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Lead Generation Software 2021: Ultimate Guide

Learn what is Lead Generation, how Lead Generation works and how to choose the right software

Last updated: Feb 23, 2021

Lead Generation Software 2021: Ultimate Guide

What is Lead Generation?

Lead Generation is a key marketing process that involves finding people who would be interested in buying your product and/or services. It involves collecting contact details of the interested potential buyers/customers in exchange for something that is of value to them - for e.g educational, collateral, research content or a free trial of a product. This is a key activity to build a sales pipeline. Lead Generation is one of the upstream activities in the lead management life cycle. Lead Generation involves lead capturing and lead mining.

There are 2 ways by which lead generation can happen - Outbound Lead Generation and Inbound Lead Generation.

Outbound lead generation involves sending out messages on a mass scale either through an advertisement, email campaigns, cold calling or direct mail. Such reaching out to the audience can happen in a sponsored event. Here idea is to reach out to the target audience whether they have demonstrated any interest in the product or not or whether they have any expressed need. The time and place of interaction are determined by the marketer.

The buying pattern has significantly changed over the years. Today’s buyers are more prepared with the knowledge and information, by the time they make the purchase decision. They do a lot of pre-purchase research and vendor short-listing online. They do all this at their own time and discretion. All this is aided by technological progress in search mechanisms that have evolved dramatically and subsequent democratization of knowledge. Buyers have considerable power and control over their decision making process and purchasing process. This means marketers can entice prospective buyers into their websites by creating attractive campaigns and content. Inbound Lead Generation involves converting such visitors into leads. Buyers can be made to part with their contact details in return for an offer that is of value to them like knowledge in the form of a research paper, white paper, collateral or a free product trial.

Today’s consumers understand the tactics you’re using, and they don’t have any patience with them. So you need to work hard to overcome this attention overload and earn their trust.


Marc Wayshak

Founder, PipeRev

There are other ways by which lead generation can happen - referrals, word of mouth recommendations, influencers, affiliates, trade shows and through networking. Or one can purchase a marketing list that gives ready access to a list that could be unqualified or semi-qualified for the target audience.

In this context, we focus on leads that are collected through online activities or leads that are generated through marketing activities on digital channels.

What is Lead Generation Software?

Lead Generation Software is a platform that automates the process of generating and collecting lead information from a set of channels. The most commonly used channels are websites through landing pages and forms, mobile, social channels. There are specific products that focus on automating lead generation with a specific channel like the website - common examples are landing page builders, form builders. These can be specialized software under a separate category. There are some platforms like software which are all-in-one for lead generation and cover multiple channels, automating the process of capturing, storing and managing the leads. Additionally, they can provide lead-related intelligence.

Lead Generation is very often seen as adjacent to other key processes like content marketing, SEO and Account-Based Marketing. Some tools consider lead nurturing and lead qualification and routing also as part of the lead generation process.

5 Benefits of Lead Generation Software

Identifying New Prospects

By capturing information from the potential buyers who visit your product/services website, lead generation helps in building the lead pipeline in automated fashion organically. Since these leads are collected from website traffic, they indicate interest from buyers who have some level of interest in the product or who are making purchasing decisions.

Improve Sales Productivity

One of the biggest benefits of using lead generation tools is that it automates a lot of manual repetitive tasks in the lead capturing process, thereby helping salespeople to focus on more value-added activities that are related to engaging with leads, closing deals and revenue generation. Manual tasks like copying and pasting data are eliminated thereby improving the accuracy of lead data. Usage of tools helps in generating leads at a scale that would not be possible with the manual approach.

Identifying the Source of Leads

Using lead generation software, one can automate the process of collecting and attributing the lead to the source. This helps in identifying which marketing campaigns work and how it is effective. Also, it is possible to identify which of the channels are effective in lead generation. This combined with lead analytics helps in defining and refining marketing strategies

Generate Qualified Leads

Inbound Lead Generation tools generate leads from interested buyers because they have chosen to visit the site because of your expertise in a specific domain or industry and/or they are interested in your products/services. Also because they are willing to provide their contact information in exchange for the value offer you are providing on your website, they are likely to be more qualified leads.

Seamless Marketing Automation and Pipeline Management

Most of the Lead Generation software comes with integration capabilities with other important sales and marketing tools like email marketing, CRM and conversion optimization tools. They seamlessly form part of the overall sales stack. Some examples are the ability to import and export data into CRM, identifying leads that need next steps and automatically identifying and taking action on the next steps - are possible with this seamless integration.

How Lead Generation Works?

Lead Capture

How Lead Generation Works?

