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Lead Gen vs. Demand Gen: How They're Similar, How They're Different, and Why They Work Together

When it comes to marketing strategies, demand generation and lead generation are often mentioned interchangeably. The truth is, they are two distinct approaches that serve different purposes. Understanding the difference between these two strategies can help you create a more effective marketing plan and generate better results for your business.

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How Are Lead Generation and Demand Generation Different?

One of the biggest differences between demand generation and lead generation is their focus. Demand generation is all about creating interest and awareness for your brand more broadly while lead generation is all about capturing contact information and turning prospects into leads. Demand generation is a long-term strategy that requires ongoing efforts to build brand recognition and authority, while lead generation is typically a short-term strategy that aims to generate immediate results. It’s important to note that demand generation is more relational, while lead generation is more transactional in nature.

Examples of Demand Generation

  1. Top-of-the-funnel content generation: Developing and distributing valuable, relevant content consistently through a blog works to attract and retain a clearly defined target audience and ultimately drive profitable customer action. Ultimately, the goal is to attract people who've never even heard of your company and let them know you exist.

  2. Search engine optimization (SEO): According to Hubspot, B2B marketers say that 33% of their leads come from SEO.* Optimizing your website and online content to rank higher on search engine results pages helps attract organic traffic to your website and increase your visibility among potential customers. We’ve even written a blog post about it here. In demand-generation efforts, you’ll want to increase traffic to your higher-level pages like your homepage or product page as a means of introducing first timers to your brand.

  3. Subject matter expertise: Showcasing your expertise is a great way to position your business as a trusted resource and thought leader in your industry. This can help build brand awareness and attract potential customers who are looking for solutions to their business problems.

  4. Event marketing: Joining relevant industry trade shows and hosting events works well to generate leads, build brand awareness, and strengthen relationships with existing customers.

  5. Social media marketing: Leveraging social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook, is a popular (and effective) way to build brand awareness, engage with target audiences, and drive traffic to your website.

  6. Paid ads: Utilizing a paid advertising platform to reach a large audience of potential customers is another way to drive targeted traffic to your website. Just like with SEO, when you’re focused on demand generation, the goal is to use ads to direct people at your top-of-funnel pages and content, the ones that let searchers know who you are.

Examples of Lead Generation

  1. Middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel content generation: Creating and distributing valuable and informative content is an important lead-generation tactic. With it, you give readers something of deeper value like ebooks, videos, and webinars that provide advice, insights, entertainment, and solutions to common problems. Essentially, you’re creating content for brand-aware audiences answering their deeper questions about the products and services and/or building their trust and your relevance more deeply.

  2. Email marketing: In a recent survey, B2B marketers claimed that 38% of their leads come from email.* Creating and sending targeted and personalized emails to prospects who have shown an interest in your business' products or services is another great tactic for lead generation. These emails can include promotional offers, product updates, and links to the other valuable content covered in tactic #1.

  3. Search engine optimization (SEO): Improving the visibility of your website in search engine results pages (SERPs) can be done through optimization of technical and content elements. The goal is to increase the quantity and quality of organic traffic to your site. For lead generation, SEO efforts are all about making more targeted content stand out to people who've seen your more high-level pages before.

  4. Paid media marketing: Paying for ads to appear on Google, Bing, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media is another way to drive traffic to your business' website and promote content that visitors have to fill a form out to see. Unlike the ads you’d run for demand generation, these ads for generating leads should promote marketing materials that contain more in-depth content and are specifically tailored to address the issues or solutions that a brand-aware prospect is seeking.

  5. Referral marketing: Encouraging satisfied customers to refer their friends and colleagues to your business' products or services through incentives like discounts or rewards. People are more likely to trust recommendations from people they know and respect, making this a highly effective strategy. According to Hubspot, B2B marketers say that 65% of their leads come from referrals.*

How Do Lead Generation and Demand Generation Work Together?

While demand generation and lead generation have different objectives, they are both important drivers of business growth. Demand generation is essential for creating a pipeline of potential customers, while lead generation is essential for filling your sales funnel with qualified leads. A successful marketing strategy should include both demand generation and lead-generation tactics.

Here are a few ways they can work together:

  • Use demand generation to build awareness and interest in your brand, and then use lead generation to capture contact information from interested prospects.

  • Use lead generation to identify potential customers who are already interested in your brand, and then use demand generation to keep them engaged and interested.

  • Use a mix of lead generation and demand generation tactics to create a steady stream of leads and keep your sales funnel full.

A successful marketing strategy should include a mix of demand generation and lead generation tactics. By understanding the difference between these two strategies and how they can work together, you can create a more effective marketing plan and generate better results for your business. Now go out and take your marketing efforts to new heights.

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