Lead generation encompasses a series of actions that enable you to reach new potential customers: here is a simple explanation of how it works and why it is so important.

Imagine the scene: you picking up the yellow pages and scrolling through the list of names and phone numbers, choosing (somewhat at random) the next person to contact to propose your fantastic offer...

Yes, I know, it sounds like something from another era!

Yet until a few decades ago this was the norm: after all, without the Internet, what other way could you have to find new customers for your business than to search for them one by one?

Lo and behold, fortunately, the digital age we live in brings with it the fantastic opportunity to attract your prospects super easily and quickly by harnessing the flood of information we are all exposed to when we surf the Web.

It is what is called lead generation: I guess you've come across this term before!

Perhaps you are not sure what it means (or simply would like to understand it better): well, this article is for you!

This is one of the main techniques of inbound marketing and consists, precisely, of the Generation of new contacts, with the goal of converting them into paying customers and thereby increasing your sales.

But let's look at everything in detail: I'll explain in full what a lead is, what lead generation is and how it works, why it is so important, and what are the main sources you can tap into.

Happy reading!

Everyone does lead generation--but what is a lead?

Okay, as is my wont, I want to start right at the bottom: let's try to understand exactly what a lead.

We can roughly translate this as "potential buyer"-this is any person (or company) who shows interest in your product or service, and who precisely by virtue of that interest shares a name, email address, or in some cases even a phone number with you. 

Considering the consumer life cycle, a lead lies between the user who, for example, visits your website and the customer who purchases your offer.

Ah, did you know that not all leads are the same? There are different types based on various factors.

For example, some leads may find you independently (coming across your blog), while others you can acquire through precise strategies (I'll tell you which ones later); of some you can only get the name and email, of others you can manage to get secondary contact details to use for even more personalized communication.

Based on the type of qualification and stage in the sales cycle, however, four types can be distinguished:

  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): is a contact who has interest in you but is not yet ready to establish a more consistent, sales-oriented relationship. Let's say he subscribed to your blog newsletter or signed up in exchange for that free pdf. 
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): has expressed a real interest in your product or taken an action that explicitly indicates this; he or she is therefore one step closer to becoming a paying customer. This is the case, for example, with someone who fills out a form to get more details about your product.
  • Product Qualified Lead (PQL): the one who has taken steps to become a paying customer. This is similar to SQLs, but with a slight difference: it is usually typical for companies that provide a free trial version of their product. These leads might use the latter, but then ask you about some of the features available only in the paid plans.

Clearly, depending on the type of leads you want to get or target, your strategies and communication will change. 

What is lead generation?

Okay, if a lead is a potential customer who has not yet purchased from you, but may want to do so in the future, doing lead generation simply means increasing the number of these users so you have a pool to draw from for all your promotional and communication strategies.

Lead generation is a true process of finding everyone who could potentially be interested in your offer; it coincides with the first step in the consumer journey: the awareness stage-and for many companies, lead generation is the initial stage of the sales funnel.

The idea is to offer them "goodies" that are interesting enough to intrigue them and bring them closer to your brand, with the ultimate goal of converting them into buyers.

In online marketing, this involves. Attract traffic to your website and persuade visitors to exchange their contact details (usually name and email) with you via a form to be filled out.

You can generate leads through a number of different strategies (content marketing, ads, social campaigns, etc.), always with the intention of making connections with your potential customers so that they can establish a trusting relationship with you right away.

There is no need to emphasize how critical lead generation is to business growth: having a large base of contacts to draw on allows you to increase the likelihood of increasing revenue from conversions.

Being successful in lead generation can in fact make the sales cycle much more efficient and lead to an increased success rate in customer acquisition.

How does lead generation work?

Like all things, doing lead generation done well involves a whole range of digital marketing knowledge and skills-most importantly, it is not about randomly collecting contacts and, in an equally disorganized way, bombarding them with information to stimulate them to buy.

Also because, what matters is always the quality, more than quantity: better fewer contacts, but valuable ones (i.e., more in line with the characteristics of your offer and therefore more likely to be predisposed to a future purchase), rather than lots of names of people who don't actually get much of a kick out of you.

