A Not-So-Boring Guide on B2B Demand Generation

Mark Huber

Demand generation just isn’t a subset of marketing.

It’s the outcome of all kinds of marketing activities working together. 

Not just paid ads or ABM. If only it were that simple.

It’s no wonder then that, according to a recent survey, only 73% of those marketers feel they are somewhat successful in implementing data-driven demand marketing strategies.

The majority of B2B marketers still think about demand generation as a series of tactics, rather than a larger marketing strategy. 

We’ll walk you through our approach to creating a winning B2B demand generation strategy. Read on to find out how you can build a strategy that drives more revenue.

What is B2B demand generation?

The definition of B2B demand generation covers a lot of bases. Basically, anything that you do that increases awareness of your products or services is considered demand generation — but there’s a little more to it than that

If only demand gen was as easy as running some paid ads, generating some pipeline, and converting it to revenue.

The overarching goal is to not only build interest, but channel that interest into a sales pipeline that you can analyze, predict, and utilize to grow your business.

Demand generation refers to every stop along the way throughout the customer journey, from initial awareness to building interest, creating sales prospects, upselling, and so on. 

It can be broken down into five core phases: 

  1. Create demand (Demand Creation)
  2. Capture demand (Demand Capture)
  3. Revive demand (Revival)
  4. Accelerate demand (Acceleration)
  5. Nurture/expand demand (Expansion)

It’s crucial to measure, track, and predict each of these touchpoints because this is what a sophisticated demand generation program is all about: Making sure that customers have the right information at each of these points to help sway them in favor of purchasing what you have to offer.

The 5 key tactics of B2B demand generation

Demand generation can be complicated — and that’s why your demand gen strategy should include a variety of tactics (and marketing channels) designed to gain interest and lead your clients through their buying journey. Below, we’ll highlight key tactics you should definitely include in your demand generation campaigns.

1. Paid Media

Paid media includes things like pay-per-click ads, paid ads on social media, or ad space that you pay for in videos, podcasts, and other recorded mediums. 

What makes paid media an essential strategy?

In short, it’s among the best ways to get your messaging out in front of potential customers — especially in the beginning. Where things like blog posts or free social posts tend not to have much visibility until you have a large following, paid media ensures that you get the word out, even if you’re new and relatively unknown.

paid ad example b2b demand generation

2. Events

Events are an incredibly valuable inbound marketing tactic that can help you build a lot of demand. Webinars, live streams, giveaways, trade shows, and virtual events — these are all events that offer you amazing outreach opportunities. 

The secret to making the most of an event is to offer something memorable, or something that your potential customers want. Here are a couple of examples of demand generation that are event-specific:

  • Offer high-quality branded swag to get your brand name out there.
  • Hosting your own event? Be sure to address customer pain points or bring in industry experts to chat about topics in your field.

Just be sure to get the word out about your event. That’s what makes them so valuable.

3. Content marketing

If you don’t already see how all the pieces and parts link up, you’re about to. A content strategy is an integral part of inbound marketing — which is itself an integral part of demand gen.

So what’s a good content marketing strategy? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Instead, it’s all about finding relevant content — not only for your brand, but your target audience. Once you zero in on your brand voice and the things your target audience wants, the next step is to create content that showcases you as an expert in your field — one that potential customers can trust.

This means providing a lot of helpful info that highlights your industry knowledge and illustrates how your product solves certain problems. 

Throughout, be sure to answer questions about how your product works and how people can get the most from it. And before too long, you’ll have a helpful content library that sticks in customers’ minds as a trustworthy source and potential brand to purchase from.

content marketing example for b2b demand generation
Every year we release our Paid Social Benchmark Report. This content marketing pillar feeds our content throughout the year.

4. Customer Marketing

According to HubSpot, customer marketing is the art of marketing to your existing customers (rather than to new potential customers). It’s something you can do through content marketing, social media, or even outstanding customer service.

How does this fit into a B2B lead generation strategy?

Not only does customer marketing help you retain the customers you have (customer rentetion) — and give you leads on existing customers who may be interested in additional services — but it also helps you turn your current customers into people who will spread the word. Happy customers are ones who talk about your product to their friends and colleagues, which builds awareness and brings in leads through referrals. 

5. Product Marketing

Any type of marketing is product marketing, right? Actually, “product marketing” refers specifically to:

  • Positioning and messaging surrounding the product
  • Product launch
  • Sales enablement, which ensures your sales team has the product information and messaging to effectively market the product

So, how does product marketing fit into demand gen? It’s all about building brand awareness. Your B2B demand generation strategy should be in place by the time you get to launch, if not before — and you can use the buzz surrounding your product launch to build demand in anticipation of the launch. 

It’s a great opportunity to set up an email marketing campaign, for example. Prior to launch, build hype for the launch itself — and use your product marketing campaign to collect emails for people who want to be notified on launch day.

How can B2B marketers boost demand?

How to boost demand? First off, it’s important to understand Eugene Schwartz’s five stages of customer awareness, from his classic (and expensive) copywriting book, “Breakthrough Advertising.” According to this, all customers move through five stages along the buyer’s journey: unaware, problem aware, solution aware, product aware, and most aware.

The reason this framework has been around for decades, and why it’s so important for your B2B demand generation strategy is that it focuses on the psychology behind your audience at any given phase. 

Other frameworks exist, but this one does a great job of summarizing how people think and feel throughout the entire buying process. And it doesn’t assume your buyer persona’s journey is a nice, neat, and linear path.

Let’s take a closer look at how to use this framework to boost your demand efforts.

