As a full service digital marketing agency, we offer a variety of other digital marketing techniques to suit the needs of our clients and their customers.

Online lead generation is a difficult strategy to get right, in principle it is a very simple concept; you commission online marketing activity to bring leads into a business. However, you can pretty much adopt lead generation behaviour using any number of digital marketing channels.

  • A lead is widely considered to be the capturing of prospective customer information to be used for CRM list building (e-newsletters / loyalty programs) and/or sales development (expressing interest in product/service through quotes / forms / requests for more information).

For the purpose of this post, I will be concentrating on paid for lead generation activities(not simply ensuring your website can capture information and thus drive traffic to it via any source).

  • The core advantage of paid for lead generation techniques is that more often than not you only pay for the leads you receive (a type of cost per acquisition buying model), so the wastage is minimal.
  • The four levels of online lead generation are as follows:
    1. End user - is the lead, expresses their interest in product/service
    2. Capturer of leads - allows the end user to enter their details to follow up on enquiry
    3. Seller of leads - sells the lead to a buyer (can also be the capturer)
    4. Buyer (user) of leads - communicates directly with a lead (can also be the capturer)

There is always an end user and a buyer/user, but there may not always be a distinctly different capturer or seller. I'm being a little hesitant on providing a definitive definition; lead generation covers such a broad spectrum of online marketing goals as well as marketing tactics that it would be hard to summarise in one simple sentence (I'm not good at that at the best of times!).

However, I will try better at explaining and demonstrating some of the advantages gained (and pitfalls to look out for) when embarking on this type of digital marketing.

Step 1 - define your goals

When you're about to pay for leads, it is imperative that you have a clear picture of what you're prepared to pay for - and that you have a clear definition of both the lead and its value in order to brief your agency (and/or your sellers appropriately).

Ask yourself these three things:

  • What am I trying to achieve (and what will I do with this information)?
    • Quotes
    • Enquiries / or request for more information from interested parties
    • Full name, postal address and/or email address, phone number
    • Email addresses only (how are you going to use these in the future?)
  • What do I accept as a lead?
    • Consider how much information you require to make the lead valuable (but do not ask for too much information that makes it too difficult for the prospect to convert).
    • What are the characteristics of a quality lead?
      • Can you push for a double opt-in qualification process - submit details then verify email address?
      • Have emails been tested for being active (e.g. real accounts)?
    • Does an incentivised lead cause you problems with quality?

Avoid asking for too much information upfront; this is because the simpler it is for someone to get in touch/convert, the more leads you will receive. Be careful with incentivising leads - often people will be happy to give over their details to enter a competition but they may leave false details, or they may never be in contact with you again.

If you do this type of activity, make sure you reduce the value you're prepared to pay so that you can accommodate for poor conversion rates.

  • What is a lead worth to me?
    • How much are you prepared to pay per lead?
    • Have you worked out the likely conversion rate from lead > sale/conversion?

Be clear about the quality of your leads but also be reasonable as to the level of qualification vs. the value you are prepared to pay. Extra qualification stages will incur additional processes; therefore, they will be at a more premium rate.

Step 2 - choose appropriate lead generation mechanics

Once you've defined what your goals are and their value, you have to consider what techniques you use to entice people to give you their information.

The most common mechanic is competitions - but as I've stated above, make sure you have accounted for poorer quality in leads if you go down this route.

The alternative is giving the prospect something free, whether this is information-based (whitepapers / content / e-newsletters), discounts, free trials or quotes.

All require the prospect to follow up with this freebie and interact with your brand again. On the Adido site, we offer free SEO reports and capture a prospect's email address from which we then follow up on with our business development team.

The other option is to offer points / rewards for a prospect's interaction with the company (submission of their details) - please tread carefully as, like competitions, incentivising the lead can result in poorer quality and a lot of timewasting caused by following up on weak leads.

If done correctly though, you can receive a healthy database and a decent volume of leads (at a rate you can afford to pay) which you can then use to drive your business forward.

Step 3 - acquiring leads: lead driving channels

As discussed early on in this blog post, every online channel can be used for lead generation; however there are some prominent techniques to achieve leads in bulk.


There are many third party email providers who can sell you a list of addresses & broadcast a campaign on your behalf. The trick is finding those that can work with you on a cost per lead basis (remember to know exactly how you define a lead & what you're prepared to pay for it), and who can also provide you with quality results. I have done quite a few email lead generation campaigns in my time and have had mixed results.

The combination of email creative, landing page experience, and user journey to conversion all contribute to success as well as the data quality & expertise of the broadcaster. It can also be a very time sensitive and stressful process, so working with good email providers is paramount to keeping your sanity! Most email campaigns are non-incentivised. However, you can also consider incentive based email activity by working with companies like Maximiles.

These guys have a wealth of consumer data to ensure your data is of high quality and accurate for your targeting needs. The only pitfall is that they are providing their recipients with points incentives for interacting with your company (so don't expect them all to be quality leads!).

Comparison sites / quote engines

These guys are exactly what they sound like they are. These are the aggregators of content and brokers for products and services. They are the typical data capture site - they provide a bit of information and then request the visitor to submit their own details for a follow up (no obligation) consultation with a relevant company.

These sites will invest in their own marketing budgets building up traffic to their site and capturing data to then sell on to you at a cost. Some examples are Quotatis and SavingOn. Be careful as they may also sell the same lead to another company, so often it's a matter of who gets to the prospect first wins! Make sure you accommodate this behaviour in your pricing model.

Competition sites / prizes / offers

Finally, probably the lowest and cheapest form of online lead generation - capturing data from competition entrants and offer based sites.

These sites spring up all over the place and attract a certain type of customer - I'll be careful not to stereotype here though! The online lead generation mechanics for these campaigns involve prospects entering a competition or requesting to receive a free piece of 'something' in exchange for giving their details.

Sometimes the company will be the face of the competition or in other instances it will be secondary level within the competition process (signing up to receive information from company X).

Now, when reading back over this blog post, I admit I haven't been too complementary of online lead generation. It is a rather broad area and the paid for routes can definitely present some challenges. That being said, I have had some great success for my clients and would continue to propose this as an option if the three steps highlighted at the beginning were tackled correctly and the costs and goals were clearly appropriate.

At the end of the day, you're setting the goal, you're paying what you believe it's worth, and you're only charged if that is delivered. Pretty low risk if you plan smartly. So be smart, and if in doubt, speak to Adido!

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Meet the author ...

Kherrin Wade

Strategy Director

Kherrin works with clients to develop effective marketing strategies, whether that's introducing brands to digital for the first time or pushing the boundaries with more ...