until they are ready to make a purchase.

What is lead generation in a nutshell? ›

Lead generation refers to the process of attracting people who aren't in your database yet, convincing them to provide you with their contact details, and guiding them through the buying process until they're ready to talk to your sales team and/or make a purchase.

What are lead generation skills? ›

Lead generation skill involves knowing how to attract and convert strangers and potential prospects into someone who has indicated interest in your company's product or service. Being skilled at lead generation means you're adept at creating opportunities for sales, marketing, and revenue growth.

How do you answer how do you generate leads? ›

How to generate more sales leads
  1. Ask current customers for referrals. ...
  2. Work with your network to identify sales leads. ...
  3. Engage with sales leads at networking events. ...
  4. Revisit closed and lost opportunities. ...
  5. Find sales leads on relevant social media networks. ...
  6. Optimize your social media profiles to attract ideal sales leads.

Why should we hire you for lead generation? ›

Here are some reasons why you might consider hiring a lead generation specialist: Expertise: Lead generation specialists have specialized knowledge and experience in creating and implementing effective lead generation strategies. They understand the best practices, tools, and techniques to generate high-quality leads.

Why is it called lead generation? ›

Lead generation is the process of generating consumer interest for a product or service with the goal of turning that interest into a sale. In online marketing this typically involves collecting a visitor's contact information (called a “lead”) via a web form.

What is a good lead generation strategy? ›

Anything that gets someone to give you permission to contact them or remarket to them is a lead generation tactic. For example, let's say you're the in-house digital marketer for a company that builds backyard decks. One way you can generate leads is by creating a free, downloadable PDF guide to deck maintenance.

What are the 3 approaches of lead generation? ›

So, there we go, the three best lead generation methods: search engines, content marketing, and of course, social media.

What does lead generation person do? ›

A leads generation specialist is a professional who collects and evaluates potential sales opportunities. They often work for companies who focus on selling their products or services to other businesses.

What are the three stages of lead generation? ›

Following is additional context for the three phases of lead generation.
  • LEAD GENERATION: PHASE ONE – THE STRUGGLE. This phase represents a low to minimally viable volume of lead generation. ...
May 28, 2024

What does lead generation let you do? ›

Lead generation is a process that builds visibility, credibility, trust, and interest from a specific group of people (potential leads). So by focusing on lead generation, it can help drive traffic from high-quality prospects. And with high-quality prospects comes high-value customers.

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