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Lead Generation vs Demand Generation: Definitions, Goals & Differences

Vrushti Oza
August 11, 2023
February 27, 2024
Table of Contents

Approximately 95% of the addressable market remains dormant, not actively seeking to purchase a product or service at any given time. This percentage of the market can be tapped with the help of demand-generation tactics. As for the remaining 5%, that can be tackled with lead generation.

Mastering the art of demand generation is critical to the success of any product or service. This systematic process not only raises awareness but also piques customer interest in the product, presenting your product as an irresistible solution tailored to meet the unique needs of potential customers. By identifying the target audience early on in the marketing funnel, businesses can effectively tailor their offerings to meet customer needs and preferences, ensuring continuous improvements in subsequent iterations.

Moving on to demand generation, as we saw above, it focuses on actively engaging with the 5% of potential customers who express interest in finding a solution. By using more direct language and communication methods, lead generation helps businesses capture and interact with these active consumers.

However, generating leads, especially high-quality ones, is no piece of cake. As customer journeys lengthen, advertising costs rise, and alternative channels for customer interactions emerge, marketers must carefully prioritize their efforts to succeed in lead generation.

To put it succinctly, demand generation targets passive customers, whereas lead generation focuses on actively engaging with potential consumers. By employing both strategies harmoniously, businesses can create a robust and successful marketing approach, driving growth and gaining a competitive edge in their industry.

Demand Generation: Top of the Funnel
Demand Generation: Top of the Funnel

Lead Generation: Bottom of the Funnel
Lead Generation: Bottom of the Funnel


  • Demand generation educates, creates awareness, and tailors solutions, while lead generation showcases product benefits.
  • Quality leads are vital, and marketers must prioritize efforts as customer journeys lengthen and costs rise.
  • Harmonizing demand and lead generation strategies create a robust marketing approach for growth.
  • Demand generation sparks interest, while lead generation engages prospects, aiming to convert them.
  • A successful demand gen campaign ensures qualified leads, while lead gen nurtures and converts prospects.
  • Combining both strategies offers a seamless approach to customer acquisition and business growth.
  • In an established market, prioritize lead generation; in a new category, focus on demand generation.
  • Understanding lead types (MQLs, SQLs, PQLs) enables effective nurturing and conversions.
  • Demand gen educates, and lead gen converts; their synergy drives modern marketing success.

Lead Gen vs Demand Gen: Laying the groundwork

What is lead generation? 

Lead generation is focused on finding and attracting potential customers (or leads) for your business. The primary goal here is to procure vital contact information from interested individuals who have expressed an interest in your offerings. So, before immediately contacting eligible leads through sales calls, organizations may educate and nurture prospective consumers through dynamic channels such as landing pages, opt-in email lists, or even insightful content pieces. With these channels, organizations can effectively attract valuable prospects, and pave the way for converting them into paying customers. 

An example of a lead generation strategy could be to offer a ‘free’ e-book in exchange for visitors' email addresses. By providing valuable content, your company captivates potential customers and establishes direct contact for further engagement with the customer.

Lead Generation

Key Aspects of Lead Generation

  • Targeted Engagement: With precision targeting, lead generation zeroes in on individuals who have already exhibited interest, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
  • Conversion Optimization: The ultimate aim is to convert these prospects into leads by capturing their contact details, such as email addresses and phone numbers.
  • Data-Driven Strategies: Employ advanced data analytics and tracking methods to measure campaign success and identify high-yield channels and tactics.

How does lead generation work?

It involves two key steps: initiating interactions with interested leads (potential prospects) and subsequently converting them into leads by obtaining their contact information.

To draw potential customers to your website, identify a winning strategy tailored to your business objectives and financial constraints. Some effective methods include:

  • Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • Social Media
  • Display Ads
  • Offline Events

Once visitors arrive on your website, the next step is to convert them into leads using various lead generation techniques. These methods aim to capture consumers' interest in your product or service, encouraging them to provide their contact details, often through the use of incentives known as "lead magnets."

Once a lead expresses interest in your offerings, it becomes a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). The digital marketing team then initiates nurturing campaigns, often leveraging marketing automation to send targeted emails and engaging content. Here, the goal is to educate and persuade prospects to transition into sales leads. This can happen through an inbound purchase on the company's website or by reaching out to a salesperson. In corporate sales, the sales team may directly contact potential customers to finalise the deal.

What is demand generation?

