Which locations are suitable for lead generation

Lead generation methods and lead types - an overview

One of the main goals of many marketing departments is to generate high-quality leads with a specific interest in buying for colleagues from the sales team. So far nothing new - in the past it was also about gaining interested contacts and sales opportunities for the company. However, this was mainly done offline, for example when exchanging business cards at the exhibition stand or by cold calling on the phone. However, the methods of lead generation as well as the lead types have become more diverse. Because with digitization, buying behavior has changed. Potential buyers are actively and self-determinedly looking for information and the best solution to their problem. The importance of information and content that can be found digitally is immense - and the opportunities for lead generation are therefore more diverse than ever. Reason enough to take a look at different types of leads and lead generation methods.




How can methods of lead generation and lead types be distinguished?

Basically, leads and actions can be used to Lead generationcan be differentiated in numerous ways. We take a look at channels, marketing processes and which actions by potential customers can be called leads and what types of leads there are.


How can channels for lead generation be categorized?

  • Outdoors
    As the German translation “in the open, outside” suggests, this is, in the broadest sense, about lead generation outside of one's own (company) walls. Outdoor lead generation includes, for example, trade fair appearances or promotion stands, raffles, competitions and events.


  • phone
    When generating leads by telephone, a distinction is made between inbound and outbound calls. In the case of inbound calls, interested parties proactively contact them, for example via service hotlines. Strategic advice can then be used to gain leads on other topics. In so-called outbound calls, potential customers are specifically selected and asked over the phone about their product or service interests.


  • On-line
    Digital channels are used for online lead generation. In addition to your own website, this also includes third-party landing pages, emails, newsletters, downloads of white papers or case studies, webinars, social media, your own blog, ads, banners, etc.


  • Print
    Leads can also be generated in print format. Direct advertising letters with direct reply letters, discount coupons and the like are among the possibilities.


Regardless of which lead generation methodology you use, you should always make sure that it is GDPR compliant. Find out everything about the topic GDPR, law and data protection in lead generation.


Which actions generate leads?

Not only the methodology can be differentiated - the lead as such is also created by different behaviors of the potential customers. In essence, it is always about the interested party voluntarily providing the company with their contact details. The following actions can be referred to as leads:

  • Download of a content or offer (white paper, case study, checklist, etc.)
  • Contact request via form
  • Registration for the newsletter
  • Register for a webinar
  • Personal contact
  • Submission of the business card at an event or at a trade fair
  • Filling out a form in a competition
  • Contact by inbound or outbound call
  • Request via social media channels
  • Reply to a mailing
  • Reply to a sales letter
  • Etc.

What are inbound and outbound leads?

A further differentiation in the methods of lead generation is possible via the marketing activities or processes. Marketing is divided into inbound and outbound leads. What sounds very similar at first glance, however, is fundamentally different and has an impact on the further processing of the leads.


The Outbound lead generation includes marketing measures that are preceded by the selection of potential customers. Typically, marketers define a customer profile and all the potential customers whose profiles match it are contacted via mailings or outbound calls, for example. Then the wheat is separated from the chaff: Which of the profiles is also interested in the solution or the product? To generate outbound leads, it is often necessary to reach a large target group. This can increase the chance of a hit. The crux of the matter is that the right customer profiles were selected before the marketing campaign, but of course not everyone has a specific interest in the product or the solution.


In the Inbound lead generation good content is the focus. Interested parties intrinsically look for a solution to their problem - and in the best case find content that offers them added value and shows possible solutions. In most cases, a deal then comes about: contact details are exchanged for good content. Since the inbound lead generation is not preceded by a profile selection, it can happen that contact data is generated that does not match the defined customer profile. This is where lead qualification comes into play. Lead nurturing processes can be used to filter which of the generated contact details are really relevant for the company. On the other hand, the interest can be further concretized through suitable content until the lead is "ready for sale". When it comes to lead qualification, Marketing automation extremely helpful.




Our tip: In order to take full advantage of all types of lead generation, cleverly link your inbound and outbound activities! In this way, you can market good content, for example in the form of a whitepaper on search engine-optimized texts (inbound) and also with the help of well-targeted ads (outbound). You then develop the leads you have won with additional content, for example in a mailing section, until they can be passed on to the sales colleagues. In this way, you fill your marketing funnel with contacts who are already actively looking for your solutions and with contacts who exactly match your defined customer profile and who may think of you as a solution provider at a later point in time.


