Lead Generation vs. Lead Nurturing: The Differences & The Relationship

Did you know that 80% of new leads never translate into sales, and companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads? —Khalid Saleh

Regardless of the industry and offering, businesses see lead generation and lead nurturing as both essential elements of a successful marketing strategy. But not everyone understands the difference between lead generation and nurturing, and the importance of using both tactics in the overall process.

What is lead generation?

Lead generation is the marketing process of creating interest in your company’s products or services, and ideally turning that attention into a sale. Businesses use marketing strategies including email and content marketing to spark interest, bringing in potential customers into the sale pipeline.

There are two main forms of lead generation marketing:

  • Outbound marketing – Outbound marketing involves ‘pushing’ your company/offering to a target audience. This can be in the form of cold-calling, TV, print, and radio advertising. This type of marketing can be quite costly if you target the wrong market, and it can be harder to measure.
  • Inbound marketing – Inbound marketing is about attracting the attention of a target audience by offering content that is tailored to them, turning interest into consideration. For example, inbound marketing includes blogs, social media, events, search engine optimisation (SEO), and search engine marketing (SEM).

What about lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the means of building a relationship with potential buyers, establishing attention and trust. This process is about putting yourself into the shoes of your customers, and attempting to answer these questions:

  1. What do they need?
  2. What are their pain points?
  3. How can we make their decision process easier?
  4. More broadly, what are their hopes and desires?

The purpose of lead nurturing is to push leads further down the sales pipeline with different techniques including:

  • SMS or email marketing – Once a lead’s details are in your CRM, you have the opportunity to reach them with targeted messaging. For instance, sending an email to follow up a person who has abandoned their shopping cart or reminding them to book an appointment.
  • Content marketing – Show value to your potential buyers by offering content that could make their decision-making process easier. This could be in the form of guides that cover “10 Things to Know When Choosing a Dentist” or links to your portfolio to show off your work!
  • Retargeting (remarketing) – Timely and targeted digital outreach can keep your business at the top of your leads’ minds. This could involve showing display ads promoting your products/services as they continue browsing. Retargeting is designed to reach users who don’t convert straight away.

The main differences between lead generation & lead nurturing

  Lead generation Lead nurturing


Focus Concentrates on finding new leads. Is about taking warm leads (those who have shown an interest in your business) and turning them into an actual customer.


Format Social media, content marketing, website design, SEO and SEM. Relevant emails and SMS, retargeting, or even calling a potential customer to follow up with them.


·        Builds brand awareness

·        Target desired customers

·        Collect insight on potential customers


·        Build trust within your industry

·        Identify gaps in the market

·        Insight and feedback to current offerings




·        Difficult to measure

·        Can be costly


·        Doesn’t guarantee a sale/conversion

·        Timely process especially when targeting niche audiences



Finally, what is the relationship between lead generation and lead nurturing?

Lead generation and lead nurturing are both important processes businesses need to use to attract leads and turn them into paying customers. Companies need both lead generation and lead nurturing to fuel one another and support sustainable business success.

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