What is demand generation?
Demand generation is a B2B marketing strategy that leverages inbound methodology to drive interest and awareness in your product or service. It’s designed to generate leads, sell your solution and promote trust in your brand – presenting it as a thought leader and fostering brand loyalty.
A successful demand generation strategy drives long-term engagement and considers every touchpoint in the buyer journey to effectively boost revenue and accelerate the B2B sales process.
4 common misconceptions of demand generation
Possibly the biggest misconception when it comes to demand generation is that it’s lead generation. Lead gen relies on your sales and marketing teams generating quality leads by identifying your ideal customers and enticing them to purchase your solution. It involves the entire lifecycle – from nurturing leads, to converting them into closed deals, to managing the post-sale relationship.
Essentially, lead gen works to capture the interest of buyers and collect their key information (predominantly name, email, job title and company) to target them with resonating ads and nurture campaigns.
Demand gen vs lead gen
B2B demand generation defines and optimizes every stage of the conversion and sales cycle to maximize results. It is a highly targeted process to drive traffic and guide lead generation efforts – helping your business to:
- engage and attract prospects
- expand reach to new markets
- foster long-term customer relationships.
Put simply, demand generation is all about building interest in your product or service and creating demand for it, while lead generation works to turn that interest into leads for sales teams to follow up.
Account-based marketing: mutual exclusivity?
Another common misconception is that you must choose between Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and demand generation. However, they’re not mutually exclusive and can in fact run alongside one another. Targeting key accounts by giving them early access to relevant white papers and webinars for example can go a long way in strengthening the relationship and building demand with your target accounts.
It’s a single channel approach
Demand gen is often seen as a single channel approach despite the fact that many demand generation channels exist:
- Content marketing
- Email marketing
- Programmatic display advertising
- Video marketing
- Paid search / PPC
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Paid social / Social media marketing
A combination of these channels used together – with clear, consistent and unified messaging across all – makes for a highly effective demand generation marketing strategy that promotes cross channel alignment.
Worth noting is that regular reporting and monitoring appears numerous times in the top 3 methods B2B marketers use to ensure different channel teams are working towards the same shared agenda. This evidently needs to be incorporated for a successful multi channel approach.
What’s more, to achieve a more complete range of demand generation objectives, B2B marketers need to expand their channel mix to include brand awareness and early engagement building, namely through PPC and Paid social.
It stops at the point of generation
A true, comprehensive demand generation strategy does not stop at the point of generation – it includes demand capture and pipeline acceleration (Marketo).
- Demand capture: should existing demand exist, demand generation marketers can capture it and guide potential buyers to their product or service solutions. A variety of lower funnel content such as client testimonials and demos, to establish brand proposition, are key to this – enhanced through PPC ads, third party intent data and SEO optimizations.
- Pipeline acceleration: once demand capture has been achieved, the following 7 B2B sales acceleration strategies can be utilized to increase sales pipeline velocity:
1. Data science: Look-a-like modelling, intent data and propensity modelling – leverage data science to find the most relevant target accounts for your business, who is in-market and what tendencies are trending upstream for potential new business.
2. ABM velocity and penetration – use ABM to identify the accounts you want to reach, crafting specific messages to engage and resonate with decision makers in those target accounts and measuring key performance metrics.
3. Business Development Representatives (BDRs) – BDRs should be utilizing all available resource to generate a constant flow of inbound leads by driving awareness and education using a variety of email, cold calling, networking and social selling.
4. Lead quality and prioritization – identify what a high-quality lead looks like and not only prioritize these but effectively nurture them to help move your top of funnel leads through to becoming Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs).
5. Content – understand where your prospect is in the buyer journey to identify the right content to serve at the right time, in the right formats, and across the right channels that will engage and intercept your in-market buyers while keeping you front of mind.
6. Sales and marketing alignment – bring the two teams closer together for a more unified approach that makes for a highly-converting lead generation strategy.
7. Measurement and reporting – accurately and reliably report on key metrics for a single source of truth that can provide direction, invaluable learnings and greater brand integrity.
6 components of an effective demand generation strategy
1. Generate awareness
A comprehensive demand generation strategy will drive brand awareness with target audiences for a continuous flow of high-quality leads. It aims to leave a positive image of the company in the mind of potential customers, encouraging brand loyalty and trust in their solutions.
A good way to show true brand credibility is to showcase recent client testimonials and reviews. These are unbiased, third party accounts of your brand that will give reliable customer evaluations of your solutions and how well they have been able to meet the pain points of your customer base.
