What's a Lead?

Ian Lurie

Here’s a good question: What’s a ‘lead’? If you sell stuff online, it’s easy to measure conversion by sales. If you don’t, though, it can get murky. How do you know if each visit is worth what you spent to get it?

Since my click calculator got publicity yesterday, I’ve had a few folks ask me that. In internet marketing, I think a lead means that a visitor has interacted with you to the point where they’ll return, remember you and/or get in touch some other way.

Here are my ideas. A visitor might become a lead if they:

  • Complete an information request form
  • Download an article or whitepaper
  • View more than nn pages of your site
  • Return to your site within nn days
  • View a specific video
  • Sign up for a newsletter
  • Order a free widget

What have I missed? Anyone else out there have ideas for measurable actions we could consider a lead?

Ian Lurie

Ian Lurie is the founder of Portent. He's been a digital marketer since the days of AOL and Compuserve (25 years, if you're counting). Ian's recorded training for Lynda.com, writes regularly for the Portent Blog and has been published on AllThingsD, Smashing Magazine, and TechCrunch. Ian speaks at conferences around the world, including SearchLove, MozCon, Seattle Interactive Conference and ad:Tech. He has published several books about business and marketing: One Trick Ponies Get Shot, available on Kindle, The Web Marketing All-In-One Desk Reference for Dummies, and Conversation Marketing. Ian is now an independent consultant and continues to work with the Portent team- training the agency group on all things digital. You can find him at www.ianlurie.com

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  1. Mailed a page to a friend, or filled in any of the other forms you have – send a mail, comment on this page, rate this recipe, etc – or spent more than nn minutes on your site. Stealing one of your images could count, too, especially if it’s your logo.

  2. I think it’s worth considering that, depending on the complexity of the sale, it’s probably more than one interaction. Quite possibly, it’s reading an article or two, downloading a related white paper and attending a webinar/listening to a podcast.
    It could be any combination of interactions that you determine actually denotes a prospect that actually will become a qualified lead.
    This will evolve over time as you monitor what happens at your website and note the patterns for those who do transition up to sales conversations.

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