Demand Marketing impact in B2B
Demand generation is a B2B marketing discipline designed to create interest in products and services that results in greater sales pipeline opportunities and revenue.
Demand generation is a B2B marketing discipline designed to create interest in products and services that results in greater sales pipeline opportunities and revenue. A comprehensive, effective demand generation strategy will also result in happier customers and better sales-marketing alignment. Demand generation creates a want for a brand’s products or services – demand generation is focused on the progression of this “want.” A lead doesn’t signify demand; it simply shows initial interest. Sales pipeline opportunities, on the other hand, signify demand. Thus, demand generation, as a discipline, includes generating initial leads and then converting them all the way down the funnel into opportunities, and even creating demand for new products/services among existing customers.
The difference between B2B Demand Generation and Lead Generation
What’s the difference between demand generation and lead generation? Put simply, demand generation is the process of getting people interested in what you have to sell (creating demand); lead generation is the task of turning that interest into names and contact details (leads) that you or your sales teams can follow up with. Demand generation takes prospects all the way from establishing their awareness that they have a problem you can solve, through increasing trust and confidence in your brand, to definite interest in what your solutions can do for them. It might include raising awareness of your product features and why they matter, sharing thought leadership content that demonstrates your sector expertise, distributing free resources and tools that show how useful you and your services can be, or sharing influencer posts from your leadership that showcase your brand values. Lead generation translates the interest that all of this activity creates into something tangible and actionable.
The most obvious difference between a demand generation campaign and a lead generation campaign is therefore whether the campaign asks for contact information or not. If you gate your content behind a form asking for contact details, and then pay to distribute it to a target audience, then you are running a lead generation campaign. Your main objective for that piece of activity isn’t to get as many people as possible engaging with your content – it’s to capture as many leads as possible by giving people a reason to share contact details and making it easy for them to do so.
On the other hand, if you make content freely accessible, and then pay to distribute it to as many relevant people as you can, then you are in the business of generating demand. You’re paying to have as many people as possible engage with what you have to say, learn more about your business and your point of view, appreciate your expertise, and start to think about why they might want to buy from you. You want as little friction as possible getting in the way of that happening.
The difference between B2B Demand Generation and B2C Demand Generation
A key differentiator is audience. A B2B demand generation strategy is going to look slightly different than a B2C demand generation strategy because, traditionally, businesses take longer to sell to. A B2C company usually has to get buy-in from one, maybe two people maximum. A B2B company, though, has to earn the approval of entire teams, departments, sometimes whole businesses. Generally B2B purchases are also more costly.
Together that adds up to a longer buying cycle, which is why B2B demand generation strategies usually focus on guiding the prospect to a sales representative instead of going for the sale straight away. Here’s a useful infographic to keep in mind when you’re determining your B2B demand generation strategy:
What types of content work best for demand and lead generation?
Your demand generation and lead generation content shouldn’t be differentiated just by whether there’s a lead capture form in front of it. Your content needs to reflect the different objectives that you’re seeking to achieve. Lead generation content must deliver value to prospects and justify their decision to share their contact details with you. If it fails to deliver this, then you may succeed in capturing someone’s details, but the chances are you won’t be preparing the ground effectively for sales. Leaving somebody feeling short-changed is never a good starting point.
Lead generation content is even more effective if the value it delivers reflects the stage of the purchase journey that someone is reaching when they’re ready to become a lead. This is a buyer who knows they are a buyer – and is interested in your business and your products on this basis. Aim for purposeful, in-depth content where possible – advice on scoping out their needs for your category, for example, or developing a relevant strategy for using the solutions they might buy from you. Go beyond the topline and be definitive and detailed in what you provide. Demand generation doesn’t prioritise capturing people’s contact details; lead generation does.
The objectives of demand generation content are different – and the nature of the content often needs to be too. Focus on thought-leadership that reflects the current priorities of your audience. Use compelling visuals and original ideas to capture attention. Focus your headlines around a single, clear idea, and leverage formats (such as video) that will help to deliver stand-out. Don’t be afraid of leveraging strong opinions and humour as well.
It’s worth bearing in mind that certain types of content asset can play a demand generation role and generate leads as well. If you produce in-depth research or an eBook packed with value for your audiences, you’ve got a great asset for educating potential buyers and establishing authority – and you’ve also got something prospects will be willing to share their contact information for. However, even when you have an asset capable of multi-tasking in this way, it’s still worth tailoring how you format and present the content to suit the different purposes of demand and lead generation. Break out interesting ideas from your eBook in the form of infographics and blog posts that can be freely shared rather than hidden behind a lead capture form. Turn interesting stats into visual nanographics that will grab instant attention in the LinkedIn feed. And add in calls to action to download the full, lead-generating asset.
Optimisation for demand gen and lead gen campaigns
The clearer the visibility you have into the quality of your leads and the route they take to converting, the more scope you have to optimise your lead generation efforts, apply learnings, and keep improving ROI. LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms give you a more granular view of the CPL that your campaigns are delivering. Conversion Tracking, which links exposure to your LinkedIn advertising to predetermined actions on your website, shows you the impact of all of your demand generation and lead generation activity.
Using data such as this, you can identify the demand and lead generation tactics that are proving most effective, test different approaches, and optimise around those that work best. Lead generation marketers have more tools than ever available, and a testing-led approach is the best way to leverage full value from them.
