Lead generation marketing refers to the process of creating consumer interest in a particular product or service and registering this interest through the collection of contact details to be used in further marketing efforts. Leads can be gathered for the purposes of email list building, newsletter subscriptions or as contacts for salespersons.

Lead generation typically is typically performed through advertising but there are a number of other ways it can be achieved: through cold-calling prospects on the phone, harvesting email addresses from a company’s website, personal referrals and conferences or events where contact details are provided. The most used channel for gathering leads is email followed by content marketing, search engine results and direct referrals. Lead generation is the first step in the process of leading a prospective customer through what is referred to as a ‘sales funnel’, the end goal of which is to achieve a sale.