What Is Lead Generation? (2024)

What Is Lead Generation? (1)

Lead generation definition

Lead generation is the process of generating interest in your brand, products, or services. It is an essential strategy to grow your business and reach more prospects.

Are you searching the web to learn more about digital lead generation and how you can use it for your business? Keep reading to go through these topics:

  • What is a lead?
  • Different types of leads
  • What is lead generation in digital marketing?
  • Why is lead generation important?
  • Outbound lead generation vs. inbound lead generation
  • How the lead generation process works
  • 5 best ways to generate leads
  • 6 tips for making your lead generation campaign a success

What Is Lead Generation? (2)

25 Free Tips to

Double Your Leads

without having to double your traffic. Learn how to increase your website conversion rate today!

Get My Free Guide

What is a lead?

What Is Lead Generation? (3)

What is a lead in digital marketing?

A lead is an individual or organization that shows interest in your business, product, or service.

People can show interest in various ways, including:

  • Downloading a free guide
  • Completing a contact form
  • Following your brand’s social media account
  • And more

In almost all cases, your business will hear from a lead before a lead hears from you.

While you can initiate communication first (like by cold calling), this approach generally doesn’t perform well. That’s why many companies try to attract leads.

When you bring leads to your business, they’re more likely to have a genuine interest in your products or services.

What are the different types of lead?

You can attract four types of leads:

  1. Marketing qualified lead (MQL): MQLs come from your marketing efforts, like offering a downloadable guide. These leads are often in the early stages of the buying funnel and aren’t ready to connect with your sales team.
  2. Sales qualified lead (SQL): SQLs show an immediate interest in your products or services, like by submitting a quote request or filling out a contact form. They usually want to speak to your sales team and occupy a lower stage of the buying funnel.
  3. Product qualified lead (PQL): PQLs demonstrate an interest in your products or services too, like by signing up for a free trial. They usually take action after trying your products. A PQL, for instance, may contact your sales team to ask questions and learn more about your offerings.
  4. Service qualified lead: Service qualified leads currently use and pay for your products or services. They have an active interest in your business. This type of lead will usually contact your sales team about making an upsell or choosing a different plan.

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of identifying, attracting, and converting people into prospects through outbound and inbound marketing, and lead generators.

Common lead generation channels are:

  • Search
  • Social media
  • Email
  • Your website

To generate leads online, you can:

  • Run paid ads
  • Offer free product trials through your website
  • Offer gated content
  • Launch an email campaign

Why is lead generation important?

Lead generation matters for business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses for a few reasons. That’s because lead generation does the following:

  • Support healthy business growth: Without leads, your company can’t grow. While you may receive referrals, those often aren’t enough to grow your business the way you want. You need a way to attract and convert prospects, and lead generation provides that.
  • Attract qualified leads: Next, lead gen offers a solution to finding qualified leads, versus any lead. While you can spend time cold-calling potential leads, this strategy rarely results in a lead — only unhappy people with a bad image of your brand.
  • Offers a natural transition from consumer to customer: With lead generation, your business can also provide a seamless customer journey. People can move at their own pace from consumer to customer, like by downloading an online guide or completing a contact form.

Most of all, it benefits your business because it works — when done right.

Outbound lead generation vs. inbound lead generation

You can generate leads through outbound and inbound means. Here’s how they’re different:

Outbound lead generation focuses on pushing people toward your business, products, or services. It uses strategies like cold calling, trade shows, and advertising.

Meanwhile, inbound lead generation pulls consumers toward your business and offerings. An example of inbound lead generation is publishing helpful blog posts that attract your target audience.

The table below summarizes their differences:

Outbound lead generationInbound lead generation
DefinitionA strategy that pushes consumers toward your brandA strategy that draws consumers toward your brand
ExamplesCold calling
Trade shows
Publishing blog posts
Video marketing
Publishing informative and entertaining social media posts

Inbound marketing almost always generates the best results and qualified leads. That’s because it reaches potential leads when they’re looking for your business, products, or services.

While they’re researching, you’re serving as a helpful resource. In fact, less than 20% of marketers think outbound practices provide valuable leads.

How the lead generation process works

Now that you know the definition of lead generation, let’s discuss how an inbound lead generation process works.

  1. A prospect discovers your business as they try to solve a pain point.
  2. They click your call-to-action (CTA), which leads to a landing page.
  3. On the landing page, they fill out a form, share their contact information to access gated content, or sign up for a free trial.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your firm offers architectural services.

You publish helpful content to attract prospects to your site. When an online user searches for “tips for hiring an architect,” one of your pages ranks.

What Is Lead Generation? (4)

A user clicks on your page and reads through your content. At the bottom of the page, a contact form is available where they can leave their information and sign up as a lead.

What Is Lead Generation? (5)

5 of the best ways to generate leads

Are you ready to build your strategy to generate more leads? Here are some of the best ways to generate leads online:

What Is Lead Generation? (6)

5 lead generation strategies

  1. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  2. Paid advertising
  3. Email marketing
  4. Social media marketing and advertising
  5. Content marketing

Let’s go through each lead-generation strategy.

1. SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most powerful ways to generate leads. In fact, SEO leads have a nearly 15% close rate.

SEO is adigital marketing strategythat optimizes your website for search engines (like Google) and searchers (human users). When you optimize your site according to SEO best practices, your website can appear at the top of search results, rather than on page two.

With SEO, your business can reach users as they search on Google, Bing, and other search engines, and quickly become their trusted resource and company of choice. For example, a user searches for “tour packages to Greece.”

What Is Lead Generation? (7)

If your travel agency offers such services and packages, you want a top spot in that search result. Even if your business doesn’t appear in that search result, you can use other SEO tactics, like outreach, to help earn press and exposure for your product.

How can SEO generate leads?

SEO can generate leads by:

  • Attracting bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) leads with optimized product and service pages
  • Drawing middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) leads with guides and customer testimonials
  • Reaching top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) leads with optimized blog posts and articles

In addition, SEO is a useful strategy to outrank your competition in search engine results pages (SERPs).

If your online competitors don’t use SEO, your business can earn a top spot in search results with ease. When you earn a top spot in search results, you provide your business with direct access to leads.

2. Paid advertising

Paid advertisingis another strategy to generate leads. That’s because you can advertise on:

  • Search results
  • Websites
  • Social media
  • And more

Whether you’re looking to generatemanufacturing leadsorinsurance leads, paid advertising lets you reach your prospects online.

Paid advertising describes the use of paid ads like pay-per-click (PPC) advertisem*ntsto attract potential prospects and customers to your business, products, or services. While you can use traditional advertising formats like billboards, digital ad formats tend to offer more value and flexibility.

What Is Lead Generation? (8)

The advantage of paid advertising for lead generation is that your company will usually pay on a per-click orcost-per-click (CPC)payment model. This means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

Depending on your ad settings, you can also pay for an ad based on views or conversions. Even better, paid advertising includes advanced targeting options.

With these options, your business can create hyper-targeted ads that focus on the most valuable prospects for your business. Plus, your ads can reach users when they want to hear from your business, like when they search for your company, product, or services.

How can paid advertising generate leads?

You can use paid ads to generate various types of leads. Here are some ways:

  • Launch search ads promoting a free, downloadable guide
  • Create social media ads highlighting a sale, social post, or guide
  • Build remarketing ads offering a limited-time offer to MQLs

You can also take advantage of your paid advertising data to improve your sales and marketing teams’ understanding of your target market and customer journey. This data can help with all your lead generation efforts, from your ads to your emails.

3. Email marketing

Email marketing is one of the most common ways to generate leads. In fact, 60% of consumers say that emails influence their purchase decisions.

With email marketing, you can take a personalized and long-term approach to growing your company and your relationship with potential clients.

Email marketingoffers an all-in-one solution for communicating with prospects and clients. You can create various audience segments and email campaigns. That way, you send content and offers tailored to users’ interests, concerns, and more.

What Is Lead Generation? (9)

Companies across industries use email marketing because of its effectiveness and return on investment (ROI). In fact, businesses see an average ROI of $36 to $40 for every dollar spent.

How can email marketing generate leads?

You can generate leads with email marketing by:

  • Building relationships with MQLs by sending them informational and useful content
  • Sending SQLs follow-up BOFU content
  • Sending special updates and offers to service qualified leads for upsells and cross-sells

For the best results with email marketing, ensure your company offers valuable content.

While you may want to send content that highlights your services or products, remember to think about your users. Give them something valuable. Otherwise, they will unsubscribe from your emails or not even read them.

4. Social media marketing and advertising

Social media offers immense opportunities for companies that can master generating leads from Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Social media marketing focuses on making posts and content for your followers to encourage them to engage with your brand. Meanwhile, social media advertising involves creating ads to increase brand awareness or generate leads.

How can social media marketing and advertising generate leads?

Here are some lead generation ideas you can implement on social media:

  • Launch targeted ad campaigns to drive follows, likes, and even shares
  • Run lead-generation ad campaigns that collect contact information
  • Post informational content to drive brand awareness and website traffic
  • Respond to comments, questions, or concerns

For example, a veterinarian who wants to generate leads for their practice can post interactive content about pet care. The goals are to encourage interaction, drive brand awareness, and encourage users to inquire.

What Is Lead Generation? (10)

5. Content marketing

Content marketing is another powerful lead-generation strategy. By creating original and helpful content for your target audience, you can capture prospects at different stages of the funnel and nurture them toward becoming a lead.

A few examples of content include:

  • Blog posts
  • Long-form articles
  • Infographics
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Guides

How can content marketing generate leads?

You can use content marketing for a variety of lead-generation efforts — from SEO and social media to email marketing, including:

  • Publishing free, downloadable online guides
  • Writing informative blog posts for users in the early stages of the buying journey
  • Create viral content like infographics to earn exposure
  • Build resource libraries for supporting your sales teams
  • Create a repository of support articles for your existing customers

For example, a dental practice looking to attract leads can use its website to answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) about certain procedures. They can cover questions related to recovery time and procedure costs to help potential customers.

