What is Lead Generation? (+ Tips How to Do It)

Sujan Patel is the founder of Mailshake, a sales engagement software used by 38,000 sales and marketing professionals. He has over 15 years of marketing experience and has led the digital marketing strategy for companies like Salesforce, Mint, Intuit and many other Fortune 500 caliber companies.
  • June 2, 2023

Assume that you are a street vendor trying to sell chopsticks. You can make a sale by engaging with people and convincing them to buy your product.

But with so many people passing by, it’s impossible to engage with them all. So how do you decide who to approach?

Well, the key is to target those who are actually in the market for what you’re offering — chopsticks!

This is essentially what companies do when they employ lead generation — a process of identifying and targeting potential customers who are likely to be interested in the business’ offerings.

Seems interesting, right? Let’s dive deeper and learn more about lead generation!

What Is Lead Generation?

Any person who has an interest in a company’s product or service is considered a lead. Not anyone and everyone is a lead, as people have different preferences and needs. Many businesses make the mistake of marketing to everyone when they should focus on people who are interested in what the company has to offer.

Lead generation example

Source: Hubspot

Lead generation can be defined as the process of attracting prospects and converting them into someone who has an interest in your company’s products and services. Modern brands make use of various lead generation strategies such as:

  • Blogging
  • Email marketing
  • Social media marketing
  • Networking
  • Coupons
  • Live events and seminars
  • Website landing pages

These are just a few strategies that you can use to attract potential customers to your product or offer. Most companies prefer to stick to what works best for them, as lead generation strategies differ according to industry.

Email and social media marketing for their lead generation might work for online fashion stores, but the same strategies may not work for software companies. People looking for software might require more details and information on the product, which is why a blog or a series of webinars could work better as lead generation tools.

Why is Lead Generation Important for Brands?

When a person shows interest in your brand’s products or services, the steps that person takes towards making their first purchase just seem natural. You just helped them to fulfill a need or solve a problem.

When a person has no interest in what you have to offer, yet you still try to convince them to make a purchase, they may feel like they are being pushed to spend their money. This can make the customer feel like they were forced to buy your product and it can hurt your brand’s reputation.

Attending to your target audience only through lead generation can ensure that your brand is ideally matched with the right customers. More benefits of lead generation include:

  • Target the right customers – Companies can focus their resources on targeting specific markets, which in turn will save money and increases sales (improved ROI).
  • Increased awareness – Lead generation can also build brand awareness and reputation. When people discover your brand, you will be able to supply them with more information regarding product features and benefits.
  • Opportunity to collect valuable prospect information – Lead generation has the potential to gather important marketing information from prospects. Customer information such as needs wants, and preferences can assist you in tailoring your product or service to suit your customers’ needs. Eg. Companies can obtain this information through registration forms.
  • Brand Loyalty – Companies can build larger communities of like-minded customers, which can, in turn, improve customer loyalty.

Most marketing departments measure lead quantity when determining a successful lead generation campaign. Sales teams, on the other hand, focus on lead quality. Leads with a clear intent to purchase your product, have the finances and means to do so, and meet the parameters set by you are considered as quality leads.

If a company focuses on lead quality, the chances of converting a lead into a customer drastically increase. Having higher conversion rates will allow you to confidently invest in your quality leads, increasing your return on investment (ROI).

Top priorities for a Lead Generation Strategy

Source: Ascend2

Focusing on quality leads can potentially increase the rate of new customer acquisition. Getting new customers at a high rate will allow you to quickly grow a loyal customer base. This can also improve your ROI in the long term, as the faster you build your customer base, the sooner you will be able to retarget new and existing customers.

As mentioned above, focusing on quality leads can drastically improve conversion rates and ROI. However, there are a few drawbacks to quality leads. For instance, a sales team that focuses solely on their quality leads can end up neglecting their other duties such as after sales calls or product deliveries.

Investing time and money into quality leads is still a risk that salespeople will have to take. A quality lead can still back out at the very last moment. You won’t just lose the deal, but you would have lost all that time and effort that went into convincing the lead to purchase your product.

Lead quality is usually determined after going through a list of leads that were acquired through a lead generation campaign. Most campaigns will focus on lead quantity. So marketers and sales teams will still have to go through all leads to determine their quality leads.

