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.
Google Adwords still stand at the forefront for PPC advertising as indicated in the diagram above from the 2013 State of Paid Search Report. While many frown on paid advertising as a digital marketing tool, these experts believe that PPC ads is still a very viable and high quality resource for generating valuable leads and will most likely continue on this thread for years to come. New businesses can quickly generate their much needed leads using PPC ads, and veteran digital marketers will continue to make use of this important tool for generating good results that will push them towards their goals.
Sales leads are generated on the basis of demographic criteria such as FICO score (United States), income, age, household income, psychographic, etc. These leads are resold to multiple advertisers. Sales leads are typically followed up through phone calls by the sales force. Sales leads are commonly found in the mortgage, insurance and finance industries.