Lead Generation Guide: What exactly is a lead?

A lead is defined as anyone who expresses an interest in a company’s product or service in any way, shape, or form. In this our article, read about our lead generation guide.

Leads usually hear from a company or organisation after initiating contact (by submitting personal information for an offer, trial, or subscription)… rather than receiving a cold call from someone who purchased their contact information.

Assume you take an online survey to learn more about car maintenance. A few days later, you receive an email from the auto company that created the survey, asking how they can assist you with car maintenance. This procedure would be far less intrusive than if they had called you out of the blue with no idea whether you even cared about car maintenance, right? This is how it feels to be the boss.

And, from a business standpoint, the information the auto company gathers about you from your survey responses allows them to personalise that initial contact to address your existing problems — rather than wasting time calling leads who aren’t interested in auto services.

Leads are part of the larger lifecycle that consumers go through when they go from visitor to customer. All leads are not created equal (nor are they qualified the same). There are various types of leads based on how they are qualified and where they are in the lifecycle.

Lead Generation Guide: Different Types Of Leads

Qualified Marketing Lead (MQL)

Marketing qualified leads are people who have interacted with your marketing team but aren’t ready to receive a sales call. An MQL is a contact who completes a landing page form for an offer (like in our lead generation process scenario below).

Sales Qualified Prospect (SQL)

Sales qualified leads are contacts who have expressed an explicit interest in becoming a paying customer. A contact who fills out a form to ask a question about your product or service is an example of a SQL.

Lead Product Qualified (PQL)

Product qualified leads are people who have used your product and demonstrated an interest in becoming a paying customer. PQLs are typically used by businesses that provide a product trial or a free or limited version of their product (such as HubSpot!) with the option to upgrade, which is where your sales team comes in. A PQL is a customer who uses your free version but engages with or inquires about features that require payment.

Lead Service Qualified

Service qualified leads are contacts or customers who have expressed an interest in becoming a paying customer to your service team. A customer who tells their customer service representative that they want to upgrade their product subscription is an example of a service qualified lead; at this point, the customer service representative would up-level this customer to the appropriate sales team or representative.

What exactly is lead generation?

Lead generation is the process of attracting prospects to your company and piqueing their interest through nurturing, with the ultimate goal of converting them into customers. Job applications, blog posts, coupons, live events, and online content are all ways to generate leads.

These are just a few examples of lead generation strategies that you can use to attract potential customers. And direct them to your offers. (We’ll go over more strategies later.)

When someone outside of the marketing industry asks what I do, I can’t just say, “I create content for lead generation.” It’d be completely lost on them, and I’d get some strange looks.

Instead, I’ll say, “I work hard to find novel ways to attract customers to my company. I want to give them enough goodies to pique their interest in my company. So that they eventually warm up to the brand and want to hear from us!”

That usually works better, and that’s exactly what lead generation is. It is a way of introducing potential customers to your company and getting them on the path to making a purchase.

What is the purpose of lead generation?

The transition from stranger to customer is much more natural when a stranger initiates a relationship with you by showing an organic interest in your business.

The second stage of the inbound marketing methodology is lead generation. It happens after you’ve gathered an audience and are ready to convert them into leads for your sales team .

Generating leads is a critical step in a person’s journey to becoming a satisfied customer.

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Inbound marketing methodology for lead generation

Process of Lead Generation

Let’s walk through the lead generation process now that we understand how it fits into the inbound marketing methodology.

First, a visitor learns about your company by visiting one of your marketing channels.  This can be your website, blog, or social media page.
That visitor then clicks on your call-to-action (CTA).  Which is an image, button, or message that encourages website visitors to take action.
This CTA directs your visitor to a landing page. Which is a web page designed to collect lead information in exchange for an offer.

Remember that an offer is the content or something of value that is “offered” on the landing page. Such as an ebook, a course, or a template. The offer must be of sufficient perceived value to entice a visitor to provide personal information in exchange for access to it.)

“We saw a huge increase with 6 months of consistent experimenting on our landing page,” said Jacob, found of We make it happen, a computer repair company based in Cambridge.
In exchange for the offer, your visitor fills out a form on the landing page. (Although forms can technically be embedded anywhere on your site, they are typically hosted on landing pages.) Voila! You’ve got a new lead. That is, as long as you adhere to best practises for lead-capture forms.

How does everything fit together?

To summarise, a visitor clicks a CTA. Which directs them to a landing page where they fill out a form to receive an offer. At which point they become a lead. We hope that your loved our article on lead generation. Do share your business tips with us.

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