Do you agree?

Well, having said that, I still want to make it simple for you to understand tout court How lead generation works.

Basically, what happens is this: a user comes to you through one of your marketing channels (website, blog, social media) and finds something that interests them (an infoproduct, a course, a webinar, a newsletter) and that he can have for free, in exchange for his name and email address.

He clicks on the call to action (a button, a message or a picture with which you precisely invite him to get his incentive) and finds himself on a landing page to fill out a form with the required information and download or access the product.

Et voila! You have acquired a new lead.

Needless to say, your offer must have a value perceived for the user that it is enough to convince him to share his personal information with you.

What will you do with these contacts later?

All you need to build a relationship of trust and exchange, to keep them interested in your brand and business by offering them a series of opportunities to become your long-term customers.

For example, a database of contacts is the starting point of any email marketing campaign - which, as I explain in this article, is still one of the most effective methods to increase the brand awareness, conversions and sales.

Lead generation sources and tools

Well, so we can say that the stages highlight in the lead generation process are basically twofold: getting traffic to your site (or your landing pages) and then getting users to share their contact information with you.

Depending on your goals and the resources you have available, there are many ways to start attracting potential customers to your online domains; below are the main ones:

  • Search engine indexing: the goal in such a case is to appear among the first Google results, which you can do in two ways: paid ads (which appear first) or optimization of the site in optics SEO, to be facilitated by the algorithm and climb positions; in either case, make sure you have a curated blog with accessible and valuable content;
  • Social media: you can share content and links that then link back to your site or to certain landing pages, or even then pay for ads and sponsorships;
  • Affiliate marketing: promote your content through affiliate links, which your partners share with their community in exchange for recognition;
  • Referral marketing: even then, you harness the power of word of mouth to get quality leads, leading your customers to spread a positive image of your brand, through positive reviews and testimonials, in exchange for an incentive;
  • Email marketing: email campaigns allow you to qualify your leads and guide them within a sales path; a simple contact who signed up for your free newsletter, for example, may decide to follow up with one of your webinar, always free, in which you eventually propose the purchase of an online course.

(Read also: What to do on video call to engage more: 9 ideas)

Okay, now that you have their attention, you need to find a way to convince these people to leave you their email address (or, if you already have it, other information to qualify the type of lead). How? By offering them something in return, for free of course! This is what is called lead magnet and its consist of various things, including quality content (eBooks, pdfs, videos, newsletters), webinars or online courses.

Easy, isn't it?

lead generation

Lead generation strategies: 6 practical tips

#1 Optimize your website (and the messages on it).

The first step to collecting quality leads is to make sure you have an optimized website. This means, among other things, that your pages:

  • Have a fast loading time;
  • Be easy to navigate;
  • Also be suitable for viewing on cell phones and tablets;
  • Include CTAs and targeted messages.

All of this is indeed critical to reducing bounce rates and increasing the time spent on your site. And the longer a person stays there, the more likely they are to sign up for your newsletter or download a lead magnet.

As for call-to-actions, be sure to place them in a few strategic places: at the bottom of the home page, to the side of each blog article, or as pop-ups that appear when a user arrives on the site or is about to leave it.

Remember, in general, that the messages contained especially on the home page can be instrumental in generating more leads: make sure they are targeted and effective.

Obviously, if you promote an offer (such as an e-book or other), you need to make sure that your copy Is synchronized so that visitors are not confused 😉

You will see that if you have worked well to promote your website and make it easily usable, it will be able to attract the right users from the rest of the web (other sites, social media, search engines and so on).

#2 Creates many (but many) opt-in opportunities.

Courses, free ebooks, guides and infographics--don't stop at one or two lead magnet. Turn every page of your site into an opportunity for the user to sign up for your mailing list.

A pretty good strategy?

A webinar can prove extremely useful in your favor: it is in fact a relatively inexpensive way to get your message in front of a targeted audience that requested it when you registered.

