The Evolution of B2B Lead Generation

When you hear the term B2B lead generation,” you might associate it with some form of electronic or online marketing. That was not always the case. The definition of Lead Generation is the initiation of consumer interest or inquiry into products or services of a business.

If you think about it, people have been using different forms of business to business (B2B) marketing tactics for hundreds of years before they even called it B2B! Below is a timeline showing the evolution of lead generation.


As far back as the French Revolution (1789), printed flyers weren’t only used to sell products, but to sell ideas. Commercially printed ads started appearing in newspapers in the early part of the 18th century. Soon after, posters for mass communication were printed. In the late 1800s, billboards also sprouted along roadsides.

Electronics Age:

After the turn of the century, radio commercials were broadcasted in 1926 and followed by television commercials in 1941. In the ’50s, it was not uncommon to see a door-to-door salesman looking for your business. (I remember one coming to our house in the late ’70s to sell a vacuum cleaner).


Digital Age:

The first SPAM email was sent in 1978 to 600 people. Television infomercials started in 1984, email started to gain popularity in the ’90s, and the first web page appeared in 1991 — thus the birth of the internet. The first web banner ad popped up in 1994, and it was soon followed by viral marketing in 1996. Weblogs, coined “blogs,” began in 1999 with just a handful of blogs and eventually bloomed to millions of blogs in the 2000s. Webinars and audio/video hosting became increasingly popular in the late ’90s, growing to one of the most widely used platforms today.

In 2000, the internet was everywhere and accessible by millions of people. But it wasn’t until about 2003 that social media started to grow.social_media_icons.jpg

  • iTunes – 2003
  • Facebook – 2004
  • YouTube – 2005
  • Twitter – 2006
  • Hundreds of other social media platforms – 2010

The Rise of Inbound Marketing

Over the past five years, inbound marketing has been gaining momentum for B2B lead generation and inbound marketing automation efforts. Companies are increasingly using customer relationship management (CRM) platforms such as Pardot, Salesforce or Hubspot.

It’s amazing how far technology has come in the past two decades compared to the last 200 years. Now, it’s hard to remember a time when we weren’t constantly on our phones or on social media. And with more advances in technology, there are countless ways to connect with and engage with prospects. We can only wonder what the future will hold for B2B lead generation opportunities.

If you want to learn more about lead generation, check out our tips, insights and blog posts here!

All marketing tactics should be thought of as part of a larger whole, rather than separate pieces. By strategically integrating all marketing tactics, the marketing program becomes more effective and cost efficient. As a B2B agency, we developed B2B 360 Integrated Digital Marketing to meet this improved performance need. To learn more about B2B 360 and how it will benefit your business, download our free eBook: The Better Path to Top-Tier Tech Marketing.

991_Debbie MackenzieDebbie MacKenzie is a 1991 graduate of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) where she majored in graphic arts production management. Deb cut her professional teeth managing production and customer relations at major printing companies before coming to Schubert b2b 14 years ago. Debbie’s a versatile big hitter overseeing all things financial and operational.