Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation: Key Differences and Similarities

The distinction between demand generation vs. lead generation is important but not always obvious. Demand generation matches people with the right product or service. As a business owner, you help the audience realize that your product or service fits their needs. On the other hand, lead generation means attracting prospects to your business. Once you’ve got their attention, you nurture and convert them into paying customers. 

demand-generation-vs-lead-generationDemand generation. Image Credit: Shaparenko

Both strategies are similar — they aim to form business-audience connections — but they’re not identical. Demand generation raises brand awareness and people’s interest in your brand. Lead generation collects prospects' information, follows up, nurtures your connections, and converts those prospects into customers. This article will explore the different metrics, channels, campaigns, inbound channels, and KPIs for both demand and lead generation. 

What Is Demand Generation?

Demand generation is a long-term strategy that uses education to familiarize a target audience with your products or services. This strategy does not aim to sell. Instead, it focuses on reaching and engaging potential buyers, entering new markets, and promoting a product or service's special features and benefits. 

As you use this strategy, your business and its product or service register in your target audience’s mind. This way, they’ll remember you when they decide to make a purchase. Demand generation also helps you reengage existing customers. The whole process helps your business gain more recognition and increases awareness in the market. 

Important Demand Generation Metrics

As you invest your effort in demand generation, there are certain metrics to measure. Some demand generation metrics are listed below:

  1. Cost per acquisition (CAC)
  2. Contact attribution
  3. Payback period
  4. Search performance
  5. Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
  6. Customer engagement and followers
  7. Marketing-generated revenue
  8. Lead status
  9. Reasons for disqualification 

Types of Demand Generation Channels

Listed below are a few major demand generation channels:

  1. Emails: Emails are effective for demand generation. While sending emails, plan out your email frequency, segmentation, and implementation. Decide how often you want to send emails to your target audience and segment that audience based on type, industry, etc. Likewise, use clear and direct CTA buttons to make it easy for your target to take the next steps. 
  2. Webinars: Businesses use webinars to broaden their audience via live or recorded video sessions. As a business or brand owner, your webinars can engage and educate your audience, build contact lists, develop buyer interest, and build brand awareness. 
  3. Thought Leadership: As a leader, you can express your thoughts about your industry and business type at events, webinars, conferences, and forums. For example, Xometry attended the 2023 Defense Manufacturing Conference. Not only did they run an exhibit at the conference, but one of their key leaders gave a presentation. Doing so helped to solidify the perception of Xometry’s expertise among its audience. 

Expressing your expertise or authority about your brand’s niche or industry can teach people about your business. The audience will also remember your business when it's time for purchase. 

Demand Generation Strategies

Successful demand generation requires strategic thinking. You must take deliberate steps to attract the right audience and create awareness about your brand. To be successful, your business must know its audience and create engaging content for them through multiple channels. Your business must also create compelling offers, automate marketing processes, and analyze campaign performance. 

Some strategies for demand generation are: 

  1. Using social media and influencer marketing.
  2. Building authority through physical and virtual events.
  3. Nurturing leads.
  4. Building market visibility.

What Is Lead Generation?

Lead generation is the process of attracting your target audience to your business, making them into customers, and generating sales. To generate quality leads, your business must be present on the same channels as your potential customers and get them to interact and take action. 

For more information, see our full guide on Lead Generation.

Important Lead Generation Metrics

Major metrics that will show the performance of your lead generation efforts are listed below:

  1. Customer lifetime value.
  2. Website traffic.
  3. Social media engagement.
  4. Qualified leads.
  5. Cost per acquisition.
  6. Customer lifetime value.
  7. Connection rate.

