Account-based marketing vs. lead generation vs. demand generation: which is better?

Representation of a magnet attraction of clients that make reference to a marketing strategy about lead magnet or an account based marketing

Account-based marketing vs. demand generation vs. lead generation — it’s easy to get overwhelmed when considering market strategies. With all the terms out there, it’s hard to know what’s what, let alone which strategy is right for you.

To know where to begin, it’s helpful to understand the difference between demand generation and lead generation and how each of them differs from account-based marketing. That’s exactly what we want to help you do with this guide. We’ll break down the differences between account-based marketing, lead generation, and demand generation to help you make a more informed decision when choosing a strategy for yourself or your company.

Account-based marketing, lead generation, and demand generation defined

To lay the groundwork for understanding which marketing strategy might work best for you, let’s start by broadly defining each term.

What is lead generation or lead-based marketing?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a marketing strategy that targets specific accounts — rather than large, broad groups.

Essentially, instead of segmenting a target audience by categories like demographics, ABM chooses a specific company or account and centers its marketing strategy around that one person or corporation. Naturally, this leads to significantly more customized campaigns, which allows marketers to speak more directly to the exact people they’re targeting.

Another common way to think of it is as a reverse sales funnel, in which a campaign starts narrow in focus and expands from there. This account-based marketing funnel is also known as the “land and expand” method. The goal of an ABM strategy overall is simple: to increase revenue and strengthen client relationships.

Another important key feature of account-based marketing is its heavy emphasis on customization. The custom content ABM marketers create is designed specifically to appeal to the unique concerns and interests of their target audience, which means they’re free to get into the nitty-gritty details. While a niche topic might alienate segments of a wider audience, it could be the perfect strategy for an ABM campaign in which you have a better understanding of the account you’re targeting.

What is lead generation?

Lead generation (or lead gen) is the process of using marketing tactics to generate interest in a product or service and then turn that interest into a sale.

And what’s a lead, exactly? A lead can be defined as any person or company that shows interest in what you’re selling. In B2B marketing, this is even more important because customers are less likely to buy directly from a website — companies need a way to funnel interested parties toward their sales representatives, who can then properly pitch the product and close the deal.

That means that lead generation is all about education. Lead generation marketing often begins with the creation of a customer profile. This is a collection of information about who your target customer is, including basic facts like age, gender, and, if applicable, industry.

With that information, lead generation marketers can create and launch campaigns via channels such as digital and social to drive potential customers to a landing page. This will hopefully start potential customers on the road to becoming genuine customers.

What is demand generation marketing?

Demand generation is the strategic process of creating demand for the product or service being sold.

But don’t worry — this isn’t about trickery or getting people to buy something they don’t want. Instead, think of demand generation as a way of providing the exact right people with just enough solid and helpful information to make them feel assured that this is the product for them.

Just like with account-based marketing and lead generation, the goal here is to create a steady pipeline leading toward sales and ultimately growing the business as a whole. The difference here is that demand generation starts with alerting potential customers of a problem they might not be aware needs solving.

How do lead generation, demand generation, and account-based marketing strategies compare?

It can be tough to keep these three different strategies straight because so many different aspects of them overlap and their end goals are fairly similar. So let’s take a moment to provide a comparison of the basics of the three strategies!

Account-based marketing strategies

Lead generation strategies

Demand generation marketing strategies

How to choose the best marketing strategy for your business

With this information, you should have a clear picture of the account-based marketing vs. lead generation vs. demand generation debate. And now that you understand these marketing strategies a bit better, you’re ready to consider which strategy (or strategies!) might be the best fit for your business. Consider using the following step-by-step guide to get started:

Step 1: Identify and pinpoint your goals

Think carefully about what the most important goal is for your business right now. While scooping up new leads might seem like it’s always a great idea, maybe focusing on the customers you already have is a bigger priority (like, for instance, if there’s a rise in current customers closing their accounts). Next, make sure your marketing and business goals are properly aligned.

Step 2: Research your target audience & the market

Spend time getting to know your potential customers as well as the current state of the market before diving in. Because account-based marketing can take much more intense levels of research — because of the kinds of data needed — consider if you have the time and resources to take that on.

Step 3: Analyze competitors

While it doesn’t always make sense to put too much stock into what the competition is doing, doing so can sometimes reveal holes in their strategy — allowing you to step in and meet that need. This can greatly help you narrow in on where to begin. For example, if you realize your competitor has lost a client recently, it might be the perfect time to launch an ABM campaign to capture them.

Kick off your marketing campaign with custom microsites from Zoomforth

No matter what marketing strategy you choose, Zoomforth is here to help you meet your goals.

Account-based marketers can use Zoomforth’s unlimited microsite creation and site and template cloning abilities. Lead generation marketers can enjoy the wide range of content types available on Zoomforth so they can make the right piece of content for wherever they need to market. And demand generation marketers can get plenty of use out of real-time data analytics. There’s something for everyone! Why not request a demo to see for yourself?

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