What Is A Lead In Marketing – A Beginner’s Guide

What is a lead in marketing?

Lead is a person who might be interested in a buying a product or service offered by a business. This interest can be shown in the form of sharing contact details such as an email or phone number or any other piece of information through which a company will be able to communicate with them (lead) and turn them into a buying customer.

When it comes to digital/online marketing, this exchange of information usually happens in the form of email exchange or a phone number for a freebie. This exchange can take place either on a blog or a website.

Now that we know what a lead is let’s look at..

Types of Leads:


Cold Lead:

These are people who might fulfill certain criteria of target audience of a particular company.

Usually, the Cold leads have never ever heard about the company or its service or product and still end up receiving a cold email or a call from the company. This type of leads are not interested in buying any product or service from companies who cold call them.


Let’s say, you are a blogger who blogs about vegan recipes.

A company, about which you might have never heard of and is into selling vegan recipe book might look at you as a potential lead and will either email you or cold call you.

In this scenario, you’re a Cold lead for the company since you have no idea that such a company even exists.

Warm Lead:

This type of lead are those people who have signed up to a company/business’s email list or newsletter or shared their phone number.

It is very likely that these people gave their contact information for downloading a freebie, such as e-book or free course or even a training video, available on the company website or blog.

These are those leads who do more than just subscribing to the company’s email list or newsletter. They regularly visit the website/blog to learn from the content put out by the company.

In a way, these leads believe that the company, to whose blog they’ve subscribed, might just be the one to offer them service or product that they are looking for.

Let’s take the example which we considered earlier.

Suppose you want to try out a new vegan recipe and write about it on your blog.  You open Google and do a search about new vegan recipes or new cookbook in the market.

You find an interesting recipe on a blog, decide to browse through the rest of the blog where you found the recipe and eventually sign-up to the email list.

Since you signed-up to receive emails from the blog, you also decide to follow it on social media too.

You have now become a warm lead for the company to whose blog you subscribed. There’s a possibility that in near future if the company decides to launch a service or product, you might be very keen to check it out.

But this doesn’t mean that you are interested in buying from them; you might just be looking for a trial or demo of the product and nothing more.

That’s why there’s still some more work (nurturing) that is to be done by the company to convince you to not just check-out their product/service but actually buy it.

People who move into this zone of “potential buyer” are called as Hot leads. We explain what that means next.

Hot Lead:

These are the people who are looking for solution to their problem and are ready to buy now.

Let’s assume that you have subscribed to a company blog, started reading almost all the posts on it and have also given a go at the trial version of the product that is offered by company.

You now have a hands-on experience with the company product (courtesy the trail version) and are convinced that it is the product that you were looking for.

If the activities mentioned above are the company criteria to consider someone as a Hot Lead, then you have just become one for them.

You should remember one thing though.

Every company has its own criteria for deciding whether a lead is cold or warm or hot. It differs from market to market.


For many businesses, lead generation spans across multiple touch points. For your business to survive, you have to be able to generate sales leads.

Meanwhile, the company is also keeping an eye on how much engaged you are with their content or product or service or even all three of them.

They keep a chart where they score your activities and then allocate you a tag such as Cold or Warm or Hot lead. This is called as Lead scoring in marketing.

Besides, you need to remember that there just isn’t going to be only 1 individual/lead in each of the 3 types of leads mentioned above. There are going to lots of leads.

In order to manage these leads companies use various tools, individuals or combination of both, that allow them to easily monitor and manage leads at various stages of customer journey.

The primary reason of these tools & individuals is to nurture the lead, whichever stage they are at and take them to next level of customer journey.

This is referred to as Lead management in marketing.

Some of the major channels through which companies generate leads are:

  1. Website.
  2. Blogging.
  3. Social Media.
  4. Email Marketing.
  5. Paid Advertising.


But even after using the above mentioned channels for lead generation, a lot of companies still struggle to get leads.

Here are top tips for generating more leads for your business.

1. Utilize Inbound and Outbound Marketing:

Outbound marketing can be more effective than inbound marketing for getting new leads. But that doesn’t mean that you should ditch your inbound marketing strategy.

If you can deploy both approaches in a balanced way, it will help to generate more leads. To make the most out of your inbound marketing efforts, personalize your email communication and get more active in online communities.

2. Lock/Restrict High Demand Content to Registered Users:

If you create highly unique and on-demand content, it is a good idea to restrict it so that only registered users of your website have access to it.


Many companies that publish their own research reports and surveys use this approach because their content is in high demand in their industry and it is a tactic that has proven to generate high-quality leads.

3. Offer Free Trials:

Providing free trials to qualified customers is a common practice for businesses that sell online.

There are two objectives for the tactic:
1. To allow prospects the opportunity to test your product to see if it will fit their needs.

2. Offering a free trial is a great way to capture the contact details of users who may not have otherwise provided it.

4. Optimize Your Landing Page:

One of the most underused strategies for generating more leads is optimizing and reducing the clutter on your landing page. Every line and link that appears on your landing page is a distraction that could keep your prospects from signing up. To generate more leads, reduce the clutter and keep the focus on your sign up form.

5. Change Your Offer/Bait:

In addition to giving away a free white paper or eBook, or other digital product, you can also change the marketing message to generate more leads. Instead of saying “sign up for our newsletter,” you can change it to “get exclusive discounts here.”

Making this simple change can have a significant impact on the leads that you generate.


Lead is the bloodline for any marketing activity. It is very important that marketers know what is lead in marketing to chalk out their strategies and plan the activities accordingly.

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