The business of digital marketing is filled with jargon. Each term has a very specific meaning, but the definition might not be obvious at first glance. Lead generation and demand generation are two prime examples.

If you have any experience in marketing, you probably know that these terms both relate to moving people through the funnel. You may also have heard that publishing content is integral to both processes.

But what exactly separates lead gen from demand gen? 

In this guide, you are going to learn about the similarities, the differences, and how you can implement both strategies together.

What Are Lead Generation and Demand Generation?

The primary purpose of any digital marketing strategy is to attract new customers. Some of these individuals might already be considering making a purchase, while others will have little or no awareness of your brand.

Lead generation marketing is aimed at the first category of potential customers. These people may be open to your offers, but they are not quite ready to take action. Effective lead generation should convince these prospects to provide contact details or schedule a call, so that you can begin the sales process.

A common example of a lead generation strategy is publishing gated content, such as a white paper. The resource attracts interested parties, who must leave their contact details in order to download the document. 

This begins the process of qualifying the lead, and your content can position your brand as the solution to the lead’s problems.

Demand generation marketing is aimed at the second category of people — eligible future buyers who have no awareness of your brand, and might not even realize that they need your type of product or service.

Good demand generation should grow your audience and educate prospects, so that they gain brand awareness and learn about your solution. As the name suggests, it’s all about generating demand.

A common form of demand gen is content marketing, such as publishing blog posts and sharing content on social media. Such posts may attract visitors who are searching for a solution like yours. 

lead generation vs demand generation

Lead Generation vs Demand Generation: What Are the Key Differences?

In many respects, lead generation and demand generation are quite similar. Both strategies mainly rely on publishing content in order to pull potential customers down through the marketing funnel. 

But when you dive into the details, you start to realize there are just as many differences as similarities.

Target Audience

As we have already seen, the buyer personas for lead generation and demand generation campaigns are often quite different.

This is because lead gen is focused on potential customers at the bottom of the funnel, while demand gen focuses on individuals who are at the top of the funnel.

In other words, your lead gen strategy should attempt to hand over leads from your marketing team to your sales team. Demand generation content is about attracting those leads in the first instance. 

Types of Content

While there is a small amount of overlap between lead generation content and demand generation content, these two strategies mostly require two different approaches.

Some examples of lead gen content include:

  • Ebooks
  • Webinars
  • Events
  • Demos
  • Courses 
  • Contests
  • Cheat sheets
  • Templates
  • Slide decks
  • Research / Reports
  • White papers

Notice that all of these content types require potential clients to hand over their email address, and sometimes other details, in exchange for access.

In contrast, demand gen content is usually open access. After all, the purpose is to attract as many engaged eyeballs as possible. Inbound marketing is a key part of this high-level strategy.

Here are a few examples of content for demand generation:

  • Blog posts
  • Social media
  • Events
  • Podcasts
  • Video
  • Sweepstakes
  • PR
  • Influencer marketing
  • Free resources

While many of these types of content can be accompanied by a CTA (call to action), their primary function is to reach out to your target audience.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that lead generation and demand generation are processes that can be applied in other ways. 

For example: rather than publishing content for lead gen, you can simply reach out to potential customers through cold calls and emails. To see good results from this tactic, you might want to use a tool like Datanyze to get accurate contact information, and to build a full lead profile.

Some companies even use paid-for content for lead generation, such as low-price webinars. This can be an effective tactic for qualifying leads when your primary product or service is a high-ticket item.

paid content for lead generation

Call to Action

This is another area of difference between lead gen and demand gen.

In lead generation, the CTA takes center stage. You are asking visitors to engage with your brand up front, in exchange for something that they regard as valuable or attractive. 

The success of your marketing efforts in such campaigns can be measured by the number of high-quality leads that click on your CTA and follow through. 

For this reason, marketing teams are often willing to invest a great deal of time in building carefully optimized landing pages for lead generation.

In some cases, the CTA of demand generation content might also be a request for contact details. However, the people who engage are not highly-qualified leads — you are more likely to add these individuals to your newsletter than to your schedule of sales calls.

If you do use a CTA within your demand generation content, it should probably be an offer to subscribe to your brand or download free resources.