Lead Quality Pros

  • Improved conversion rates
  • Improved ROI
  • Can be outsourced
  • Higher customer satisfaction when matching your product with a target customer

Lead Quality Cons

  • Can be time-consuming and distracting for the sales team
  • If outsourced, the company generating the leads might not have sufficient product knowledge
  • Quality leads are still considered a risk as they can back out of deals

How to Attract Quality Leads?

B2B marketers claim that they generate leads from the following social networks:

  • 39% of B2B marketers say they generated leads from Facebook
  • 30% of B2B marketers say they generated leads from Twitter
  • 44% of B2B marketers say they generated leads from Linkedin

Finding quality leads on social media is a reality. However, it is important that you select the platform that best suits your industry. LinkedIn is the social network that generates the most B2B leads. It makes sense to start here as the platform is built for business owners and professionals who wish to connect with each other.

Setup a Quiz on Your Website

Setting up a quiz on your website will allow visitors to answer the questions you need to qualify them as a good lead. At the end of the quiz, you can supply them with a free resource (e-book or PDF), which will bring value to your quiz.

Talk Directly to Potential Leads

With B2B marketing, it’s never easy to connect directly to company owners or executives. You usually have to go through other channels (PAs, employees, and receptionists) before you can get to the boss. Try to get in touch with company owners directly through platforms such as LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a business-centric platform, so if you do pitch something to an executive, it will be accepted. In some cases, other platforms such as Email, WhatsApp, or Facebook might work, but you run the risk of upsetting the person you contact. If you are going to use these platforms to communicate with potential leads, then its best you do your homework first by finding out more about the person you are contacting.

Once you have successfully reached out to an executive, you must ensure that you have a high-quality presentation, or sample ready.

Get Referrals

Referrals are a powerful source of quality leads. If someone used your product and saw great results from it, they would recommend it to their colleagues and friends. In most cases, they won’t spread the word to people with little to no interest in your product, as it will be a waste of their time. Instead, they will ask someone who they think will have the finances and the need for your product, which matches the description of a quality lead.

However, customers won’t automatically hand you quality leads. You will have to request referrals from your customers. You can incentivize this process by offering a discount on the next purchase.

Airbnb referral program Login

Source: Airbnb

Airbnb issues a credit to the new user that is referred, as well as to the user that made the referral. They basically implemented a referral system that incentivizes customers who produce quality leads.

If you do get in touch with a company owner or executive, you could offer them your product for free in exchange for quality leads. High-level execs network with each other all the time. If you build a good relationship with one company owner, they could introduce you to other owners and executives that would be interested in your product.

Facebook is a Source for Quality Leads

Facebook offers many customization options for businesses on their pages and groups. However, most companies don’t make full use of these options and instead, they just post content related to their products.

Pay careful attention to the layout of your facebook page and treat it like a sales page or a landing page to your website. Constantly update the page with engaging content and make sure that there is a clear Call-To-Action for leads.

How to Identify Quality Leads

The definition of a quality lead will vary according to a company’s product or service. The best place to start when identifying quality leads is by tracking all inbound leads. An example of tracking lead information is through website forms and marketing campaign software like Mailshake.

When a prospective lead fills out a form on a website to gain access to free downloadable content like a PDF or e-book, they will have to provide their information. Just by providing their name, email, and contact number, you will be able to sort the data into leads, existing customers, and spam.

If your company sells multiple products like software, apps, and technical hardware, then you could add more fields to your forms to gather more info on leads. This can further categorize your leads by department, product, interests, etc.

If you plan on acquiring leads through social media or email, then you could simply keep track of your lead interactions on a spreadsheet. Make sure to include all interactions with potential customers and leads. The more information you have, the better you will be able to asses the quality of your leads.

Manually inputting your findings into a sheet can become time-consuming and difficult to manage at times, which is why it is recommended to use lead management software.

How Do You Improve Lead Quality?

Use Lead Scoring

Lead scoring allows you to rank your leads by their interest levels and readiness to buy. You assign points to leads based on their actions and behavior on your website. There is no exclusive method for scoring leads, which is why companies define their own scoring systems to suit their needs.

Points can be awarded for:

  • Visiting your website
  • Opening your mails
  • Clicking through to a promotion
  • Downloading free resources (e-book or PDF)
  • Watching a webinar
  • Started a free trial

Lead Scoring Model

Source: Proof

Once you have totaled up the scores of all your leads, you can then rank your leads according to the scores they received. Leads with high scores are considered good leads and can be labeled as ‘hot’, ‘100%’, or ‘A’.

