Demand generation has quickly risen as one of the most popular marketing strategies for B2B and SaaS companies. Because of its all-encompassing nature, it provides a streamlined, consistent and highly effective strategy for engaging with prospects from before they’ve even become aware that your company exists to long after they’ve closed as customers.
This guide is a comprehensive resource on every aspect of demand generation, including:
… and more. Marketers who want to reinvigorate their marketing campaigns for rapid, sustainable business growth will find everything they need to know in this guide.
What is Demand Generation?
Demand generation refers to the comprehensive program of sales and marketing initiatives that aim to generate interest for your product or service, nurture high-fit prospects into customers and retain those customers for the long-term. By executing an effective demand generation strategy, you're not only discovering opportunities, but also creating them; from data-driven business growth to sales and marketing alignment, demand generation allows marketers to make smarter decisions for their companies.
Unlike the traditional marketer, who is measured on the number of leads they bring in, the demand generation marketer is measured on their total contribution to revenue. In other words, the leads that a demand generation marketer passes over to sales must be a truly good fit for the company and therefore have a high likelihood of becoming customers.
How can you increase demand and drive revenue?
Demand generation involves every stage of the marketing funnel — from bringing an unknown visitor to your website, to converting that visitor into a paying customer. It requires complete visibility into your funnel to identify the gaps and opportunities that can be optimized for improved performance. It's time to diagnose your challenges and build a solution for sustainable growth.
Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation vs. Inbound Marketing
Here are the industry definitions of demand generation, lead generation and inbound marketing:
- Demand generation is the focus of targeted marketing programs to drive awareness and interest in a company's products and/or services
- Lead generation is the initiation of consumer interest or inquiry into products or services of a business
- Inbound marketing is a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing, search engine optimization and branding
There’s a lot of overlap between those definitions, so you’d be forgiven for getting them confused. Ultimately, you can think of demand generation as the umbrella term that encompasses lead generation and inbound marketing.
In other words, demand generation is the function and inbound marketing is the method. For example, while New Breed advocates for all things inbound, you could take an outbound approach to demand generation if you thought it worked better for your business.
Lead generation is another component of demand generation, but unlike demand generation, the focus of lead generation stops as soon as a lead is passed off to sales.
Top 6 Challenges Associated with Demand Generation
Demand generation bridges the gap between your sales and marketing teams for powerful and harmonious inbound growth. But juggling all of your marketing and sales efforts, from the first touch to client retention and upsells, is no simple task. Here are some of the most common challenges marketers have with leveraging a full-funnel, customer-centric demand generation strategy.
1. Your website isn't attracting visitors.
People have to know about your product or service before they can purchase it, so a successful demand generation strategy begins with brand awareness.
If prospects aren't even reaching your website in the first place, you could have issues with your brand identity, blogging strategy, SEO strategy, social media strategy or persona development.
2. You don't understand your audience.
Because a demand generation strategy considers every touchpoint in the buyer's journey, all the way through customer retention and upsells, you need to make sure you're marketing to high-fit prospects initially. If your leads are closing or your customers are quickly churning, you could have issues with your buyer personas.
3. Your website doesn't have conversion opportunities.
Too often, marketers make the mistake of thinking that accurate personas, great content and lots of web traffic is enough. To generate leads, you need to give your visitors the opportunity to offer some personal information in exchange for the valuable content you've created; you need conversion opportunities spread strategically across your website.
4. Your leads are not becoming customers.
After working tirelessly to fill the company's pipeline with leads, the most devastating thing a demand generation marketer can hear is that the leads they're bringing in aren't converting into customers. In this case, possible problems include:
- Sales and marketing misalignment
- Lack of sales enablement materials
- Misunderstanding the customer journey
Meet with your sales team to better understand how they qualify leads and what they need from marketing for a more successful sale. Sales enablement is also an important strategy to implement according to the team's top support areas.