What Is Lead Generation? (11)

The more quality information you provide, the more likely you’ll be to generate leads on your site.

6 tips for making your lead generation campaign a success

Now that you know what lead generation is and the different strategies you can employ, let’s go through some best practices that will improve your lead generation:

What Is Lead Generation? (12)

How to improve your lead generation

  1. Identify your buyer personas
  2. Gather insights from your sales team
  3. Create a consistent experience
  4. Provide every user with a unique offer
  5. A/B test your landing pages, forms, CTAs, and copy
  6. Improve your lead form’s conversion rate

Ready to dive in?

1. Identify your buyer personas

Are your prospects reading your content? To ensure you’re creating content that attracts them, identify your buyer personas.

Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on your current customer base and market data.

Businesses can have multiple buyer personas. For example, a travel and tourism company can have the following personas:

  • Mia the family traveler: She’s in her 30s to 40s and travels with her husband and two young kids. She organizes the annual holiday family trip.
  • Stacey the outdoor enthusiast: She’s in her 20s and enjoys traveling solo or with a friend. She prefers destinations that offer outdoor activities.
  • Jill the jet-setter: She’s in her 30s to 40s and travels frequently with friends or family. She’s willing to spend a little more for comfort and convenience.

2. Gather insights from your sales team

Your sales team connects with your leads one-on-one, which allows them to offer unparalleled insights into the questions of potential clients.

Collaborate with your sales team by asking about their experience with leads and learning:

  • What your leads want to know
  • What your leads desire in a product or service
  • What your leads expect from a product or service provider

Understand your leads better, and your team can develop a better lead generation strategy. You can adapt your content marketing initiative, for example, to cover a frequently asked question among leads or tweak your social media marketing to reach your ideal customer.

3. Create a consistent experience

While you may use a range of channels and techniques to reach potential leads, you want to create a consistent experience. Doing so lets your users recognize your business, products, or services when seeing them again, like via a paid ad.

Consistent messaging and branding also make it easier for users to transition from stranger to prospect. They feel confident that they’re working with the same company when moving from your social media profile to your website.

4. Provide every user with a unique offer

When it comes to lead generation, companies can struggle to create compelling offers for users in the earlier stages of the buying funnel. While it’s easy to offer a free trial or obligation-free quote to BOFU users, that kind of offer doesn’t work on users who are still researching and considering.

Take the time to research potential offers for every stage of the funnel. A few examples include:

  • A free guide
  • A coupon
  • A free trial
  • A free consultation

Monitor your social media for ideas, too. Sometimes, users may comment and express interest in what they’d like to receive. You can even browse industry forums to see what users want or expect when working with service or product providers.

5. A/B test your landing pages, forms, CTAs, and copy

Also known as split testing, A/B testing is a methodology that compares two versions of your webpage, landing page, or social media post. The goal is to identify the better-performing version based on the data.

A/B testing your landing pages, CTAs, and copy provides you with insights on how you can improve your lead generation campaigns. With A/B testing, you can:

  • Determine which CTAs drive your audience to action
  • Identify the landing page layout that effectively generates leads
  • Pinpoint ad copies that encourage your audience to engage with you

6. Improve your lead form’s conversion rate

Your lead form is a crucial element of your lead generation efforts. That’s why if you want your target audience to fill them out, you must optimize them for conversion.

How? Ask only for the most important information in your form, while considering their stage in their journey. For example, you can ask for their email address and name to give them access to a gated TOFU content.

What Is Lead Generation? (13)

To get a free trial of your service, however, they may need to provide other details, such as their organization’s details and how they’ll use your services. This way, you’re also ensuring the quality of your leads.

Other tips to improve your lead form’s conversion rate are:

  • Make other fields optional
  • Break your forms into multiple pages
  • Gain your prospects trust with a clear Privacy Policy
  • Optimize your “Submit” button
  • A/B test your form

37% of marketers say that generating high-quality leads was one of their biggest challenges.

We want to decrease that percentage.

WebFX can help you generate high-quality leads with a customized marketing strategy.

Learn More About Lead Generation Services

What Is Lead Generation? (15)

Master lead gen with a top lead generation agency

WebFX is a toplead generation agency and has worked on lead generation and digital marketing campaigns for years. We have clients who came to us with the exclusive goal of bringing in more leads to their sales reps so they could close more deals and earn more revenue.

With our award-winning team, we’ve helped our clients achieve that goal so they can achieve new levels of success. Now, we’re excited to drive the same results for you!

Do you want to earn new leads for your business?Contact us or call us at 888-601-5359 today to create a lead generation campaign that suits your business!

What Is Lead Generation? (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Kieth Sipes

Last Updated:

Views: 5582

Rating: 4.7 / 5 (67 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Kieth Sipes

Birthday: 2001-04-14

Address: Suite 492 62479 Champlin Loop, South Catrice, MS 57271

Phone: +9663362133320

Job: District Sales Analyst

Hobby: Digital arts, Dance, Ghost hunting, Worldbuilding, Kayaking, Table tennis, 3D printing

Introduction: My name is Kieth Sipes, I am a zany, rich, courageous, powerful, faithful, jolly, excited person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.