What Is Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation?

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Demand generation brings attention and awareness to your brand or product. Lead generation draws customers to your brand or product to (hopefully) make a purchase.

Mixing up demand generation and lead generation can mean missing out on leads, and paying far more for leads than you need to.

Making a clear distinction between the two in your B2B marketing strategy will help you drive more leads that are more likely to be accepted by sales and convert to revenue – and it will help you do so at a lower cost per lead (CPL).

If you ensure that your demand generation strategies will help you attract qualified leads, your lead generation tactics will nurture them into satisfied customers.

What Is Demand Generation?

Demand generation is the bulk of all B2B marketing.

Demand generation focuses on building awareness of your brand or product through content marketing, event marketing, social media marketing, and more.

Everything from the top of the funnel down to customer marketing.

It’s important to note that demand generation isn’t purely synonymous with “increasing brand awareness.”

Increased exposure to your brand can certainly be a byproduct of demand generation, but to truly generate demand is to help your target audience identify and understand their pain points and how your solution can help.

Types of demand generation content include:

  • Blog posts or articles

  • Resource pages

  • Infographics

  • YouTube videos

  • Social media posts

  • Press releases

  • Slideshares

  • Podcasts and interviews

  • Free tools

  • Case studies

Follow Up

Follow-up demand generation campaigns with lead generation activity, to maximize your conversion rate to leads. Cross-sell new products to existing customers.

If you’re launching a new product or service, your existing customers are likely to be a valuable source of potential leads.

When you target them through accurate email matching, by uploading the most relevant segments of your CRM database, you’re likely to achieve a high click-through rate due to their existing relationship with your business.

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What Is Lead Generation?

Unlike the broad net of demand gen, lead generation strategies are more specific and targeted.

However, it’s a part of the demand generation process.

Lead generation focuses on converting prospects into qualified leads that can be nurtured into customers.

It’s the task of turning customer interest into names and contact details that you or your sales teams can follow up with.

It uses your gated content to generate leads from anonymous prospects for further targeted marketing efforts or pass them to your sales team.

The lead generation process isn’t just to generate more leads; it’s to generate more high-quality leads that will be accepted by sales and will go on to convert into revenue, providing the ROI of your lead generation marketing.

To generate more of the right leads, you need to capture information about potential buyers.

After that, you can use targeted marketing campaigns to nurture your leads with relevant content.

Lead generation content is typically gated and consists of whitepapers, e-books, how-to guides, survey reports, webinars, and thought leadership articles.

On its own, lead generation leverages the awareness generated by successful demand generation strategies.

It helps to capture them into real ‘leads’ or those interested in your product by getting them to “raise their hand” on an offer.

Some common lead generation marketing tactics include using CTAs with lead gen forms to get audience contact information and send further emails or promoting gated offers with lead capture forms on social media.

In addition, sales intelligence software, like ZoomInfo, allows you to obtain contact information from prospects that have searched for content related to your business online.

These leads are then nurtured and moved through the sales funnel. It’s easier to think of it in terms of farming.

If demand degeneration is the sowing & watering of the soil, then lead generation is the harvest.

Demand generation and lead generation help get potential customers from point A to point B: from awareness to interest.

Content Marketing

If you want to have any long-term success with lead gen, you have to get your demand gen strategy in place first.

You can’t generate quality leads (via demo requests or social ads) without first generating demand (via content.)

Content is the key to success in both demand generation and lead generation.

For demand generation specifically, content helps identify which existing content may be well suited for a demand generation campaign.

Demand generation campaigns capture leads on specific interests.

They are usually generated through lead generation landing page forms for free trials or for people who want more information about your product or service.

SEO-Driven Content

One way to create awareness is to create content that your target audience is already searching for. There are many ways to identify keyword opportunities.

For one, you can look at Google-related searches. Simply search a keyword in Google and then scroll to the bottom of that page.

Here you will see a list of related keywords that people commonly search for.

White Papers

White papers are highly technical documents that inform a reader about a specific problem or issue they face.

Downloadable white papers are excellent lead magnets because they often target decision-makers.

In the lead gen setting, white papers are typically a gated resource, like case studies, that can highlight just a problem, or highlight a problem and its solution.

The former is a great tool to use early on in the purchasing journey.


If you have yet to create any type of lead magnet on your site, an e-book is a good one to start with.

Most e-books tackle a broad topic in your industry. Thus, you can promote it across multiple blog posts on your site.

Guest Posting

Guest posting is creating a blog post for another popular blog in your industry.

This is a great way to reach your target audience and “piggyback” off of the traffic that the established blog already receives.

Call To Actions

Prospects browse and work on many channels, and each prospect prefers to obtain information in different ways.

For this reason, having a solid offering of branded video, social media posts, guest opportunities, speaking engagements, and paid advertising is the most effective way to ensure you’re not leaving valuable prospects on the table.

In addition, strong offers and CTAs in the demand gen stage can make prospects more confident to direct their attention to a company, giving lead generation the best possible chance of getting them to entrust you.

Lead Generation: At the end of the blog post, readers reach a call to action that offers a free e-book on the topic they just read about with more insights. Readers click on this offer and are asked to submit their email address where the e-book will be sent. The reader then becomes a prospective lead.

