According to the dictionary.com. Lead means to go before or with to show the way; conduct or escort: or to influence or induce; cause. To guide in direction, course, action, opinion, etc.; bring:
You can lead her around to your point of view if you are persistent.
In other words 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.
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.
Lead generation is often paired with lead management to move leads through the purchase funnel. This combination of activities is referred to as pipeline marketing.
A lead is usually allotted to an individual to follow up on. Once the individual (e.g. salesperson) reviews and qualifies it to have potential business, the lead gets converted to an opportunity for a business. The opportunity then has to undergo multiple sales stages before the deal is won.
- Cost per thousand (e.g. CPM Group, Advertising.com), also known as cost per mille (CPM), uses pricing models that charge advertisers for impressions — i.e. the number of times people view an advertisement. Display advertising is commonly sold on a CPM pricing model. The problem with CPM advertising is that advertisers are charged even if the target audience does not click on (or even view) the advertisement.
- Cost per click advertising (e.g. AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing) overcomes this problem by charging advertisers only when the consumer clicks on the advertisement. However, due to increased competition, search keywords have become very expensive. A 2007 Doubleclick Performics Search trends report shows that there were nearly six times as many keywords with a cost per click (CPC) of more than $1 in January 2007 than the prior year. The cost per keyword increased by 33% and the cost per click rose by as much as 55%.
- Cost per action advertising (e.g. TalkLocal, Thumbtack) addresses the risk of CPM and CPC advertising by charging only by the lead. Like CPC, the price per lead can be bid up by demand. Also, like CPC, there are ways in which providers can commit fraud by manufacturing leads or blending one source of lead with another (example: search-driven leads with co-registration leads) to generate higher profits. For such marketers looking to pay only for specific actions, there are two options: CPL advertising (or online lead generation) and CPA advertising (also referred to as affiliate marketing). In CPL campaigns, advertisers pay for an interested lead — i.e. the contact information of a person interested in the advertiser's product or service. CPL campaigns are suitable for brand marketers and direct response marketers looking to engage consumers at multiple touchpoints — by building a newsletter list, community site, reward program or member acquisition program. In CPA campaigns, the advertiser typically pays for a completed sale involving a credit card transaction.
- Co-registration advertising: The advertiser receives some or all of the standard fields collected by a site during the site's registration process.
- Full page lead generation: The advertiser's offer appears as a full page ad in an HTML format with relevant text and graphics. The advertiser receives the standard fields and answers to as many as twenty custom questions that s/he defines.
- Online surveys: Consumers are asked to complete a survey, including their demographic information and product and lifestyle interests. This information is used as a sales lead for advertisers, who purchase the consumer's information if provided. The consumer may 'opt-in' to receive correspondence from the advertiser and is therefore considered a qualified lead.