All successful marketers recognize the power behind a well-planned webinar: there is no doubt that bringing the right people together in a virtual platform increases trust, leads, and sales.

It doesn't matter what field you belong to: people like to feel part of something, just as they like to learn from experts. 

The challenge most of us face, however, when we decide to do a webinar is to have enough people decide to register.

That's why I recommend that you make it part of your content, such as by including a link to it in an article on your blog.

This is because your readers may have developed an emotional connection with you and what you write, recognizing your efforts to solve problems for them or meet needs. This in turn creates trust-which is an indispensable variable in stimulating people to reserve their space in your webinar, giving them the idea that you want to offer something extra without immediately aiming to sell.

If you include the link to it directly in your content, you will therefore be able to provide value to your leads even before they can request it - and this will earn you authority.

Linking to or citing a high-value webinar within your content will position you as a leading expert in your field Taking care of people.

#3 Simplify the enrollment form.

There are several ways in which you can collect lead contact information. But do you want to know what the best strategy is?

Use a short application form and ask for only the most important information (name and email address, for example).

Nowadays, you don't need to request a lot of data from potential customers before they can become qualified leads. Better yet, you don't need them to fill out a long form before you can stay in touch with them.

Just then think from the user's perspective: half of all people use smartphones or tablets to surf the Web-and they are usually pretty busy doing other things as well. So be sure not to discourage them with a long sign-up form that takes up all the space on their screen (and takes too much of their time to fill out).

This, for example, is the form to download my free Marketing & Business Planner (a high-resolution PDF you can print and browse, with all the most important national, international and world dates in 2023):

lead generation

Plain and simple, don't you think?

Trust me: the result will be a much better conversion rate.

#4 Separate lead generation from sales

If you want to take your lead generation to the next level and convert visitors into customers, you need to continually test the elements of your landing pages, including title, subtitles, bulleted lists, calls to action and more, so you can identify what can give you the best results.

This is certainly a fundamental step of any content marketing strategy; but there is one thing you should place "stakes" on: it concerns who is responsible for lead generation and who handles the sales process instead.

In fact, to grow your contacts you must "specialize."

When it comes to lead nurturing and contact management (a very important aspect of any successful digital business) this distinction is critical, because each practice requires a different mindset.

On the one hand, lead generation is the marketing process of stimulating and capturing interest in a product or service for the purpose of developing a sales funnel; the goal is to create awareness, inspiring, educating and persuading potential clients to take action.

On the other hand, the sales team is primarily concerned with the exchange of goods and services, but they are also responsible for initiating an excellent customer experience that leads to high retention rate. In general, however, it is what brings a tangible increase in revenue.

The advantage of this distinction is simple: it allows you to improve customer satisfaction-which is one of the keys to your long-term profit.

#5 Write headlines with strong verbs that attract attention

When you write a headline, your goal should always be to arouse curiosity first and convince people to click later.

If you can pay proper attention to headline creation, not only will you generate targeted leads, but there is a chance that your search ranking will improve due to a lower bounce rate and the longer time users spend on your page.

How can you do this? By choosing the right keywords, the right length and, most importantly, using verbs that are strong and effective.

A verb is an "action" word: you need to pay attention to them (and you definitely need to take advantage of them) to engage and leave a mark with your writing.

Regardless of where you write (blog, social media) and whatever content you decide to create, you should be sure to include verbs that are specific and convey a direct message.

The reason is always the same: people are immersed in a world that goes at the speed of light, where everyone wants everything right away and has no time to wait. If your writing does not get straight to the point, it will easily go unnoticed.

In contrast, concise writing is exactly what you need to engage your potential customers.

Ps. Of course, remember also not to overdo the length: titles that are too long tend to be easily forgotten or ignored.

#6: Create an irresistible and valuable offer.

Okay, your goal is to get people to say, "Yes, I do!" and, to do that, the point is to create a first-rate, high-value offering.

She is the one who will help you attract customers and retain them. 

If you are struggling to grow your leads, it is indeed possible that your offer is not compelling and irresistible enough.

