Lead (pronounced "leed") is a marketing term that describes a connection made with a potential customer or client. The goal of most online advertising is to generate leads, which may "lead" to sales or subscriptions for a company or organization.

The process of creating leads on the Internet is called online lead generation. This can be accomplished by running ads through a service like Google AdWords or Bing Ads or by directly purchasing advertising space on other websites. Advertisers can choose to run either CPC (cost per click) or CPA (cost per action) ads, which can both generate leads. While CPA and CPL (cost per lead) are often used interchangeably, CPL specifically measures lead generations, rather than aggregate clicks or sales.

A typical online lead is created when a user fills out and submits a form on a website. The number of fields required depends on the type of lead. For example, an automotive dealer website may provide an online form for interested buyers. The form may request your name, email address, physical address, phone number, and best time to reach you. Other forms are more basic and only capture an email address. These types of leads are often created when you sign up for a newsletter or download a software program. Whatever information is captured in a lead can be used to contact you at a later time for marketing purposes.

Updated October 18, 2014 by Per C.

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