The systematic process of generating interest in a product or a service is known as demand creation. This process involves increasing product awareness and encouraging customers to explore the product or service as a potential solution to their needs. It also helps identify the target market and serves as the first step in the marketing funnel. What’s more, working on demand generation also helps businesses in understanding customer preferences that may be included in the product throughout subsequent revisions.

Let’s look at an illustrative example of Zendek Corp, a leading provider of industrial solutions, and see how demand generation can help even unconventional sectors. When launching its cutting-edge machinery for precision manufacturing, Zendek faced the challenge of reaching a niche audience in a highly specialized field. Unlike conventional consumer products, their solutions targeted a specific set of manufacturers requiring intricate equipment.

To address this, they strategically employed content marketing and industry partnerships to engage potential buyers. By creating informative whitepapers and hosting webinars that tackled the complexities of precision manufacturing, they positioned themselves as experts and thought leaders. This approach proved transformative, as it not only attracted over 10,000 industry professionals but also nurtured strong connections.

The campaign’s success wasn’t just measured in numbers; it led to partnerships and collaborations that further solidified Zendek’s position as an indispensable partner for manufacturers.

So, how are lead generation and demand generation different?

Demand generation primarily operates at the top of the funnel, focusing on raising awareness of your company and generating interest in your offerings. 

On the other hand, lead generation comes into play at the middle and bottom of the funnel, nurturing qualified prospects and guiding them towards becoming customers.

Let’s look at the channels for lead generation
Lead generation channels are focused on capturing and converting interested prospects into concrete leads. 

To understand this better, let’s assume you're a B2B software company specializing in project management solutions. You're eager to capture the attention of decision-makers in the engineering sector. To achieve this, you craft an in-depth eBook titled 'Streamlining Engineering Projects: A Comprehensive Guide to Efficient Project Management.' This resource delves into the challenges engineers face and presents effective solutions using your software.

Upon landing on your website, visitors are greeted with a well-designed web pop-up offering them this free eBook in exchange for their email addresses. This lead magnet not only promises valuable insights but also addresses a pain point specific to your target audience.

As prospects engage with your content, you leverage lead scoring to identify those displaying a high level of interest. This, in turn, triggers personalized follow-up emails offering case studies showcasing real-world success stories of engineering firms that benefited from your software.

Additionally, you employ retargeting techniques, displaying tailored ads across platforms to keep your solution top-of-mind. Now, social proof takes centre stage as you highlight testimonials from engineering companies praising the effectiveness of your software.

With CRM software in place, your sales team can seamlessly manage and nurture leads, ensuring no prospect falls through the cracks. A/B testing of email subject lines and content helps fine-tune your messaging for optimal engagement.

With this holistic approach, every tactic – from the initial lead magnet (eBook) to the nurturing emails – works in harmony to guide prospects towards a buying decision. The result? An engaged and well-informed audience that's not just interested in your product, but also trusts its ability to solve their challenges.

When it comes to lead generation, a few metrics that need to be kept in mind are:

  • Lead quality
  • Conversion rate
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Total lead value
  • Cost of acquisition (CAC)
  • Cost per lead (CPL)

Channels for demand generation
Effective demand generation involves a mix of strategic channels and tactics to spark interest and raise awareness about your offering. Here's a quick breakdown of the channels where these strategies can be applied:

  • Content that resonates with your audience: Craft insightful blog posts, eBooks, and videos that address your audience's pain points.
  • Social media amplification: Leverage platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram to engage, educate, and initiate conversations.
  • Engaging email campaigns: Reach out directly with personalized email content, nurturing leads through informative sequences.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your content for search engines, ensuring your solution is discoverable when prospects seek answers.
  • Webinars and interactive sessions: Host webinars to showcase your expertise and encourage real-time interactions.
  • In-Person and virtual events: Participate in industry events and host virtual gatherings to connect with prospects.
  • Influencer partnerships: Collaborate with industry influencers to expand your reach and credibility.
  • Referral programs: Encourage satisfied customers to refer others, tapping into the power of word-of-mouth.
  • Interactive content: Offer quizzes, calculators, and assessments to engage and provide value.
  • Conversion-driven landing pages: Design landing pages that resonate and drive action.
  • Free trials and demos: Offer hands-on experience with your product or service through free trials or demos, allowing potential customers to understand the value firsthand.

With these channels in your demand generation arsenal, you can seamlessly attract and engage potential customers, guiding them towards exploring your solution further.

