B2B marketing is tough. And the competition is only growing. In fact, there are now over 9,000 companies in Scott Brinker’s 2022 marketing technology landscape

With so much noise in the market, what’s the best way to get in front of your audience and hit your revenue numbers?

Running legit demand generation marketing campaigns is a great place to start. 

This is an inbound marketing strategy that relies heavily on data to help you create buzz, build pipelines, create sales, and retain customers.

If you want to get started, then check out this guide. Below, you’ll learn how demand generation works, some strategies you can use, and best practices that every demand gen campaign should follow.

What is demand generation?

Demand generation is what marketing is all about. Products and services that aren’t in demand don’t sell — and that means you’ve got to generate demand to turn a profit.

When you break it down a little further, “demand generation” actually represents a variety of tactics, strategies, and programs that marketers use to foster demand. While it’s often confused with lead generation, the main difference is that lead generation focuses on getting leads at the bottom of the sales funnel.

Demand generation works at every level of the sales funnel: building awareness, lead discovery, product evaluation, intent, purchase, and retention. Thus, all lead generation is demand generation — but, not all demand generation is lead generation.

The big 3 components of demand generation

Now that we’ve got the basics down, let’s look at the individual components of demand generation. Think of the three components below as stages that will support growth throughout the sales process.

Creating demand

In the beginning, it’s almost always best to skip the hard sell. Nobody likes to feel like they’re having products pushed on them.

Instead, start creating demand with educational messaging. Identify the problem or pain points that your product solves. Often, consumers may not even be aware of the problem until you point it out — but once they see it, they can’t unsee it.

From there, educate your target audience about steps they can take to fix the problem. Be sure to point out the implications of ignoring the problem.

If you do this successfully, customers will be interested in solutions to the problem you pointed out — and this equates to potential sales for your particular solution. Look at that: You just created demand without the sales pitch.

Capturing demand

Creating demand isn’t quite enough. You should also capture demand — this means putting your product in front of businesses or consumers who know they need a solution like the one you offer. These are the customers who have already identified the problem that your solution solves, but they’re not yet settled on the solution they’d like to invest in. 

In fact, they may be considering several options similar to yours.

Your job in this stage involves finding these customers wherever they’re searching for solutions, then making sure that they consider your solution so that you can draw them into your sales funnel. 

Your marketing programs will prove crucial here, since these customers will likely be considering options from your competitors — and you’ll need to come out on top to win the sale.

Nurturing demand

Now that you have demand, you have to nurture it

Think of it like a houseplant: Once you have it, you can’t just put it on a shelf, forget about it, and expect it to flourish. You need to give it what it needs, when it needs it for the best results.

It’s the same with demand gen. After creating and identifying demand, you have to make sure that prospective customers get a steady feed of the information they need when they need it. 

The specifics may vary depending on your particular marketing strategy, but this process involves educating the consumer about your product, how it works, how it benefits them, and the advantages it has over competing products.

During this stage, it’s not only competitors that you compete against: it’s also customers who have decided that perhaps a solution isn’t important after all. Against competitors, you need to prove why your product stands above them. 

For customers who have decided not to deal with the problem, you have to prove that your solution offers greater incentives than just letting the problem persist.

Demand generation strategies that actually work

Whether you’re just getting started with demand generation or you’ve been at it a while, there are a few core strategies you can use to get in front of the right person and drive more revenue.  

Below, you’ll find four different strategies you can use to create a successful demand generation campaign.

Hyper-focused account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns

This is a demand gen strategy that can reap huge rewards.

So, what is ABM? It’s a precision approach in which your campaign focuses on a narrow segment of your target audience. It means coordinating marketing efforts across multiple channels (using multiple tactics) to target very specific industries or even often specific companies or individuals.

Data-focused paid advertising

Data-focused paid advertising should be a key part of your digital marketing strategy. It’s data-driven because you won’t simply toss paid ads up on whatever channels look great. Instead, use data to show you which channels will provide the highest return for your marketing dollars.

Which channels should you consider? Google Ads is one. These are the ads that appear within search results, Google Shopping results, in Google Maps, and elsewhere. With analytics, you can refine a Google Ads campaign to target various demographics or key customer interests.

Social media is the other major paid advertising channel, and it includes platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Marketing successfully across social media means using data to identify the right platforms to place your ads — then relying on analytics to ensure those ads reach the right target audience on each platform.

Value-added email marketing campaigns

Email marketing is another great strategy to add to your repertoire — and it should offer added value to customers. Some marketers focus on email drip campaigns designed to keep brands top of mind — but adding offers adds incentive.

The types of offers can differ based on where prospective clients are within your sales funnel. Those who are still in the discovery or evaluation stages may need additional information about your offerings. Email signups for whitepaper and case study downloads can prove invaluable here.

For customers who have moved on to the purchasing stages, discounts or other deals may be just the nudge they need to make the purchase commitment.

Optimized content marketing

An effective content marketing strategy will let you create different types of content across every component of demand generation. For starters, optimization using current SEO tactics lets you easily drive traffic to your brand’s website through searches and capture existing demand.

