What’s the Difference Between Lead Generation and Demand Generation?

Lead generation and demand generation are two concepts that sound similar enough that they’re easy to confuse. Chances are that you’ve lumped one in with the other when it comes to designing your digital marketing strategies. Does that mean differentiating between them isn’t really all that important? Quite the opposite, in fact. As two essential components of your sales funnel, understanding both clearly will help you identify areas of your current marketing that may need improvement. To understand why, let’s start at the very top of the funnel.

Demand Generation

As TechRadar notes, demand generation is all about those initial engagements your potential customers have with your business, where they learn about who you are and what you offer, but aren’t yet qualified leads. In other words, they’re at the very beginning of the buyer’s journey. In many cases, you won’t have contact information for these potential customers. So how exactly will they find you? 

Demand Starts at Your Website

Unless you use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, most people will find your website thanks to a Google search. To make sure that yours ranks high enough, you’ll need to start with your search engine optimization (SEO).

First, develop a list of keywords that you know are important to your industry that you want to rank for. If you don’t know what those are, try reverse-engineering them by comparing the language found on competitors’ websites. Then you’ll want to expand on that list by developing long-tail keywords, which are phrases that are more specific and relevant to what your customers are likely to ask or type into a search.

For example, say that “customer service training” is one of your primary services, and a logical keyword. To increase your website ranking, you may want to develop content around the long-tail keyword phrase “what should customer service training include.”

Why? People tend to type search queries in the same ways that they ask them verbally. That, coupled with the fact that more mobile device users are also relying on voice search, means you’ll do well to anticipate this language in the content that you draft.

How will you learn which phrases work best? Besides looking at your competitors, you can try a couple free services, like AnswerThePublic (used with the example above) or the anticipated results that display when you start typing into a Google search bar.

So now that you have your keywords, how do you rank for them?

There are keyword analysis tools like Semrush that will help you understand the parameters you need to meet to improve your chances of being ranked. Semrush will crawl websites that have already ranked for your desired keywords, and provide feedback about: the approximate word count for the content you’ll need to draft; the associated keywords you’ll want to include; whether the content you draft is original; and how consistent your content is in terms of tone and writing style. 

Depending on the website builder that you used to create yours — for example, WordPress — you may also have access to plug-ins that will allow you to perform similar SEO optimization checks, as well as receive suggestions about adding power words, images, and alt text to your material.

As your ranking improves, you’ll be able to measure changes in web traffic through services like Google Analytics, as well as identify which specific landing pages are performing the best. In turn, this will tell you which content you should continue to develop in your future marketing, and which areas either aren’t as important or require some revision.

Honorable Mention: Social Media

People do love to sit back and scroll their feeds. You might find leads through similar tactics on social media when it comes to keywords, images, videos, articles, and shares. Get enough followers to engage with your posts and some may offer you user-generated content in return — either that they’ve created from their own inspiration, or that you’ve conveniently encouraged them to provide.

Lead Generation

Demand generation may build up that initial interest, but lead generation is what will get you verified contacts to market to directly. Here are the main ways this is done.

Using prospecting automation. This involves the use of software that finds and verifies email addresses for lists of potential leads, then sends a series of emails to warm them up to phone calls.

Purchasing lead lists. This tactic can produce varying degrees of success, based on how accurate their contacts and email addresses are, and how much you’re willing to pay for them.

Requesting email addresses. This tactic comes in handy when you’re attending a B2B event, like a trade show or a webinar. But its effectiveness also depends on how many people offer their emails, and how often these events take place.

Developing lead magnets. These encourage your leads to share their contact information (typically emails, at a minimum) in exchange for downloadable content from your website. Their success depends on how well your leads can find them — ranking them on search results, having them prominently displayed on your website, promoting them on social media — and whether your leads are interested enough to download them.

As you grow a database of active contacts through the tactics above, you’ll want to continue to use email marketing to create awareness for your brand.

Marketing automation allows you to create campaigns of personalized content that you can send regularly to your target audience. Those leads who open your emails and click on links to your website can be scored appropriately in a customer relationship management tool (CRM), so that those who are engaging the most are the ones who you pass over to your business development reps (BDRs) or sales team to follow up with directly.

Why You Need To Talk About Lead Generation and Demand Generation

Lead generation and demand generation are both essential to your sales funnel because they work in tandem to produce high-quality leads. First, you create brand awareness — then, you drive engagement. It may be tempting to use these terms interchangeably, but that would be the same as mislabeling leads as prospects or “marketing qualified” as “sales qualified.” In the end, knowing how these stages are involved in converting your leads will make it easier to identify which of their factors are working, and which have the opportunity for improvement.

Not Sure Where To Start?

We know that these marketing strategies can be difficult enough to develop, much less execute. If that’s the case for your team, we’d like to help. Click the link below to schedule a free consultation and learn about our customized programs.

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