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.
Lead generation is often paired with lead management to move leads through the purchase funnel . This combination of activities is referred to as pipeline marketing.
A lead is usually allotted to an individual to follow up on. Once the individual (e.g. salesperson) reviews and qualifies it to have potential business, the lead gets converted to an opportunity for a business. The opportunity then has to undergo multiple sales stages before the deal is won.
A lead usually is the contact information and in some cases, demographic information of a customer who is interested in a specific product or service. There are two types of leads in the lead generation market: sales leads and marketing leads.
Sales leads are generated on the basis of demographic criteria such as FICO score (United States) , income, age, household income , psychographic , etc. These leads are resold to multiple advertisers. Sales leads are typically followed up through phone calls by the sales force. Sales leads are commonly found in the mortgage, insurance and finance industries.
Marketing leads are brand-specific leads generated for a unique advertiser offer. In direct contrast to sales leads marketing leads are sold only once. Because transparency is a necessary requisite for generating marketing leads, marketing lead campaigns can be optimized by mapping leads to their sources.