When marketers set out to create demand generation strategies, a broad perspective is required. This is because demand generation requires a certain (often overlooked) degree of cooperation between the sales and marketing departments.
As a data driven process, the best demand generation tactics locate and nurture key prospects over the long term – from both sides of the cycle – engaging them through multiple platforms and touchpoints.
This post is going to look at how B2B marketers can create a comprehensive demand generation strategy. We’ll break down every phase of the demand generation funnel, with an emphasis on optimization and sales creation.
This means specific touch point tactics such as:
- Lead scoring
- Display re-targeting
- Sponsored research
- Partner webinars
Using successful SaaS companies as examples, we’ll dive into the best practices of an effective B2B demand generation strategy.
What is a Demand Generation Strategy?
Hubspot defines it nicely:
“Demand generation is the marketing system and engine that bridges the gap with your company’s sales and revenue operations. It may include multiple touch points, from blogging, to email list creation, to social media promotion — all inbound marketing tactics that are part of a company’s overall demand generation strategy.”
However, demand generation is not inbound marketing. Demand generation strategies will certainly use inbound marketing, but it is but a single piece to your company’s larger demand funnel.
On that same note, it isn’t lead generation either. While some businesses are indiscriminate about leads, demand generation is about identifying potential prospects. With nurturing processes, you’ll bring only the best qualified leads to the sales department. This is about facilitating higher conversion rates and more sales.
Demand generation is:
- A sponsored white paper
- A weekly newsletter
- A meetup event
- A company sponsored webinar.
It is not a quick fix in the form of a cold email blast or banner ads.
Essentially, your best demand generation strategy will find and target the best touchpoints to engage customers with. In this way, strong demand can be manufactured for new or existing prospects and clients.
Lead Nurturing for Better Demand Generation
When setting out to find more demand, don’t forget those who have already shown you interest. It’s a much smaller and easier investment to inspire your existing audience to look at you in a new way.
Bottom line: a poor lead nurturing strategy will waste valuable leads.
A demand generation strategy must assess and segment leads that aren’t ready to buy and keep their interest for the future.
Lead nurturing is about organizing leads into segmented lists for more precise and effective email marketing campaigns. This way, you can facilitate demand generation throughout the life of a prospect.
List segmentation assesses these important factors:
- Product line fit
- Company size
- Web behavior
- Email click integration
- Job roles
Likewise, metrics such as web page views, content downloads, and site visits will inform which content will be the strongest choice to approach leads with.
Prioritize these factors and set about to test them. This way your messaging will target segmented leads most effectively.
Take Marketo for example. As a lead nurturing solution, Marketo breaks every email sequence down by time, follow-up, type of content, and frequency. This way, leads are being nurtured in a personalized fashion to ensure a personalized response, every time.
Lead Scoring for Better Demand Generation
To settle upon what defines an MQL, marketing and sales departments should collaborate and determine demographics, activities and behaviors that make a lead qualified for your company. A lead scoring system you establish will then allow you to rank your leads based upon their scoring.
Here we have Pardot’s lead scoring overview. It takes into account metrics such as buying authority, company size, interactions with your company, and companies within your market territory. This shows us how important it is to address the different factors leading to the quality of different leads.
Incorporating lead scoring into your demand generation strategy can help you target the best leads already in your funnel. With lead scoring in place, sales teams touch upon the hottest leads for improved sales, increased productivity – and higher morale.
Lead Generation Metrics for a Demand Generation Strategy
Five lead generation metrics are worth tracking, regardless of your lead generation activities. You will always need to know if what you’re doing is effective.
1) Number of MQLs
The sales team will love you for passing along truly qualified leads. To know if your content is reaching the right audience and how effective it’s being is very important. With lead scoring in place, you can discard unqualified leads and get an accurate picture of your performance.
2) Cost Per MQL
Minimize the cost of MQL to maximize results. Tie your marketing data in with a CRM to calculate the price of attaining a qualified lead.
3) Cost per Sales Accepted Opportunity
While cost per MQL is great for indicating the health of your lead generation initiatives, look down the sales funnel to see how effective these programs truly are. Measuring total spending against net gains will provide deep insight into the long term quality of current programs.
4) First Touch Attribution
As lead generation marketers, the challenge is to determine which programs to run. Which parts of the overall strategy are producing the highest ROI? Which programs are bringing the most MQLs? How much have you been spending to generate this revenue?
5) Multi Touch Attribution
First touch attribution is not always an accurate way to assess a program. Some programs are influential after lead creation, while others appear most appealing at the first or second point of touch. Taking a wider perspective will often reveal the larger truth about lead generation efforts.
8 Techniques for Better Demand Generation
What in your demand generation strategy can you employ to create more MQLs and SQLs?
