Demand Generation vs Lead Generation: The Difference Explained

Brands benefit from including both demand generation and lead generation tactics in their inbound marketing strategy.

Demand Generation vs Lead Generation: The Difference Explained

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Marketing strategies today incorporate a variety of components, and each of these components needs to be geared toward specific audiences to be efficient and successful.

While many marketing and sales strategies already include the generating of demand and leads as essential elements, others confuse the two and often consider them as one strategy only.

Demand generation and lead generation do have primary differences, and while somewhat subtle, these differences directly affect a brand’s content marketing strategy.

From creating brand awareness to increasing conversions, both demand generation and lead generation are essential to your overall inbound marketing strategy.

Learn more about it in this blog post.

    What is Demand Generation?

    Demand generation is the strategic process of creating brand awareness and demand for your particular product or service.

    The focus of demand generation is to raise awareness, or spark interest, in your brand and what you have to offer.

    At this stage, there is no push for viewers to provide contact information. This is the awareness stage of their buyer’s journey and isn’t to be intrusive in any way.

    It may seem at first that demand generation is no more than exposing people to your brand, getting it out there in front of a bigger audience. 

    It may be seen as a way to reach out to everyone, entire populations, looking to hook those who have a stronger interest in what you have to offer.

    Yet, demand generation is more than that. It involves well-thought-out and planned strategies, all driven by data, and used to generate interest and awareness. 

    The creation of buyer personas will help narrow the audience you are attempting to reach also.

    Goals of demand generation include:

    • To increase brand awareness across populations who may not know your brand or what you have to offer.
    • To educate and help targeted audiences identify and start to understand their particular pain points and how you can provide a solution.
    • To build trust and authority.

    The ultimate goal, however, is to spark their interest, motivating them to learn more.

    Examples of Demand Generation Strategies

    When it comes to demand generation strategies, the purpose of your content is to share your particular brand and what it has to offer with the right audience. 

    This audience must have the questions, concerns, or problems that your product and service can help with or solve.

    Instead of leaving it to prospects to find you, demand generation is a way to seek them out first, exactly where they are, and provide targeted content.

    Content needs to be ungated, meaning consumers do not need to provide any personal data, such as an email address, to gain access to your content.

    Before determining which demand generation strategies will work best for your brand, begin with these two steps first:

    • Create buyer personas
      Begin by creating your buyer personas and plotting out their path along the buyer’s journey. Buyer personas provide guidance, so you can create connecting content for the right targeted audience and their particular pain points.

    • Conduct a content audit
      Conduct a content audit to determine if you already have suitable content for your demand generation strategy.

    Content is key to demand generation, and strategies to use to introduce audiences to your brand include the following:

    SEO-optimized content

    SEO optimization can help with demand generation.

    Identify the keywords associated with your buyer personas and incorporate these into your blog posts. 

    As a result, potential prospects will be guided to your website to learn more.

    Guest Blog Posts

    Guest posts can help you build trust and authority and are especially suited for newer companies or new products and services.

    The genius behind guest posts is that you are placing them where targeted audiences already are, places where they are looking for the type of information you can provide.

    Guest posting gives you exposure to those potential customers who may never have thought to seek you out and learn about what you have to offer.

    Another way to get in front of your audience where they are already is by guest podcasting.

    Free Resources

    Provide a sample of what you have to offer in an online resource that viewers can read or download for free (without having to provide any contact information).

    These samplings may include checklists, free trials, free features, simple how-to instructions, or a free mini-class.

    You can also create free digital tools such as calculators or interactive content like quizzes, polls, or infographics to grab their attention.

    By offering free resources, prospects receive a benefit which then, in turn, can position your brand as a trusted source for information and solutions going forward.


    Article, video, or audio interviews can serve a similar purpose to guest posting, introducing your brand to prospects on other platforms.

    Establish yourself as a valuable subject-matter expert, build authority, and gain trust of those who may not be aware of what they need to solve a particular pain point.

    By sharing your knowledge with a wider audience, you can increase the pool of potential prospects for your product or service.

    What is Lead Generation?

    Lead generation is the specialized focus of converting an audience into qualified leads.