Of course, a positive customer experience is essential to this being effective – but customer feedback can go a long way in winning over prospective customers.
2. Develop a content strategy
Any demand generation campaign should see content creation as a key factor. Create high quality content that helps your potential future customers learn and informs their purchasing decision.
Depending on the stage of the buying journey your leads are in, different types of content will suit their specific stage. It’s therefore essential to align content types and tactics to the entire customer journey:
- Content needs to build awareness and target top-of-funnel (TOFU) queries via videos, infographics and informative blog articles.
- B2B buyers in the middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) need to be educated, therefore white papers and eBooks are vital resources.
- Bottom-of-funnel (BOFU) leads require nurturing to guide them in their B2B purchase decisions. Webinars, case studies and specific blog posts targeting keywords are essential to nurture campaigns.
Improve engagement with content syndication
Content syndication is when brands republish the same piece of content – an infographic, video or blog post, on one or more websites. It’s a useful way to ensure prospective buyers are seeing their latest content and information. An effective content syndication campaign involves:
- Targeted outreach to key members of the decision making unit (DMU)
- Paid ads to promote relevant content
- Utilizing distribution platforms to boost market reach.
3. Engage with each segment appropriately
Personalization is critical when it comes to addressing the needs of high-value leads, with a staggering 99% of marketers agreeing that customer relationships are advanced by personalization.
Leverage specific information about your segments to develop curated, personalized content that has the ability to reliably convert. Calls-to-action (CTAs) that lead your B2B buyers through the buying process with content that answers their questions and pain points can be a highly effective way of ensuring you are addressing their primary purchasing reasons.
4. Build a lead nurture strategy
Demand generation efforts do not end once your marketing team passes leads to sales. Any reliable demand gen process requires a complete lead nurturing strategy – starting at the first point of contact, all the way through to the buying decision and purchase.
Marketing and Sales teams need to work together throughout the buyer journey to ensure their needs are met at every stage. Marketing for example, should continue to engage with high-value leads by providing useful, relevant content and content types to answer key questions. They also need to understand and utilize the most appropriate channels to share the resources in the most effective means. Reaching customers with the right content at the right time, in the right format and on the right channel is paramount.
Monitoring your marketing efforts to ensure your outreach strategies are working, and making any necessary changes, is beneficial to maximize results.
5. Incorporate account-based marketing
When done right, ABM is a proven tactic to increase demand across your target accounts by targeting key decision makers and accounts with relevant messaging and valuable pieces of content.
A strong ABM strategy begins with creating a qualified target list of accounts that are an ideal fit for your product or service. Firmographic and technographic data should be used to support this step, ensuring your target account list (TAL) includes businesses who are a great fit for your solutions.
Demand generation tactics including paid ads, direct marketing and email marketing and other relevant channels can then be used to target those accounts and intercept your in-market buyers.
6. Align Sales and Marketing teams
Businesses with aligned Sales and Marketing teams generate over 200% revenue growth from marketing tactics, are more than two-thirds (67%) more effective at closing deals, and experience 24% faster growth in revenue (The 7-Step Guide to Sales Acceleration for B2B Marketers).
When the two teams unite, great things can be achieved – making way for a highly-converting lead generation strategy that sees significantly improved:
- Return on investment (ROI)
- Top-line growth
- Accelerated sales process.
Demand generation best practice
A successful demand generation strategy will bring high-quality, reliable leads to your business and ultimately help it grow. These demand gen best practices are crucial to keep front of mind, to ensure your demand generation efforts are reaching their maximum potential:
- Establish your demand generation goals – this might be 150 SQLs a month or 500 per quarter.
- Define your ideal customer – developing buyer personas off the back of this is a great way to stay focused on your target customers.
- Gather buyer intelligence – identify:
- Customer needs – through intent intelligence and data science
- Keywords – what keywords are being searched around your area of expertise?
- Pain points – when you know the most pressing challenges facing your target audiences, you’ll understand how to target them with relevant content that engages and intercepts.
- Tailor your messaging – personalization is key, as well as relevant messaging that will resonate with the specific stage of the buyer journey they are at.
- Never stop testing! – continuous measuring and reporting ensures you stay competitive and quickly recognize areas requiring improvement.
Use intent data to find in-market buyers and scale demand
Intent data provides detailed insights into prospective buyers displaying signs of intent to purchase imminently.
Quality intent data can considerably help Marketing teams in their lead gen and demand gen activities. Real purchase intent data allows members of the GTM team to see a buying group alongside the buyer journey thanks to the sheer variety of intent signals being generated by individuals. Behaviors of multiple individuals within the same account can then be analyzed and monitored in order to pursue sales initiatives much more effectively.
