A Beginner’s Guide to Generating Business Leads the Inbound Way

I was about to dig into a spaghetti and meatballs when the phone rang.

HubSpot is here to discuss inbound lead generation, which can save your business or organization from being a disruptive cold caller.

A lead can be defined as a potential customer who has shown some interest in your company or product. Online lead generation is the process of attracting and converting strangers into leads through online channels, such as your website, blog, or social media. Qualifying someone as a lead usually involves collecting some basic information about them, such as their name, email address, or job title. Once you have a lead, you can then label them as a sales qualified lead, meaning they are ready to be contacted by a salesperson. There are a number of ways to generate leads, but inbound lead generation is often considered the most effective. This is because inbound lead generation relies on creating valuable content that draws people to your website or social media page, rather than simply buying leads from a third-party source.

What Is a Lead?

A lead is any person who expresses interest in a company’s product or service.

With a lead, businesses or organizations open communication after the lead submits personal information for an offer, trial, or subscription. With a cold call, the person calling the lead has purchased the contact information without the lead first opening communication.

If you took an online survey about how to take care of your car, you would probably be receptive to an email from the auto company that created the survey. This would be less intrusive than if they called you without knowing if you’re interested in car maintenance.

The information that the auto company collects from your survey responses helps them to personalize their communication with you so that they can address your existing problems, rather than wasting time calling leads who are not interested in auto services.

There are different types of leads, based on how they are qualified and what stage of the lifecycle they are in.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

A marketing qualified lead is a contact who has engaged with your marketing team, but is not yet ready to receive a sales call. An example of an MQL is a contact who fills out a form on a landing page for an offer.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

Sales qualified leads are potential customers who have taken action to express their interest in becoming a paying customer. For example, a contact who fills out a form to ask a question about your product or service.

Product Qualified Lead (PQL)

A product qualified lead (PQL) is a contact who has used your product and has taken actions that suggest they are interested in becoming a paying customer. For example, a customer who uses your free version but asks about features that are only available upon payment.

Service Qualified Lead

A service-qualified lead is a contact or customer who has expressed interest in becoming a paying customer to your service team. An example of this would be a customer who tells their customer service representative that they would like to upgrade their product subscription. The customer service representative would then pass this customer on to the appropriate sales team or representative.

What Is Lead Generation?

The purpose of lead generation is to attract potential customers to your business and then building up their interest until they are converted into paying customers. There are various ways to generate leads, such as through job applications, blog posts, coupons, live events, and online content.

There are several lead generation strategies that you can use to bring in potential customers and guide them to your offers. We will discuss more strategies later.

I can’t say that I create content for lead generation whenever someone outside of the marketing world asks me what I do because they wouldn’t understand and I would get some confused looks.

Instead of saying that I work on advertising, I say that I work on finding unique ways to attract people to my business. My goal is to provide potential customers with enough benefits and reasons to be interested in my company, so they will eventually want to hear more from us.

When you present your business in a way that potential customers can relate to, they are more likely to consider your business when making a purchase. This is what lead generation is all about – getting potential customers interested in your business so that they will eventually make a purchase.

Why Do You Need Lead Generation?

A stranger becomes a customer more easily when they express an organic interest in your business from the beginning of the relationship.

As you can see, generating leads is a fundamental point in an inbound marketing strategy. Lead generation is a key part of inbound marketing. It happens after you’ve attracted an audience and are ready to turn those visitors into leads for your sales team. As you can see, generating leads is essential to an inbound marketing strategy.

As you can see in the diagram below, generating leads is a fundamental step in an individual’s journey to becoming a satisfied customer.

Lead Generation Process

Now that we’ve looked at how lead generation works with inbound marketing, let’s go through the steps of the lead generation process.

  1. First, a visitor discovers your business through one of your marketing channels, such as your website, blog, or social media page.
  2. That visitor then clicks on your call-to-action (CTA) — an image, button, or message that encourages website visitors to take some sort of action.
  3. That CTA takes your visitor to a landing page, which is a web page that is designed to capture lead information in exchange for an offer.

A great offer is the first step in turning a visitor into a leads—and eventually, a paying customer. If you want to turn a visitor into a paying customer, you need to offer something of value in exchange for their personal information. This could be an ebook, a course, or a template. The offer must be something that the visitor perceives as being valuable in order for them to exchange their information for it.

  1. Once on the landing page, your visitor fills out a form in exchange for the offer. (Forms are typically hosted on landing pages, although they can technically be embedded anywhere on your site.) Voila! You have a new lead. That is, as long as you’re following lead capture from best practices.

See how everything fits together?

To summarize, a visitor clicks on a call-to-action (CTA) button that takes them to a landing page. On the landing page, they fill out a form to get an offer from the company. Once they fill out the form, they become a lead.

You may be interested in our free lead generation tool. It allows you to create lead capture forms directly on your website, and is easy to set up.

