Lead generation is the process of generating interest from your target customer base to effectively increase future sales. Lead generation is a crucial component in the sales strategy of any company.

A “lead” is any person who shows interest in the products or services of a company but isn’t yet qualified to purchase something. These people represent potential customers that may be willing to invest in your organization’s products or services in the future.

An effective lead generation strategy ensures that a business can continue generating profit and revenue from new customers.

Lead generation today

Lead generation has always been a part of the sales process. However, as the way that consumers interact with brands changes, thanks to digital transformation, the techniques that companies use to generate and nurture leads has evolved.

In the past, the majority of lead generation techniques were “outbound” in nature. Sales representatives reached out to uneducated buyers to introduce them to services and products. Today, consumers have far more control over their own buyer journey. Through social media, blogs and other content, customers become aware of a product before they ever interact with a salesperson.

Why do businesses need lead generation?

Lead generation provides companies with a foundation on which they can build valuable relationships with a target audience. When strangers initiate connections with your company by reading your blogs or liking a post on Facebook, their transition from stranger to customer is much simpler.

Lead generation takes place in the second stage of the inbound marketing buyer journey after you’ve attracted an audience and you’re ready to start converting those visitors into sales. The steps of the lead generation process include:

  • Drawing a visitor to your business through a marketing channel like email or social media.
  • Convincing a customer to click on a call-to-action button or message.
  • Taking your visitor to a landing page (a page dedicated to capturing lead information)
  • Providing an offer for something of value, (i.e., a course, eBook or gated content) in exchange for their personal information

Common types of lead generation strategy

Most companies use a variety of lead generation techniques today, to generate more attention for their products and services. Common lead generation strategies include:

  • Gated content creation: Gated content encourages customers to provide their contact details in exchange for exclusive content. Gated content is excellent for collecting lead information, but it won’t appeal to all consumers.
  • Social media marketing: Social media allows companies to target a specific audience and engage them in ways that encourage conversionconversations that encourage people to buy.
  • Inbound marketing: Creating content like videos, blogs and articles educate customers and direct them towards a landing page. CTA (Call to action) [GLOSSARY LINK TK] content then converts the lead by asking them to engage in a valuable action.
  • Ads and retargeting: Ads placed on relevant websites offer a form of outbound marketing that raises awareness about your business and improves your chances of gaining leads.

Aligning sales and marketing in lead generation

Crucially, for a lead generation strategy to be successful, marketing and sales need to interact throughout the process. With techniques like social selling, networking and outbound emailing, sales teams can support the lead generation process, and assist with lead qualification.

Lead qualification is the process of determining whether leads are ready to be passed to the sales team based on things like their alignment with a company’s user persona. Customer Relationship Management software is often used to track and evaluate leads before they’re delivered to sales.