Demand Generation vs Inbound Marketing
The difference between demand generation and inbound marketing is that demand generation is a broad concept that incorporates inbound marketing, while inbound marketing is a component of several broad concepts, including digital marketing, customer acquisition, growth marketing, and demand generation. The simplest way to distinguish the two is visualized in the diagram above, which shows that there are two parts of demand generation: inbound marketing and outbound marketing.
In this article, we’ll elaborate on the difference between these two approaches, and describe how to optimize inbound marketing within the context of demand generation.
What is Demand Generation?
Demand generation is a marketing approach wherein a company seeks to create awareness and nurture interest in the products and services they offer. A well focused campaign will use both inbound and outbound marketing, synchronizing content with prospect intent across multiple marketing channels based on your audience’s location in the customer acquisition funnel:
At the lead generation stage of the funnel, prospects will be made aware of the company’s products or services through both outbound channels such as traditional advertising and SEM/PPC ads, and inbound channels such as SEO and PR.
In the lead nurturing phase, demand generation will reinforce interest in the company’s products and services through targeted outreach such as email drip campaigns, ABM, and retargeted display ads. These reinforcing channels—in other words, lead nurturing channels—are often outbound rather than inbound.
What is Inbound Marketing?
Inbound marketing is any form of marketing focused on converting well-informed prospects that find a company through online research. This is accomplished through regularly publishing high quality content—in other words, thought leadership—distributed through organic channels such as SEO or social media.
As with demand generation, inbound marketing relies on two things: (1) understanding the needs of your prospective customers, and (2) creating content that speaks directly to those needs. What inbound marketing will not include, however, are channels that involve actively reaching out to prospects, or paid advertisements.
The Intersection of Demand Generation and Inbound Marketing
When incorporated into your overall demand generation strategy, inbound marketing delivers substantial returns, as shown below from data we accumulated for clients we have partnered with:
Achieving high demand generation ROI such as the above requires following best practices and optimization for each channel:
- Thought Leadership SEO: Create high-quality content that clearly demonstrates your expertise in the industry. Make sure articles target transactional keywords, align with search intent, and provide opportunities for conversion.
- Networking: Face-to-face interaction brings in warmer leads and generates more interest than any other channel. A presence at major industry events like trade shows, conferences and symposiums helps establish awareness and strengthen current relationships.
- Public Speaking: Secure speaking opportunities at high profile industry events for your SMEs in order to build your brand awareness while establishing your company as an industry leader.
- Podcasts: Many executives prefer podcasts as a source of information because they can be digested without disruption to their schedule. To make the most of this channel, your hosts and any guests must be charismatic subject matter experts who will provide real insight through their discussion.
- LinkedIn: LinkedIn is the best social media platform for generating leads. Because of this, however, many companies attempt to leverage it as a lead generator. Your content must strive to stand out from the crowd through its quality. This is often best achieved through tailoring articles generated by a content marketing campaign.
Using the above channels and guidelines as part of your demand gen will set up your company for high long-term ROI and sustainable growth.
Executing Inbound Marketing & Demand Generation
For inbound marketing to be effective you must be able to create and distribute useful content to potential customers. Additionally, you’ll want to nurture them so they continue traveling through the customer acquisition funnel. Succeeding at these activities requires a good understanding of your audience, an experienced marketing team, and good old fashioned commitment and consistency.
For many companies, partnering with a demand generation agency is a better option. A firm like First Page Sage has conducted hundreds of campaigns and has the experience and specialization in each marketing discipline to ensure the efficient use of your marketing dollars. If you’d like to discuss a partnership, feel free to contact us.