What is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is the use of marketing and sales tactics to identify and draw in potentially interested customers. Your target customer may be a new customer, or it may be current customers whom you want to buy additional products or services. You likely see lead generation efforts every day. They include coupons, blog posts, webinars, downloadable e-books and free samples.
Key takeaway: Lead generation is a marketing or sales campaign geared at identifying potentially interested customers and capturing their interest.
What are the various lead types?
All leads have, by definition, expressed interest in your company, but not all leads have expressed the same amount of interest. Lead generation experts advise grouping your leads into several types based on their interest levels. These types vary based on the lead’s progress along your company’s sales funnel. They include:
Marketing qualified leads (MQLs). An MQL is someone who has engaged with your company’s marketing campaigns and may be interested in your company. However, you should not yet directly contact these leads to arrange sales calls. You have likely received their information through a form they completed to obtain content or an offer. As such, their interest is relatively low, for now.
Sales qualified leads (SQLs). An SQL is someone who has explicitly shown interest in your company. You should consider directly contacting these leads to arrange sales calls, since you have likely received an inquiry from them (or their information). These leads are highly interested in your products and services.
Product qualified leads (PQLs). PQLs are leads who have enjoyed your products or services enough that they will likely purchase them after the promotion ends, such as a free trial user who asks about access to paid features.
Service qualified leads (SQLs). SQLs are customers who are ready to speak further with your sales team to learn more about the goods and services you provide and what the onboarding process is for new customers.
Key takeaway: There are four main lead types that vary by interest level and progress along the sales funnel.
What is a lead generation process?
A lead generation process is a series of steps through which you attract leads via marketing and present them with a call to action (CTA). The process can be broken down into these three steps:
Create and market content. Your website, social media pages, blog posts and other original content all have the same goal: attracting new customers. The lead generation process always starts with content marketing.
Include a CTA. Any content that you market should end with a CTA that encourages the reader to take an action. This action is often claiming an offer, whether it’s a discount or a piece of free content, such as a white paper.
Link your CTA to a landing page. Your CTA should direct readers to a landing page where visitors can provide their information and, in return, receive the offer you’re providing. This page contains your lead capture form, which your leads will complete to receive your offer.
Key takeaway: Your lead generation process uses specific content marketing pieces that contain compelling calls to action that direct your reader to a lead capture form.