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Leads definition – what actually are leads?

Titelbild Blogbeitrag Leads Definition
Maurice – October 5, 2023 – 10 min read

Are you having trouble acquiring customers? Do your customers switch to the competition after the first touch point with your brand? Then you probably have a problem with your lead generation or lead management.

But “lead,” what does that mean? This article will help you understand what leads are and how they can help your business be more successful.

Because companies need good contacts and a good connection to them. In inbound marketing, contacts that later potentially become customers are also called leads.

If you want to know what the leads definition says, how to generate leads and manage them properly, you should by no means stop reading at this point.

What are leads?

Leads are contacts, i.e. prospects who have come into contact with a brand and who can potentially be converted into customers. They show interest in a company’s products or services – for example, by subscribing to a newsletter or visiting a website.

Definition leads

In other words, leads are basically just contacts that can potentially be converted into customers. The potential customer thus shows interest in a product of your company – in whatever way, shape or form.

Consequently, upon discovering a potential lead, inbound marketers should react as a predator would when weathering its prey:

They should pick up the scent, follow it and then snap at the right moment.

Now that we know what leads are, the next question is how do you get them? Let’s dive into the world of lead generation.

How do you generate leads?

Nowadays, thanks to the Internet, there are countless ways to generate leads – that’s one of the reasons why online marketing has become so important. In the past, lead generation was much more difficult and time-consuming.

Representatives had to canvass front doors and make sales calls, salespeople had to make unpleasant cold calls – quite a thankless task. Booths at trade shows (especially in B2B marketing) or in pedestrian zones (especially in B2C marketing) were and are also popular means of lead generation, depending on the industry.

Although these techniques are still used today, they have fallen far behind – after all, they are much more time-consuming, less efficient, and significantly less measurable than modern lead generation methods.

Online lead generation is the method of choice for most successful modern businesses this year. Again, there are numerous ways to attract potential customers and entice them to leave important contact information.

Generating leads is one thing, but how exactly do you do it? Let’s take a look at some best practices.

Methods for lead generation

different methods for lead generation

The following methods are particularly popular for generating leads:


With the help of newsletters, potential customers are usually enticed to leave their e-mail address and, in some cases, other contact data, which can then be used for advertising purposes.

Often, in return for signing up for the newsletter, prospects are offered coupons for new customers, which in turn are meant to entice them to purchase products from the respective company’s website.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is one of the most important tools in sales and content marketing today. Without search engine optimized content, your website will most likely not rank well thanks to Google’s sophisticated algorithms. Conversely, this means: fewer customers for you, more customers for your competitors.

Well optimized websites are preferred by Google. What is important here is no longer blunt keyword spamming as was the case a few years ago, but above all the creation of meaningful content that is helpful for readers. A clear, easily accessible user interface and well-placed backlinks are also significant factors. Hubspot offers many interesting videos and tutorials on the topic.

Social Media Marketing

You probably know that social media is the most important advertising platform today. Just about every successful business looking to generate leads in the consumer space advertises on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok. There are also suitable social networks such as LinkedIn or Xing for generating business customers.

Advertising banners on websites

Affiliate platforms make it easier than ever to place banners on sites that match your business. In this way, you can reach your target group and quickly collect useful contact data or sell your products.

On top of that, most affiliate platforms collect useful data from the people who click on the link to your service or product.

Conversational Marketing

Thanks to rapid developments in AI, chatbots are becoming smarter and seem more human with each passing day. Meanwhile, such bots can be excellently used for conversational marketing.

Users can contact the chatbot when questions arise. This can answer simple questions on its own or automatically direct the prospect to a human service representative for more complicated issues. Often a certain data set of the customer is collected – for example the e-mail address, the name and the age.

Contact forms

Another, now somewhat outdated, method of collecting data in online marketing is the contact form. Customers can contact your company’s support through this and just need to type in some contact details like the email address and phone number.

For the user, however, direct communication via a chatbot is much more pleasant and much faster.

Now that we know different methods for generating leads, it’s important to understand that not all leads are created equal. But how do you tell a good lead from a not-so-good lead?

Classifying leads: What does a good lead look like?

Not all leads are created equal. Lead management differentiates between leads of different quality. The higher the quality, the deeper the lead is in the sales funnel. Most leads generated via the options explained above are called unqualified leads.

Although they show interest in the product or service and leave their contact details, they are far from actually purchasing the product or service.

Overview classification of leads

Besides these, there are two other types of further qualified leads, let’s take a look at them.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

The prospect must be converted to a Marketing Qualified Lead in the next step. After he has declared his general interest, for example by clicking on a link or providing his contact details, he must now be persuaded to develop an interest in a particular product or service.

To do this, the marketing team should provide the prospect with more information about the product or service the potential customer is likely to be interested in. In this way, the lead is gradually accompanied towards the purchase and the probability of a sale increases.

Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

Once a lead is classified as a Sales Qualified Lead, it is of real value to the company – because at this point, the lead already has genuine interest in making a purchase. Distribution takes over from here. From now on, this person accompanies the Sales Qualified Lead on his Buyer’s Journey, eliminates any final uncertainties and ensures that everything runs smoothly when the purchase is concluded. Depending on the product, customized solutions for the Sales Qualified Lead can also be worked on at this time – for example, in mechanical engineering or IT.

Proper classification of leads is critical. But what comes after that? Here’s a deeper dive into managing those leads.

Lead management – how to manage leads properly

Lead management accompanies the marketing and sales process from the very beginning and can be divided into different steps:

  1. Define goals: First, goals must be defined – what is to be sold to whom and to what extent?
  2. Contacting: Subsequently, contact must be made with the previously defined target groups in order to generate leads.
  3. Controlling: This involves collecting data, which is then processed and evaluated. This can be used to determine which leads are unqualified and which become Marketing Qualified leads.
  4. Lead qualification: The marketing department then addresses the Marketing Qualified Lead directly before it becomes a Sales Qualified Lead.
  5. Closing: Finally, personal contact is made with the customer and the sales department closes the deal.

Good lead management has numerous benefits for your business. It not only enables clear categorization of prospects based on the information extracted from collected data, but also facilitates personalized contact with them. This in turn leads to stronger customer loyalty and thus an advantage over other companies.

In practice, customer data is usually managed in CRM systems. These programs allow for easy onboarding and intuitive management of this data, often in the cloud and across departments.

Effective lead management forms the backbone of a successful sales strategy. But to round things out, let’s take a look at the big picture and summarize.


Lead generation and lead management are elementary components of any business. Without it, you won’t find customers for your business, or you’ll lose them faster than you can say “online marketing.”

Moreover, efficient management of your leads gives you significant advantages over your competitors. Not only will your customers be happier with your service, they’ll be more likely to respond to your targeted marketing efforts.

To stay competitive and secure the interest of potential customers in the future, be sure to take our tips to heart and invest in your lead management.


8+ years of Growth Marketing
Published October 5, 2023


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