What Is Lead Generation? Definition, Examples & Strategies

April 23, 2023

What Is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is a method of attracting prospects to your business. The lead generation business model focuses on nurturing potential clients through the sales journey. The goal is to get people to take action and result in a sale.

Lead generation can occur through blogs, websites, videos, live events, or email marketing. According to Demand Sage, 68% of businesses need help getting leads. In 2024, companies need lead generation to stay relevant, drive online traffic to their offer and maintain a steady stream of potential customers.

What Is A Lead?

A lead is a person or company interested in what you're selling. Marketing Sherpa advises that 79% of leads generated never convert into a sale. Any interest is a lead, but not everyone results in a paying customer. HubSpot suggests that 61% of marketers think their biggest challenge is producing high-quality leads that result in a purchase. So how much interest is enough to define it as a lead? People who have expressed curiosity about your product or service can be considered a lead.

Another example would be individuals who have conveyed their contact information and engaged with your website, social media profile, or blog. Consider the person's level of interest in your product or service. Where are they in their customer journey? Use this information to decide if it's worth investing time and money to convert them into a sale. First, determine the quality of the lead that you're generating. Then, focus on those to convert them into sales. Of course, this requires a digital marketing strategy to establish the following: 

  • What methods will you use to produce leads?
  • Where does your target audience hang out online?
  • What can you include in your offer to invoke a purchase right now?

Not every lead is equal. However, your actions for each can make a big difference in converting them to paying customers.

What Are The Steps To Qualifying A Lead?

1. Marketing Qualified Lead:

MQLs are quality leads deemed more likely to become customers than other leads. This qualification is based on predetermined engagement factors like:

  • What web pages have they viewed?
  • What actions have they taken on your social media posts?

MLQs are people who aren't quite ready to take action. They're potentially intrigued by what you offer but are not in a position to buy from you right now. The MLQ process is the most time-consuming. As a result, it can be both cumbersome and expensive to generate a steady stream of high-quality MLQs.

2. Sales Qualified Lead:

SLQs may have requested a demonstration or proposal. The key here is to give value. Value shows potential customers your expertise and knowledge and gives them a reason to buy from you.

3. Product Qualified Lead (PQLs):

Product-qualified leads are unique for every business. PLQs are generally based on specific criteria. They're product users who reach certain thresholds of usage. As a result, they're more likely to convert than other users. For instance, they've taken advantage of a free offer or limited-time trial and have had first-hand experience with your product or service.

4. Service Qualified Lead:

Service-qualified leads are ready to convert. For example, individuals that have discussed the next steps around your product or service with a sales rep. Of course, taking advantage of SQLs requires personalization tactics or automation lead generation software such as chatbots or instant messaging. According to Bright Talk, personalization can improve conversion potential by 63%.

Now consider that there are three main stages of the lead generation funnel:

  • Top of the funnel: TOFU is the awareness stage
  • Middle of the funnel: MOFU is where the customer considers your product or service
  • Bottom of the funnel: BOFU is a consumer ready to make a purchase

The customer journey through your lead funnel is dynamic; most consumers will bounce around before deciding. According to B2B Marketing, it takes an average of seven interactions with your brand for a person to make a purchase.

This concept, known in marketing as the rule of seven, emphasizes the need for your brand to remain visible. Research shows that 63% of people searching for products and services will not purchase before three months. So the key is to get the potential customer to a point where their pain point becomes elevated enough and buy what you're selling. 

What Are Two Types Of Lead Generation?

Inbound Leads:

Inbound lead generation refers to people who contact your business directly and are often the direct result of referrals. However, they can also be followers on social media profiles, your blog, or YouTube channel. Slower than outbound leads, they are derived organically.

As a result, they have a higher level of awareness around your business and brand than outbound. Data suggests that inbound marketing content generates three times as many leads as outbound marketing content and produces higher conversion rates.