Unaware phase

Boosting demand during the “unaware” phase means finding ways to get your B2B marketing content in front of the people most likely to purchase. Analyze social media and SEO, since these are the two things that will put your product in front of new prospects.

unaware phase

Problem aware phase

The “problem aware” stage of the marketing funnel / sales funnel is where you go after the people who don’t know they have a problem.

Create content that highlights potential pain points that your potential customers might not even know that they have.

problem aware

Solution aware phase

The “solution aware” phase is where potential buyers become aware that a solution for their problems exists — but they’re not aware of your product yet. That comes later.

At this stage, you want to push out content that speaks to potential pain points and suggests that there is a solution.

solution aware

Product aware phase

In the “product aware” stage, the buyer knows there’s a solution to their problem and your goal is to present your solution as a top contender. 

product aware

During this phase, customers browse your case studies and white papers looking for specific benefits. Rely on the types of content that let you display your thought leadership and make sure that content proves more valuable than your competitors’ offerings: blog content, webinars, long-form video, etc.

Things like targeted emails and account-based marketing (ABM) are also instrumental to converting a browser into a buyer — and when that happens, you’ve generated a lead for your sales team.  

Most aware phase

Finally, the “most aware” stage. At this point, the prospect knows they have a problem, that there’s a solution to the problem, and that your business offers that solution. 

They’re ready to buy. Now your job is to convince them that your solution is the best solution. 

most aware

This is a great time to hang a carrot. Offer a discount code or free trial to entice them to sign up for your services. You can also use retargeting ads at this point to keep your product/service in front of the prospect even after they leave your website.

Along every step of the way, you’ll have different metrics you can track to monitor performance — and that’s something we’ll discuss more below.

5 important demand generation metrics to keep your eye on

If you want to boost demand and bring in more B2B buyers, it’s all about data, analytics, and metrics like key performance indicators (KPIs). Here are a few of the most important metrics to track as part of your demand generation marketing campaign.

b2b demand generation metrics

1. Qualification rate

Your qualification rate is the percentage of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) that go on to become sales qualified leads (SQLs). (More on MQLs and SQLs later.)  

It’s a good barometer for how well your marketing team is doing at screening and qualifying leads before passing them along to your sales team to convert. 

Note: The length of your sales cycle will affect your qualification rate. So if your sales cycle is long (a few months or more), it doesn’t make sense to track your qualification rate over the span of a week. That said, it’s a good idea to track your sales cycle length to get the most useful qualification rate calculation.

2. Average deal size

The average deal size refers to the average value of each new customer. Tracking it will help your demand gen campaign in a couple of ways. You get better insights into your available budget, for starters.

You can also calculate your ROI among different sets of customers — then use that info for retargeting so that your demand gen strategies focus on bringing in high-quality leads.

3. Cost per acquisition (CAC)

Cost per acquisition (CAC – also known as customer acquisition cost) is pretty simple. How much does it cost you to acquire a paying customer? To find out, all you need to do is calculate the total cost of your marketing campaign, including all digital marketing efforts and any other marketing tactics used, then divide that number by the total number of customers that campaign brought in.

Track your CAC over multiple campaigns to zero in on the tactics that lower your CAC.

4. Cost per lead (CPL)

CPL is crucial because it shows you what you’re paying for each lead. When you’ve factored this metric, you can compare it with others — like the efficacy of paid ads on LinkedIn versus other social sites, for example, or your conversion rate among different groups of decision-makers or target accounts. From there, you can determine which leads are most profitable, both in terms of the CPL and the average deal size.

5. Customer lifetime value (CLTV)

Customer lifetime value (CLTV or sometimes CLV) measures how much profit you can expect to make on average per customer. That includes subscription services, potential upgrades or downgrades, and so on.

To get this number, calculate the average purchase amount per customer, and multiply it by the average frequency of purchases. With this metric, you can figure out ideal pricing for your products or services — or even evaluate when it’s time to offer new, value-added services to your catalog.

Wait, what about MQLs and SQLs?

At Metadata, we fully measure ourselves on pipeline and revenue, not leads and MQLs. But we understand not everyone is there right now. And even though there’s been a lot of talk about whether MQLs are dead. We’re not here to say they’re dead. 

What’s dead is defining these things on your own as a marketing team. 

Here are some basics to get your conversations started:

Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)

Leads of all types are important — and marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are one of two types you can track. These are the leads that your marketing team generates. Once they’ve been reviewed by marketers as qualified (ready for a potential purchase), then your marketing team can pass them to the sales team to make the sale.

Sales qualified leads (SQLs)

Sales qualified leads (SQLs) are the same people as MQLs — just a little farther along through the sales pipeline. When you send MQLs to your sales team, your sales team will go to work analyzing them and sending out sales materials in order to convert them from MQLs to SQLs. An MQL becomes an SQL when the customer has moved far enough through the sales cycle that the sales team is now ready to try and convert them into a paying customer.

We understand not everyone is going to measure themselves on revenue. So as long as you’re using the same definitions for MQLs and SQLs as your sales team that’s all that matters at the end of the day. 

Up your B2B demand gen strategy with Metadata

Once you’ve built out your B2B demand gen strategy (often as a part of a larger marketing program), you’ll need a way to build better audiences, launch new campaigns faster, and scale your highest-performing campaigns.   

With Metadata, you can reduce that workload, automate your paid campaigns, optimize your way to a successful demand generation strategy — and get the goal that every business wants, which is to drive new revenue. Ready to give it a shot? Click here to book an intro.

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