Lead generation is the marketing process of stimulating and capturing interest in a product or service for the purpose of developing a sales pipeline. This crucial business process enables companies to nurture targets until they're ready to buy. Lead generation can be useful for any type or size of business, and both B2C and B2B spaces.

The methods for generating leads typically fall under the umbrella of advertising, but may also include non-paid sources such as organic search engine results or referrals from existing customers.

Modern lead generation strategies are heavily tied to digital channels, and the abundance of information readily available online has led to the rise of the “self-directed buyer.” In this environment, the techniques of lead generation have shifted from finding customers with mass advertising and email blasts to focusing on building continuous relationships through content marketing, SEO, and strategic outreach.

The goal of lead generation is to build a database of prospects that you can nurture during their buying journey. It often involves collecting a potential customer's information — such as name, email, company name, and job title — and using that information to personalize communication and make sales approaches more relevant and timely.

Effective lead generation campaigns typically involve a well-structured sales funnel that guides prospects from initial contact to the final sale, ensuring a systematic approach to converting prospects into loyal customers.