What Is Lead Generation In Digital Marketing? Definition, Approaches & Distinctions

July 31, 2023

What Is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is a way to get more eyes on your business, achieve a potential customer's interest, and make more sales. The lead generation model helps find people interested in your product or service. It's a way to connect with a person early in their customer journey. Then you can move them through the steps of your sales funnel and get them to become a paying customer.

What Is Digital Marketing?

Digital marketing is the process of promoting products or services on the Internet. According to WordStream, 55% of the global marketing industry is digital. Digital marketing is an online business model. It leverages channels like websites, social media, and email marketing campaigns to connect with potential customers.

Other examples include paid ads and search engine rankings. Start by finding out where your ideal client avatar spends its time online. For example, do they consume content on YouTube? Or do they prefer engaging on social media platforms? Next, go where your people hang out. Then create a unique marketing angle to drive a ton of eyeballs to your offers.

What Is Lead Generation In Digital Marketing?

Lead generation in digital marketing is used to produce valuable leads, establish a sales pipeline, and convert users into buyers. The end goal is to get more sales and increase revenue. But lead generation isn't easy. In fact, HubSpot advises that 61% of marketers consider generating traffic and leads their biggest challenge.

What Are Types Of Lead Generation In Digital Marketing?

Inbound marketing 

Inbound marketing is based on attracting, engaging, and providing value to people. It helps build connections and grow your business. For example, people complete an online survey or share your website link. The inbound lead generation process drives a person to take action and get a sale. An effective inbound digital marketing strategy that shares value is one of the best ways for a B2B marketer to get more qualified prospects and sales.

Outbound marketing

Outbound marketing is often referred to as interruption marketing. It contacts potential customers directly via email, cold calling, or paid ads. The focus is to get a new lead interested in your product or service. Gitnux data suggests that cold calling is ineffective and costs 60% more per lead than other forms of marketing. Outbound lead generation can still get results. But it takes a lead generation strategy. In 2024, you need both to get more leads and the best ROIs. 

What Are Approaches To Lead Generation In Digital Marketing?

Approaches to lead generation in digital marketing are any action that results in more prospective customers and better leads. For example, your marketing team can post videos on YouTube or publish a blog to build brand awareness and drive people to your website. Then you create growth and can maximize profit potential. Developing a digital marketing strategy is key to effective lead generation efforts. A few approaches include:


A website is often a potential customer's first contact with your business. According to Kinesis, 75% of consumers admit to judging a company's credibility based on the company's website design. Make your website work for you and optimize each step of the process. To increase the quality and volume of a qualified lead, include:      

  • Content that gels with your buyer persona
  • A live chat option to increase conversions
  • A free download or offer

Personalize your CTAs and add them to all of your high-traffic web pages. Make sure they're related to the right page and easy to navigate to create the best UX possible. HubSpot advises that personalized CTAs can convert 42% more visitors.

Then test, test, and retest. Use tools like Google Analytics or Google Search Console. Then determine what pages get traffic. For example, What content results in people taking action? Next, pivot fast and make the changes you need on pages not ranking well, like adding new content or including a video. Then you can get better conversions.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is about connecting with your target audience. Create content that provides the most useful and relevant answer and meets the search intent. The result is high-value leads. BrightEdge says 53% of businesses get their overall web traffic from organic search. Revamp old or existing web copy to rank higher in the search engines. SEMRush states 27% of high-performing content was a month or less old. Don't waste time with chatter.

Instead, answer the users' questions directly. Share valuable information like FAQs, infographics, video tutorials, or other interactive content. MediaFly reports that interactive content sees 52.6% more attention than static content. Publish content that's easy to digest and better than the competition. As a result, more people will visit your website. Then you can connect with them early in their buyer's journey.        

Video Marketing

Video marketing is one of the best ways to get attention. According to OptinMonster, 84% of people are convinced to buy a product or service by watching a brand's video. But videos need to make an impact. The goal is to get people to stop scrolling and take action. So design creatives with a compelling hook and unique angle. Content that shocks viewers or invokes an emotional reaction drives them to act. For example, post short-form vertical videos on TikTok or YouTube shorts and reels on Instagram that shock, surprise, or share a unique angle.    


