Lead generation is the use of a computer program, a database, the Internet, or a specialized service to obtain or receive information for the purpose of expanding the scope of a business, increasing sales revenues, looking for a job or for new clients or conducting specialized research. Leads can consist of the names and addresses (or e-mail addresses) of individuals, corporations, institutions or agencies. Lists of leads can be gathered or filtered from targeted databases such as telephone and Internet directories.
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).
There are people whose job is to create a visual merchandising in shops with only one thing in mind – growing sales. They change the look of a shop window probably once a week or even more often. They basically do it to catch shoppers’ attention, often presenting the best things in the store but another reason as well. They want to convince people to enter the store itself.
Leads may come from various sources or activities, for example, digitally via the Internet, through personal referrals, through telephone calls either by the company or telemarketers, through advertisements, and events. A 2015 study found that 89% of respondents cited email as the most-used channel for generating leads, followed by content marketing, search engine, and finally events. A study from 2014 found that direct traffic, search engines, and web referrals were the three most popular online channels for lead generation, accounting for 93% of leads.