How to Build a Successful Lead Generation Strategy

By now, you should hopefully have a crystal clear understanding of lead generation and demand generation. The next step is to consider how you can apply these processes to your own business. 

There are many different ways to build a successful lead generation campaign. The best option is always dependent on your brand, your product, and your other marketing efforts. We go into more detail in other posts.

However, there are some key principles that apply to every lead generation strategy. Here is a blueprint workflow:

  • Build some buyer personas. You may already have some profiles from your wider digital marketing strategy, but make sure to create personas specifically for each lead generation campaign.
  • Create the perfect offer for your ideal client. The reason for building those personas is so you have a point of reference for crafting a great offer. By offer, we mean something in exchange for contact information — like a webinar or an industry report.
  • Design a strong landing page. While you are probably giving away something for free, you still need to sell the offer. Your landing page should pitch your lead magnet like a paid-for product.
  • Optimize your call to action. We can’t emphasize this point enough. A good CTA is an absolute requirement for any lead generation campaign. If possible, use A/B testing over time to find the perfect option.
  • Don’t forget to qualify leads. The whole point of lead generation is to maximize the number of qualified potential customers who hand over details. Remember this when crafting your lead generating offer, and consider using a scoring system to assist with identifying high-quality leads.

As an overall mindset, every lead generation tactic should be focused on siphoning relevant people into your sales funnel.

building a lead generation campaign

How to Build a Successful Demand Generation Strategy

While the measurement of success in lead generation is quite narrow, good demand generation can work towards one of several goals.

At the very top of the funnel, you might want to use demand gen content to introduce people to your industry. Slightly lower down the funnel, content can focus on a range of product types, or common pain points for potential customers.

Move lower again, and you will find demand generation content that is focused on specific brands and solutions. However, these are rarer.  

The workflow for building a demand generation strategy is similar to, but slightly different from, the lead gen equivalent:

  • Consider your target audience. Just as lead gen tactics should focus on buyer personas, demand gen tactics work best when they are honed for a specific audience.
  • Choose the right type of content for that audience. If your target audience is aged 60 and above, you probably shouldn’t focus your demand generation efforts on creating social media videos. On the flip side, this group may respond well to case studies or shareable infographics.
  • Build a strategy for promoting your content. Demand gen is all about reaching the maximum number of potential customers. There are many ways to achieve this: through SEO (search engine optimization), social media posts, guest posting, other forms of content marketing, and even paid advertising.
  • Don’t forget the CTA. While this probably won’t be the main focus of your demand generation content, it’s still worth thinking about. For instance, you could ask visitors to subscribe to your newsletter or take a quiz.

Whether the scope of your demand gen content is broad or narrow, try to strike a balance between quantity and quality when it comes to engagement. 

It is generally better to capture the attention of a smaller number of potential customers, rather than a large number of people outside your target audience.

Lead Gen and Demand Gen: Why Your Marketing Strategy Needs Both 

While lead generation and demand generation are two very different forms of marketing, you shouldn’t be choosing between them.

You see, the whole idea of demand generation is pulling more people into the top of your marketing funnel. 

The more interest you generate here, the more potential buyers you will be able to target with lead generation content. And that should mean more people entering your sales funnel, and eventually converting to closed deals.

the case for strong content

In this sense, lead gen and demand gen should actually be complementary. When you are creating your overall digital marketing strategy, consider how they fit together. 

Try to produce demand generation content that will gently guide visitors towards your lead generation efforts. In some cases, you may even be able to combine demand gen and lead gen within the same content. 

Convert More Leads Into Sales With Better Data

One key component of effective lead generation is collecting the maximum amount of data from potential customers. This information will be useful for your sales team when they follow up and try to close the deal.

However, there is commonly a limit to the amount of data you can collect. Even for a valuable free resource, few people will be happy to fill out a lengthy form.

This is why a tool like Datanyze is so useful. Using our free Chrome extension, you can easily find the direct dial phone number and email for any lead. All you have to do is find them on LinkedIn or their company website.

For B2B marketers, Datanyze can also reveal useful information about the company that someone works for. This information can be used by sales reps to break the ice with potential buyers, and to deliver a tailored offer. In turn, you should see improved conversion rates as a result.

Want to give it a try? Sign up today to take Datanyze for a 90-day free trial!