Outbound Leads:

Outbound lead generation, on the other hand, is a sales lead that you actively pursue. As a result, you have more control over your audience and can hone in on your ideal client base. Outbound leads commonly require uber-targeted paid ads on platforms where your ideal audience spends the most time online. WP Beginner suggests that 53% of marketers say email has been the most effective channel for early-stage lead generation. But other outbound strategies can include cold calling, direct mail, content marketing, or events. Leads can then be divided into four specific categories:

  • Attraction is based on leveraging branded assets to drive online traffic to your proposal via a sales funnel, landing page, lead magnets, or lead gen form. 
  • Conversion is about transforming visitors into leads. The idea is to get them to take action, like joining your email list or watching your free webinar.
  • Nurturing requires learning as much as you can about your ideal client. For example, What problems do they need to solve? What questions are they asking? Nurturing takes time and patience. The goal is to foster a relationship that builds trust and loyalty in your brand and converts them into paying customers.
  • Satisfaction relies on meeting the customers' trust and developing a relationship that results in a sale.

The Lead Generation Process Is:

  • Lead generation starts with a person finding your small business online. It can be through your website, blog, YouTube channel, or social media profiles.
  • Next, they act on your CTA (call to action) by giving you their contact information. These people are raising their hands and saying they're interested in what you offer. They're educated on who you are and what your business supplies.
  • Now they're somewhat qualified and ready to connect with a member of your sales team. But they still need to trust your company and find out more before buying.
  • Pro Tip: Learn why people choose to buy your product. Then you can spend your resources wisely and not waste time and money trying to convert individuals who don't qualify. Instead, you can focus on generating leads ready to buy now.

What Is The Best Source Of Leads?

The best source of leads is anything that puts your online business in front of as many eyeballs as possible. So first, consider where your ideal customer hangs out online. For example, are they avid YouTubers? Or do they prefer written content? Like a blog or website?

What social media platforms do they frequent? Next, identify where to spend your time and energy. Then create a lead generation marketing strategy that best aligns with your long-term goals. A few favored methods to lead generation include: 

Websites & Blogs

Websites and blogs are excellent ways to expand your reach and connect with your identified audience. There are 5.6 billion internet users, and 63.1% of the world's population looks for products and services online. To generate the best leads, create local lead generation websites that share valuable and informative content with a clear call to action. 

According to HubSpot, 60% of marketers say that inbound (SEO, blog content, etc.) is their highest quality source. In addition, Google has stated that the best way to rank for search intent is through high-value and relevant content. But to rank higher in the SERPs, write for people, not the algorithms. Then learn as much as possible about your client base and produce content that resonates with your target audience:

  • What are their needs?
  • What are their problems?

Think about the search query. Then build your lead generation strategy around those questions.

Social Media Platforms

Social media platforms are secondary lead generation channels and another chance to drive online traffic to your offer. Data analyzed by Kepios reports that as of January 2023, there were 4.76 billion social media users worldwide. Take advantage of platforms by adding URLs on sites like TikTok and running Facebook ads. Or use a swipe-up option on Instagram that encourages a potential customer to act.

Use video and influencer marketing to build additional trust and expand brand awareness. Studies suggest that 61% of users trust the content they get from influencers. Write with powerful verbs and craft headlines that grab the attention of your target audience. The more people click on your link, the more signals you send to Google to prove your site should rank high in the search engines. 

SMS & Email Marketing

Email marketing is an effective and profitable approach to lead generation and has a 42X ROI on average. To get email addresses from your target audience, create interactive content like quizzes or timed challenges. Don't try to sell them a product or service. Instead, focus on developing relationships with existing customers and connecting with a new lead or audience. 


Retargeting focuses on people who visit your website but don't take action. So set up your campaigns with a pixel on platforms like Facebook and Google to retarget them. Pixels track user behavior when they browse the internet. Then your ad is shown in relevant searches to get a potential customer to return and result in a purchase.

Referral Marketing

Referral marketing is about tapping into your existing client base. They're a valuable resource you can leverage to generate a quality lead or referral and increase your sales. Offer incentives for a referral, like a discount or bonus. Word-of-mouth marketing, or social proof, is one of the best ways to build trust.

