Lead Generation: The Beginner’s Guide

These people are all leads. Some of them will upgrade and become paying customers.

This guide will show you how to generate leads for your business.

But first some basics …

A lead is anyone who has expressed interest in a company’s product or service by sharing their contact information (e.g. email address) with the company.

What types of leads are there?

Getting your sales team to contact every lead would be inefficient as some people are closer to buying than others. That’s why many companies divide their leads into sub-categories. These vary from company to company, but the two most common are Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) and Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).

1. Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are leads who have interacted with your marketing but are not yet ready to buy. For example, you’ve attended your webinar or downloaded a free eBook.

2. Sales qualified leads (SQLs)

Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) are leads who have taken action to indicate their desire to buy. For example, you have signed up for a trial version or requested a quote. Most companies submit SQLs to a sales team.

Side note.

Definitions of MQLs and SQLs usually vary from company to company, with some having stricter criteria than others. For example, some consider things like “purchase intent” and “customization” when categorizing leads.

Lead generation is the process of getting, engaging, and engaging people who want to buy your product or service.

Why is lead generation important?

Generating leads is important as it gives you the permission and opportunity to contact potential customers directly. You can then build and maintain your relationship with them until they are ready to buy.

Why generate leads? Why not buy

Generating leads is usually better than buying leads because generated leads have shown interest in your product or service and have enabled you to contact them. This is not the case with purchased leads. They might be on a relevant list, but the messages you send them are unwanted and they likely don’t know your brand.

Spamming bought leads with phone calls or emails can damage your reputation.

Generating leads for your business involves three steps. You need a way:

  1. Attract People to your website or webpage.
  2. Hire so that they are ready to share their contact information with you (we call this the “Offer”).
  3. Seize these contact details.

Most people set up their lead generation campaigns in reverse order. So let’s take a closer look at these steps, starting with lead capture.

1. Lead capture

You need a way to capture a potential lead’s contact information. This can be as simple as setting up a form on your website:

Our blog opt-in form for newsletter subscribers.

The exact information you request depends on the requirements of your company. Common options are name, email, and phone number, but you can ask for anything you want. Things like organization size and budget are in B2B.

Just keep in mind that the more information you request, the less likely it will be that people will fill out the form. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing because the people who try harder tend to be better leads.

2. Offer

A visitor to your website will not reveal their contact information without some enticement. For that there are different possibilities. It all depends on your niche and who you are targeting. You will also need to test multiple offers and see what resonates.

For example, e-commerce stores tend to motivate visitors with discounts:

Zalora is promoting newsletter subscriptions with a $ 20 discount coupon.

Bloggers usually give away free eBooks or downloads:

Tim Ferriss is promoting newsletter subscriptions with a free e-book.

And software-as-a-service (SaaS) companies often create free tools like we do with Ahrefs Webmaster Tools (AWT):

3. Transport

Nobody will magically discover your site and your offer. You need a way to market it.

For example, let’s say you sell football boots. You have a landing page with a free e-book to improve penalties.

To drive traffic to this page, you could:

  • Run PPC Advertisements, e.g. FB/ Twitter / Google Ads.
  • Create content that will rank on Google and link to this page.
  • Promote the page on social media.
  • Appear on podcasts and promote the site.
  • Promote the page in communities like Quora.

This is just one example of what you can do. The choices are endless.

Recommended literature: 11 proven ways to drive traffic to your website

Here are some common tactics you can use to get more leads for your business. You will find that all lead generation tactics are variations of this three step process.

1. Blogging

Many companies use blogging as their primary lead generation tactic. It is the basis of what is known as inbound marketing.


In order for your posts to get traffic month after month, you need to make sure that they rank high on Google. To do this, target topics that people are actively looking for.

You can find these topics using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer:

  1. Enter a relevant keyword in the Keywords Explorer.
  2. Go to Appropriate terms Report.
  3. Toggle the “Questions” switch.
  4. Look for frequently asked questions that your target marketing is likely to be looking for.

For example, if you sell tea online, “How to Make Ginger Tea” would probably be a good blog post topic:

From there, it’s just a matter of creating a post that deserves a rank. Watch this video to learn how:



Attract readers to post with free downloadable bonus content. This is known as a content update. Checklists, worksheets, templates, and free courses all work well.

For example, Intercom offers an “Ultimate Guide to Conversational Support” in its post on global customer support:

Lead capture

Display a lead capture form when the reader clicks the content upgrade. You can do this with a popup or a link to a landing page.

Sumo, for example, delivers its content upgrade via a popup:

You can choose whichever method you like. Test both options to see which one is best for your business.

2. Pay per click (PPC) Advertising

PPC is when you pay for clicks on your website.


Pay a platform like Google or Facebook to show your ads to your users. You pay a fee every time someone clicks your ad. Use their targeting options to make sure the right people are seeing your ad.

For example, Facebook lets you target ads based on age, gender, location, interests, and more:


Get people to click on your ad with a compelling offer. Popular examples include webinars, free trials, and free downloads.

Here is an example from HubSpot:

Lead capture

Send paid traffic to a landing page with more details about your offer. Include a form to capture leads.

Here’s the landing page HubSpot sends its paid Facebook traffic to:

3. Partnerships with other companies

Your company wants leads. Other companies want leads too. Why not work together?


Find a company in a similar industry with a large audience that is not a direct competitor. Offer to create something useful for your audience, e.g. B. a webinar, an eBook or a course. They will get traffic to your offer when they promote it to their audience.

We did this a few years ago using Buffer, a social media planning tool.


Adapt your offer to the target group of your business partner. In our webinar with Buffer, for example, we talked about generating traffic with content and social media marketing:


Lead capture

Create a co-branded landing page with more details about your offer and a lead capture form.

Here is the landing page for our webinar with Buffer:

Recommended literature: 10 lead generation tactics that work (with examples)

Final thoughts

Any lead generation tactic follows the same basic three step process: traffic, offer, capture. The beauty of this is that it’s easy to identify and fix gaps in your lead generation funnel.

If your landing page converts well but isn’t getting a lot of traffic, your focus is on getting more traffic.

If your landing page has traffic but no conversions, come up with a better offer or experiment with the lead capture mechanism.

Did I miss something important? Let me know on Twitter.