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Demand Generation vs Lead Generation: Understanding the Difference

SEO Blog
Demand Vs Lead Gen

Demand generation and lead generation are often conflated by less experienced marketers, but the difference is simple. Lead generation is focused entirely on the top of the sales funnel and converting website visitors or other sales prospects into leads for your sales team. Demand generation is broader: it is a content-based strategy that focuses on creating demand for your product. While it includes lead generation, demand generation also includes lead nurturing activities to convert leads into closed sales.

Demand Generation Lead Generation
An awareness-driven customer acquisition strategy that strives to both increase your company’s overall visibility while creating lead nurturing content. Aims to use organic interest in your product or service to help close sales in addition to generating leads. A conversion oriented marketing focused on converting website visitors (or other potential customers) into new leads for your sales team.

Next, let’s discuss when to use each technique.

When to Use Demand Generation vs Lead Generation

While lead generation is one of the components of demand generation, many companies choose to focus their attention solely on lead generation rather than investing in a broader strategy. The following table compares the respective pros and cons of doing so compared to using a full-funnel demand generation approach, as well as the best use case for each:

Strategy Pros Cons Best For
Lead Generation Only
  • Faster turnaround on lead generation due to its focus.
  • Results in more leads for the same marketing spend.
  • Leads are lower quality.
  • Relies entirely on your sales team to close leads after initial conversion.
  • More expensive long-term than a full-funnel approach.
  • Smaller companies who need immediate return on their investment and don’t mind spending more long-term.
  • Businesses in industries with short sales funnels and simple products.
Demand Generation
  • Expands overall brand awareness, driving interest organically
  • Helps nurture leads, resulting in shorter sales cycles once they enter your sales process.
  • Higher long-term ROI than focusing entirely on lead generation.
  • Marketing spend is more spread out, with fewer immediate conversions.
  • Lower immediate return compared to focusing entirely on lead generation.
  • Businesses with complex or specialized products and long sales cycles.
  • Companies that place more emphasis on long-term ROI than immediate results.
  • Businesses with low name recognition entering new markets.

At its core, identifying when to invest in demand generation as a whole or focus primarily on lead generation is about understanding your company’s current needs. For example, if your company is well known and you see a great deal of web traffic that doesn’t convert, you would likely want to put your efforts into refining your lead generation by way of conversion optimization. On the other hand, if you aren’t seeing these visitors at all and have little in the way of existing content—lead generating, nurturing, or otherwise—you should instead invest in demand generation

Getting Help Implementing Demand Generation and Lead Generation

Even when you understand the theory behind when to focus on lead generation and when to invest in long-term demand generation, execution has its own complications. Save for the most experienced teams, the fine nuances of executing these strategies can be exceptionally difficult, resulting in loss of money, time, and energy which you will have to put right back into your team.

For that reason, many companies opt to work with an experienced partner for both demand generation and lead generation. Our agency specializes in both, combining SEO and thought leadership for full-service demand generation. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.

Evan Bailyn

Evan Bailyn is a best-selling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.

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