Lead Generation Tactics

Outbound leads are the ones a company proactively pursues. The company reaches out to potential customers through a series of marketing activities, such as emails, banner ads, and telemarketing, in the hope that they take the bait. Inbound leads, on the other hand, are generated when potential customers look for a company that offers a particular product or service. The customer finds the company through channels like search engines, social media, and blogs. A referral happens when a satisfied customer tells others about a company and its products or services. Nowadays, there are plenty of ways to generate leads. Outbound leads are the ones a company proactively pursues. The company reaches out to potential customers through a series of marketing activities, such as emails, banner ads, and telemarketing, in the hope that they take the bait. Inbound leads are generated when potential customers look for a company that offers a particular product or service. The customer finds the company through channels like search engines, social media, and blogs. A referral happens when a satisfied customer tells others about a company and its products or services.

Outbound lead generation

Outbound lead generation means approaching potential customers directly and starting conversations with them.

It’s up to you to take action, so you can choose when, how, and whom to talk to.

Here are the most popular outbound lead generation tactics:


Advertising is promotion or marketing of products or services using various public channels in order to reach a larger audience.

Nowadays, it is possible to create ads that are targeted and personalized, also known as contextual advertising.

Cons: people may perceive your message as being too “pushy” The pros of marketing through text messaging is that you can reach many people in a short amount of time. You, as the marketer, also have complete control over when, where, and what message to send. However, some people may see your messages as being too “pushy.”

The main disadvantages of this methods are the high costs, and the fact that it is only effective if repeated, making it even more expensive.

PPC (pay-per-click)

The search engines will show your messages or website to users who are searching for related keywords, but you will need to pay for each click that your message receives.

Some pros of using personalized marketing are that it can produce quick results, and it can be successful if it’s done correctly and specifically for the customer.

Some of the cons of using a paid ad service are the high costs and the potential for the ads to fail if website visitors are using AdBlock. Additionally, the paid ads will not work as intended if the website has not been optimized.

Cold emailing

Sending personalized emails to customers that you have no previous contact with in order to increase interest or business.

The advantages of using print media to advertise are that it is possible to reach high-level executives who are not often on the web, explore new markets, and grab somebody’s attention quickly. Additionally, it is relatively cheap and has a high ROI.

The main disadvantages of using email marketing are that it can take a lot of time to get results, as you not only have to send emails but also follow up with potential customers regularly. Additionally, it requires good copywriting skills to be successful, as well as the ability to research the email addresses of potential customers.


You can generate leads by making contacts at various events, such as expos, conferences, seminars, trade shows, and networking events.

Pros: building authority and expertise.

Some drawbacks to attending high-level events are that they can be expensive and sometimes attract people who are only looking for opportunities. They also require preparation in terms of time, skills (public speaking, networking), and strategy. The success rate for attending these events is generally low.

Which Lead Generation Tactic to Choose?

There is not just one best way to generate leads that will work every time. You may need to try out different tactics to see what works best for your business.

Even if two companies are operating in the same market, the tactics each company uses can be very different and one may be more successful than the other.

Results depend greatly on how a tactic is executed.

The most effective marketing strategy is one that incorporates a mix of different tactics that are individually chosen based on the company’s ideal customer profile, the market it operates in, and its competitors’ strategies.

If you are starting out in lead generation, it is quicker to see results from using outbound tactics, while also building an inbound platform for long-term results.

If you already have a platform for inbound marketing, you should keep it going, but you may be able to get better results by supplementing it with outbound marketing.

Choose tactics that you’re good at to be successful. If you’re good at writing, create a blog, ebook, or cold emails. If you’re good at design, create a great website that can show off your skills. If you’re good at public speaking, have someone from your company present at events. And so on.

There is no place for chaos in lead generation. You should have a strategy in mind whenever you are trying to generate leads.

How to Treat Leads?

Leads are different and should be treated accordingly.

Outbound leads

The most challenging type of lead is also one of the most rewarding.

Remember that the person you are talking to has likely never heard of you. You’re a stranger to them, so you need to give them a reason to listen to you.

Send personal messages that are tailored to your contacts and focus on what’s in it for them. Mention the facts you know about them, express appreciation for things they do, be a good listener, and show how your offer can benefit both of you.

Inbound leads

Assuming that someone who initiates a conversation with you needs a product like yours is a bold move. Most likely, they have researched your company and have some knowledge about it.

The following text is about how to respond to people effectively. When replying to someone, it is not necessary to start with an introduction – you can go straight to the point.

When a customer contacts you, they usually need a product soon, so it’s important to answer quickly. Don’t hesitate to start selling right away.

Referral leads

Referral leads are people who already know about your product and have been referred to you by people they trust. They are ready to talk to you and learn more about your product. You should take advantage of this opportunity.

The people who are referred to you by your friends are called referral leads. You need to be friendly with them and offer them value, as you would with your own friends. If you don’t meet their expectations, referral lead generation can go wrong.


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