What are lead generation activities

What is a good lead and how to get good leads

nA lead is a new business contact who is interested in your company or product and who has voluntarily provided you with contact details for further dialogue. Leads are divided into different categories according to the likelihood of purchase. Generating high quality leads is the basis for winning new customers for many companies, especially in the B2B area.

What is a good lead?

This is an important question that marketing departments need to clarify with sales before they start generating leads. This often happens: Marketing generates leads with online marketing activities such as downloads or vouchers and the sales department contacts some leads as a result. If deals don't happen right away, sales get frustrated and turn to other lead sources.

The solution to this problem: Marketing has to nurture and qualify leads and only leave leads to sales when there is actually a good purchase probability.

Read our practical guide to inbound lead generation here.

There are actually no good or bad leads. There are qualified leads and unqualified leads. We can divide the degree of qualification into categories.

Lead categories

We use 4 basic categories that are used by many companies:

Lead: A lead is a prospect (contact) who has contacted us for the first time. In online marketing, this often happens through a download on the website. A prospect has downloaded a white paper and given us his name, company and email address on a form.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): This is a lead we already know more about. This lead was qualified either manually or fully automatically. The criteria for this qualification are:

  • Fits into our customer profile
  • Is the right contact person (is technically responsible)
  • Geographic region fits
  • Prospect has a problem that we can basically solve

Sales Qualified Leads (SQL): This is a Marketing Qualified Lead that we have already contacted and that we now know about:

  • Lead has a specific problem that he would like to solve
  • The problem should now be solved
  • We talk to someone who can also decide on the purchase
  • The potential customer also has a suitable budget

Opportunities: Some companies use this term for leads that you have already submitted an offer to. So these are leads just about to close

Tip: Marketing and sales have to come together and define in detail how leads, MQLs and SQLs have to be created. It is also very important to define who is responsible for which lead life cycle. In many companies, only SQLs are passed on to sales.

Generate leads in the age of GDPR

How you get leads depends on your business, your market, your marketing skills and of course your marketing budget. What is new is that we now also have to take into account the new EU data protection regulations, the GDPR.

Under the GDPR regime, there are two basic ways of generating leads:

  1. Approval: During the lead generation process, you get your consent for the storage and use of the contact data.
  2. You appeal to a legitimate interest and store data, but inform the person concerned about the storage and use of the data within a defined period (within 30 days).

All other types of lead generation have to be carefully considered and legally checked since May 25, 2018. Especially when you buy leads, you have to pay attention to whether you are within the scope of the GDPR. In the following, we want to deal primarily with lead generation on the legal basis of consent. We think this is the most sustainable and legally easiest option.

The dream of a lead generation machine

Imagine feeding your website good content (articles, blog posts). More and more potential customers find this content via Google, read it and find the content useful.

With each article you invite the user to download additional content. Many of them also provide their contact details and also agree that you may save the data and use it for marketing purposes.

In this way you continuously generate new leads. Your lead database is filling up. You qualify these leads by researching more information about the leads and by evaluating data that leads leave on your website. You use the research and the data to find out whether a lead is a Marketing Qualified (MQL) or not.

You contact the MQLs to find out how you can specifically help and in the course of this contact you will find out whether a lead is sales qualified (SQL).

Now is the time to pass the lead on to sales. Sales start the sales measures with such well-qualified leads and can use all the information that is already stored in your lead database (CRM) to properly increase the completion rate.

And now imagine that you are using marketing automation software for this entire process that optimally supports you at every step. The lead generation and qualification machine is ready.

Building blocks for sustainable lead generation

Website: You need a website that is technically designed so that content can be easily found by potential customers via search engines.

Content: You continuously publish interesting and, above all, useful content for your potential customers. The best thing to do is to start a company blog.

Content offers (lead magnets): These are mostly white papers, guidelines, checklists, etc. for potential customers who are willing to leave their contact details when downloading.

Call to Actions: On every page of your website you implement at least one call to action that asks readers to consume or download additional content offers.

Landing pages: These are the pages on your website where readers land when they click a call to action. Your content offer is presented here and the reader can leave their contact details via a form.

Marketing Automation: You need a platform that can save contact data and with which you can then also conduct a dialogue with the leads. A new type of software, Marketing Automation, has been developed for this task.

If you put these building blocks together well and set up a continuous process, then you have a lead generation machine. And since you can simply obtain consent for data storage and data use with each download, you are also on the safe side with regard to GDPR.

Leads want to be nurtured - lead nurturing

The internet is a huge opportunity for lead generation. With almost every purchase decision, buyers, whether B2C or B2B, make themselves smart on the Internet. On the other hand, leads are easily distracted by the amount of information on the Internet and often on many channels at the same time.

Therefore, you should start a dialogue as quickly as possible with leads that you have now generated. This can be done by actively making contact, for example with a phone call or an e-mail. However, leads are often not ready to be contacted personally. Leads still want to be smart. Often they are only at the start of their buyers journey.

One possibility to slowly build up the dialogue is to offer further useful information with the help of marketing automation. To do this, you can set up workflows that, depending on the situation and area of ‚Äč‚Äčinterest of a lead, automatically send a series of e-mails that build on each other and convey useful knowledge.

Conclusion: what is a good lead?

Lead generation with content works particularly well in the B2B area. Think about which content is best for getting potential customers to your website and which content is suitable for generating leads yourself. Use marketing automation software to automate the entire lead generation process.

In this whitepaper you will learn how to generate the best leads for your business:


This blog article was revised on February 18, 2021.