5. You're not retaining customers.
Whoever said you couldn't market to your existing customers? An effective demand generation marketer understands that just because a sale is closed-won, that doesn't mean their job is done. Client marketing is a great way to improve retention rates, promote upsells and decrease customer churn. However, if you're marketing to current clients and encouraging customer success isn’t paying off, you could have an issue with your personas.
6. You have trouble tracking and measuring results.
The best demand generation strategies are driven by data and powered by technology. If you don't know which of your tactics are working and which are falling short, you won't be able to continuously optimize in the future. Define the most important metrics for your business and track them using marketing and sales analytics software.
What Are the Proven Strategies for Generating Demand?
Demand generation has many moving parts, but once you've learned to juggle them all effectively, you can use it to drive powerful results for your business. Here are some key tactics for finding, acquiring and moving leads through your full sales and marketing funnel.
Generating demand in a steady, predictable, data-driven way requires forming your strategy with concrete goals in mind. By setting sales and marketing goals and then aligning those goals with your buyer's needs, you can develop a more focused strategy.
However, setting and achieving goals isn't always an easy process. The goals you set should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. These are known as "SMART goals," and they help marketers develop true, actionable plans for seeing their dreams to fruition. If your goals are too general, difficult to track or impossible to reach, they won't do anything to help motivate your team.
Persona Development & Buyer's Journey Alignment
Successful lead generation begins with buyer personas. Consult your sales and marketing teams and conduct some outside research to understand who your ideal customers are, what their goals are, what their main challenges are, how your solutions solve for their challenges and which messages would resonate most with them.
Once you've developed three to four primary personas, combine external research and current customer data to understand the buyer's journey for each. Ask yourself: What content would be most helpful to my personas at each stage in their buyer's journey? What content is so valuable that they'd be willing to share their personal information in order to reach it? Use this insight to inform and optimize all of your other lead generation tactics.
Aligning your marketing and sales departments is key to developing accurate, comprehensive personas.
SEO and SEM
Attracting high-fit leads requires fully-optimized on-page SEO, a killer keyword strategy and — when appropriate for your personas and your business — paid search advertising. Once you've developed optimal buyer personas, you can begin determining the key search terms that your personas will use when searching for solutions to their problems.
Use these terms to optimize your on-page SEO from the title to the metadata, create topic pillar pages to build your domain authority, develop an SEM strategy that will put the right ads in front of the right people and continue to audit, update and optimize your content for the best results. Remember, Google now understands the context search terms, so an effective SEO/SEM strategy takes into consideration a searcher's intent.
Strategic Content Development
If you've poked around the inbound marketing community for any amount of time, then you've probably encountered the phrase "content is king" — and it's true. From video and blogs to checklists and emails, content may be the single most important component of your demand generation endeavor, so it's important to get it right.
Revisit your buyer personas. What information are they looking for? What content would they find helpful? How would they prefer to consume that content? Create or repurpose genuine, relevant and informative content with the goal of educating your prospects and giving them the tools they need to make informed decisions.
With an in-depth understanding of your ideal customers, an abundance of content that educates your prospects and builds brand equity and an SEO strategy that attracts quality visitors to your website, you're well on your way to accelerating your lead generation. However, you still need to optimize your website to drive conversions.
Using a data-driven approach, determine the most effective conversion pathways for each of your primary personas. These pathways will start with relevant, ungated top-of-the-funnel content, lead into premium content offers via compelling calls-to-action and end with landing page forms and delivery of the offer. By optimizing your website for conversions, your prospects will be able to navigate the buyer's journey without any additional input from you.
Sales Support and Enablement
Traditionally, a marketer's job ends as soon as they pass leads over to sales — not anymore. The modern demand generation marketer works closely with the sales team to align lifecycle stages, offer support and develop a holistic strategy for closing more deals and retaining more successful customers.
