The Evolution Of Lead Generation | B2B Marketing Agency – Kent
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Whatever the size, structure, or industry, making connections and using them to generate leads has always been a crucial aspect of business. As technology develops and becomes ever more sophisticated, reaching out to others and communicating with one another has become an increasingly quick, easy and effective process.

This ever increasing ease of communication has benefited all areas of business, but perhaps none more so than lead generation, which has developed and evolved in line with technological advancements.

WORD OF MOUTH – WHERE IT ALL BEGAN

Originally, lead generation was all about word of mouth and a company’s reputation. Any form of advertising was carried out at a strictly local level with shopkeepers and businesses posting flyers around their storefronts.

ADVERTISING – AUDIENCES WIDEN

Although they were far from the level of advertising we see today, a number of platforms began to develop that would allow businesses to advertise their products and services to wider audiences – generating leads further afield.

With the publishing of the first newspaper in 1690, the unveiling of the first billboard in New York in 1835, and the perfecting of the lithographic process which saw the production of the first illustrated poster in 1796, marketing, advertising, and ultimately lead generation, became more effective. They also became somewhat more focussed on one way communication than they had previously been.

The first instances of unsolicited spam were also recorded in 1864. Rather than the emails, phone calls, and letters we receive today, these first steps into cold calling used the telegraph. We all know how frustrating unsolicited mail can be, but imagine spending hours translating a morse code message, only to find it was junk mail!

MASS COMMUNICATION – TELEVISION IS BORN

During the 1900s, populations exploded, mass communication methods made their first appearances, and marketing and lead generations began to change as businesses were able to utilise quickly advancing technology to target audiences on a national and international level.

Major milestones during this period were the first radio commercial, which was broadcast in 1926 and the first television commercial, which was aired in 1941. Interestingly, both of these advertisements were promoting the same company, Bulova, a watch and jewellery company.

For the first time, lead generation was becoming more of a one way relationship – businesses were able to transmit their messages to the audience without having to engage in any form of two way conversation.

LEAD GENERATION CHANGES FOREVER – THE INTERNET IS BORN

The advent of the internet has changed our daily lives beyond recognition in an incredibly short space of time. The rapidly advancing technology has also impacted massively on lead generation, putting a much stronger focus on one way communication and seeing digital marketing over take traditional media such as TV, radio and newspaper advertising.

With the launch of AOL, Yahoo and eBay in the 1990s, and launch of Google 1998, mass email and advertising banners became the go-to digital marketing tools.

Early social networks, such as Myspace, LinkedIn and YouTube began to appear around the early 2000s, giving businesses yet another voice through which to reach their audience and generate leads.

MOBILE AND SOCIAL MEDIA – THE DEATH OF TRADITIONAL ADVERTISING?

When mobile and social media technologies appeared on the scene, everything changed again. Audiences are no longer susceptible to traditional advertising and one way communication. Instead, they demand conversation and genuine, customised content that allows interaction.

Businesses, advertisers, and digital marketers have all had to respond to this growing trend, and quickly. Whereas lead generation was once about quantity and lead volume, it is now more about quality and the value of messages.