According to a report by Neilson, 92% of consumers believe suggestions from friends and family more than advertising. As a result, Word-of-mouth marketing gets 5X more sales than paid media. You can up the ante by using influencer marketing to raise brand awareness and consumer confidence. In fact, according to Startup Bonsai, 80% of consumers have bought something via an influencer recommendation.

To Convert Leads To Customers:

  • Adopt a targeted approach to connect with your contacts.
  • Leverage a supercharged multichannel plan to get someone from A-Z in the sales cycle.
  • Use social media, email, content marketing, etc., to tap into consumer psychology, known as the frequency illusion.  
  • Say the right things to the right people. It takes the right offer. One that's relevant and aligns with the pain points of your ideal target audience.
  • Focus on the benefit outcomes instead of the features and dial in on your message to market match.
  • Know your market and understand what your ideal customer is going through. Say the right things to the right people. It takes the right offer. One that's relevant and aligns with the pain points of your ideal target audience. For example,
  • How can you make them feel valued?
  • How can you make your offer personal and relatable?

The more human and authentic you can make your business, the better a person will receive what you have to share. Next, focus on creating connection content that demonstrates you're an expert and a company people can trust. When you change the perceived level of value of your offer, you make better connections, make money online and convert more leads to loyal customers. 

Lead Nurturing & Lead Scoring

Lead nurturing and lead scoring are two separate entities. However, they work together and are vital when deciding where and how you spend your marketing dollars to recoup the best ROIs. Lead nurturing is a method of continued contact with potential customers. It can help build relationships, increase CTRs, and develop trust with your target audience.

The primary goal is to improve your chances of converting a person into a customer to drive more sales. But, according to Marketing Sherpa, 65% of marketers are not nurturing leads. Nurturing tactics include email marketing campaigns, content, active social media posting, and surveys. 

Lead scoring, on the other hand, lets you connect with the best leads and determine their probable sales-readiness. Research indicates that lead scoring can improve conversion rates by up to 50%. In addition, it assists you in predicting which leads are most likely to convert and the ones that aren't worth pursuing. Finally, it assigns a point value to each prospect early in your sales funnel. Then you can identify qualified leads through user behavior and data like:

  • How often do they visit your website and social media profiles?
  • How much time do they spend on your site?
  • What pages do they view?

Lead scoring helps rank the relevance of a person. Concurrently, scoring and nurturing ensure you leverage the right platforms and minimize the sale cycle. But this allows you to develop an effective lead generation campaign and get the most profitable returns for your efforts.

What Are Different Lead Generation Strategies? 

Your lead generation strategies need to align with your target market. Go where your people spend their time. Develop better offers with a clear CTA. Then show a potential customer why you're the authority in your niche.

Promote engagement. Be everywhere that's relevant and drive online traffic to your offers. Do your research. Understand what your ideal client wants or needs. How can your business help them? Then pick the right platform for your company. Lead with value and stay consistent. A few popular lead gen methods in 2024 include the following sites:

Rank & Rent Lead Generation

Rank and rent lead generation is one of the best ways to produce a steady stream of high-quality leads. The concept is simple. Build rank and rent websites that get to the top of Google and act like digital billboards. These micro-websites focus on a specific product or service. Specific parameters like population size, competition level, and the number of businesses in your rank & rent niches help your sites hit the top spots faster. 

Use SEO tactics to leverage the algorithms and drive your sites to the top of the SERPs. There, you own valuable digital real estate and are front and center for a ton of people who are ready to buy right now. Then your sites start producing high-caliber leads you can sell to local business owners for profit. 

You're not out of pocket for ad spend because you're getting organic traffic. And this results in profit margins of as much as 85%-90%. Bright Edge advises that 53.3% of all website traffic comes from organic search. Plus, once your sites are at the top, they require minimal upkeep. You can build and rank more lead gen sites to generate passive income. 

Facebook Lead Generation

Facebook lead generation has the best ROI of any social media channel. With nearly 3 billion monthly active users, Statista advises that 78% of U.S. consumers have found a new product on Facebook. The platform allows you to connect with ultra-targeted prospects. However, the best audience is your audience; personal posts get more reach than a business page. In addition, they're free and a great way to start conversations, get attention, and nurture leads. 

