In marketing, lead generation is the initiation of consumer interest or enquiry into products or services of a business. Leads can be created for purposes such as list building, e-newsletter list acquisition or for sales leads. The methods for generating leads typically fall under the umbrella of advertising, but may also include non-paid sources such as organic search engine results or referrals from existing customers.
In B2B, inbound is the preferred channel of lead generation. The whole process of drawing a lead into doing business with you—by educating first and selling later—matches the B2B business model, where businesses don’t make impulsive purchase decisions. Which is why inbound marketing in B2B takes leads through three levels of the sales funnel: ToFu (top of the funnel), MoFu (middle of the funnel), and Bofu (bottom of the funnel).
As of mid-2016 email deliverability is still an issue for legitimate marketers. According to the report, legitimate email servers averaged a delivery rate of 73% in the U.S.; six percent were filtered as spam, and 22% were missing. This lags behind other countries: Australia delivers at 90%, Canada at 89%, Britain at 88%, France at 84%, Germany at 80% and Brazil at 79%.
Lead generation is the method of getting inquiries from potential customers. In the old pre-Internet days of sales, lead generation occurred at places like trade shows – visitors to a company's booth would fill out a card with their contact information and turn it in to receive a call back from that company's sales team. Since the rise of the Internet, many businesses use their websites as a lead generation option. Email also offers lead generation potential, since companies can buy another company's email marketing list or pay them to promote the company on their own marketing emails.
Take the email below from Paperless Post, for example. I love the header of this email: It provides a clear CTA that includes a sense of urgency. Then, the subheader asks a question that forces recipients to think to themselves, "Wait, when is Mother's Day again? Did I buy Mom a card?" Below this copy, the simple grid design is both easy to scan and quite visually appealing. Each card picture is a CTA in and of itself -- click on any one of them, and you'll be taken to a purchase page.
The digital age has also made it easier for companies to research and understand their perspective leads. By understanding the wants and needs of their target customers, companies can tailor information to better draw them in, as well as qualify any potential leads based on a variety of factors, such as engagement and demographic information. It is increasingly important for companies to not only generate new leads but also develop and nurture relationships with them.
Clearly, there has been a huge change in the traditional buying process. In fact, according to Forrester, buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their buying journey before they even reach the vendor. The reason this is happening more and more is because buyers have so much access to information that they can delay talking to sales until they are experts themselves.