Types of Lead Generation Channels

Businesses can attract prospects through different channels, such as:

  1. Content: Content is any valuable and relevant piece of media capable of attracting, engaging, and retaining customers. It can be shared on different platforms. This content may include blog posts, white papers, videos, memes, infographics, podcasts, etc. Creating and publishing content demonstrates your expertise and credibility as a business. It will also help your business or brand generate leads and traffic and increase its online visibility.
  2. Social Media: Social media platforms like X (Twitter), Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, etc., can help you generate leads. To generate leads with social media, optimize your social profiles by providing clear contact information and using simple CTAs. Create engaging content, targeted ads, and compelling landing pages and tailor them to the specific social media style. 
  3. Blog: A blog is an effective medium for sharing diverse types of content with your target audience. With proper SEO, you can drive traffic to your blog, gain visitors' attention, and get leads. To use this channel effectively, write for your target audience, use CTAs, make good offers, promote your lead magnets, etc. 

Lead Generation Strategies

A lead generation strategy is your business's approach to attracting and interacting with customers. You can start your lead generation campaign by implementing the following:

  1. Send direct emails to those interested in your business. 
  2. Publish useful, relevant, and high-quality content. 
  3. Create shareable content that your audience can always fall back on when in need of a solution. Examples of shareable content are ebooks, infographics, white papers, and how-to guides.
  4. Use social media effectively.
  5. Optimize your website.
  6. Give rewards to customers who engage with your business or refer others.

For more information, see our full guide on Lead Generation Strategies.

Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation: Types of Campaigns

Demand generation and lead generation campaigns differ but have similar characteristics. The former should make people aware of your product and brand while the latter should guide them toward buying from you.

Tactics for demand generation include creating free trials and services. Free trials are great ways to introduce and familiarize potential targets with your business. This free access lets you stay ahead of customer feedback and analyze it to discover why people either converted or left. 

Personalized emails can help people become familiar with your business and feel welcome. It helps you connect, build personal relationships with, and engage customers.

Start your lead generation campaign by creating and diversifying content. For example, recycle the content of your LinkedIn posts into blog posts, YouTube videos, podcast episodes, etc. The information is already there — you just have to repurpose or reformat it to fit the new location. 

Some tactics such as free trials operate equally well as lead generation methods and demand generation methods. If you find a tactic that functions well in both roles, it will often be a good investment. 

Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation: Inbound Channels

Inbound demand and lead generation channels allow you to reach your target audience with valuable content.

Social media remains one of your business' most potent lead-generation inbound channels. Platforms like LinkedIn, X, Instagram, and YouTube allow your business to share meaningful content that glues potential customers to your website until they decide to buy. 

Organic traffic is a name for the visitors to your website who arrive based on their own searches. You typically need to include relevant keywords on pages like your blog and service page to get organic traffic. It is also crucial to demonstrate your expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. This way, when people make queries, your website will appear near the top of search engine result pages (SERPs). 

Inbound channels for demand generation include physical networking, digital networking, public speaking, and SEO. Physical networking requires you to attend niche-focused conferences, seminars, or webinars and connect with people who may develop an interest in your business. 

Digital networking can be done through LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, you'll find professionals who want to discuss your business. Likewise, you can take on speaking engagements to educate the audience about your business.

The inbound demand and lead generation channels connect potential customers with businesses. It is effective at both conversion and boosting brand awareness. 

Demand generation inbound channels help potential customers learn about your business and guide them toward making decisions. Inbound lead generation, on the other hand, targets customers at whatever stage they are in the buyer's journey. This generates more leads and conversions over time. 

Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation: KPIs

Listed below are a few KPIs for measuring your demand generation vs lead generation performance:

Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI helps measure your business' revenue compared to the overall marketing campaign costs. To calculate your ROI, subtract your profit from the cost. Then divide your answer by the marketing cost. For example, suppose your business spent $5,000 on demand and lead generation. If it makes $1,000 profit, the ROI is found by: ($5,000-$1,000)/$5,000. Your ROI is 0.8 or 80%.

Website Traffic

Use an analytics tool to monitor how many visitors use your website. This will help you determine how many people will likely convert and make a purchase.


An MQL (marketing qualified lead) shows the number of leads who have shown interest in what your business or brand does. MQLs tend to become customers further down the line.

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