    At the heart of lead generation is the obtaining of contact information of those who engage with your content or in some way show interest in what you have to offer.

    Strategic content marketing can then nurture those prospects through their buyer’s journey.

    The benefits of lead generation include:

    • Differentiates your brand.
    • Identifies and demonstrates your brand’s value.
    • Captures contact information of your targeted audience.

    The ultimate goal of lead generation, however, is converting those leads into customers.

    Examples of Lead Generation Strategies

    The lead generation strategy goals are to create interest, solve a pain point, and exchange a solution for a prospect’s contact information.

    For this, you will need to create a variety of lead magnets in the form of gated content.

    Gated content involves special content that can be accessed or downloaded only after the online visitor provides some type of personal information.

    The personal information usually involves contact specifics such as email addresses and phone numbers.

    It can also contain other valuable information like employer name and job title. All of this can provide you with ways to target each prospect more precisely.

    In exchange for the personal information, prospects receive access to downloadable resources, webinars, video tutorials, eBooks, newsletters, surveys, or other types of content.

    Strategies for lead generation include the following.

    Blog Posts, Videos, and Podcasts

    Giving customers a choice of audio or visual content today is essential.

    A potential customer may spare a few minutes to watch a video but not have time to read a long-form blog post. They may prefer to listen to a podcast as they workout or commute.

    Creating various types of gated content can reach a wider audience and expand your prospect pool in more ways than one.


    Webinars are popular these days, and consumers can join in wherever they are, including at home.

    Offering valuable webinars is an extremely effective way of building stronger relationships and reaching those prospects in the consideration and decision stages of their buyer’s journey.

    White papers, Case Studies, or eBooks

    Creating white papers, case studies, or eBooks for interested consumers to access or download is another lead generation strategy.

    Once again, make these gated, requiring the viewer to enter personal information before gaining access, so you will know how to reach out to them again later on.

    White papers are technical documents addressing a particular issue or problem, and those interested in them are usually key decision-makers. If you are a B2B brand, this will be an additional benefit.

    Take this strategy a step further and create content (blog post, social media) that quotes or mentions the white paper, case study, or eBook, and include a CTA to download the full report.


    Demand Generation vs Lead Generation: What is the Difference?

    While both demand and lead generation reach out to potential customers, distinct differences do apply.

    Main Goals

    The essential goal of demand generation is to grow your overall audience. You do this by attracting visitors to your website and introducing them to what you provide as a solution to their pain points.

    The goal of lead generation, in contrast, is to convert your targeted audience into more qualified leads and eventually into paying customers.

    Marketing Funnel

    The two also differ with where they fit in your digital marketing funnel.

    Demand generation is at the top (informational stages), and lead generation is at the bottom (transactional stages).

    Metrics to Track

    You will benefit from tracking different metrics for each.

    Demand generation metrics to track for each campaign include organic traffic, cost per mille (CPM), and the percentage of market share.

    Tracking for lead generation campaigns includes the number of email subscribers and qualified leads, conversion rate, time from start to purchase, marketing ROI, and customer acquisition cost per each campaign.

    Demand Generation vs Lead Generation: How Do They Work Together?

    Demand generation and lead generation work extremely well together and can positively impact your bottom line.

    To be successful in reaching more potential customers and increasing conversions, combine demand and lead generation strategies into your overall digital marketing plan.

    Start with demand generation strategies to build interest and drive brand awareness to those consumers who are unaware of what you have to offer and may not be ready to convert.

    From there, lead generation is the natural progression, guiding prospects down through the marketing funnel toward gated content and the providing of contact information, and eventually to a sale.

    Wrap Up: Ready to Gain More Leads and Increase Conversions?

    Demand generation speaks to the growth of your audience, attracting new website visitors to learn more about your solutions.

    Lead generation, on the other hand, is meant to convert your audience into more qualified leads.

    Working in sequence, demand generation and lead generation are the strategic duo of your marketing plan.

    By understanding how these two differ and also how they can work together to achieve your ultimate business goals, you can cater your content marketing strategies and activities more effectively and see positive results in no time.

    Are you interested in learning more ways to increase conversion rates with lead generation? If so, download our interactive eBook today!


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