Online lead generation refers to the concept of collecting names and contact information of potential leads online. Leads are the names of individuals who may be interested in purchasing a product, who can be targeted with marketing materials, sales presentations or other offers. Online lead generation takes several different forms, but in every case, the purpose of such lead generation is to find a potential customer.
Online lead generation involves the creation of a website or other online space. The goal, then, is to drive individuals who may be interested in the product to that website. This is done through techniques such as affiliate marketing and pay per click advertising, each of which are important tools in online lead generation.
Affiliate marketing refers to the process of having other individuals and websites market your product or site. The person who is the affiliate has a link on his own site to a particular web page or product. If a customer purchases the product through the affiliate link, the affiliate is paid, often as a percentage of the sale or as a flat fee.
Pay per click advertising involves placing an ad on a website or search engine. The decision as to where the ads are placed is generally made based on the popularity of the website, often measured by the site's "page rank" and the keywords that people use to access the website. When a person clicks on the link, he is connected to the product or website of the person engaged in the online lead generation. There is a charge for hosting the link, which normally comes in the form of a cost every time someone clicks the link; this "cost per click" varies depending on the product being sold, the keyword used and the amount of advertiser competition in the sector.
There are a number of different aims associated with using affiliate marketing and pay per click. Sometimes the aim is simply to sell the product directly from the website. Other times, the aim is to collect data to sell a larger product or to create a database of customers to market to. This is often done by offering people an incentive to sign up for an email newsletter or mailing list, such as a promise of information or free coupons. Free ebooks or other related types of incentives may also be used to entice individuals to provide their contact information; the company then has a list of people interested in its product to whom it can send targeted marketing material or contact or sales presentations.