The success of demand generation
Demand generation, as a mindset and practice, is distinguished from other forms of marketing because it’s want-based, not interest-based. When marketers are focused on creating demand instead of leads, they engage in full-funnel marketing activities and work to align processes and technologies with the sales and customer success teams.
The success of demand generation is also measured differently than traditional volume-based B2B marketing metrics. Demand marketing is likely to use full-funnel success metrics such as marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales qualified leads (SQLs) or marketing attributed revenue won.
There is no hard-and-fast, universal definition of demand generation. B2B marketing has evolved drastically over the past decade to accommodate quickly-changing consumer behaviors. Terminologies are still becoming solidified. The easiest way to define demand generation is to take it quite literally: the process of creating demand.
It is challenging to define demand generation as a specific marketing mix, range of tactics or use of channels. Commonly, demand generation marketers execute omnichannel campaigns which are designed for full-funnel sales engagement. These tactics can vary significantly and may incorporate the use of strategies such as account-based marketing, inbound marketing and a wide variety of digital, paid and organic mediums.
However, there are very few modern B2B marketing activities which don’t fall under the umbrella of demand generation, by this definition. Branding activities can create demand since they contribute to brand awareness, brand affinity and other concepts which generate a “want” for products or services.
For many B2B organizations, formal adoption of demand marketing may not be an entirely disruptive experience.
Measuring the success of B2B demand generation marketing
Companies are now measuring the success of 33% of B2B marketing organisations in terms of revenue contributions, according to the DemandGen Report’s 2018 Benchmark Survey. Another 30% are measured by MQLs and SQLs.
While this particular definition of demand marketing may be new to you, there’s a good chance you’re already doing some demand generation activities. Perhaps your organization is measuring quality-based success metrics, performing sales and marketing alignment activities or running omnichannel, account-based campaigns.
Best practices to implement demand generation strategies
Centralise Lead Sources & Automate Top-Funnel Processes
Mid-funnel processes have become efficient in the past decade due to widespread adoption of marketing automation platforms. Giselle Abramovich reported that fifty-five percent of B2B brands are using automation technologies to nurture leads, perform progressive profiling on leads and present personalized content. Abramovich also noted that 91% of the most successful B2B marketers rate MAP as “very important” to the overall success of their initiatives.
While marketing automation has definitely created efficiency in the middle of the sales funnel, top-of-the-funnel activities remain manual, disjointed and somewhat ineffective for many B2B marketing organizations.
Adopting technologies for top-of-the-funnel automation can enable marketers to centralise their lead sources and gain operational efficiency through the automation of processes such as vendor management, lead data validation, standardisation and enhancement, and closed-loop reporting.
Adopt More Sophisticated Account-Based Marketing Tactics
Account-based marketing (ABM) can be an important strategic addition for B2B demand marketers in 2018. Many demand marketing organizations are still using rudimentary practices while trying to adopt ABM, such as buying cold contact lists and blasting them with emails.
Focus on Data Quality & Automate Data Governance Efforts
It’s hard to scale demand generation efforts when your department is drowning in low-quality data. B2B Marketers are familiar with many demand generation data-quality issues, including wasted budget on low-quality leads, difficulty triaging leads for nurturing and low sales conversion rates. Marketers also may find themselves spending a great deal of time manually verifying or formatting data to fit into their marketing automation or customer relationship management (CRM) systems. Using the right MarTech tools for demand generation can ensure lead data is high-quality, standardize lead data to match MAP and CRM fields for automated lead upload, and enhance leads with additional data points.
Most demand marketers are familiar with the value of the communication with sales & customer service. When B2B marketing and sales teams communicate frequently and share success metrics, organisations can benefit from higher lead quality and superior customer experiences. Creating alignment between sales, marketing and customer service can further lead to an improved customer experience (CX). Not only can marketing benefit from educating clients, but this alignment can also support more effective execution. Marketing can help the sales and customer success teams understand how to use “marketing content” to assist in moving prospects through the buyer’s journey, as well as support customer cross-selling and upselling activities.
Co-Create Content and Events with other Brands
Partner marketing is the practice of collaborative marketing efforts between brands with complimentary, generally non-competing products. By sharing resources, expertise and audiences, brands who collaborate to create premium content or host in-person events can experience broader exposure, higher engagement with their audiences. Original research, webinars and research-driven white papers are just three opportunities for co-creation.
Success factors required to shift to demand generation successfully
Adopting demand generation will not represent a fundamental overhaul for most B2B marketing teams, like going from fully outbound to fully inbound might have 6 or 7 years ago. However, there are a couple of
- Establish Company-Wide Understanding
Demand generation has the potential to impact the entire organization, which necessitates a shared understanding between marketing, sales, customer success and leadership.
- Win Buy-In
With any significant shift, B2B marketing leaders face the challenge of winning executive buy-in. While this can represent an issue, it’s unlikely to be a particularly hard sell. Demand generation technologies and processes provide organizations with full-funnel oversight and the ability to better attribute activities and expenditures, a major appeal to leadership.
Demand Marketing offers Transparency and Control. B2B marketers are facing steep challenges in 2019, including daunting organisational success metrics, tight budgets and barriers to attracting the right audiences. Demand generation offers B2B marketers the baseline needed to scale programs to the challenges of today’s expectations.
With technologies that offer better insight into what’s working and enable stronger organisational alignment, marketers can work to target the right audiences and minimise wasted effort and resources.