Lead Generation: what it is, how and why to do it

All companies wishing to become competitive and increase sales have been unable to do without lead generation for several years now.

Taking a step back, it now seems a given that customers can no longer be sought (and found) only physically, but it is necessary to go fishing in the vast sea of the Web. Obviously, this needs to be done in a qualified way, by going out to identify that segment of the audience likely to be interested in the brand’s product/service, and subsequently, it is crucial to implement a targeted strategy to turn a possible buyer into a loyal customer.

This is all part, precisely, of lead generation. Let’s see what it is, why it is important to include it in your marketing strategy, and how to implement it in a useful and functional way to achieve your goals.

What is lead generation

Literally, lead generation refers to the “generation of contacts”, which includes all marketing actions that a company plans to acquire new names and find new customers. To better understand the concept, it is good to specify what is meant by a lead:

A lead is a potential buyer of a given product or service. A lead is generated when, through a marketing initiative, a company obtains useful information from the user to establish a business contact, to be used later to generate a sales opportunity. On the Web, for example, a user who, in response to an advertisement, fills out a form with his or her personal information in order to be contacted by the advertiser.

That said, there should be no confusion with a prospect, who is slightly ahead of the lead: the latter, in fact, is a user who is already interested in the company’s offer but still needs to be captured, engaged, convinced and retained (unlike a prospect who, on the other hand, has already had contact with the company). To make this happen, the brand must strive to respond effectively to their demands and needs, going on to establish curiosity first and, later, a long-lasting relationship of trust.

This is a process that can be time-consuming, characterized by commercial communications, offers, promotions and other strategies aimed at capturing the attention of possible customers and intriguing them. Given the fierce competition in every market today, it is imperative that each company manages to stand out and convey something more to the public than its competitors.

How to do lead generation

It seems easier said than done: how do you get new contacts out of thin air? Certainly, the best method is to create what is represented in the marketing literature by a funnel or funnel, well exemplified by the image below:

In summary, a user who knows about the company (a lead) gets involved and becomes a prospect, that is, someone who shows interest in the company. The latter then must be able to engage him and turn him into a loyal customer by bringing him to the bottom of the funnel.

Specifically, then, a funnel is characterized by 4 stages:



the brand implements a variety of persuasive techniques to attract user attention, such as writing SEO-optimized content to be posted on company blogs to intercept potential customers and spread via social;



a lead's conversion occurs the moment that lead clicks on a CTA, lands on a landing page or fills out a form di contatto by entering his or her personal information in exchange for something (and this is also where we talk about lead magnet, discussed in more detail below);



closure is implemented when leads purchase a product/service and become customers. Considering that not everyone is willing to buy immediately, it is possible to use lead nurturing (also discussed in more detail later);



finally, the acquired customer should be pampered and delighted even and especially after the purchase, so as to establish a loyalty relationship that prompts them to favor the brand as their first choice. Therefore, it is necessary to plan ahead for the next moves.

Once a referral funnel is created, proceeding with the various activities will be much easier and you will always have control of the situation to intervene in case of snags or improvements.

7 effective tools for doing lead generation

The theory is there, the funnel as well: now you have to decide what tools to use to finally acquire, at last, new customers and initiate functional, high-performance lead generation. Here are the 7 best methods to put into practice, either individually or simultaneously:

1. Squeeze page

Squeeze page are very much in vogue lately: also known as opt-in pages, funnel pages or lead capture pages, you land on them after clicking on a banner or link. They consist of landing pages with the goal of converting anonymous visitors into well-identified contacts with at least first name, last name, email and phone number. It is not a sales tool, on the contrary the user expects something in return for their personal information: and this is where the lead magnet or freebe comes in, that is, an incentive to give in to compromise, such as a coupon, free trial of a service, an ebook, and so on.

There are many types of squeeze pages, but they can be grouped into 3 categories depending on how they appear to the user:

  • Popup: windows composed of graphics and text that appear while the user is navigating within a Web site;
  • URL: external pages that the user lands on after clicking on a CTA or internal link to the text they are reading;
  • Exit intent: pages that appear at the time the user is leaving the site.

Whatever the choice, usually squeeze pages prove to be very useful and incisive. Definitely worth considering and trying!

2. Web form and contact form

The most traditional method of accomplishing lead generation consists of the contact form. Considering that the contact page has proven, over time, to be decidedly ineffective in acquiring new customers, it is much more useful to place a form to be filled out with little information (first name, last name, email and phone number) within the pages with the most traffic, perhaps prompting the user to fill it out through a persuasive CTA.

