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Lead generation to demand generation – what’s the difference?

By Charlotte Dickinson. Charlotte is an Associate Consultant at Zeren’s London office, working within our Marketing divisions for Zeren’s clients across EMEA and the US.

Many businesses have transitioned from lead generation to the all-encompassing notion of demand generation. But what does this necessarily mean and why has this change happened?


A lot of our clients here at Zeren have a marketing strategy that is heavily focused on demand generation and my team and I have appointed many directors, heads, managers and leads of demand generation. Therefore, when speaking to candidates about their roles, the key to qualifying them as great demand-generation professionals is understanding the nuances of marketing strategies and why demand-generation is so important.


Demand Generation vs Lead Generation

Many B2B marketing professionals use the terms demand generation and lead generation interchangeably, but they’re not the same.


  • Demand generation raises brand awareness and increases demand for your product, while lead generation focuses on converting engaged audiences into quality leads.
  • Demand generation is a long-term strategy that covers all stages of the customer journey.
  • On the other hand, lead generation is a subcategory of demand generation marketing that focuses on the top of the funnel.


Since you always want to generate both demand and leads, many businesses have developed a demand generation strategy that captures leads while also providing them with the information they need at every stage of the customer journey, bringing them one step closer to becoming a customer. The ultimate goal is to create a predictable pipeline that will grow your business.


To do this, demand-generation marketers aim to identify potential prospects based on behavioural data and guide them through a nurturing process so that the sales team receives high-quality leads.


It is important that your demand generation strategy casts a wide and relevant net, touching as many channels and mediums as possible through the marketing funnel, such as PPC, email marketing, content marketing etc.


For example, a few key questions we ask candidates when discussing demand generation positions are:


  • What is your experience working in different sales motion environments, for example, product-led growth, inbound, and outbound?
  • What pipeline target did you hold last year and how much of it did you meet?
  • What have you done to increase win/ conversion rates?
  • Share examples of when you have had to implement automation practices.
  • Which marketing channels do you use to drive demand and how do you prioritise budget?


Such questions touch upon different points within the marketing domain and all contribute to understanding the different areas of demand generation.


For the past few years, marketing leaders have stated that generating pipeline is their biggest priority, 55% in 2020 and 53% in 2021 (Marketing Leadership Benchmark Report).


In 2022, 69% of marketers indicated their demand generation budgets will increase between 1% and 20% (Demand Gen Report).


Therefore, it is evident why most B2B SaaS businesses have demand generation at the forefront of their strategy and why the market is seeing an increasing emphasis on the need for great demand generation teams and leaders.


If you would like to discuss any of the topics raised in this article or whether you’re scaling your team or looking for your next role, Zeren can help. Please get in touch if you would like to discuss how we can support you