SEO, search engine optimization, is a way to get your website to the top of Google. A few SEO methods include content creation, keywords, backlinks, and social signals. The more visible you are on Google, the better people can find your website. BrightEdge states that 68% of online experiences begin with a search engine. Therefore, SEO needs to play a role in your marketing strategy.       

Use SEO tactics like keywords and long-tail keywords

Use tools like Google Trends and Ahrefs to determine what keywords your target audience uses in their searches. Check out sites like People Also Ask or Answer The Public to get variations of popular keyword options. Then use a combination of keywords on your website. For example, include them in your content, title tags, page titles, and headings. The higher your site is in the search engines, the easier people can find you in their searches.

Optimize for mobile

According to Exploding Topics, 58.43% of website traffic comes from mobile devices. In 2024, you need a mobile-optimized website to be considered a player. In fact, it's one of the best ways to stay competitive and connect with your target audience. Think With Google reports that 51% of customers find and buy new products or services on their mobile phones. So, optimize your site with fast load speeds, click-to-call buttons, and the best UX possible.

Give Google signals

The more authority your site has, the better you'll rank. Get backlinks from other websites with a high domain authority to show Google your business is legit. Backlinks are like votes that tell Google your site is relevant. Collect client reviews and testimonials. Share social proof on your site and social media channels. Then verify and optimize your GBP (Google My Business) to get a secondary stream of leads.

Another option is to build and rank local lead generation websites. The idea is to create micro-websites that focus on one city and one service. But this gives you a third channel to capture leads. So if a business owner has a website, a lead gen site, and a GPB, they have the chance to get in front of the right people three times in the search engines. By leveraging local lead generation, you can dominate your market and show Google that you deserve a spot at the top.

Paid Ads

Paid ads are a chance to generate leads and get valuable contact information about your ideal prospect. They focus on getting people's attention and turning them into loyal customers. But they come with a price tag. According to Statista, digital lead generation advertising spending in the United States will amount to 3.2 billion by the end of 2023. Several strategies to drive more traffic to your offer with paid ads include:       

  • Display & Cross-channel ads
  • PPC & Google ads
  • Email & Account-based ads
  • Dynamic & Buyer persona ads
  • Social remarketing & YouTube ads (like Facebook lead ads)

Promote ads where your ideal potential lead spends their time online. Create a winning ad with a scroll-stopping hook and a unique marketing angle. Use copy or images that get people to act on your offer. Then you'll increase conversions and see the best ROIs. Paid ads can be a great opportunity. They're omnipresent if you're willing to pay. But they are a chance to be everywhere all of the time.

Social Media Marketing

Statista reports 4.89 billion people use social media in 2023. Of course, you don't need to start a social media marketing agency. But you can use social media for lead generation in digital marketing. Platforms like Facebook and TikTok are another way to connect with your target audience. Leverage influencer marketing and connect with social media influencers in your niche. Data suggests that 61% of users trust the content they get from influencers. 

But only 38% of people trust content from business owners. Micro and Nano influencers are cost-effective for reaching a broader audience and building brand awareness. They have a smaller number of followers (100-10,000). So they're not professional influencers. But they do offer high levels of engagement with their audience.    

Email Marketing

Email marketing boasts some of the best value for money in 2024. A 2021 Litmus study suggests that for every dollar you spend on email marketing, expect a return of $36. Email marketing is a specific and high-value skill that gives you real-time feedback.

For example, if you don't get a high open or response rate, now you have data and know what to improve. Of course, you can't fake it. But there's a path forward. The secret is to craft emails with an engaging subject line, relevant images, and integrated social links. Add a value opt-in offer or a next step for readers. Then target the right people and invoke a sense of urgency.

Finally, develop a clear, simple, and well-optimized call to action. One that's short and urges quick action. Emails campaigns need to be personable, with readable content and easy-to-understand information. For example, tips or updates that educate and offer value. Or emails that entertain and get people interested in your brand and become a customer.         

Digital marketing is a skill. But people are spending more time online. Statista reports that there are currently 5.16 billion people who use the Internet. So be where the people are and develop a process to drive online traffic to your offers.

Then you can get a ton of eyeballs on your products and services. Lead generation in digital marketing doesn't take a lot of time. But it does require work. Of course, if you can automate your processes, you have a chance to secure a semi-passive income. Get it right, and you can generate high ROIs. 

