How Awareness and Lead Generation Marketing Differs

How Awareness and Lead Generation Marketing Differs

Posted on June 24, 2015 0 Comments

What’s the difference between awareness and lead generation marketing strategies and metrics? Why bother with awareness marketing at all?

In my last post, I asked, “What Drives You?” I did not, however, explain the two most common answers—awareness metrics and lead generation metrics—in much detail. I want to explore these two most typical approaches to marketing metrics in more detail here.

Essentially, marketers are motivated by one of two primary factors. Either they’re trying to raise awareness and feed the top of the sales and marketing funnel, or they’re trying to drive leads a little deeper into the funnel.

What is the Goal of an Awareness Marketing Strategy?

The primary goal of awareness-driven marketers is to feed the top of the sales and marketing funnel. An awareness strategy is ideal for marketers who want, for example, to influence the influencers of big ticket or long lead item purchases, or perhaps drive the sales of impulse, small ticket or in-store retail items.

The top campaign or program priorities for awareness marketers are exposure, “eyeballs” and quick purchases. Paired with strong analytics, such a strategy can be very effective.

The Benefits of a Lead Generation Strategy

A funnel diagram

Figure 1: Awareness and lead generation strategies aim to drive leads into the sales funnel.

The primary goal of lead generation-driven marketers is to drive prospects deeper into the sales and marketing funnel before handing them over to the sales team. A lead generation strategy is ideal for marketers who want to reach the buyer of big ticket or long lead items directly or drive online sales. The top campaign or program priorities for this strategy are actions and wallets. Paired with a solid email marketing program and some marketing automation technology, this approach can be very effective as well.

Using digital marketing efforts to drive lead generation has quickly displaced awareness building and thought leadership efforts as the #1 stated goal of online B2B marketers, and for good reason. Thanks to digital marketing, we’ve slowly been able to tear down the wall that has until very recently stood between the marketing team and the sales team.

No longer does the marketing team throw leads (“supposedly warm but in reality very cold,” according to sales folks) over the wall blindly to the sales team, which in turn ignores them (according to marketing folks) or tries their best to nurture the leads (according to sales). With such a wall in place, there’s little or no ability to analyze the effectiveness of your marketing efforts. With the wall in place, you might claim that your leads are great, but if the sales team says they’re lousy, you will have no way to back up your claims with data.

Tear that wall down, and you can back up your marketing efforts with data. The sales team is happier because the CRM system feeds them more data to help support the sale. And if they do complain about lead quality, you can fight their claims with hard facts.

Why Use Awareness Marketing?

With all of the benefits that come with adopting the lead generation model, why would you want to focus on awareness? First, don’t forget that most sales teams still have a mix of inside and outside salespeople. The biggest complaint from the inside sales team is still the fact that the prospect wasn’t aware of the company or product the salesperson was selling, so they’re stuck doing basic product marketing rather than actual sales.

Awareness-driven marketing focuses on brand recognition, so it’s easier for the salesperson to drive a prospect further down the funnel.

Second, I argued in my last post that if you’re a PR person, you may want to think twice before you jump on the lead generation bandwagon. My experience has shown that traditional media relations efforts are much more successful at awareness building that lead generation. As PR professionals successfully adopt digital content marketing tactics this can be offset somewhat, but I’d caution not to make big lead gen promises with a PR-focused approach to marketing.

I hope this sheds some light on these two approaches. In my next few posts, I’m going to explore data and metrics, two very popular words in the marketing world today.


Todd Van Hoosear

Todd Van Hoosear is vice president of public relations for Eric Mower + Associates' Boston office, where he helps clients in the engineering, mobile, cloud, networking, consumer technology and consulting spaces bring new ideas – and new takes on old ideas – to the market. He also teaches new media and public relations at Boston University, and serves as a Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Find him on Twitter at @vanhoosear. 


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