How to Fearlessly Build a Demand Generation Strategy

What is demand generation? Why do you need a demand generation strategy? Five ways to build your winning demand generation strategy.

The first part of building a demand generation strategy is understanding it.

Many companies today eagerly dive into creating a bullet-proof demand generation strategy. Then, marketers naturally invest in a technology solution that will support it.

However, it can lead marketers in the wrong direction.

So, let’s start from the beginning, shall we?

Let’s say you create an ad with an artsy picture of a deep green jungle that ushers a feeling of calmness and serenity.

You add to the image an inspiring caption and push it to your advertising channels.

Your target customer engages. (You celebrate!)

Now, let’s say you did that because you own a plant delivery business.

You have a website that features beautiful plants, some domestic, some exotic, like the ones you can find in a jungle. So, you explain how these exotic plants actually could survive easily in a house if you place them in the bathroom, due to the shade and humidity.

On your website, you also feature an informative article on how those plants can benefit the prospect, like cleaning the air.

Suddenly, they can imagine an oasis in their home. It will not only help them relax after a long day at work but will also boost their energy throughout the day.

People now notice the benefit. They also know your business exists.

Moreover, with the help of lead nurturing – people will want your product.

Why am I telling you this? Because this is what demand generation means in a longer B2C sales cycle.

Of course, demand generation has evolved ever since the B2B sector embraced it as a crucial part of their marketing strategy.

Diving into Demand Generation

Demand generation has been a hot topic for the past few years.

However, let’s start from the beginning.

The definition of Demand Generation can be summed up as:

A process of driving awareness and interest by creating the idea of a need for your product.

However, marketers sometimes confuse where demand generation sits in the list of marketing funnels.

To clear that up, HubSpot has provided a reasonable explanation for marketers around the world:

“Demand generation, however, is more than just a branding concept or early funnel marketing tactic. Demand generation programs are touch points throughout the conversion optimisation and sales cycles.”

Which means – demand generation has a goal to build and nurture prospect’s relationships for the long term – not just at the beginning of their customer journey.

The most effective demand generation strategy is a full-funnel activity, supporting the customer to the purchase stage and beyond.

Remember, in a B2B world, procurement’s team demand is way different from the end user’s demand. It would be best if you assured your strategy covers all the stakeholders in the buyer’s process.

Demand Generation vs Lead Generation vs Inbound Marketing

As per the tactics of demand generation strategy offers, sometimes we see a bit of overlap with lead generation or even inbound marketing.

The overlap is not unusual, because one can be part of the other, and more often than not, these strategies work together at the same time.

For example, if a prospect is looking for a solution that can help them and voluntarily exchange their details for a free tool you offer – they become a lead. After this, you will apply your lead generation activities.

However, if a prospect isn’t aware of his problem (or if he is, but doesn’t know how to solve it) – you will target them with demand generation activities.

Hopefully, those activities will bring them to your website. If it does – we have a different scenario.

In this instance, after they land on your website, the lead can download an ebook that addresses his issue.

Then, he can leave his details in exchange for your content. You will now continue the process with lead nurturing, but at the same time, this process becomes a part of your lead and demand generation strategy.

Marketo comes with a clear explanation of inbound marketing:

“Inbound marketing is a strategy that utilises many forms of pull marketing – content marketing, blogs, events, SEO, social media and more – to create brand awareness and attract new business.”

So basically inbound marketing is one type of demand generation activity, focusing on creating that quality content that will engage your prospects.

In a nutshell, your marketing team will focus on attracting and identifying the prospects using inbound marketing strategies.

They will use blogs and social media campaigns on top of outbound tactics such as paid advertising or direct mail. All of them will make up your demand generation strategy.

To use our example, the educational ebook you created to provoke interest is part of your inbound marketing (creating the ebook).

However, it is also part of your demand and lead generation strategy (generating awareness and capturing prospect’s details).

Why do you need a demand generation strategy?