Facebook ads are another way to generate leads. But they're expensive, so to develop the highest ROIs, craft an ad with a compelling hook and a unique angle. Then use an image that invokes an impact and drives a person to click your link. Pick a layout that showcases your offer the best to land more conversions. 

Focus on the value equation and be crystal clear on the benefits of your product or service. Highlight every level of your offer equally to create a seamless delivery. What is your product or service all about? How can it help a person or make their life better? The key is to develop an ad that tells a story and shares things like: 

  • What's the result?
  • What's the perceived likeliness of results?
  • How long will it take to get results?
  • How much effort or sacrifice is needed to see results?

According to Hootsuite, Facebook lead ads can reach 1 billion people and is the top channel to stay relevant, expand your reach and drive more leads to your offer. 

TikTok Lead Generation

TikTok lead generation is the perfect channel for generating leads in 2024. Social Insider calls it the most engaging social media platform this year. In fact, TikTok has an average engagement rate of 4.25%. As a result, TikTok presents an incredible chance to connect with a new audience. The secret to more leads on TikTok is creating content with virality potential.

First, be the better marketer. Create scroll-stopping videos or reels that grab the attention of your ideal audience. Or take advantage of TikTok challenges and partner with influencers. Next, develop a content strategy that WOWs your audience. For example, use gated content that includes a free offer. Or CTA-oriented video storylines that educate or entertain. Have an irresistible offer with a clickable link in your bio, a dialed-in landing page, and a clear call to action. 

The idea is to get as many eyeballs on your posts as possible. According to Partner Student Beans, 55% of TikTok users bought something after seeing the brand. Finally, drive even more traffic to your offer using TikTok ads. The price tag for TikTok ads is $10 per 1000 views. However, organic traffic will only take you so far. But don't expect to generate leads from your ads right away. There's a ramp-up period to success. Here's where you need to track your campaigns. First, collect data and then optimize based on criteria like:

  • What ads are working well?
  • Where do you need to make changes?

Shift gears where you need to and focus on what's working best for your niche. As a result, you'll attract the highest quality leads possible and get the best returns for your dollar.

LinkedIn Lead Generation

LinkedIn has 900.2 million members and is one of the world's top social platforms. Social Pilot reveals that 77% of marketers see the best organic results from LinkedIn. But you need to optimize your LinkedIn profile to get eyes on your business. Then commit to publishing content at least 2-3Xs/a week. 

Organic marketing requires knowledge of your audience and the ability to deliver valuable content on your feed. When someone checks out what you're producing, that's your cue to engage. According to market research, users that see a business' content on LinkedIn are 6X more likely to purchase from them. 

But organic content is only one way to utilize LinkedIn for lead generation. Hootsuite notes that paid ads on the platform can reach 14.6% of the world's population. To develop a profitable ad campaign, consider the following:

  • What's your objective?
  • Who is your target audience? What criteria do they need to meet?
  • What ad format is best suited to your ideal customer?
  • How much do you want to spend?
  • What style of ad creative will you use?

Monitor data and refine or adjust your campaigns when and where needed to guarantee you get the best results.

PPC Lead Generation

Pay-per-click or PPC targets paid traffic through a Google ad campaign, Facebook ads, or YouTube advertising. PPC can be highly advantageous for B2B lead generation, but you need to go where your audience spends their time online. So get uber-specific around your campaigns and ad groups. 

But PPC lead generation can be pricey. So use a lead generation tool like Keywords Everywhere or Google Analytics to maximize your ad spend. According to Viden Globe, Google Ads costs are predicted to increase by 20%-30% in 2023. Focus on keywords your audience searches and have purchase intent. Then, track and monitor your data and be ready to test and retest based on the results.

Optimize your offer to reach the top of Google and achieve maximum profits. WebFX advises that 46% of all clicks go to the top three pay-per-click (PPC) ads. So design a convincing offer with a clear CTA. Then send visitors to a superior landing page that compels people to click your ad, share their contact details, and become potential leads. 

