Face-Off: Lead Generation vs. Demand Generation

Lead Generation vs. Demand Generation (and How to Develop Content for Both)

Customers are the heart of any business. But you can’t get a customer without capturing them as a lead first. Demand generation and lead generation are marketing activities that help with this process.

In this post, we’ll describe the difference between demand and lead generation, and what kind of content to create for each.

The difference between demand generation and lead generation

Demand generation creates interest (demand) in your product or service. These prospects may consume your content, but they are more interested in what your company offers than what content you publish. A prospect from demand generation is likely to fill out a contact-us or learn-more form. They see a high demand for your product or service and will need less nurturing than a prospect created through lead generation.

Lead generation aims to collect specific information about potential clients (email address, phone number, job role, etc.), turning them into sales leads. With lead generation, prospects first find value in your company’s content. They will be willing to share their information to receive access to a high-value piece of content such as an eBook, research report, webinar, etc.

Demand and lead generation both heavily rely on content to connect with people and offer a first touch-point with your company. However, the types of content you create and how you promote them differ. Let’s take a look at what kind of content to develop for each:

Types of content marketing for lead generation

Lead generation is largely dependent on gated content. In this case, a reader must give at least their name and email to download or read a piece of content.

Content behind a lead capture form holds a lot of value to the reader, giving them insights that help build your credibility and ultimately deliver you a more qualified lead. Preferably, this content is something that they can’t find anywhere else. According to the Content Marketing Institute, content marketing at its core means this:

“A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

Bulkier and more in-depth content pieces like eBooks, whitepapers, reports and other forms of long-form content, webinars and/or panels are perfect forms of high-value content. These include more detailed information that can’t be found in a blog or social media post. Because of their high-value, people are more willing to supply their contact information to have access to such helpful resources.

Yes, you’re going to get people just searching around only wanting good information. But you’ll also pick up and develop valuable leads in the mix. It’s important to only create content that relates to your business, otherwise you will attract people who are looking for something that your business doesn’t offer.

Promote your lead generation content

Since these longer form content pieces typically live behind a lead capture page and require a reader’s action, it’s helpful to promote content on social media, casting a wide net to targeted audience members who might be interested in your offer. Users can choose to either download the content you offer or they may follow your social media profile(s) if they don’t feel ready to provide their contact information just yet.

Your email lists may also contain good candidates for lead generation content. Your blog newsletter subscribers, for example, have already provided their email addresses, but not their phone number or other valuable information that shows they are close to making a sale. But if you continue nurturing these subscribers, they may eventually download a high-value piece of content.

Marketing automation platforms are extremely useful when it comes to lead generation content. These tools can help you see what content a user has clicked on or downloaded. Using the lead scoring function, you can assess how engaged a user is and whether they are ready for a conversation with a salesperson.

Types of content for demand generation

You know what they say about assumptions. You can’t assume that someone is willing to provide their contact information right away in exchange for your content. You might need to nurture that relationship and prove that your content is valuable before asking for more information. That’s the goal of demand generation content.

The results aren’t immediate, but it’s more of a long-term shift in perception. Developing brand awareness is key, so all barriers should be removed between people and your content (the opposite of lead generation).

Videos, listicles, blog posts, case studies and accessible resources are all content forms that assist brand awareness and suit demand generation. They also perform generally better than their lead generation counterparts on social media.

Search engine optimization (SEO) can also serve a big role in this process. Blogs that include well-written, high-quality content and websites that end up highly ranked in search will immediately place your business top of mind for anyone actively seeking out that subject matter, whether it’s this week or three months from now.

[RELATED: What is High-Quality Content and How Do You Create It?]

Promote your demand generation content

These content types are the fuel for your social media channels. Your audience expects helpful, resourceful information from your company, and that’s a big reason they’re connected with you on social media in the first place. Spending a little to boost or promote these content pieces every once in awhile is not a bad idea either.

Newsletters are another great way to get these content pieces out to your audience. Consider sending an e-newsletter full of links to informative content pieces to these contacts who already know your brand. It’s just another channel where they can see the great content you produce. If they missed it on social, they have another chance to check out your content.

Another nice thing about these content pieces is that they attract organic traffic on an ongoing basis. Content like this will attract those searching on that particular subject; you’re always going to see traffic trickling in and attributing to this content long after it’s been published.

Demand and lead gen work together

Developing content for demand generation and lead generation ensures that you’re offering content for prospects at different stages of the sales funnel. Both types of content should be considered in your overall content marketing plan.

While one isn’t better than the other, each serves a different purpose. Depending on your marketing team’s goals, you may want to focus on creating one type of content over the other. For example, if you’re having trouble securing contact information from leads, you may want to plan on creating more lead generation content.

Learn how Brandpoint can help you create demand and lead generation content.

Editor’s note: The post was originally published in May 2015 and has been updated for relevancy and clarity.

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