Lead Capture is a key activity within the Lead Generation process. It involves collecting lead details from all possible sources where the leads may originate. The sources could be different channels like email, website landing page, social media. In the case of outbound lead generation, we need a mechanism to capture specialized events like Trade Shows, Expos where the target audience can be reached. Also, marketers can employ different techniques like search engine marketing, paid online campaigns, surveys and quizzes to capture leads. Lead Capture software provides a mechanism to automate this process for one or more of these sources.

Lead Mining

Businesses need to find ways to collect leads to broadening their funnel, find new customers. It could be through finding new market segments or increasing the upsell/cross-sell opportunities with existing customers. Lead mining software helps this process in multiple ways. Lead mining technology helps to scrape data from websites, emails and social media channels where there could be potential buyer activity happening. Lead mining software can be used to mine potential customer data from customer databases, historical sales information, account information, purchased market lists, etc. Another use case that is solved by Lead Mining software is in bringing the ability to handle large scale data that is collected from both structured and unstructured sources, though outbound lead generation and inhouse data mining. Businesses struggle to deal with such a large amount of data and make sense of it or find a pattern to improve their marketing strategy. This is where Lead Mining software plays a role to organize the data, extract meaning information or even provide means to cleanse data like contact information.

Data Enrichment

Lead data tend to become stale or irrelevant very fast. This could be due to incorrect data, duplicate data or outdated data ( due to the company shifting offices, phone numbers changing, people changing jobs). So it is a challenge for the marketing and sales team to maintain the lead data and requires a lot of manual effort, if not dealt with by technology. Marketo says a 10% increase in data quality results in 40% increase in revenue. According to Lead Genius, up to 6.5% of lead data loses validity every month due to turnover. Data enrichment tools solve this problem with the use of technology - correct bad email addresses, track people changes and other data cleansing like duplicate removal and contact validity checks.

Build Target Account Lists

One of the major advantages of using lead generation software is it brings the ability to create curated lists. Marketing lists can be created based on customer profile, industry segment, demographic segment or any cut that is of interest. Target customers can be further segmented based on their interest levels - interested in competitor products, unhappy with competitor products, regularly read and follow industry-specific news or they are looking for complementary products. These lists can be of excellent use for cross-sell/upsell opportunities. Building targeted lists is a key step for Account-Based Marketing.

Generic sales emails are just as bad. 24% of sales messages are never opened by their intended recipients.


Dmitry Chervony

Marketer, Growth-hacker, CMO Belkins

Top 10 Features of Lead Generation Software

Lead Generation software covers a very wide spectrum of activities and capabilities. It is quite common to find many point products that cover specific capabilities and very few that cover all the capabilities. Also, many of the capabilities can be associated with adjacent products like Account-Based Marketing, CRM add-ons. Here are some of the key and valuable capabilities that the Lead Generation software offers.

Form Builder

Online form builder tools provide support for the creation of forms on the websites for the purposes of surveys, quizzes, contact data collection, payments, etc. There can be a set of drag and drop templates and the forms can be typically generated without any technical skills. These forms provide a secure way to collect data in compliance with norms like HIPAA Compliance, PCI DSS Level 1 certification and more. They can also provide integration to CRM and other tools for the export of data. Forms are one of the basic building blocks for lead generation.

Identifying Anonymous Traffic

Some of the tools provide the capability to identify visitors to the website based on the IP address. These IP addresses are mapped to company information and one can get a full mapping of visitor profiles. This helps to build a lead pipeline.

Call Tracking and Management

When marketing campaigns are run, it is important to understand how these are translating to leads. Call tracking and analytics tools help in this process. Marketing campaigns can be assigned unique trackable phone numbers which the customers can call. Call tracking and analytics then help in collecting and attributing the lead to the source. This helps in optimizing the marketing campaign spend. Similarly for online campaigns, a unique trackable number can be assigned using which the tool can identify how the call landed and thereby kickoff analytics for further analysis.

Multi Channel Attribution

A visitor can land on the website by any means - through online ads like Google or Facebook, or through organic search using search engines, through other social media posts, retargeted from other websites. It is important to understand the source of the lead. Lead capture and analytics help in doing this multi-channel attribution, which in turn helps marketers tune their campaigns, optimize their ad spend.

Curated Lists

Some of the tools which have built-in marketing data engines have the ability to generate curated lists and target account lists. These can be generated based on the customer profile, market segment, demographic profile, region-wise, and customer interest profile. They also provide the ability to keep the data current, avoiding stale data issues.

Interactive Content Builders

One of the prominent ways by which one can keep visitors coming to the website or keep them engaged is by providing interactive content on the website. These could be in the form of calculators ( to calculate the price, cost, ROI for a given product or solution), quizzes,

surveys, etc. Surveys and quizzes are generally associated with some kind of offer in return which is of value to the buyer. Tools help in building such interactive content on the website, and also provide the necessary support to collect visitor contact information.