It’s helpful to note how the majority of B2B companies have recognised the benefits of having a demand generation strategy in place.

According to the 2019 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey Report: 71% of marketing professionals confirmed that their demand generation budget will increase in 2019.

As Nate Skinner, VP of Marketing for Salesforce Pardot, shared in his  interview with Demand Gen Report:

“Successful demand generation is now about getting the most qualified leads to your website to engage with the brand in a meaningful way. Savvy marketers will always be able to create favourable numbers, but today’s teams want to know how many leads were converted and how.”

1. Demand generation feeds your lead generation efforts

We are well aware of how one of the biggest challenges for the B2B sector is getting more leads.

In fact, 63% of marketers say generating traffic and leads is their top challenge.

Demand generation is a great way to support and improve lead generation strategy in general, by utilising multiple areas of marketing and combining the marketing programs with a structured sales process.

2. Demand generation unifies your marketing and sales department

Historically, marketing was focused on getting leads to an MQL or SQL stage and passing them through to sales. This approach has caused departmental silos, and nothing good has come from that ever since.

Demand generation marketing is meant to remove that misalignment within your marketing and sales activities. It’s a fully integrated approach that provides transparency, which is critical in your business success.

We can not afford not to notice specific trends or metrics anymore. Any division could cost you.

3. Demand generation puts the customer at the centre

As we move away from the “spray and pray” marketing approach, demand generation is quickly becoming a holistic, integrated and measurable strategy. It’s a tool that helps us focus on the buyer’s journey and all the ways of serving the customer through it.

It’s vital that you remember to use demand generation tactics across every stage and in various ways. Assuming you already built a customer journey map, this will create a more streamlined journey and achieve any specific goals you set.

Want to know more about Demand Generation Strategy and Customer Journey Optimisation?

5 ways to build a winning demand generation strategy

Coming back on what Nate Skinner shared in his recent interview with Demand Gen Report:

“I believe the top five tactics or channels for demand generation right now include SEO, email, direct mail, review sites and content marketing.”

We have created a useful guide based on the tactics mentioned above to help you create a winning demand generation strategy. Try it out. There is nothing to lose.

1. Focus on content marketing

The foundation of demand generation is content. Creating helpful content to support the customer’s journey is one of the essential tactics that is not going anywhere any time soon.

With this in mind, we listed some of the types of content you can profit on, even if you are beginning to build your demand generation strategy.

  • Blog Posts
  • Webinars
  • White Papers
  • Video Tutorials
  • Case Studies

If you have already employed these tactics – we have some advanced strategies for you:

Content Syndication – publishing your original content to 3rd party media outlets or websites. This has proven very effective due to the extended range of audiences you could reach.

Repurposing Content – if you already have an archive of long-form content on your website, it’s a good idea to repurpose it. Sometimes companies create an infographic or a slide deck that will drive more conversions and give answers when they are needed in the buyer’s process.

Industry news – keeping a pulse on the industry news can be very beneficial in creating that authority and showing your customers you are one step ahead. Publishing original thoughts on the current events can build trust and deepen the relationship. Especially if the buyer is not in the purchase stage yet and he needs to justify to his CEO why your service is the best in the market.

2. Put email to work

Email is the channel that encompasses the entire buyer’s journey, which makes it indispensable. Among all the other channels marketers use, email still outperforms all of them.

It’s crucial to fuel email campaigns with personalisation. Otherwise, your message could end up deleted and forgotten.

Also, make sure to optimise the campaigns by applying A/B testing. You can test for various things, such as subject line, content placement, colours and images.

Some of the tactics that can help utilise email in your demand generation strategy include:

  • Referrals – for example offering a gift voucher or a discount to an existing user who refers your company to a colleague or friend.
  • Courses – offer a tutorial or a course through an email drip campaign to prospects that landed on your website. It will build interest after which you can nurture them to become a customer.
  • Newsletters – offer industry insight or high-quality content to your subscribers in exchange for their email address.
3. Tie SEO into your demand generation strategy

SEO experts are often left out of demand generation planning, which is a huge oversight.