Demand Generation: A business puts out an SEO-friendly informative blog post related to their business that begins to rank on the first page of Google’s search results page. Readers gain valuable information on the subject.

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What Is Gated Content?

The most common lead generation strategy is still to drive leads from gated content

Gated content serves the primary purpose of getting contact information from interested parties.

Readers can get a piece of content in exchange for an email address.

Develop Buyer Personas

Before you can work on messages and tactics, you need to get crystal clear on your buyers. If you have buyer personas, that’s a great place to start.

If not, work with internal stakeholders to understand the buyers you’re trying to attract.

With your persona research completed, you should have a fair idea of what your target audience‘s concerns are and who they are.

For demand generation, your persona research will help you better understand where your target audience hangs out online, which sources they trust, and what their pain points are.

Website Retargeting

Use website retargeting to deliver the most relevant content to interested prospects.

The website retargeting feature in LinkedIn Matched Audiences enables you to segment visitors to your website based on which pages they view and use these segments for your LinkedIn targeting.

Your prospects can get on with engaging with your content while leaving you in-depth, accurate contact information.

It all adds to a game-changer for the number and quality of leads you can capture.

Adding lead gen forms to lead generation campaigns on LinkedIn is easy – and it has a dramatic effect on both the quantity and quality of leads.

Marketers using the forms have typically increased their lead conversion rates by 3x LinkedIn benchmarks, and 90% of them have beaten their CPL targets.

Lead Nurturing

Your efforts include placing a CTA within your blogs where visitors can submit their information, including their email addresses.

When you get their email address, your lead generation efforts include email nurturing, where you share content with them that convinces them to become paying customers.

The lead is nurtured via emails related to the business. These emails include information about the brand’s service or product.

One of these emails catches the lead’s attention, and they click on the offer.

Create Free Resources

When a prospect decides it’s worth investing in resolving their pain point, that doesn’t mean they will immediately follow up with your sales team.

They first need to understand why your solution is the best fit. A free tool can help at this stage in their decision-making process.

What Are Inbound Sales?

Inbound sales is a modern sales methodology based on the fact that customers are more in charge of their buyer’s journey than ever before and have quick and easy access to the information they need to decide on making a sale before ever speaking to a sales rep.

Demand generation and lead generation are two strategies that make up a large part of inbound sales but are often referred to interchangeably despite being different.

Combining Lead Generation And Demand Generation

You need to note key differences between the two activities before you can tackle either effectively.

If you’re seeing a lot of interest in your product, but running into trouble passing MQLs to your sales team, it’s time to pay more attention to lead gen.

You can optimize what you have in place to start tying demand gen and lead gen closer together.

If you want the best of both worlds, make sure you’re ready to build a substantial lead generation plan to work in tandem with your demand generation strategy.

If you’re currently siloing your demand gen efforts (read: content marketing) from your lead gen efforts, look for ways to tie the two together.

This isn’t an either/or scenario.

Ultimately, demand generation and lead generation both serve the same goal. So why are they constantly seen in competition?

The issue with most attempted demand gen and lead gen combinations is misaligned goals and metrics.

Can you do lead generation and demand generation at the same time? Yes. You should.

Imagine what a lead generation effort would look like without the demand generation component.

Demand generation directly impacts lead generation and helps you with your efforts; if you’ve successfully used demand generation marketing, you know that the leads you get are qualified and interested.

This is one of the main reasons why you shouldn’t buy leads.

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Which Strategy Should I Use?

By now, you should have a straightforward understanding of the difference between demand gen and lead gen: the goal of demand generation is to generate awareness, and the pursuit of lead generation is to take that awareness and capture it into interest.

They both utilize similar methods such as content creation, and both rely on brand awareness. So, should you prioritize demand generation or lead generation in your marketing efforts?

If your goal is to maximize the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, then you’ll need to master both demand and lead generation.

Demand generation makes people aware of your business’s products and services.

To Cap It Off

Demand generation is the set of marketing activities that build awareness of your product or service in your target market, without the goal of these contacts becoming known leads in your CRM (that’s more the realm of lead generation).

Demand generation goals are to create your target market, build trust with your brand, and establish your thought leadership.

When defined this way, demand generation isn’t a subset of lead generation, nor is lead generation a subset of demand generation.

Instead, a contact might encounter your brand initially via your demand generation efforts, before converting into a lead via your lead generation efforts.

With such distinct approaches and tactics, it’s essential to separate lead gen vs. demand gen within your marketing methodology.

Demand generation and lead generation are two valuable features of any successful marketing strategy.

With both of these strategies in place, businesses have a chance to turn leads into paying customers.

But getting to the point where you’re effortlessly creating demand and then seamlessly generating leads from your audience can be a chaotic, fun process.

Instead of taking Google results as gospel truth, we’ll leave you with one word: experimentation.

Kennected's Got Your Back

Want help with your demand generation or lead generation efforts, or making them work in harmony?

Kennected is a startup SaaS company in Indianapolis that specializes in lead generation where it counts — LinkedIn.

With automated solutions like Cloud Kennect, Kennected can help grow your network and company revenue by sending up to 100 connection requests daily.

Why is this important? Revenue is built on relationships which is what sales should be all about.

Contact us to talk more about how to set your strategy, maximize your return on investment and optimize your results.

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