In marketing, lead generation is the initiation of consumer interest or enquiry into products or services of a business. Leads can be created for purposes such as list building, e-newsletter list acquisition or for sales leads. The methods for generating leads typically fall under the umbrella of advertising, but may also include non-paid sources such as organic search engine results or referrals from existing customers. Leads may come from various sources or activities, for example, digitally via the Internet, through personal referrals, through telephone calls either by the company or telemarketers, through advertisements, and events. A 2015 study found that 89% of respondents cited email as the most-used channel for generating leads, followed by content marketing, search engine, and finally events. A study from 2014 found that direct traffic, search engines, and web referrals were the three most popular online channels for lead generation, accounting for 93% of leads.
There are two types of leads in the lead generation market: Sales leads and Marketing leads.
Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
are leads that have typically come through Inbound channels, such as Web Search or content marketing, and have expressed interest in a company's product or service. These leads have yet to interact with sales teams.
Sales qualified leads (SQLs)
are leads screened by salespeople, oftentimes Sales Development Representatives (SDRs), for appropriate qualifying criteria to be followed-up with. Qualifying criteria include need, budget, capacity, time-frame, interest, or authority to purchase.
Online Lead Generation
- Social media marketing
- Email marketing
- Online advertising