Contact List Builder

Some tools generate the email and phone lists by focusing on specific professional networks like LinkedIn, Crunchbase, Angellist. These are available as browser extensions and come with built-in integrations to popular CRM.

Data Cleanse and Enrich

There are several tools available that help in cleansing lead data - remove duplicates, correct wrong email addresses, phone numbers and also keep the contact information up to date with people and address changes. Some of the tools can add value to the information by providing additional profile data related to job title, role, company data, user activity in the online world, social media.

IP Address Intelligence

Identifying anonymous visitors and mapping them to target accounts to generate a more qualified lead is of enormous benefit to marketers. IP Address Intelligence capability helps to track and map visitors based on their IP addresses to companies.

Tech Stack and Keyword Lookup

These are specialized companies that provide curated lists based on technology usage and spend history. They have built up large amounts of data on technology trends and usage over many years that can be a great source to create such curated lists. One other way is to create lists based on specific keyword usage on websites. For example, how many e-commerce websites are selling fitness wearables, how many blogs have the keyword McDonalds, how many websites have the keyword event marketing. Creating such targeted lists helps marketers to plan their targeted campaigns.

Artificial Intelligence in Lead Generation Software

  • AI plays an important role in lead mining. When large amounts of unstructured and structured data have to be analyzed to extract leads and segment them, Buyer footprints are everywhere from websites to social media channels - AI with the help of big data, extract insights from the huge datasets. With these insights, they draw predictions that help marketers to understand buyer trends. Advanced AI systems learn over time and provide more improved predictions over time. Some of the predictions could be related to finding more likely prospects, prospects who are likely to move over from competition, prospects who are likely to buy within the next few months, which leads are worth pursuing in the near term, which leads need more immediate action. Some specialized software focus on mining specific social media data like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter.
  • AI-based systems can build targeted marketing lists from huge data sets, given a specific condition to match. For example, getting the list of all sales and marketing professionals of Fortune 2000 companies in the US, getting the list of all CMO, CIO in B2C companies in Europe. Such queries can generate a list of contacts that are clean and up to date which will be of great use to do targeted marketing campaigns.
  • AI-powered Sales Assistants engage with leads with more personalized content and interaction and that increases the chance of conversion. They can also help in personalizing website content to attract new visitors or retarget visitors.

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Buyer’s Guide: 6 Factors to Consider to Choose Right Lead Generation Software

Features Supported by Lead Generation Software

Lead Generation features cover a very wide range, identifying which capabilities are critical to the company’s lead generation strategy is important. For example, is the strategy around improving inbound lead generation through website forms and interactive content, or is to track lead conversion from marketing campaigns. The choice is abundant and hence identifying a set of capabilities that are needed becomes crucial.

Buyers are recommended to consider peer reviews and expert opinions that are extensively available on Cuspera before making buying decisions. Cuspera’s AI based engine guides you through the requirement process to help you choose the right software.

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Channel Support

Lead Generation can happen through various channels - website, phone, mobile, social media. There are specific tools that focus on specific social media like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn Navigator. Identifying where your target buyers are likely to be and choosing the optimal channel to target is crucial.

Technology Considerations

AI is increasingly playing an important role in marketing tools like lead generation and combined with big data has the ability to mine large datasets. The insights and predictions that AI can generate are valuable. So tool choice can vary from simpler data cleansing tools to more sophisticated AI-based lead mining tools.

Industry Vertical

While using marketing data engines that provide access lists of different verticals, choosing which of them is stronger in your area of interest is important. For example, there are companies that specialize in E-Commerce lists or specific consumer segments.

Security and Privacy Considerations

Since many of the tools deal with buyer data and contact information, it is important they adhere to security and data privacy considerations. It is important to know what kind of compliance standards they adhere to. Many tools come with compliance norms like HIPAA Compliance, PCI DSS Level 1 certification.


It is important for lead generation tools to provide data export capabilities to CSV or other popular CRM like SalesForce, Hubspot. One needs to analyze the data integration capabilities and check whether it can be easily integrated into the Company’s CRM systems and customer data platforms.

Challenges in Adopting Lead Generation Software

Lead Generation should not be viewed as a stand-alone activity and it needs to fit seamlessly into organization workflow. It means leads have to be nurtured and qualified. Gartner mentions that 70% of the leads are lost because of poor follow-up.

Online business models are continuously evolving and buyer patterns are changing and the channels they use to research, make purchasing decisions and ultimately buy is also fast-changing. An organization that does not adopt new channels quickly or makes a choice of tools that do not have adequate channel support might fail to deliver desired results.

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323 Lead Generation Software