1) Provide A Free Resource
This is a very effective way to move forward with a lead generation strategy, for both MQLs and SQLs. Not only will it cement your position as a thought leader, but it will engage leads across a diverse spectrum.
Wordstream launched their Adwords Performance Grader to do just this. As a strong demand generation tool, the software also creates deep and lasting value to their target demographics.
While funding such a resource is not cheap, the position gained by being associated with this process pays hugely in terms of advertising and inbound marketing potential.
Hubspot did something similar when it launched their free infographic templates:
By giving away great materials, essentially content upgrades, the company cements a great deal of trust with their leads. While certain assets could be lucrative, giving away resources like this creates heaps of goodwill and brand ambassadorship. Plus, it has huge impacts on sales opportunities later.
2) Go the Extra Mile with Sponsored Research
Have you ever sponsored research? Think about it: your name could be attached to a smart ebook or PDF that’s getting downloaded by eager eyes all over the industry. How much more positively could you be perceived?
WIth 2,000,000 plus blog posts written each day and content upgrades galore, it’s becoming more difficult to raise your brand awareness with typical content. But sponsored research pays, even if it takes years to return the results you need.
This infographic from Bright Talk is a great example of demand generation marketing done right. After their own Demand Generation Benchmark Report, Bright Talk is able to share and be shared as a credible source worth knowing.
3) Creating Partner Webinars
Two heads are better than one, right? So why not put your head together with industry leaders? This is especially true when generating interest with lead generation strategies. Compare this to social proof, the backbone of referral marketing.
Like the powerful aspects of referral marketing, partner webinars tap into the appeal of both affiliates. Simply associating your company with an icon of industry is a tacit endorsement.
This partner webinar between Wordstream and Moz is candy to any marketer or savvy industry individual.
When you go all the way in partnering for a webinar, it increases your standing in the industry, creates valuable connections with key influencers, and elevates your brand visibility. All of which are great for demand generation strategies.
Forging a relationship with industry leaders won’t be as simple as an email. But after time and effort establishing a relationship, your webinar will be able to create lots of value for your viewers – and lots of demand for you, as a result.
4) Use Display Retargeting
Remarketing not only increases conversions but is also a powerful brand awareness tool. At Wordstream, they noticed that while attracting new traffic was going well, converting them was the problem. So they experimented with a display retargeting program and the graphic below highlights their results after implementing the campaign:
Using their AdWords Performance Grader mentioned above, they saw an increase in repeat visitors by 50%, increased conversion rates by 51%, and a time-on-site increase of 300%.
Talk about boosting brand awareness in the right way.
5) Press Play with Video Advertising
Video format web content is a great way to quickly (and with high rates of retention) share why prospects should care about your company.
Linda Crowe, VP of Digital Marketing at Brightcove shares her thoughts:
“Video positively impacts demand generation, eCommerce, brand awareness, and social media engagement, still, some companies are reluctant to pursue a video strategy because leadership may not be fully aware of the benefits of video”
Benefits of video include:
- SEO improvement
- Longer time on site: the longer the time on your site, the more likely they are to remember your brand and respond to your efforts
- Expanded reach with mobile and social
- Improved landing page conversions
6) Content Syndication
Content syndication, or CPL, is the exchange of content for a lead of sales contacts. This can be a great way to get your content in front of a new demographic of prospects.
Here are a couple points to remember when starting a content syndication program:
7) Check that marketers are aligned with your metrics
Marketer metrics (the number of raw leads provided) and your closed loop marketing metrics (MQL, SAL, SQL, opportunity impact) are not the same.
Take steps so that your goals are understood and met.
Before running into lead quality issues, be sure that the publisher knows that your continuing business will be based upon how they perform relative to your goals.
8) Align topics with prospects entering your buying process
All leads are not created equal, yet the publisher charges a flat rate. The best way to drive the highest number of late-stage quality leads (possible of becoming MQLs) is to feature late-stage content in your syndication – buyer guides, webinar registrations, case studies, etc.
The publisher may say this will return fewer leads, but that’s good. This means you’ll acquire only the leads worth engaging.
Your demand generation strategy needs to have campaigns finely tuned to acquire new leads and nurture existing leads. We must look at lead generation, lead scoring, and lead nurturing throughout the entire marketing funnel. This means prioritizing specific techniques like video, webinars, free resources and display retargeting to maximize lead engagement. With these techniques in place, you’ll be helping your company fill the funnel with activated MQLs and engaged SQLs which solidifies a profitable demand generation program.
Brandon Gains is the Growth Marketing Lead at Referral SaaSquatch. He uses a mix of analytics, design and development to work on the growth of our company. You can connect with him via email brandon at saasquat.ch, Twitter @brandongains and LinkedIn