What is Lead generation: definition, channels, and strategies

lead generation

Lead generation, in marketing, is the process of attracting and capturing potential prospects, a lead being someone who could have potential interest in your product or service. There are many tactics to generate leads, all of which must be attention-grabbing enough to make the person take a second look and consider the product.

The purpose of lead generation

The main point in generating leads is filling up the sales funnel. The more leads you generate the more potential customers you have. The lead to customer conversion rate is never 100%, which is why working on turning leads to prospects to customers is of utmost importance for any business that’s trying to grow.

sales funnel and lead's journey
A typical sales funnel

Making sure your leads belong to your target audience will help you increase the conversion rate, in fact it’s best to have a buyer persona profile ready before generating leads.

How to generate leads

Leads can be attracted or found. It’s important to combine these two ways: broadening your net will only catch more leads. Some lead generation strategies are more obvious than others, but new ideas are always pouring out of the marketing world, and the nature of the internet makes these ideas very fluid and customizable.

Finding leads 

Leads that are found can be harder to convert simply because they have not taken interest in your offer voluntarily. However, using very specific targeting and personalization, the so-called cold leads can be converted just as easily. 

Leads are usually found using lead generation tools. The most popular way of finding leads is by their email, as it is still the most used and effective marketing channel. The emails can be found manually or automatically (using email finders), depending on your company type, size, and niche. Leads can also be found on social media, at events, through referrals, etc. 

Attracting leads

Leads can be attracted through offers, referrals, content, websites, digital advertising, and more. In this case, leads voluntarily take interest in your offer, making it easier to take them through the awareness, consideration, and decision stages and to the sale.

Email opt-ins

Email leads are the easiest to work with – they are usually collected through an opt-in form in exchange for an offer. Once verified, the collected emails can be used to send highly personalized and targeted campaigns.

Email list opt-ins on websites, blog posts, or social media can turn a stranger into a lead with the click of a button – and you know they are truly interested because they signed up themselves. Email marketing remains the king of lead generation, and the automation element that’s been gaining traction only makes it stronger.

email finder

Content marketing 

Blog posts, articles, videos, freebies, and infographs are only the tip of the content marketing iceberg – your imagination is the limit. Depending on your goals and your buyer persona(s), different types of content will work better than others, so analyze and focus your efforts on content that attracts most and best leads. 

Content marketing is closely interlocked with SEO and social media marketing: while your main task is to create highly engaging, quality content, don’t forget to include keywords that will help leads find it when they search for your product, and share your content via social channels.

Targeted ads

Targeted ads are exactly what they sound like: ads that are targeted at specific people or groups in specific demographics or areas of interest. Lead generation through targeted ads is efficient as you target only those people who have the highest chance to convert and fit your buyer persona. 

Social media is a very popular channel for targeted ads, but they also can be in the form of search engine ads (based on search queries), or behavioral ads, which target prospects based on prior internet history and usage.

Social media

Social media is getting its own section even though it could be lumped in with content marketing. Whether you personally like social media or not, there’s no denying a well-produced and maintained social media presence means marketing power. 

Using social media, you can combine blogging, targeted ads, and more onto one platform (or several, think of the reach of LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook), and spread the word of your business far and wide. Each platform has its own style, positives, and negatives, but potential leads will find you on any platform, especially if you engage in targeted sponsored postings and ads. 


Search engine optimized content and pages that drive organic traffic are possibly the best long-term lead generators. When people are looking for products, services, and solutions to their problems, you want to make sure your website is the first thing that they see. For that, fill your content and pages with keywords and phrases that correspond to these search queries. Paired with good design and content marketing, SEO can get you higher on the search results list than your competitors and provide a steady inflow of quality leads.

Now that you have the lead

As we’ve mentioned before, leads’ path is like a funnel. Not all leads will become customers, but there are steps you can take to retain and convert as many leads as possible. 

The leads know you might have what they want, and they want to know more: in research mode, they will learn all they can about the product and your competitors, determine if it solves their specific problem, weigh the pros and cons, and if it’s best suited for the job. Lastly, an educated decision will be made and the lead will pick the product that’s best for them. You need to accompany and help them along all the steps described above to make sure the solution they choose in the end is your product. 

Turning a lead into a customer does take effort. To make sure your funnel produces a steady inflow of loyal customers, you have to make sure you provide all the content and open information they need to make a positive decision about your product. Communicate with your leads, nurture them, encourage them, and provide as much support as possible. If you want a lead to turn into a sale, you have to be proactive.

To sum it up

Lead generation can be a lot of work, but it’s work that pays off. There are many ways to generate leads, all you have to do is try to find the lead generation channels that are best for you and your business.

women - free template

Get 10 Cold Email Formulas!

Download 10 failproof cold email formulas to help you engage and convert any lead.

Download Now

100x faster

Find leads and hire talents with the most powerful lead generation tool available!

Get started