Make sure that your sales and marketing teams are aligned on lifecycle definitions, and meet regularly to discuss any ideas or challenges that come up. Using the lead information you've gathered in forms, market to leads in your pipeline with relevant and personalized content. Create sales enablement content, such as case studies, demo videos and assessments to help your sales reps convey the value of your product or service.
Which Tools Can Help You With Demand Generation?
Because demand generation is an inherently data-driven, technology-enabled tool for growing your business, you can't effectively generate demand without the right technology. From drawing customers into your website, nurturing them to convert into customers and measuring the results, these tools will help you generate demand the right way.
Content Management System (CMS)
A CMS allows you to easily create, edit, manage and track the success of the content on your website, including blog posts, landing pages, site pages and email campaigns. By removing the design elements and technical skills required to upload blog posts and other content assets to your website, you empower your marketers to write, optimize and track all content on their own in one central place.
We use HubSpot's integrated CMS solution to streamline our content development process.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) System
A CRM system is where you store all of the information captured when a prospect fills out a form and converts on one of your gated content offers. Without an effective CRM, it would be next to impossible for your sales and marketing teams to organize contacts, qualify leads and nurture prospects into a sale.
Marketing Automation Software
Like its name suggests, marketing automation software is used to automate certain marketing activities. Typically, marketing automation software automates your email process for you by triggering specific email nurture campaigns based on a prospect's behavior on your website — although some platforms are much more robust. As your business grows, marketing automation software is key to stretching your resources and making the most of your marketing efforts.
Marketing automation software can make your life so much easier, but only if it's a good fit for your company's needs.
Business Intelligence (BI) Platform
Effective demand generation marketers are driven by complete, comprehensive and accurate data. Data allows you to drill down into the truth of your marketing and sales cycles, better understand your ideal buyers and make more informed decisions for the future. But there's so much data out there, it can sometimes feel like you're drowning in it.
That's where BI tools come into play. BI tools allow marketers to retrieve, analyze and report business insights. Using BI tools like InsightSquared, DataBox or Stitch can help you prove the value of your demand generation efforts and understand where you need to optimize in the future.
Conversational Marketing Tool
Conversational marketing is the new future of marketing. By combining automation with a conversational interface, chatbots give prospects the chance to engage with your brand, consume relevant content and offer important contact information with fewer sales and marketing calories required from your team. They're a great way to retain that human touch even as your business scales.
Our Top 3 Demand Generation Success Stories
The tools and strategies we've outlined are proven to increase website traffic, boost demand generation and drive the best results for B2B businesses. Not convinced? Check out a few of the companies who significantly accelerated their demand generation efforts with New Breed's data-driven approach.
SecretGolf, a media production and publishing company, came to us looking for a strategic partner that would help them drive customer growth through inbound strategies. As part of our demand generation suite of services, we helped them define their buyer personas, segment their existing contact database, gain visibility into marketing's contribution to revenue and create more content for their personas. In the four months following implementation, their customer conversion rate increased by 29 percent. Click here to learn more about SecretGolf's demand generation success.
Sine-Wave, an internet of things platform provider, came to New Breed because they were struggling to meet their sales goals, and they needed new strategies for growing their business. By helping them redefine their buyer personas, create persona-driven website navigation, identify KPIs to track and measure throughout the engagement and implement an inbound marketing campaign, Sine-Wave saw a 1327 percent — yes, you read that right! 1327 percent! — increase in organic traffic and a 28 percent increase in conversion rates on landing pages. Click here to learn more about Sine-Wave's demand generation success.
Linium, a leading information technology and services company, came to New Breed for help revamping their website and implementing inbound best practices into their marketing strategy. As part of our full demand generation suite of services for attracting, converting, nurturing and closing more customers, we delivered full-funnel solutions including a website redesign, inbound content development and sales and marketing alignment. Linium saw a 413 percent return on their investment after just six months with New Breed. Click here to learn more about Linium's demand generation success.
Elizabeth is a former New Breeder.