A few metrics to remember concerning demand generation are:

  • Brand lift
  • Visibility
  • Competitive analysis
  • Brand awareness
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Content performance

While demand generation focuses on website traffic, brand awareness, social engagement, and content performance; lead generation focuses on landing pages, CTA, paid channels, as well as organic channels.

A successful demand generation campaign ensures that the leads generated are not only qualified but also genuinely interested in what your business has to offer. Meanwhile, by implementing lead generation techniques, you can effectively nurture and convert prospective customers into loyal, paying customers. So, naturally, the symbiotic relationship between demand generation and lead generation strengthens your overall marketing efforts and contributes to your business's success.

You may now be wondering, “Which tactic will help me achieve my company objectives the most effectively?”. Well, the answer is: Both! And that’s because you can't nurture quality leads and turn them into customers without first drawing them to your business. That is to say, demand generation directly aids lead generation. 

But we’ll get into that right after we look at some important points of difference between lead generation and demand generation with regard to:

Demand Generation Lead Generation
 Goals Enhances public awareness
about your business and
the solutions it provides.
Focuses on converting this
generated demand into
concrete leads.
 Impact - Establishes trust and authority
-Positions your business as a
  thought leader in your industry.
- Helps highlight the USPs
  of your products and services
- Showcases the advantages of
  your offerings,  enhancing
  chances of conversions.
 Channels  Demand generation tactics
 may include:
- Content Marketing
- Social Media Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Webinars and Events
- Influencer Marketing
- Referral Programs
- Interactive Content
  (Quizzes, Assessments)
- Landing Pages Free Trials
  and Demos
 Lead generation tactics may
- Lead Magnets
  (eBooks, whitepapers, case studies,
  other free resources)
- Contact Forms
- Live Chats
- Lead Scoring
- Retargeting/ Remarketing
- Web Pop-ups
- CRM Software
- A/B Testing
- Social Proof

 Metrics - Website traffic
- Brand awareness
- Social engagement
- Content performance
- Quality of leads
- Conversion rate
- Clickthrough rate (CTR)
- Total lead value
- Cost of acquisition (CAC)
- Cost per lead (CPL)

The symbiosis of lead generation and demand generation: Why should businesses focus on both?

As you’ve probably noticed, it’s not lead gen vs demand gen – both are equally valuable. While focusing solely on demand generation may hinder your ability to close sales when your audience is actively seeking your product or service as a solution, working only on demand generation can bring in short-term cash but may not be best for long-term brand recognition, potentially impacting revenue in the long term.

The key to success lies in recognising that demand generation and lead generation are interconnected, and prioritising one over the other is irrelevant (and a disaster for business growth). Instead, businesses must focus on how these two approaches can be used in tandem to create a seamless customer acquisition plan – one that generates demand and nurtures prospective customers to turn them into paying customers.

The most effective approach to optimize marketing efforts is by combining strategies. For instance, offering free educational blogs can generate interest among consumers, prompting them to seek gated content in exchange for information such as email IDs. This way, you can engage and capture potential customers, building a valuable database for future marketing activities.

That said, businesses must seek to test and refine their strategies to achieve optimal results in the buyer's journey and inbound sales.

Does the market context matter?

In choosing the implementation strategy, it's of utmost importance to consider the context of the market. In an established market, if your competitive advantage is pricing, prioritize lead generation since the market demand already exists for the solution your business provides. This existing knowledge of the solution allows you to tap into potential customers who are actively seeking solutions. However, if you're pioneering a new category, focus on demand generation to create awareness and then generate leads.

When selecting your implementation strategy, the market context plays a pivotal role. In an established market, where your competitive advantage lies in pricing, prioritizing lead generation can be effective as the market already exhibits demand for the product. However, if you're breaking new ground in a nascent category, concentrating on demand generation becomes paramount. This approach ensures that awareness is first created, paving the way for subsequent lead generation.

Here’s an example to help you understand this better:

Meet InnovaSys: Elevating Industrial Automation

InnovaSys, a B2B industrial automation solutions provider, is aiming to make its mark in a competitive landscape. With cutting-edge solutions that enhance manufacturing efficiency, InnovaSys is venturing into a space where its technology is novel.

Recognizing the need to first generate awareness and establish thought leadership, InnovaSys embraces demand generation tactics. They host webinars, publish in-depth industry reports, and collaborate with influential trade associations to spotlight the advantages of their automation solutions. With this, InnovaSys aims to position itself as a trusted guide, driving curiosity and inquiry from potential clients.

