Demand Generation vs Lead Generation: Key Differences & Ultimate Guide

Table of Contents

Helpful summary

Overview: We recognize that demand generation and lead generation are essential yet distinct aspects of B2B marketing. Demand generation is about creating brand awareness and trust, especially through content marketing, while lead generation focuses on turning potential customers into actual leads and then into paying customers.

Why you can trust us: We demonstrate our expertise in demand generation and lead generation through case studies, like increasing MentorCruise's revenue by 800%. Our case studies and SEO wins showcase our ability to deliver concrete results and effective CTAs​​.

Why this is important: Integrating demand and lead generation is crucial for business growth. We emphasize the importance of high-quality content in demand generation to establish trust with new audiences​​.

Action points: We suggest focusing on producing superior content to attract new audiences and establish brand credibility. Combine SEO and content marketing for brand awareness, followed by lead generation techniques to convert leads.

Further research: We encourage exploring our case studies and samples to understand the effectiveness of our strategies, and how they can be adapted to different business needs.

Our comparison of demand generation and lead generation

B2B marketing methods are often described as fitting into two camps: demand generation and lead generation. Some marketers erroneously believe that these terms can be used interchangeably. 

In reality, demand-gen and lead-gen methods target different ends of the sales funnel and play their own distinct roles in the growth of your business. 

Remember, these two approaches are not mutually exclusive and shouldn’t be pitted against each other. A successful B2B marketing strategy requires a smart synergy between demand generation and lead generation to fine-tune a perfect mix of inbound traffic & exposure. 

At Embarque, we help businesses grow with high-quality SEO content marketing services that convert users! We believe content marketing is the best, most sustainable B2B marketing channel.

What is Demand Generation? What is Lead Generation? What are the differences between these two terms? How can each of these methods be used in tandem? What are some “best practices” for ensuring high conversions and marketing success? 

In this guide, we’ll teach you all you need to know about demand generation and lead generation

Why listen to us?

At Embarque, we possess a deep understanding of both demand generation and lead generation. Our direct experience in this area comes from successfully assisting diverse clients in enhancing their online visibility and conversions. For instance, we revived a software program's website traffic from 5,000 to over 20,000 monthly organic visitors in under six months​​. Additionally, we refined the SEO blogging strategy for a job platform, rapidly gaining 21,000 monthly search clicks, showcasing our proficiency in generating targeted leads​​.

Our case studies reflect our first-hand experience and expertise, proving why we are well-positioned to discuss demand generation vs lead generation.

What is demand generation?

Demand generation refers to any marketing strategies that aim to build awareness, hype, and buzz around your products and/or services. Here, we’re aiming to track new audiences by increasing the awareness – or demand – for your business. 

A key aim of demand generation is penetrating new markets. To build awareness, we’ll also need to use marketing channels like blogging and social media to educate audiences. 

Essentially, demand generation is used to establish your trust and reputation with audiences that aren’t familiar with your brand or product. A common method for creating this awareness is through publishing valuable educational content - a marketing channel known as content marketing.

What are some examples of demand generation?

We’ve briefly covered content marketing as a brilliant source of demand-gen marketing. Why? According to Demand Metric, content marketing generates three times as many leads as traditional marketing per dollar spent. 

By content, we mean: 

What determines the success of a demand generation content campaign? Well, that’s all down to smart content planning. A great content strategy finds gaps in available knowledge and optimizes search queries and keywords that your business ranks poorly in. This is achieved through keyword gap & competitive analysis

Want to find out more about how we approach content planning and develop strategies for our clients? Read our blog post on the topic here

Another brilliant method of demand generation is creating engaging social media posts and networking on platforms like LinkedIn & Twitter to expose your brand to new audiences. 

For instance, we’ve been able to expose Embarque to founders on Twitter by providing actionable tips in regular tweets on our founder’s Twitter page

We’ve done exactly the same thing on the Embarque account - providing our potential customers with “hot SEO takes”:

Why is posting on social media and connecting with people on these platforms such a lucrative marketing channel? Firstly, it’s quite low cost! All it takes is your founder to spew some profound knowledge and join communities related to your target audience. 

The second is that increasingly, customers are looking toward communities to find solutions to their problems. We’ve been able to present common issues in SaaS marketing to founders on Twitter and educate them on ways to fix them!

Getting social media engagement right also converts this channel into an effective lead generation technique too. By interacting with potential customers on Twitter and providing effective CTAs, you can hope to nudge leads into paying customers.

What is lead generation?

Lead generation, on the other hand, refers to strategies aimed at identifying potential customers and nurturing them into successful leads. It involves collecting valuable contact information and customer data, reaching out to potential leads, and converting them into paying customers. 

If you’ve done your organic marketing (demand generation) right, much of the work in lead generation is providing that final push or nudge that converts a lead into a paying customer. The strategy of relying on SEO and content marketing to generate awareness for your brand and using lead generation techniques to “seal the deal” is a particularly cost-effective one.

Lead generation is a subset of demand generation - and often demand gen strategies will have some lead-generating qualities. For example, articles and blog posts can nudge leads as well as educate an audience. This is done through useful, succinct call-to-actions (CTAs).

At the end of the article, a strong CTA encourages interested leads into getting in touch or browsing your product. 

What are leads?

An important concept in the realm of lead generation is the term “leads”. But, what are they? A lead is broadly defined as any prospective customer who indicates an interest in your product or service.

What makes a “good lead”? This will change depending on your business - but usually, if a lead fits your desired client profile or persona, they’re usually considered a decent lead. If this prospect fits the mould of a customer interested in the product, they’re likely to require less nudging than a lead that isn’t close to your ideal customer. 