How to make it so?

Simple: you have to make it relevant, in high demand and exclusive-so that it is desirable.

In fact, the way people perceive your offer will contribute greatly to persuading them to become leads or drive them away.

Lead generation: inbound vs outbound

There are many different ways to generate leads. 

One distinction that may come in handy is between inbound and outbound (although sometimes the two can mix), also to help you figure out which works best for you.

Inbound Lead Generation

Generate new contacts with a inbound method basically means doing it through content marketing: potential customers take notice of you and your business after finding some of your valuable content online.

The point of this type of lead generation is to allow users to choose as, when e if consent to the exchange of information and their engagement with you: the value you offer, in the form of content, serves to gain attention, but more importantly, to build trust.

It is a method that relies on your ability to help potential customers solve problems, meet needs and ultimately make better buying decisions.

This starts an interaction that you can sustain and advance through an effective email marketing campaign, so that you lead the customer through the sales funnel until they are ready to buy.

This therefore includes tools such as videos, blog articles, guides, ebooks, social media posts-that is, all those types of content strategically placed so that people discover them organically and lead them to you and your sales funnel.

In terms of investment, inbound campaigns have lower costs and longer duration (this is also because "evergreen" content can produce leads long after it is created).

Outbound Lead Generation

In the outbound methodology, it is you (and not the potential customer) who chooses the time and place of the interaction: you contact him and propose a certain type of content, regardless of whether he has requested it or expressed interest in it.

Some of the techniques considered to be such are "cold" calls or emails or paid ads.

Although less widely used than inbound marketing, it can be useful and interesting-it is likely, however, that most companies find that a mix of the two is a better strategy.

Thus, the key difference between the inbound and outbound approaches to lead generation is the control of the timing and channel in which content consumption and information exchange takes place.

In general, each option has its advantages and disadvantages; it is important to consider your budget and find out what will work best for you.

Why is lead generation important?

Everyone is doing lead generation today.

How come?

Think about it: today people have an avalanche of information at the click of a mouse.

They can use search engines, social media, blogs and other online channels to research and become experts on your product, even before they communicate directly with you.

This means that no one is so well disposed to listen to a traditional sales pitch anymore: what they want is for their needs to be understood and then met, in a more immediate way than they may realize.

The truth, in fact, is that if your potential customers are not ready to buy what you propose to them, you will find it difficult to sell.

When someone starts a relationship with you by showing an interest in your business, the transition from "stranger" to customer is much more natural: you help them fulfill a need or solve a problem without making them feel "forced" to buy from you.

With lead generation, not only can you expand your pool of potential customers, but you can also better understand the characteristics of your target audience and tailor content and information to attract and qualify them. It is not only important to lengthen your list: you must also develop and cultivate relationships with those who are already part of it.

Let's look in detail at the reasons why lead generation is a fundamental part of any web marketing strategy.

#1 Helps you target the right people

Focus your resources on specific customers who are more likely to buy your product or service, which in turn will save you money and increase sales (improving ROI);

#2 Builds or consolidates brand awareness.

Lead generation always involves educating your leads about your business, both when they learn about you on their own and when you contact them to publicize the benefits of your product;

#3 You have a chance to get valuable data

Generating leads means. gather information marketing about your potential customers, their wants and needs, and your competitors. This helps you improve your product or service so that it has a competitive advantage in the marketplace;

#4 Increase brand loyalty

You can stimulate the creation and growth of a community of loyal customers, generating trust, visibility and credibility.


So what do you think?

As you may have guessed, doing lead generation is essential to see your business grow and succeed in the welter of digital competition.

Always remember one thing: What matters is that you offer real value to your audience and that you invest in building strong, long-term relationships.

Customers have become very good at blocking approaches and messages that do not resonate with them or are not well suited to their needs.

The leads generated are not an indiscriminate list of names (or at least, not anymore as perhaps they were in the past): focus on each of them and cultivate meaningful relationships.

It is more profitable to focus on the quality of leads than on their volume, isn't it?

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