Link inbound and outbound activities in a clever way.



Find out everything about lead generation in our B2B lead generation whitepaper



Lead nurturing process

As part of the nurturing process, the lead goes through different qualification levels. Each company individually defines which behavior of the potential buyer raises him to the next level of evaluation. The following levels are usually used to describe the maturity level: Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) and Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).


  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
    Contact data generated through marketing measures are part of the MQLs. This can be, for example, registration for the newsletter. In this phase, the contact that has been made does not usually imply any real interest in buying. The lead is also known as "cold".


  • Sales Accepted Lead (SAL)
    When the MQL is ready to be handed over to the sales team, it becomes the SAL. The prerequisite for the handover is an interest in the company's services or products. In order to inquire about this interest or, if necessary, to develop it, the potential buyer should receive additional and target-oriented content on the topic. If he has downloaded or read it (the behavior here is to be monitored), in the best case scenario he can also be assumed to be interested in products and thus rate it as a SAL. The lead can now also be referred to as a "warm" lead.


  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
    If the lead has reached the qualification level SAL, the sales department takes over the further qualification process, for example as part of a consultation. If this results in a real sales opportunity, one speaks of SQL or "hot" lead.


Lead scoring

Lead scoring is about evaluating the lead using a score model and better assessing the potential for a purchase. In this way, a contact made can be assessed not only on the basis of its behavior (e.g. download, page visit, etc.), but also on the basis of its relevance for the company. A lead in a position with decision-making authority is more relevant for a purchase than a student with a private email address.But the industry, company size or budget can also be criteria for the scoring model and help the sales team to prioritize the leads to be processed . So you can also differentiate the lead types according to quality.


With a suitable lead scoring model, you can help your colleagues from sales to prioritize the leads to be processed.


3 tips: How to structure and optimize your lead generation

The concrete definition of the lead types as well as the methodology of lead generation for one's own process is the task of marketing. Once you have exercised this process through, you can coordinate all of your marketing activities in a meaningful way. You build up an efficient marketing funnel with inbound and outbound adjustment screws that you can use to fuel your lead process at any time.


If, for example, content such as blog articles or white papers are the focus of your lead generation, you can efficiently supplement these inbound activities. If, for example, a Google update results in less visibility, the phase can be bridged using ads to generate leads. If your SEO content is responsible for the upper part of the funnel, i.e. the awareness phase (information, educational work, etc.), you can use the lower part of the funnel - i.e. the consideration and decision phases - with outbound measures such as retargeting. Supply ads or nurture routes.


  1. Determine which methods of lead generation you will use. The best way to do this is to find out where and how your target group gets information and what their behavior is like. With digitally-savvy customers, it generally makes little sense to generate leads through print campaigns. On the other hand, you will likely meet this target group on social media. Think carefully about how you can strategically coordinate your measures. A mixture of inbound and outbound activities is often efficient in order to develop interested parties from the awareness phase to the decision phase. Once you have established your strategy, you can also estimate how many leads you can generate through each channel and get a feel for budget and time frames.
  2. Evaluate your leads and find out how ready they are to buy. Both a user who has signed up for a newsletter and a user who requests a demo version of a software are leads. But that doesn't mean that both are ready for the handover to the sales team - of course, they shouldn't be neglected either. Therefore, evaluate the maturity level of your lead type and get insights into how you can address this lead in a targeted manner. Have you initially generated an MQL with a newsletter registration on a certain topic, can you, for example, assign a product interest to this by downloading a white paper on the same topic? The actions “newsletter registration” and “whitepaper download” could accordingly result in the evaluation as SAL. The definition of the degree of maturity should always be made individually, depending on the content and behavior.
  3. The right mix of inbound and outbound marketing: In B2B in particular, you shouldn't rely solely on inbound marketing. You can still support your SEO and content measures with advertisements in specialist media, social media ads and other outbound measures. In this way you ensure that you reach new users and at the same time optimally meet goals such as brand awareness and reach.


Sources: ryte wiki - lead generation

Stephanie Sieß

After completing her degree in brand and media management, Stephanie Sieß dared to take the step into B2B marketing and realized that there, too, content can be human and exciting.