Often, companies use lead scoring to determine the likelihood of converting - assigning a numerical score based on similarity to your ideal customer profile. 

What are some examples of lead generation?

We’ve briefly covered how to use CTA at the end of blog posts and articles earlier on. What are some other examples of lead generation techniques? 

A crucial aspect of lead generation is known as lead nurturing - or the act of building and reinforcing your brand’s relationship with customers. By nurturing leads, you can hope to increase conversion rates and in turn boost revenue. 

What are some of the lead generation methods? 

How have we at Embarque used lead generation? Our case studies page has proved to be a useful tool in converting leads and nudging prospects. Why? We know our potential customers are looking to see how our services deliver results, and case studies with clear results are the best way to achieve this. 

For instance, we recently published our results increasing MentorCruise’s revenue by 800%.  

By demonstrating our value proposition with hard facts, we’re removing any barriers or concerns prospects may have about our services.

What’s important here is to summarize results well, provide key takeaways, and once more, provide a strong CTA.

The success of lead generating via case studies depends on three key factors: 

What are the key differences between demand generation and lead generation?

It should be clear from our definitions and examples that demand generation strategies and lead generation techniques are not mutually exclusive. Marketing channels can both increase awareness and establish trust and convert customers and attract leads. 

So, what’s the difference? 

The best way to distinguish these terms is by looking at the sales funnel as a whole: 

Demand generation acts at the top of the funnel. This involves generating interest and awareness and in turn exposes your brand to a wide audience. 

Indeed it is more effective to use some lead-gen techniques such as targeting content to optimize the top of the funnel - but demand-gen as a whole dominates the awareness and discovery stages here. 

Once you’ve captured an audience and increased exposure, the focus then turns to: how do you convert them into paying customers? That’s where lead generation dominates. If you’ve done the demand-gen part right and have generated enough interest, the final push should be relatively easy. 

When both methods are deployed correctly, demand generation and lead generation can work harmoniously to increase sales and boost revenue. Demand generation is needed to create organic interest and traffic - and lead generation converts! That’s why we really recommend implementing strong CTAs at the end of articles and optimizing landing pages to gently nudge leads down the funnel to conversion. 

Another key difference between demand generation and lead generation is the time it takes to implement each method. Lead generation typically takes far less time to see results - as it occurs at the bottom of the funnel. If the interest and traffic is already there (and this is an important if), all it’ll take is reaching out to some leads or adding a few nudges. 

Demand generation, on the other hand, is a slower process. Campaigns to boost awareness, improve SEO and implement a content strategy usually take over 6 months. 

However, once in full swing, demand-gen methods provide a sustainable organic inbound marketing stream that will provide sustained ROI. Once your content is out there (and is fairly regularly maintained), it’ll continue to attract more interest and (with the help of strong CTAs) will continue to convert leads. 

Demand generation vs. lead generation: Best practices

Now that we’ve covered the differences between these two marketing strategies, how can you use demand-gen and lead-gen marketing to achieve success? 

Here are some of our top B2B marketing tips: 

Focus on content to optimize both demand-gen & lead-gen

Creating actionable content and optimizing posts for SEO is by far the best way to both generate demand and encourage conversion. Attracting audiences by educating them is the best way to turn a cold lead into a warm one. If you’ve done the leg work in demonstrating your value proposition and addressing problems your prospects may have, that final push is easy. 

How important is content in a B2B marketing strategy? According to the B2B Demand Gen Report 2020, 76% of businesses reported that their chosen vendor’s content had a significant impact on their buying decision.

How do you ensure content is high-quality, actionable, and useful to your audience? Working with a content agency like Embarque can help you get the most out of content marketing!

Let’s compare this to other marketing methods - like cold emails or cold calling. Building a database of prospect contacts can be time-consuming and costly - and this channel doesn’t do anything for the general awareness and reputation of your business. 

In fact, bad cold emails or calls can hurt your reputation and damage demand.

Don’t buy leads

Marketers looking for quick & easy results may be tempted to stuff their funnel with purchased leads. However, in practice, this is an extremely cost-ineffective strategy. Why? 

It is far better to organically generate leads. If you attract an audience through evergreen blog posts, you’re by default capturing prospects looking for the solutions you provide. For instance, a post titled “Easiest ways to increase search visibility” is by default going to capture those who would benefit from SEO services. 

Demand generation to attract an interested audience - lead generation through CTAs and nudges to convert. That’s the most effective digital marketing plan! 

Use a lead scoring system

Wasting time on leads that are unlikely to convert is the easiest way to eat through your marketing budget and drive up your customer acquisition cost (CAC). Identifying warm leads increases the effectiveness and thus ROI of marketing channels. 

Scoring your leads and comparing them to your ideal customer profile is a great way to increase conversion rates when lead generating using methods like email marketing. 

Many marketing platforms like Hubspot, MailChimp, and Zoho allow you to automate lead scoring. Points can be assigned based on website behaviors or business information (such as market sector, size, etc.). The highest-scoring leads should be followed up first!

Key takeaways

To recap:

Get demand generation and lead generation right with Embarque!

Let us implement a successful, sustainable SEO marketing strategy for you - and help you grow your business. The key to getting demand-gen right is to publish high-quality content - and that’s our specialty! 

Get in touch with us today and find out how we can implement a content strategy for your business that converts customers and boosts awareness for your brand! We’ll also handle the SEO optimization of your website to ensure your online presence is up to scratch. 

Email or send us a message on to get started. Interested to see what results we can achieve? Do check out our case studies & samples to see some of our best work!

Dylan Rana

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