Lead generation: You read about it, you hear people talking about, but what is it really? Some people have a misconception about lead generation, believing that leads come from any email address that has been acquired.

In truth, leads are people who are have indicated interest in your product or service. In the online world, leads often come from prospective customers who have completed a landing page to receive an ebook, product consultation or webinar. Having an email address from someone, on the other hand, is a contact.

Why Does Lead Generation Matter?

Leads are important for a couple of reasons. First, leads have expressed an interest in your product or service. They are somewhat familiar with your company, and they have a need for what you offer. Developing a relationship with them makes more effective use of your time and budget. And, since there is an initial interest on behalf of the customer, the attention that you give them is “owned” instead of “rented.” Sure, you need to go at it with everything you got, but at least you have owned the right to spend a few minutes with them.

Also, with a competitive lead generation program, you’ll be in front of your competition, taking advantage of leads that could go to other companies. Even if you don’t end up doing business this time around, a positive interaction will set up a good name for your company, and possibly have the lead return in the future.

How Can I Attract High-Quality Leads?

There are multiple ways to attract leads, and both quantity and quality matter. The goal is to stimulate and capture interest, so ask yourself, “Would this make me want to sign up?”

Here are the most common ways to generate leads:

  • Landing pages
  • Social media
  • SEO
  • Content marketing
  • Email marketing
  • Marketing technology
  • Mobile marketing
  • Paid search (PPC)
  • Webinars
  • Direct mail
  • Tradeshows
  • Print advertising

Lead generation is an integral part of any comprehensive marketing strategy. Getting heard through the noise continues to be the greatest challenge that marketers face. Once you develop a strong lead generation program, you can cut through the competition and ensure that you will be found by the self-directed buyers that define the customer landscape.