On the Internet, Web sites and search engines can be excellent sources of leads, although the process can be time consuming. Web sites, such as TechTarget.com, have evolved for the specific purpose of making it easy for personnel to obtain leads. Companies have emerged that specialize in lead generation for a fee. They perform the research, and then provide the client with a list of leads. Services of this kind have been used by insurance companies, real estate agents, wholesalers, marketing firms, private investigators, research scientists and educational institutions.
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.