Leads with above-average scores are ‘warm’ leads. You can consider warming up these leads when you plan your next marketing campaign.

B2B marketers tend to further distinguish leads by their explicit data such as industry, title, and company.

Marketing-Sales Feedback Loop

The data you collect from your leads do not end when the marketer hands over the lead to the sales team. Especially during complex sales cycles. The sales team must provide feedback on every interaction with the lead to the marketing team.

If marketers wait too long, they run the risk of having to analyze old data which becomes irrelevant because the sale has already been made or lost. If all marketing does is send out leads to the sales team without feedback, they will assume that sales are being made and continue generating leads.

If marketing receives feedback from sales (weekly or monthly), they will be able to adjust future lead generation campaigns to improve the quality of the leads that are submitted to sales.

Example Strategies on How to Attract Quality Leads


Blogging is a no brainer if you run an online business. Your company website should have a blog section that posts articles regularly. If leads find these articles useful, they will visit your website frequently.

If you write on topics centered around your product or service, then your readers will be considered as good leads, as they have an interest in your blog, which is related to your product or service.

You can effectively navigate visitors of your blog to other product landing pages by inserting links into your blog posts.

Cold Outreach

Send out a cold email to a prospective client is still an effective strategy for generating good leads. Companies don’t use cold outreach because of the fear of being labeled a spammer, but if done correctly, cold outreach will land you some quality handpicked leads.

With cold outreach, you research the companies that would benefit the most from using your product. If you sell commercial ovens, then you should research restaurants that will be most suited to use your product, then, reach out to them via email.

The same goes for an online business. If you sell an app for Shopify stores, then do your homework and create a list of Shopify stores that you can target.

Don’t send out the same email to every single Shopify or eCommerce store out there. That’s just spamming. Narrow down your list to Shopify stores only that require your software.

When you have your list of emails ready, you can then send out customized cold emails. Customization is key and can only be achieved by getting as much information on the prospect as possible.

Contests and Giveaways

Running contests and giveaways is an excellent way of generating leads. Contestants exchange emails for a chance to win a prize. If you select a prize that your ideal leads are interested in, then they would possibly enter your contest.

Contests and giveaways are viral in nature and are held over a short period. This means that you can generate large amounts of leads within a short space of time. You can then work on analyzing and ranking your newly acquired leads.

People love free stuff, even in the B2B marketplace. You could offer discounts on SaaS software if you wish to attract B2B leads. An example would be to offer a marketing tool bundle that includes your product, and other products that complement yours.

Gold's Gym Giveaway Competition Source: Vyper

Hosting a contest or a giveaway might seem difficult to manage. However, you can use a service like Vyper to manage your giveaway and all the leads that your contest generates.


Acquiring tons of leads is great, but you should not ignore the importance of high-quality leads because of their likelihood to purchase your product and their ability to move further along your company’s sales funnel.

There is plenty of research to be done when determining your quality leads, but it will be worth it in the long run. Nurture your quality leads by building relationships with them. They are your future customers.

Lead Generation Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What Is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of attracting prospects and gaining their interest in your company’s products and services. To generate leads, you can use a range of strategies such as email campaigns, content marketing, social media engagement, and other online and offline methods.

Why Is Lead Generation Important?

Lead generation is an essential part of any successful marketing campaign. It allows you to attract and identify potential customers who are actively looking for products or services that your business offers. By targeting these people, you can create a much more effective advertising strategy that delivers higher conversion rates and improved ROI.

How Do I Generate Leads?

There are many ways to generate leads. You can create content that is targeted towards your target audience, write emails that draw attention to your products and services, use remarketing campaigns on social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, or leverage referral programs and partnerships with other businesses. Additionally, you can also use SEO techniques to boost organic search engine results for your website.

What Is a Lead Generation Tool?

Lead generation tools are software or web-based services designed to help businesses reach more prospects and convert them into customers.

These tools are typically used in combination with other marketing tactics, such as email campaigns, website optimization, and social media management. They can provide a range of benefits including lead scoring, tracking engagement on multiple platforms, and automating outreach processes.

What Is the Difference Between B2B and B2C Lead Generation?

B2B and B2C lead generation are two different approaches to generating leads. B2B lead generation focuses on building relationships with business owners, executives, and decision makers in order to provide custom solutions that meet their company’s individual needs.

On the other hand, B2C lead generation is the process of generating leads for businesses that sell their products or services directly to consumers.

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