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Why you need to shift from Lead Generation to Demand Generation

Show and Tell on May 3, 2024

Illustration of a foot in the doorway

Just like the rotary phone and the VCR, things just go out of style. It’s out with the old, in with whatever makes our lives easier (and makes more money).  

The same goes in our industry. Marketing tactics that worked wonders way-back-when don’t translate to today’s generation of clients, customers and prospects.  

Traditional lead generation tactics, for example. While still valuable in certain contexts, traditional lead gen. approaches often fall short in meeting the needs and preferences of modern consumers.  

This is where demand generation comes into play—a strategic marketing approach that focuses on understanding and catering to the desires and interests of your target audience.  

To make sure your marketing outreach still suits today’s audiences, let’s take a look at the differences between lead generation and demand generation marketing, and... 

  • explore why it's essential to shift towards demand generation 

  • look at practical implementation strategies, and  

  • understand the importance of measuring success through key performance indicators (KPIs). 

Understanding the Difference 

At first glance, lead generation and demand generation might seem similar, but they operate on fundamentally different principles.  

Lead generation (LG) primarily revolves around driving high intent individuals to convert on site (i.e. request a demonstration or quote, reach out to sales) or capturing contact information from potential customers, often through gated content or lead magnets. These can be effective in building a database of leads, but they tend to prioritize quantity over quality of leads. And that may result in pushing products or services onto individuals who aren't ready to make a purchasing decision. 

Lead generation is your old school door-to-door salesperson. Think Glengarry Glen Ross. Lead generation is about filling up your Rolodex, not your contact list. It’s right there in the name: you’re ‘generating’ the lead, even if the demand isn’t there. 

By contrast, demand generation (DG) takes a more holistic approach. It involves identifying the topics, themes, and pain points that resonate with your target audience and creating valuable content to address those needs.  

Rather than focusing solely on generating leads, demand generation aims to build brand awareness, nurture relationships, and establish credibility and authority within your industry. By providing helpful and relevant information, businesses can attract and engage prospects at various stages of the buyer's journey, ultimately driving demand for their products or services. 

Why shift from lead generation to demand generation?

The shift from lead generation to demand generation is mainly driven by changes in buyer behavior. Today's consumers have access to a wealth of information online and prefer to conduct thorough research before making purchasing decisions. They're no longer receptive to overt sales pitches or generic marketing messages. Instead, they seek valuable insights, educational resources, and personalized experiences that align with their interests and goals. 

Further to this, B2B buying decisions happen more infrequently. A demand generation strategy aligns with this longer sales cycle because most of your audience isn't in buying mode at any given time – they're looking for educational and engaging content, not to be sold with a more-aggressive, fast-acting lead generation tactic. 

Demand generation meets these evolving needs by focusing on delivering value and building trust with prospects. By providing relevant content and fostering meaningful interactions, businesses can position themselves as trusted advisors and guide potential customers through the buying process. Demand generation acknowledges that the journey from awareness to conversion is rarely linear, and requires a more nuanced approach to engagement.  

How to make the shift 

Implementing a successful demand generation strategy requires a multifaceted approach that leverages various channels and tactics to reach and resonate with your target audience. Here are some practical strategies to consider: 

Content Marketing 

Create high-quality, informative content that addresses the pain points and challenges of your target audience. This could include blog posts, whitepapers, short-form video, case studies, eBooks, and infographics. Focus on providing value and establishing thought leadership within your industry. 

Social Media and Paid Marketing 

Use social media platforms to amplify your content and engage with your audience. Invest in targeted paid advertising campaigns to reach specific target segments and deliver your content to your audience in the feeds of the channels they spend their time in. The key takeaways of the content should be consumable in the platform, given that most people will not click through to the website. Leverage social listening tools to monitor conversations and identify opportunities for engagement. 

Community Building 

 Build and nurture online communities where your audience can connect, share insights, and seek advice. This could take the form of forums, LinkedIn groups, or dedicated online communities hosted on your website or social media channels. Encourage participation and foster a sense of belonging among community members. 

Email Campaigns 

Develop personalized email campaigns tailored to the needs and interests of individual prospects. Segment your email list based on demographics, behavior, or stage in the buyer's journey to deliver targeted messaging that resonates with each recipient. Use automation tools to streamline the process and ensure timely follow-ups. 

Personalized Experiences 

Tailor the user experience on your website and other digital touchpoints to align with the preferences and behavior of your audience. Use data-driven insights to deliver personalized recommendations, content recommendations, and product suggestions based on past interactions and preferences. 

Measuring Success 

Measuring the success of your demand generation efforts is crucial for optimizing your marketing strategies and driving continuous improvement. Here are some key performance indicators (KPIs) to consider: 

Engagement Rates 

Monitor metrics such as website traffic, social media engagement, and email open rates to gauge the level of interest and interaction with your content. High engagement rates indicate that your content is resonating with your audience and driving meaningful interactions. 

Conversion Rates 

Track the conversion rates at each stage of the buyer's journey, from initial engagement to final purchase or conversion. Identify any bottlenecks or areas for improvement and optimize your funnel accordingly to increase conversion rates and drive more qualified leads. 

Lead Quality 

Evaluate the quality of your leads based on factors such as demographics, behavior, and engagement level. Focus on attracting high-quality leads that are more likely to convert into paying customers and contribute to the long-term success of your business. 

Pipeline Value 

Ultimately, the goal of marketing is to drive qualified opportunities that turn into quotes and eventually sales. Marketing-driven pipeline should be one of the north star metrics for B2B companies to understand how various elements of Demand Generation efforts are performing. It is key to ask leads where they have heard of you directly, both on websites and in the sales process, as self-reported attribution will provide far more accurate and rich data points compared to analytics platforms.   

Shifting your lead generation marketing strategy to focus more on demand generation is essential for staying relevant and effective in today's whirlpool of a marketplace. By understanding the differences between the two approaches, embracing strategic implementation tactics, and measuring success through key performance indicators, businesses can attract, engage, and nurture leads more effectively, ultimately driving demand for their products or services in a sustainable and scalable manner. 

If you’re interested in learning more about shifting your outreach tactics, we can show you how. Reach out here