In marketing, lead generation is the generation of consumer interest or inquiry 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. Businesses strive to generate "quality" leads, those with a higher probability of a desired outcome.
Lead generation is the process of making contacts which may lead to a sale or other favourable outcome. The 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, events, and purchase of lists of potential customers. A 2014 study found that 78% of respondents cited email as the most-used channel for generating leads, followed by event marketing and finally content marketing. Social media was found to play only a minor role in lead generation.Another 2014 study found that direct traffic, search engines, and web referrals were the three most popular online channels for lead generation, accounting for 93% of leads.