History of Lead Generation

Lead generation is not new. It has existed forever.


Let's go back to BC, when cave dwellers hunted mammoths, saber-toothed tigers, or merchants exchanging beads in exchange for vast areas of the New World, it was everything from person to person. The different businesses relied on referrals and tried to be in places where people could be interested in their products.


For example, Marco Polo was born at the beginning of the Renaissance. He was one of the most prominent early European merchants and explorers to walk the trails of the Silk Road and became a member of the court of famed Mongol ruler and founder of the Chinese Yuan Dynasty, Kublai Khan.


Moreover, if you lived in modern-day Pakistan and wanted to bought Chinese jade artifacts and Roman wine, how could you do that? The answer is simple. You had to wait the day when their caravans came into your city because it could take months before they came back.


For many years, we can see how the approaches companies use to generated leads have changed. In most cases, these are new technologies, client buying behavior, and media outlets (Newspaper, TV, Internet and social media).


The Old World = The New World

The rise of Print


When people got new opportunities using the Gutenberg's printing press, lead generation took on new forms. Print allowed companies to deliver their messages to thousands of people over vast distances. Moreover, they were able to advertise in different publications and created posters and billboards in high traffic areas.


Besides, the rise of railways and the postal system have also improved lead generation. The enterprizes were able to send letters directly to people’s homes and delivered packages.


Mass Media


Due to the Industrial Revolution and the growth of the big business, advertising grew in the 1900s.


Businesses had the opportunity to run promotions in various publications, and the media and journalism became a separate industry. Also, newspapers targeting specific interests made it easy for companies to get targeted leads in particular markets beginning in the mid 19th century. As for the television, it allowed people to show their products to millions at once, starting with the first commercial in 1941 during a Dodger’s game.


People listened and consumed media like crazy, and advertisers took great benefits from it.


The Rise of the Internet


Since the clients were flooded with ads and different offers, they lost confidence in advertising. Then the Internet was created in 1983, and it was a dream for many marketers and advertisers.

It meant adapting to local markets, understanding other cultures, and marketers got full access to market research methods.


Pay-per-Click (PPC) allowed companies to pay for traffic from searches for specific solutions. Websites generated traffic and users with SEO. And email marketing ensured businesses with inboxes of millions of people for practically nothing.


Mobile and Social Media


Mobile technology and social media networks made drastic progress for companies.


These changes allowed businesses the opportunity to generate leads through these platforms to build relationships with potential consumers.


Since clients spend more and more time on their mobile phones, they allow companies to reach people anywhere immediately. They can send texts, have direct Call-to-Actions buttons, produce content for mobile, and many others to wonder the customers. In this way, the Internet ended the dominance of mass media in exchange for more personalized and targeted lead generation.


What Does Lead Generation Look Like Today?

The history of lead generation shows that technologies always change. Companies must stay on top of trends and developments to improve the cost, time, and effectiveness of their lead generation efforts.


That goes to show what an impact it has on our day to day lives. Lead generation has helped shape the market, providing businesses with the opportunity to know who their client base is, so they can better cater to them. It’s had an enormous influence on the world today, and it will continue to do so for centuries to come!