Intent data scales your demand generation campaigns by allowing you to:
- Recognize early buyer interest – identify prospective buyers researching your solution and uncover their content consumption habits.
- Gain competitive advantage – find out which companies are looking at your competitors’ websites, products and services – showing clear in-market tendencies to purchase – and target them with your messaging and solutions.
- Customize marketing campaigns – create content that matches what your target accounts are searching for, to inform them how to solve their key challenges with your solutions.
- Prioritize leads – intent data allows B2B marketers to filter their outreach lists, allowing high-quality leads to be prioritized.
- Identify look-a-likes – find new accounts and individuals to target based on those showing similar characteristics and behaviors to your existing accounts and customers.
- Discover where potential customers are in their purchase journey – this allows you to customize your demand gen campaigns to intercept leads at a specific stage of their buyer journey and understand what content to target them with for maximum effectiveness.
5 types of intent data
1. Search intent
This uses keywords and search queries, including online searches both on and off your website. Every search query and digital signal can be mapped to understand how users research and engage around your brand, product or service.
2. Browsing intent
Predominantly looking at cookies and browsing history. It tracks content consumption across devices and browsers to reveal exactly what your buyers are interested in right now. It delves further into their research to see what has captured their attention.
3. Action intent
Interactions and downloads are utilized to capture your prospects’ digital footprints and behavior flow. It takes into account the touchpoints they connect on, the order in which they interact and their preferred channels. This allows B2B marketers to customize the experience based entirely on an individuals behavior and better understand their intentions.
4. Firmographic intent
Similar to demographics, but for businesses. This data allows you to assess an organizations’ suitability for your product or service and target them based on their fit. The profile of the company might be the same as the majority of your buyers – highlighting that they are likely to be in a similar position to purchase as your customers.
5. Predictive intent
Also known as look-a-like modelling, this seeks to detect patterns and trends to ultimately predict the behavior of similar accounts and audiences in the future. It draws on existing knowledge and turns it into useful predictions for prospective customers – allowing you to be ready when they are!
For more detail around how to use each of these 5 types of intent data, take a look here.
How to measure demand generation success
Measuring demand gen success all comes down to understanding the most prominent KPIs to track, and ensuring you have the reporting infrastructure in place to do so. This allows you to determine the ROI of your demand generation activities. The key metrics to achieve this are:
- Lead conversion rate: (number of leads / total number of visitors) x100
For example, if your website has 600 visitors and 30 fill out your lead capture form, your lead conversion rate is 5%.
- MQLs to SQLs / meetings to conversions: number of SQLs / number of MQLs
This indicates the number of leads nurtured towards being ready for your sales team. This reveals how well your demand generation efforts are actually working against your end goal.
- Opportunity Rate: (accounts with a new opportunity created / target accounts) x100
This is the % of accounts with a new opportunity created.
- Cost per lead: total marketing spend / total number of new leads
The amount you spend to gain each lead, which can be used to see how efficient your activity is or whether changes need to be made.
- Cost of marketing spend / conversion rate: money spent on an ad campaign / number of conversions over that period
For example, $400 spent on an ad campaign / 25 conversions = $16
- Cost per conversion: total cost of ads / number of conversions
For example, $1000 spent on ads / 100 conversions = $10
- Customer acquisition cost: entire cost of marketing over a given period / total number of new customers in the same period
This reveals whether your demand generation spend is more than you are making.
- Sales pipeline velocity: number of deals x deal size x win rate / length of sales cycle
Increasing B2B sales acceleration is key to driving ROI and conversions, so is one worth keeping a close eye on.
- Average deal size: total revenue / closed-won opportunities in a set period
This helps determine the length of your sales cycle and the demand generation strategies you use.
- Close rate: (number of sales / number of leads) x100
This tells you how many sales were made against the amount of leads received.
- Customer lifetime value: average customer revenue across their entire lifetime with your company
The total amount your average customer spends over the time they are a customer with you. If your demand generation tactics are effective, your CLV should go up.
Drive growth with Inbox Insight
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We run content-fueled B2B demand generation campaigns to our audience, focused on building trust and value for both our clients and audience members in order to:
- target a specific set of accounts
- establish industry credibility
- promote new products or features
- reach and engage new audiences
- generation new business leads
- build audience intelligence
- nurture long-term relationships
- build interest around your brand
Ready to get started? Inbox Insight can help you achieve your demand generation goals – here’s how.