Let’s take a closer look at demand generation vs lead generation. Both demand generation and lead generation are critical components of a B2B marketing strategy. You can’t create leads efficiently and consistently unless you’re also generating demand and producing demand doesn’t do much unless it’s converting leads to sales.  It’s important for business growth to adapt strategies around both lead generation and demand generation. 

While both demand generation and lead generation may seem interchangeable, they’re different parts of the process to achieve the same bottom line: Sales. Lead generation may come under the broad demand generation umbrella, but it is a distinct process that necessitates its own set of specialized talents and methods.

Check out this complete 2022 lead generation guide!

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What is Demand Generation?

Demand generation, often known as “lead gen” is a collection of marketing actions that raises awareness of your product or service in your target market without the explicit goal to convert them. Demand generation develops your target market, builds trust in your brand, and achieves thought leadership. It’s building awareness and interest in your business, products, services, and thought leadership in the market. The demand generation process includes demand nurturing campaigns that are designed to reach leads with information to help them progress along their buying journey.

When defined in this way, demand generation is neither a subset of lead generation nor is lead generation a subset of demand generation. Instead, a potential lead may first go through your demand generation activities before becoming a lead through your lead generation efforts. The following are the most frequent content types utilized in demand generating strategies:

  • YouTube tutorials
  • Blog content
  • Social media posts
  • Podcasts
  • Interviews

Demand generation isn’t about waiting for contacts to come to you; instead, it’s about finding them where they are right now and reaching out to them with relevant information and offers.

B2B Lead Generation Dallas

What is Lead Generation?

Lead generation, often known as “lead gen,” is the process of converting potential consumers into qualified leads (i.e., someone who has a genuine interest in what you have to offer). In a nutshell, lead generation is a method of directing potential customers to your product or service. The final goal is to identify quality leads for your organization, which can be added to a lead nurturing process or followed up by a salesperson. One B2B Lead generation strategy entails producing “restricted” content and then asking for the potential client’s contact information as a pre-requisite to access. Lead generation strategies include the following:

  • E-book guides
  • Free assessments or Audits
  • Checklist
  • Webinars
  • Free tools
  • Cold Calling
  • Email Marketing
  • LinkedIn Outreach

This is the stage at which you feed them through your funnel and give them over to your sales staff to convert them into paying clients.

Demand Generation vs Lead Generation the Obvious Difference

For example, if you’re conducting a campaign to drive sign-ups for your digital marketing service, writing an eBook on effective email marketing practices would make sense. However, you must decide if the eBook’s purpose falls under your demand generation or lead generation strategy.

What’s the difference between demand generation and lead generation? Demand generation is the process of creating demand for what you sell. Lead generation is turning those who are interested and in the market into leads with the names and contact details for your sales teams can follow up with.

If you’re doing demand generation, you’ll want the material to be disseminated as widely as possible; therefore, users should be able to obtain your eBook without having to fill out a form. If lead generation is your aim, you should advertise the eBook while requiring users to fill out a form before downloading the book. To develop a sophisticated strategy like this, your team needs access to information like B2B intent data so you can determine whether you need to create demand first or convert an already-existing pool of interested leads into actual sales.

How Are Lead Generation and Demand Generation Alike?

While demand generation and lead generation both deal with revenue generation, there are elements of similarity between the two. First, they’re both key parts of a larger process that’s responsible for bringing in revenue: Marketing. Second, all marketing activity can be viewed as either “driving” or “emergent,” which means that either it is actively brought about by efforts (lead generation), or it passively happens without any particular effort (demand generation).

Lead Generation Vs Demand Generation: The Key Differences

When comparing the finer points between demand generation and lead generation, we can see some crucial distinctions: 


When generating leads you’re looking for quantity whereas when generating demand you’re interested in quality. This is because lead generation is about getting more people to click on your website, visit your social media pages, sign up for alerts, or attend functions while demand generation is about reaching out to the right prospect at the right time with the right message.


Leads are generally “ready-to-buy” – they’ve already demonstrated interest in your product/service by clicking on a link, visiting a page, etc whereas demand is that person expressing active interest in purchasing your products or services phased out over time via touchpoints with marketing communication.


Demand generation typically comes from activities of marketing communication while lead generation comes from sources outside of communication such as conferences, tradeshows, seminars, etc. In lead generation, you’re looking to “create” interest and activity from a passive source, whereas demand generation aims to influence the person who is already interested but needs further nurturing.


Lead generation happens immediately after a visit/click or within a few days while demand marketing generally takes longer as it’s aimed at building relationships over time with different touches such as email, phone calls, etc.


Demand marketing uses notifications which are specific alerts throughout the sales cycle to deepen engagement with prospective buyers as they move through your sales funnel while lead generation generally doesn’t involve notifications that take place outside of initial contact.


On some level, it would be difficult to separate lead generation and demand marketing without incentivization. In almost every case, when a person is encouraged to engage with your brand they’re technically engaging as a lead. For instance, if someone “opts in” for an email newsletter or downloads one of your whitepapers then they’ve been incentivized into providing their contact data in order to receive material that might further educate them about what you have to offer.


Lead generation is easier to measure statistically since it’s activity after clicking on a link while demand generation is more difficult to track due to the variety of touchpoints involved in nurturing prospects throughout their journey towards becoming buyers.


Both lead generation and demand marketing can either be low-cost or high-cost depending on how you measure it. For instance, if you pay for a trade show exhibit booth then your investment in lead generation will be the cost of the booth, whereas demand marketing might involve very little expenditure but lots of time invested in nurturing prospects through email or phone calls.

Lead Generation vs Demand Marketing: Putting It All Together

As CRO experts, we firmly believe that any piece of content should aim to fulfill both the goal of lead generation and demand marketing – this is because leads are often then turned into demand via follow-up activities with complementary content that builds towards the end goal of closing a sale. An example might look like this:

A) To generate leads for your business you create an infographic titled “10 Stats about the Modern Home Office” that you disseminate on your blog, social media pages and send to industry influencers for distribution.

B) After the infographic is published, you follow up with an email containing complementary data in the form of a whitepaper titled “The Modern Home Office in 10 Graphs” which provides further insight into the same topic along with case studies of companies who have adopted this type of office environment.

C) The blog post links back to your website where visitors are prompted (via a popup or alternative method such as an opt-in checkbox) to provide their contact details if they’d like to receive any more information about home offices or related products/services. This shows intent and encourages further engagement from prospective buyers.

So, lead generation and demand marketing can be conceptually separated but it’s important to remember that there are overlaps especially when you’re seeking to turn leads into demand via follow-up content.

Final Thoughts

To summarize, the fundamental difference between demand and lead generation is that demand generation is used to develop a larger audience. In contrast, lead generation is utilized to convert leads into customers. While neither type of content requires payment to view, lead generation content typically requires an email address and other essential information, whereas demand generation content is entirely free.

If you want to ramp up your demand and gen efforts and identify website visitors, you can rely on Visitor InSites! We use advanced technology like Identity Resolution so you can identify the specific person, not just the company name, who visited your website, thereby generating true-to-life leads. Schedule a call with us today!

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