Meet EngiTech: Transforming Data Analytics

On the other side of the spectrum, EngiTech, a B2B data analytics startup, is entering a market brimming with established players. Their unique selling proposition lies in an upgraded and revolutionary data aggregation and visualization tool that significantly streamlines decision-making for businesses.

In this scenario, where the demand for their tool is evident, EngiTech directs its efforts towards lead generation. They harness the power of targeted LinkedIn outreach, engaging with decision-makers who are actively seeking solutions to their data challenges. Additionally, EngiTech partners with industry influencers to amplify their reach among relevant circles.

In the case of both InnovaSys and EngiTech, the chosen strategy aligns with their respective market contexts. InnovaSys embarks on demand generation to pave the way for recognition and interest in their novel automation solutions. Meanwhile, EngiTech capitalizes on existing demand by focusing on lead generation to directly connect with businesses in need of their specialized data analytics tool

Types of Leads & Their Relevance

Understanding the nuances of different types of leads enables companies to implement targeted lead nurturing strategies, ensuring the right message reaches the right audience at the right stage of the buyer's journey. This empowers businesses to maximize their conversion rates, optimize marketing ROI, and ultimately, achieve long-term success. As you may agree, not all leads are created equal, and each type represents a different level of engagement and readiness to make a purchasing decision. By distinguishing between SQLs, MQLs, and PQLs, businesses can effectively prioritize their efforts, customize their approach, and allocate resources wisely. 

Understanding SQLs, MQLs, and PQLs: Nurturing Leads for Successful Conversions

  1. Marketing qualified lead (MQL): 
  • MQLs are leads that have been identified as potential customers based on their engagement and interest in the company's offerings.
  • They have shown interest in the company's products or services, but they may not be fully ready for direct sales outreach.
  • Lead nurturing plays a critical role in converting MQLs into SQLs, as it involves providing them with valuable and relevant content, and guiding them through the decision-making process.

  1. Sales-qualified lead (SQL): 
  • SQLs are leads that have been contacted, evaluated and deemed ready by the sales team.
  • They have shown a strong intent to purchase and are likely to be in the later stages of the buyer's journey.
  • The sales team can focus on converting SQLs into customers by understanding their specific needs and providing personalized solutions.

  1. Product-qualified lead (PQL):
  • PQLs are leads that have experienced the product or service through free trials, demos, or other product interactions.
  • These leads have already demonstrated an interest in the product's value and are more likely to be ready for sales engagement.
  • PQLs can be a valuable source for SQLs since their experience with the product sets them apart from traditional MQLs.

As you can tell, these strategies are not mere buzzwords but indespensible instruments that shape how your business engages with its audiences.

Summing it up, demand generation becomes the guiding light, casting awareness and curiosity over a broad spectrum. It's about educating, sparking conversations, and carving a space for your brand to thrive. While lead generation showcases your product's strengths, resonates with a specific audience, and cultivates relationships that turn into loyal partnerships. The intertwined relationship between these strategies defines the success trajectory of modern businesses, drawing potential clients closer and transforming them into valued patrons.

As modern marketers, the true power lies not just in understanding the nuances of these two strategies, but in recognizing their synergy. It's a mix of education and distinction that fuels the marketing engine. 

Ready to enhance your lead gen or demand gen strategy for optimal tracking and performance? Discover how Factors can streamline implementation and drive results. Get in touch and let’s get started today. 


1. What is a B2B demand generation strategy?

A B2B demand generation strategy is a comprehensive plan and set of actions implemented by a business to create and stimulate interest and demand for their products or services among other businesses or organizations. This strategy involves a series of marketing and sales tactics aimed at attracting and engaging potential buyers throughout the buyer's journey, ultimately leading them to express interest, make inquiries, or request further information. The goal of a B2B demand generation strategy is to generate high-quality leads and drive business growth by converting those leads into customers.

2. What is B2B lead generation?

B2B lead generation is the process of identifying and attracting potential business customers (other businesses or organizations) who have expressed interest in the products or services offered by a company. This process involves targeted marketing and sales strategies designed to generate high-quality leads that can eventually be converted into profitable business relationships.

3. What are the three stages of lead generation? 

It's essential to organize your marketing funnels around the three lead-generation phases:
Awareness: This stage involves creating awareness about a product, service, or brand among the target audience through various marketing efforts.

Interest: In this stage, potential leads express interest by engaging with the provided content or showing intent to learn more about the offering.

Conversion: The final stage focuses on converting interested prospects into actual leads by encouraging them to take a specific action, such as purchasing or providing contact information for further follow-up.

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