Organic search traffic can be an excellent opportunity for demand generation teams regardless of a prospect’s place in the buying cycle.

To integrate SEO in your demand strategy, SEO professionals need to get involved in all areas of the demand generation process – to improve overall marketing performance.

To illustrate with an example, if you are launching a new service or a product and want to target the B2B market, SEO experts will get involved in:

  • Creating a list of Keywords for your marketing team which can be used to create content around your new product or service.
  • Creating a new page and a landing page on the same domain (often landing pages are hosted on subdomains which are not helping the SEO)
  • Optimising the new page with the structured data
  • Optimising any additional content creation to support the launch

Additionally, when you take into account how campaigns in the B2B world often last over a year – partnering with your SEO experts to support those campaigns is not a bad idea.

4. Don’t be afraid of direct mail

Direct mail is a part of outbound demand generation tactics, similar to telesales or paid advertising.

We know how much the buyer’s journey has changed over the past years, so we always advise having a balanced approach to your demand generation.

You can achieve this by using a mix of inbound and outbound tactics to determine the right strategy for you.

Direct mailing is an effective tactic. You don’t have to look any further than response rates – direct mail has a 4.4% response rate on average. On the other hand, the average response rate for email is only 0.12%.

For this purpose, you can employ social networks such as Facebook and Linkedin to introduce your product or service.

5. Utilise the content from review sites

According to Demand Gen Report’s 2018 B2B Buyers Survey, 65% of buyers rate B2B software and service reviews as “very important” when evaluating a set list of solution providers.

Most of the buyers of B2B services or products turn to third-party review websites to justify or decide on the best solution once they identify the need.

As we know, demand generation is a full-funnel activity. Therefore, the review sites are an essential channel you need to be paying attention to.

Especially when you consider that 92% of buyers claim they were more likely to purchase a product or service after reading a trusted review.

If you are one of the lucky providers who have a high score on G2 Crowd, TrustRadius or GetApp, the best tactic to sway the demand in your direction is – utilising those reviews in the customer journey.

Some companies use testimonials as social proof on their website, which is compelling as well.

The epic story of how Dropbox created demand by referrals

Dropbox is one of the best examples for successfully using referrals to generate demand for its product.

When the cloud storage business started, they rewarded current users and their referrals with more storage space.

This lead to incredible growth where Dropbox acquired 4 million users in only 15 months.

It makes sense that even today if you sign up to Dropbox, you can get extra storage space when you refer a friend.

Today, Dropbox is worth nearly 10 billion dollars.

Keeping up with demand generation

If you already have a demand generation strategy you are proud of, chances are you are utilising most of the following tactics as components:

  • Content Marketing
  • Email Campaigns
  • Community Strategies
  • Social Media
  • Paid Advertising (Google, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.)
  • PR
  • Free Product/Trial
  • Thought Leadership
  • Influencers
  • Events
  • ABM

All of the tactics listed above should be streamlined and work together towards your ultimate business goals.

The aim is to prepare your demand generation strategy for the future:

1. You want to be customer-centric, which means – keep a close look at the customer journey and where the demand generation can support the conversions

2. You want your sales and marketing unified – demand generation is meant to be used in an integrated way, so don’t make a mistake thinking this is not crucial

3. You want your marketing and demand generation goals to be transparent and in alignment with sales

Remember, demand generation is evolving rapidly.

There are always new methods and tactics that aim to support your goals.

Exciting times are ahead of us, as we see an increase in Account-Based Marketing, the influence of AI and the old siloed structures breaking down.

We believe it’s a journey that will not only influence a drastic change in marketing but possibly even redefine how we drive revenue for businesses.

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We are an omnichannel strategy consulting firm and would love to see you succeed in your omnichannel marketing initiatives.

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