Why Is Lead Generation Important In Digital Marketing?

Lead generation is important in digital marketing because leads are the only way a business grows and makes money. Leads are like traffic sources that you own. The more traffic you get, the more sales you can make. But lead generation services can maintain a steady pipeline of high-quality leads that convert to high-value customers.

According to Marketo, effective B2B lead generation systems have at least 133% more revenue than companies that don't adopt the right approach. The key is to develop relationships. Then understand that the fortune is in the follow-up. Data suggests that only 5% of people buy immediately. The other 85% (or the bulk of your market) buys after 90 days to 18 months or more. In 2024, other reasons lead generation is important in digital marketing include:

  • Market expansion & an increased following
  • Higher revenues & brand awareness
  • Better quality leads & organic visibility
  • Builds trust & credibility

Create and optimize the right sales funnel. Then devise a system to stay at the top of people's minds. The goal is to nurture, engage, inform, and interact with a potential customer. Focus on adding value to their life. Then show them how you can provide the best solution to their problem.

Tools For Lead Generation In Digital Marketing

A lead generation tool in digital marketing is the best way to track data. Then you know what's working and where to pivot. Tools are also one of the best ways to source and stay connected with existing and returning customers. Invesp says that loyal customers are gold: they are worth 10x more than the value of their first purchase.

Lead generation software can help get real results. Getting steady leads in your pipeline only takes 1-2 solid tools and a well-defined strategy. So pick software that's easy to use. But one that offers stellar customer service and a decent price tag. A few popular types include:

On-Page Lead Generation

Uses forms to drive leads from your website. For example, software like OptinMonster or WPForms

Email Marketing

Personalized emails and engaging content that shares value, like FAQs or limited-time offers, can increase sales. According to Unlayer, including videos in emails can boost click-through rates by 300%. Use tools like ConstantContact and MailChimp to help automate email marketing campaigns. 

Customer Relationship Management Tools

CRM is a must-have to track and connect with sales leads. HubSpot and OnePage CRM connect your business with prospects in their journey through the sales funnel.

Prospecting & Outreach

Get information about anonymous visitors to your landing pages or websites and reach out to a possible lead with software like Datanyze and Growbots.

Sales Tools

Salesforce and LinkedIn Sales Navigator help take the lead from an interested party to a paying customer. Plus, they offer integration features to stay connected with your current consumers. 

Communication Tools

Build engagement and create a sense of community with open communication using software like Drift and CallPage.

The right lead generation tools can help streamline systems saving time and money. Pick the ones that best fit your marketing style. The idea is to get better conversions and higher ROIs. As a result, your digital marketing agency profit margins will increase. Tools are one of the best ways to help you reach your goals faster and increase sales volume. 

What Are The Key Differences Between Lead Generation & Digital Marketing?

The key difference between lead generation and digital marketing is that lead generation focuses on connecting a business with prospective clients—for example, landing pages, funnels, blogs, or websites. Lead generation connects your business with the right people. Then they become paying customers.

In contrast, digital marketing is about the entire customer journey. It includes every marketing effort you make online to build awareness. For example, you can post videos and reels on sites like TikTok and Instagram or have an active social media profile. Digital marketing is about developing your brand. It's a way to build trust with your target audience.

Lead generation and digital marketing each have a unique purpose, and it's worth starting a digital marketing agency. But the two often work together. Data suggests that 50% of sales time is spent on prospects who will never convert to a sale. As a result, every effective digital marketing campaign needs an element of a lead generation campaign. It takes both to make an income online with B2B marketing in 2024

Local Lead Generation Offers A Unique Angle In Digital Marketing 

Local lead generation provides business owners with another stream of people considered qualified sales lead. The concept is easy. Build and rank simple websites in a local market. Then leverage basic SEO and get those sites to the top of Google. Once your rank and rent websites start producing leads, sell them to a local business owner for as high as 85%-90% profit margins. 

You own the website, tracking number, and leads. But your lead gen sites are valuable digital real estate, and you 'rent' them for a fee. As a result, local business owners get an influx of sales qualified lead prospects, and you have a steady stream of income on autopilot. In addition, the lead generation business model gives you a unique digital marketing angle. It can set your digital marketing skills apart from the competition. Then you can make more money. 

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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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