Account-Based Marketing vs Demand Generation: Distinct but Better Together

Written by

Vikas Bhatt

account based marketing vs demand generation

Demand Gen: Casting a wide net to catch potential fish, then selecting only the best and discarding the rest.

ABM: Spearfishing for a select few big fish, nurturing and feeding them.

Two distinct yet powerful approaches, when combined effectively- can create a winning marketing strategy.

What’s Account-Based Marketing?

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a highly focused approach where marketing and sales teams collaborate to target high-value accounts rather than a broad market. This enables sales and marketing teams to tailor messages according to their needs, aligning with their buyer journey.

Why should you care about ABM?

Here are the hard numbers:

ABM boosts several key sales metrics, which include a 28% increase in overall account engagement and a 25% improvement in Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) to Sales Accepted Leads (SAL) conversion rates.

How do you employ ABM effectively?

To begin with, you need to perform thorough research to identify and prioritize the right catch. Once identified, marketers craft customized engagements through various touchpoints, such as personalized emails, tailored content, bespoke landing pages, and customized webinars.

Must Read: ABM Tactics That Drive Results

What’s Demand Generation?

Demand Gen refers to generating interest in your business’s products and services, focusing on sparking curiosity rather than immediate conversion.

This may sound counterintuitive, but demand gen is all about offering potential customers the solution to their needs or pain points. This approach helps customers understand how your business can address their current or future requirements.

In fact, according to a demand gen report, about 95% of internet users prefer a company that offers the most relevant content for the relevant stage of the funnel.

Essentially, the objective here is to provide content materials that arouse interest in your solutions or services.

How do you implement it?

This involves providing educational content like blogs, whitepapers, eBooks, and webinars, guiding prospects through the buyer’s journey. Email marketing campaigns and lead scoring systems also help maintain engagement and measure lead quality.

Must Read: B2B Demand Generation Pitfalls to Avoid

ABM vs Demand Generation: Dissecting the Key Differences

Account based marketing vs demand generation

Here’s a breakdown of the key distinctions:

Campaign objective:

Determine business objectives to choose the best tactic for your sales and marketing goals. Define what you want out of your campaign before you plan your strategy.

ABM is ideal when your target is enterprise sales with big contract sizes and long sales cycles. With a clearly defined set of high-value accounts, you focus on quality over quantity.

Demand gen is ideal when you are looking to cast a wide net to attract a larger and more diverse target market, prioritizing lead volume. The objective here is to attract as many leads as possible and not just the hot ones.


Account-based marketing focuses more on targeted audiences that have already been identified with demand generation. This highly personalized approach requires a deep understanding of individual target accounts. It may involve in-depth research, competitor analysis, and tailoring messaging to address specific pain points across all communications.

This means your sales and marketing teams must sync to successfully convert prospects into customers.

Conversely, the demand generation aim is to have higher volume leads in the broader market, this approach is less targeted than an ABM campaign. This generalized approach aims to attract and generate leads, often employing content marketing that caters to broader industry trends and challenges.

Must Read: B2B ABM Mistakes Every Marketer Should Avoid

Success Metrics:

You’ll want to measure the results of your campaign like any other campaign initiative. And evaluating the metrics provides you the opportunity to not only see the results but also optimize your campaign to improve your marketing efforts.

Of course, the metrics will depend on the objective of your business and marketing goals.

There are two types of metric groups: customer acquisition and revenue expansion. Customer acquisition includes pipeline velocity, sales velocity, and new customer revenue. While expansion revenue metrics encompass upsells, cross-sells, account retention rate, and lifetime customer value.

Success in ABM is measured by engagement with target accounts which include:

Engagement Metrics:

  • Percentage of target accounts engaging with your content.
  • Duration target accounts spend on your website.

Must Read: Account-Based Marketing Benchmarks: Measure and Optimize ABM Success

Pipeline Metrics:

  • Depth of engagement within target accounts.
  • The speed at which target accounts move through the sales pipeline.

Conversion Metrics:

  • Percentage of deals closed successfully with target accounts.
  • Revenue generated from target accounts over time.
  • Sales and Marketing Alignment Metrics:
  • Percentage of MQLs from target accounts accepted by sales.

Now let’s look at the demand generation metrics you need to track.

Must Read: Top 5 ABM Trends For B2B Marketers – A Pathway For Future

The number of leads:

How many leads are you generating? A good number of leads indicate that your demand gen efforts are successful and lead you to lead nurturing and lead qualification.

Cost per lead:

What’s the average cost to acquire the lead? Simple math – Total spend divided by the lead volume. This allows you to weigh marketing results and estimate the budget.

Sales Cycle:

It’s the average time to convert a lead to a customer, from initial interest to close deals. A shortened sales cycle shows your leads move smoothly through the sales process, reflecting a successful campaign.

With these metrics in hand, you can create a unified view of your sales and marketing data. These metrics provide insights into the efficiency of attracting leads on a scale.

Must Read: Account-Based Marketing Metrics

Sales Alignment:

ABM thrives only when your marketing and sales teams work in sync. Marketing spearheads the identification, research, and development of targeted account profiles. Sales leverage this intelligence to nurture relationships, tailor proposals, and close deals with key decision-makers.

Demand Gen can be more siloed, with marketing focusing on lead generation and sales focusing on lead conversion. However, integrating the two can lead to improved lead qualification and higher conversion rates.

The Power of Synergy: Combining ABM and Demand Gen

The beauty lies in the fact that ABM and Demand Gen aren’t mutually exclusive. Demand Generation helps cast a wide to attract a broad audience. Then, ABM allows you to identify the most valuable catch from that pool and engage them with personalized outreach.

Not all catches in your net will be the prized ones. However, Demand Generation helps identify potential customers who may not have been initially identified, providing a valuable pool to explore further with targeted ABM efforts.

Once you’ve identified high-value accounts through demand gen efforts, ABM steps in with its personalized approach to nurturing relationships. Showcase your value proposition specifically for those accounts, and ultimately convert them into loyal customers.

In conclusion, we’ve delved into the distinct strengths and differences between Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Demand Generation. Whether your focus is on acquiring targeted leads through ABM or fostering brand awareness with Demand Generation, we hope this guide will help you make the right decisions.

Must Read: B2B Demand Generation Strategies: Accelerating Growth in the Evolving Landscape


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