Tips For Lead Generation Campaigns

To get the best leads, you need to have a clear digital marketing strategy that follows a predetermined process and includes the following:

Track your data: 

Track your data to know where your customers are coming from. What channels work well? What platforms bring the highest quality traffic? Then, take this information and pivot where needed. The idea is to personalize your efforts and increase ROIs.

A study performed by Invesp concluded businesses that use data-driven strategies drive 5-8Xs more ROI than businesses that don't. But companies that track leads through the entire process have a better chance of weeding out unqualified leads. As a result, they close more deals and make more revenue.

Utilize the correct lead generation tools: 

Utilize essential software for the local lead generation business. For example, CRM software such as Ontraport costs $24-$249/month. Or HubSpot for $450-$1200/month. Another option is to use call tracking numbers from sites like CallRail. Next, choose automation tools that provide ease of use. The tools you choose need to meet the individual needs of your business.

And they have to be able to automate your processes and deliver real-time data. Then you can learn as much as possible about your customers. For example, what pages do they visit on your website? Do they follow you on social media? When you have the answers, you know where to spend your dollars for the highest returns. 

Craft compelling offers for every stage of the buying process: 

The customer journey is multi-layered, and you need to grab their attention right out of the gate. Consider that you're competing with other companies for the same audience. But if you lack the skills, consider investing in one of the best local lead generation courses and get an actionable blueprint from someone who is an authority in the lead gen space.

Develop offers that entice a person to move through the stages of the buying journey and result in a purchase. A recent study from Google found that today's consumer journey can have between 20-500 touchpoints. So focus on proposals that invoke a response and encourage people to take the next step.

Dedicate a landing page that links directly to your CTA: 

Dedicate a landing page that connects directly to your CTA: Landing pages help drive traffic to your website. According to Business Adobe, nearly 68% of B2B businesses use strategic landing pages to generate leads for future conversion.

Landing pages provide a chance to nurture a potential lead. Use them to share a value proposition and why they should do business with you. To maximize interactions between your page and visitors, highlight the benefits they'll get by sharing relevant information like their name, email, and telephone number. 

Become a master of social media:

Become a social media master and dominate the market. Start by narrowing down your platforms. Only use the ones that work best for your brand. Next, begin flirting with broader content. It needs to be part of your mix, and you need to be insane with output.

Leverage sites like Facebook fan pages, YouTube shorts, and TikTok. Then post a minimum of 4 pieces/platforms per week. Conquer the art of storytelling and be clear and transparent in your message. Use live streaming, nano-influencers, hashtags, etc., to expand your reach and provide practical value. The key is sharing content that delivers some kind of emotional charge and drives people to act.

How to make money with lead generation:

You can make money with lead generation by selling leads. Leads are the lifeblood of every business. So if you have the skills to capture online traffic, there's a ton of opportunity with lead generation. For example, you can start a lead gen business and rank websites in Google for small business owners.

Those sites start producing leads, and you sell them for profits of as high as 85%-90%. The local lead generation business model explained is a simple concept. First, get uber-specific around your service. Then target the right location. Next, leverage the SERPs to produce organic traffic. Once your sites are at the top of Google search engines, you generate a steady cash flow. Plus, you can build more than one site at a time. And this is how you create a passive income. 

Why Do You Need Lead Generation?

You need lead generation to let people know about your business and expand your reach. In 2024, lead generation is non-negotiable. Without leads, there are no sales, resulting in no revenue. But leads are simply a function of movement into your own traffic sources. The more media you own, the more attention you get. As a result, the more leads you own.

The goal is to get more eyes on your business and attract more people who may be interested in your products or services. According to a study published by Authority Website Income, 53% of marketers spend at least half their budget on B2B lead generation. First, grow your audience on multiple channels and complete a lead capture. Then drive them to your website. Once there, you entice them to act using a lead magnet like a checklist or free download. 

Previously lead gen was a pay-to-play game. But the landscape, conversion, and quality have changed. The secret to developing client attraction and getting high-caliber leads is to focus on organic content marketing. For example, create long-form videos or social media posts with virality potential. But provide value to your target customer no matter where they are in their buying journey.

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses

Ippei.com is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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