3. Live chat and chatbots

Much loved and appreciated even and especially by professional customers, chat is making its way among the best lead generation tools. Just keep in mind that it must always be accessible but, at the same time, never intrusive so that it can provide the user with all the information he or she needs at any time (and, at the same time, detect his or her personal data).

4. Call to action (CTA)

Another tool widely used by lead generation is the CTA, an explicit invitation to take an action addressed to the user. Marketers use call-to-actions to achieve different goals, whether it is pushing the user to sign up for a newsletter service or request a free sample, and they do so using highly persuasive copy: “Stay up to date,” “Get your free trial,” and “Download free guide” are just a few examples of effective CTAs.

5. Blog

Blogging fits right into any marketing strategy, including lead generation. If well managed, optimized, and updated with quality, interesting, and insightful content, users will be driven to visit and leave their personal information. The main goal is to provide the audience with useful information that will entice them to return and follow the various updates. That is why it is necessary for blog content to be shared on social media, which will consequently make it go viral.

6. SEO

Related to both the blog and the entire website takes over SEO, the absolute best way to increase organic traffic from search engine queries. To achieve the goal, one must optimize the site and its content for SEO while also placing attention on the site’s tree and structure, internal and external links, and many other aspects that should not be underestimated.

7. Lead magnet

And there is the lead magnet, which is a piece of content or event that attracts the attention of users seeking information on a particular topic. Lead magnets can be different, depending on the target buyer personas: a free ebook, a video tutorial, an online course, a webinar, a free sample, and anything that might entice the user to leave their personal information.

6 lead generation techniques

So far, tools to facilitate lead generation by making it effective and high-performing have been discussed in depth. But what are the best techniques to achieve the most coveted result, that is, conversion closely linked to economic increase?

Here are 6 very useful techniques for achieving the goal:

1. Content marketing

Among the definitely most effective methods of generating qualified leads ranks content marketing, which includes the creation, conveying and sharing of quality editorial content to increase traffic to the site, acquire new information about users and convert their willingness into actual purchases. There is no such thing as better content than others; you simply have to give the user something that will prove useful to his or her needs and tastes.

2. Social media marketing

Social media is indispensable now for anyone who wants to make themselves known and sell their products/services online. This is also true for lead generation, which works on a more targeted approach. LinkedIn itself, erforms very well in the B2B sphere, as people compare themselves among business professionals, while Facebook and Instagram still remain in the lead for the B2C sector, with TikTok gaining momentum among the younger generation.

3. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)

Alongside good SEO and specially designed content marketing, it is recommended to place PPC (pay-per-click) formulas to get tangible results faster, since you only pay for customers who actually click on an online advertisement. It consists of a very expensive technique, so it must always be accompanied by other strategies.

4. Remarketing and retargeting

Remarketing and retargeting are forms of online advertising that allow users to distinguish themselves in relation to past online searches by leveraging cookies to track audiences in their web actions. As a result, the company’s ads are shown only to those who have already visited the site, prompting them to return and perhaps make a purchase.

5. E-mail marketing

Among the most effective lead generation activities is email marketing. It tends not to help generate new leads, but it is excellent at increasing conversion rates and, specifically, driving users to purchase. The message contained in the email should be short and punchy and aim, if possible, to solve a problem of the person who will read it.

6. Backlinks from reliable websites

Finally, also very effective is the backlink technique, that is, a link from an external site. Basically, a user clicks on an anchor text (an anchor text, literally, that coincides with a link) and lands on the company’s page. To do this you simply have to choose reputable and well-regarded sites with fairly high brand awareness.

Lead nurturing: what it is and what it is for

Finally, it may be helpful to know what lead nurturing is and how it can be useful in lead generation. With funnel marketing in mind, the last step involves customer retention, which is a very important, if not essential, aspect of not losing acquired users and keeping them for as long as possible.

Lead nurturing, then, can be understood as the “closing of the loop” of lead generation activities, consisting of a series of strategies aimed at intriguing customers and enticing them to continue purchasing from the company. In doing so, all the tools listed earlier come in handy, as well as lead acquisition techniques: the extra step is personalization, the quid that makes the customer understand that they are important to the brand and that they will always be able to count on their products/services to meet specific needs.