What is Lead Generation?

Chapter 01: Creating a Lead Gen Engine That Feeds Your Sales Pipeline

"You’re out of business if you don’t have a prospect." — Zig Zigler

"Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant." — Robert Louis Stevenson

Above, you’ll see two very different quotes that apply to lead generation in a big way. One is a little glass-half-empty. The other lives a bit more on the bright side of life. But both are 100 percent correct. Every business needs new prospects in order to compensate for customer attrition and create some momentum when it comes to growth. Enter, leads.

Lead (noun) - a person who is interested in the product or service that you sell
Ex: “We have a lot of new leads this month, so we need to concentrate on converting them.”

In one way or another, the process of generating leads is always the beginning of your customer journey with your company, whether they came to you by way of a cold call, a referral, or a lead magnet you created.

Chapter 02: What Does Lead Generation Mean?

Lead generation (sometimes pared down to “lead gen”) is the process of attracting prospective customers to your business offering in hopes of making a sale. Once you attract these prospects, the lead generation process transitions to the lead nurture and management stage. This is where you turn that initial attraction into deeper interest, ideally ending in the lead becoming an immediate or future customer.

The purpose of lead generation is to attract potential customers, but the bigger win is being able to build out a healthy sales pipeline—one full of new leads, existing customers, and fans of your business that spread the referral love in their circles of influence.

Chapter 03: Types of Lead Generation, Including Real-World Examples

Many marketers and business owners organize their lead generation into one of two categories: inbound and outbound marketing. Outbound marketing consists of efforts you make to proactively reach out to new prospects. Some examples are advertising, direct mail, email marketing, and text marketing.

Inbound marketing, however, sets out to create valuable experiences and content, tailored to your customers’ needs and geared toward creating a long-term relationship. This includes your website, landing pages, social media, and SEO.

So where should your company be?

That depends on who your customer is and why your business makes sense to them. Defining your target customer is one of the most important processes for any business, and it has many approaches you can employ. Once you develop yours, you can decide what lead generation tools are crucial in reaching them on a consistent basis.

Below, you’ll find a variety of lead generation examples. We know a lot of business owners focus more online or offline with their lead generation efforts, so we will focus there, also making note of whether each example is an inbound or outbound marketing tactic.

Online Lead Generation Examples

Company website and landing pages
Where they live: On the World Wide Web, accessible with any Internet browser
Type: Generally inbound

Company blog
Where they live: Usually on a blog platform, reachable from a company’s website
Type: Inbound

Social media platforms
Where they live: The vast majority of companies have a social presence, including anything from Facebook to LinkedIn to TikTok
Type: Inbound

Display and social media ads
Where they live: Think ads you’d encounter on a website or in your social feed
Type: Most are outbound, but some can also be considering inbound (see retargeting ads)

Email and text marketing
Where they live: In your email inbox or your text messaging app on your phone
Type: Outbound, but some content served can be inbound as well

Offline Lead Generation Examples

Print or broadcast advertising
Where they live: Radio, TV, and streaming platforms for broadcast, any number of newspaper or magazine publications for print
Type: Outbound

Out of Home (OOH) marketing
Where they live: On digital or printed billboards, transit boards, point-of-sale displays, kiosks, and more
Type: Outbound

Direct mail marketing
Where they live: Most come through the actual mail, though some are distributed in other in-person ways
Type: Outbound

Sales calls and meetings
Where they live: Generally on the phone or Zoom, though some are held in person
Type: Outbound

Event marketing
Where they live: That is completely dependent on the type of event, though larger conference spaces are often utilized
Type: Outbound or inbound, depending on your intended audience

Chapter 04: What is the Lead Generation Process?

Clearly, outbound marketing is geared toward locating leads and asking them to take some sort of action that enters them into your sales pipeline. But for inbound marketing, the lead generation process is just the beginning, giving you and your company the opportunity to further engage and develop relationships with your intended customer.

Let’s take a look at how lead generation works through these 5 important steps:

  1. Research & Strategy

    Do your homework on your customer and what motivates them. Use that information to create brand guides and customer personas or avatars for your content development. Then refine that information even further into a strategy for each and every major lead generation effort. This will provide clarity to your work as well as your customer.
  2. Content Creation

    Decide what the best approach is for your upcoming lead generation effort. Is it a lead magnet that draws them into your sales pipeline with valuable insights? Is it an email campaign that gets them closer to a sale with every message? No matter what the approach, you want to make sure it’s optimized for your call to action.
  3. Content Deployment

    With online marketing channels, deployment is usually easier and always less expensive than offline marketing efforts. Either way, you want to set aside the time and budget necessary to deliver your content in the right way. The experience of interacting with your brand at this stage is merely an audition, and a lead won’t act on your offering if you leave a bad impression.
  4. Capture

    This is where your sales process starts and your lead generation efforts end. Congratulations, you’ve earned a new lead with your campaign or content efforts! Now, it’s time to nurture that lead, get them into your sales pipeline, and allow your lead management process to take over. Thanks to your great content, we have no doubt they are qualified leads.
  5. Process Tweaks & Improvements

    Anyone who tells you they have it all figured out when it comes to lead generation is fooling you. Your audience can and should change over time. Your content will get stale and new technology may render some parts of it useless. Regardless of those and countless other possible scenarios, the best approach is to always be experimenting, learning, and improving when it comes to lead generation.

Chapter 05: All Those New Leads Aren’t Going to Sell Themselves. What’s Next?

We mentioned it briefly in Step 4, but once you have a new lead, it’s time to begin the lead management process. What does this entail? Plenty, including lead capture, tracking, scoring, and distribution.

The best answer is a sales and marketing engine that allows you to manage every minute detail with very little effort. Interested? If so, Keap has a proven track record and a chance to try it for absolutely free (no credit card needed).