You can also use content to establish your brand as a voice of authority. This is a great way to build trust and create demand for your product or service. For example, you could create a weekly podcast that shares your expertise and opinions on topics across your industry. 

On top of that, adding the occasional CTA should help you boost conversion rates from browsers to buyers.

The content itself lets you use a variety of marketing tactics. But remember, the information you share needs to be valuable — educational, thought leadership, or something else that gives potential customers a reason to visit and a reason to return for more. 

What’s the difference between demand generation and lead generation?

As mentioned above, all lead generation is a subset of demand generation. But, all demand generation is not lead generation. Confused yet? Don’t worry — we’ll explain.

In order to generate leads, you must first generate demand. Demand generation starts with customers discovering your brand, becoming more aware of your offerings, and eventually, taking advantage of offerings like free downloadable resources in exchange for their contact information. Lead generation happens at the end of the process, when you secure contact information that your sales team can follow up on.

Best practices for a winning demand generation campaign

Now that you’ve got some insights into demand generation versus lead generation, plus a few demand generation tactics that work, it’s time to talk about best practices. Read below for a few things that should be part of every demand generation program.

1. Use the right tools and automate wherever possible

Demand generation efforts require lots of repetitive tasks — and wherever there is repetition, you can probably make things a lot easier with a marketing automation strategy.

For instance, chat bots are one way to automate that will take some of the pressure from your sales team. Use them so that prospective clients can easily get answers to basic questions — and leave sales and support people available to handle the more complex requests.

Campaigns are another area you can automate — and in a big way. 

Running paid campaigns manually takes way too much time. You spend all your time building campaigns in one channel, only to rebuild them in another. 

And according to our platform data, campaign effectiveness is better with automated bidding. You might pay 2x per click with automated bidding, but down-funnel users end up paying half the cost per opportunity. That’s a few dollars versus a few thousand dollars.

2. Keep marketing campaigns diverse, but branding the same

People sometimes confuse marketing campaigns with branding when they’re actually two different things. 

Branding is your organization’s voice and style. It dictates the look and feel of every piece of content that you create. When branding is inconsistent, the buyer’s journey becomes confusing. Your audience ends up seeing conflicting looks and messaging across different touchpoints. This only adds to the noise. . 

Keeping a consistent look and feel throughout all of your branding helps with authenticity — and authenticity builds trust.

Your marketing efforts and lead generation activities, however, should happen across as many channels as possible. 

Here, diversity means creating a blog for the information seekers, social posts for various platforms, and things like videos that mix it up between education and entertainment.

On each platform that you use, be aware of the different subsets of your target audience so that you can create content specifically for those audiences. But this doesn’t mean that branding needs to change. 

Different audiences might have different pain points your product can solve, or they may be interested in different sets of features that your product offers.

3. Get your sales and marketing teams on the same page

At some organizations, sales and marketing run independently of each other — but at your organization, they should be the best of friends.

Sales teams with close relationships to marketing can more effectively sell products because they have the advantage of knowledge. They understand the types of content that the marketing team publishes — and this helps them stay on brand, plus it informs them about the product and the pain points it aims to solve.

Marketing teams get the advantage of data. Marketing brings in the leads and the sales sells to them. When marketing can learn which leads have the highest success rates, they can use the data to adjust future campaigns so that they can bring in even more high-quality leads.

4) Create in-depth buyer personas to fully understand your market

Creating demand among the right target audiences means first understanding those audiences — and this means you need detailed buyer personas.

To create buyer personas, start by looking at the contacts you already have. This will reveal important metrics like the industries they work in, the positions they hold within their own organizations, etc. From there, you can start creating a persona for buyers that come from small- to medium-sized businesses, and another for buyers from large enterprises.

Information from your sales team can help you expand your personas even more. What are the big pain points that customers from each subset want to solve? What about their demographics? Answering these questions can help you adjust marketing efforts so that they’re more engaging to your target audience.

5) Track and monitor data to optimize your campaigns

Demand generation marketing is an incredibly data-driven process. You should always look at the analytics for each tactic. Some of the things you should track include click-through rate, cost per click, cost per lead, cost per opportunity, traffic, and conversion rates.

Depending on how your organization is set up, you can also track marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). MQLs are potential customers that your marketing team has evaluated through lead scoring as one to be passed along to your sales team, where they become an SQL.

6) Be original and unique

These days, just about everyone does some form of content marketing — and because of this, it’s easy for your content to look, feel, and sound exactly like everyone else. This is one reason why it’s crucial to make sure your marketing materials are original and unique: It helps you to be more memorable in the eyes of potential customers.

Another reason to create original, unique content is because it sets your brand apart from others. It helps make your brand feel more human. Yes, even in your B2B demand generation. This approach will make you stand out more than a brand that feels robotic, or one that looks like so many others.

Automate demand generation with Metadata

Demand generation is a solid inbound marketing strategy that can help your organization drive some unreal growth. But it also means you’ll have a lot of mundane tasks to manage along the way. Metadata eliminates technical, mundane, and repetitive tasks through AI and automation. Take a tour to get started today

Metadata.io acquires Reactful to continue building Marketing OS for B2B.
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