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How Does Inbound Marketing Differ From Demand Generation?

Inbound marketing and demand generation.

You’ve probably heard these phrases before, but have you ever wondered what the difference is between them?

Wait, there’s a difference?

While many professionals use inbound marketing and demand generation interchangeably, the two concepts are, in fact, very different.

In this blog, we’ll discuss the differences between the two and distinguish what inbound marketing’s role is in demand generation.

Demand Generation vs. Inbound Marketing

What Is Demand Generation?

Demand generation is a sales-centric approach to driving awareness and interest in a product or service (i.e., demand). Demand generation focuses on more typical outbound marketing methods such as emails, company-sponsored webinars, sponsorships/events and online ads of all types. It’s a proactive attempt to find people who are not necessarily looking but are a prospect match nonetheless.

Demand generation has three steps:

  1. Create demand for a product
  2. Generate qualified leads
  3. Pass leads off to sales team to become customers

It isn’t, however, just about leads. Demand generation is a strategy that encompasses all stages of the buyer’s journey and is designed to build long-term relationships with key prospects and customers that can help grow your business.

Demand generation is crucial for businesses of all sizes, especially startups, where getting the most qualified people from unknown to customer is important for survival.

HubSpot defines demand generation as “the marketing system and engine that bridges the gap with your company’s sales and revenue operations. It may include multiple touchpoints, from blogging to email list creation to social media promotion—all inbound marketing tactics that are part of a company’s overall demand generation strategy.”

What Is Inbound Marketing?

Contrary to the sales-centric approach that is demand generation, inbound marketing is more marketing-centric. Inbound marketing entails creating valuable content that is designed to address the problems and needs of your ideal customers. In doing so, you not only attract qualified prospects but also build trust and credibility for your business.

In addition to blogging, here are some inbound marketing methods to consider to help you reach your marketing goals:

  • Brand awareness: A search engine optimization (SEO) brand marketing strategy is an essential component of any strong marketing campaign.
  • Lead generation: Fill your sales pipeline by generating quality leads.
  • Lead nurturing: Successful lead nurturing campaigns provide an increased return on investment (ROI), increased opportunities and identification of lead stage and actionable intelligence.
  • Graphic design: First impressions are everything, and a bad website design leads to negative experiences for website visitors—almost guaranteeing visitors never become leads and leads never become customers.
  • Email marketing: Email marketing is the perfect way to provide leads with valuable information that aligns with where they’re at in the buyer’s journey.
  • Video marketing: Videos are the number one digital lead conversion tool; thus, an invaluable part of any content marketing strategy.
  • Content marketing: Using content to establish your company as the best solution provider for an identified problem helps you generate the leads you want.
  • Social media marketing: Social media not only enhances brand awareness to large and diverse audiences, but it also targets specific buyer types in online communities, generating demand from an audience that would otherwise be unreachable.
  • SEO: When done correctly and implemented strategically, SEO generates more qualified leads for your company by helping your website perform better and rank higher in search results, driving more visitors to your website as a result.

Discover how you can drive visitors to your website and nurture them into customers with these three crucial elements of inbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing’s Role in Demand Generation

At first glance, it can be tough to see the distinction between inbound marketing and demand generation, but there is a difference. Simply put, inbound marketing is a single component of a comprehensive demand generation strategy that is needed to secure both a high quantity of leads and high-quality leads.

Common demand generation methods that are inbound include blogs, ebooks, newsletters, social media and videos—all content that establishes your business as a thought leader and influencer in the industry.

Lead generation, lead nurturing, thought leadership and other benchmarks support demand generation’s goal of generating high-quality leads and overall business growth.


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