What is Demand Generation?


What is Demand Generation?

Marketing your business can feel like an uphill battle, but it all comes down to making your target audience care about what you’re selling.

What’s the best way to do that? Shifting their perspective so they understand not just what you do, but what problem you solve. Help them recognize they need what you offer to create a demand for your products or services.

This process is called demand generation.

If you do it well, demand generation can create awareness with your desired audiences, deliver more qualified leads to your sales team, and help link your marketing efforts to revenue.

Overview of Demand Generation

Demand generation is creating interest in your products or services to build a healthy pipeline of qualified leads for your sales team.

It’s a broad term covering all your marketing and sales initiatives at every stage of the sales funnel. When you can provide valuable information to the right audience at the right time, you can develop awareness and demand for what you sell.

The best demand generation strategies consider every step in the buyer’s journey, from the first time someone interacts with your company, to the moment they become a customer. Demand generation initiatives should align your marketing and sales teams to help grow your business.

Why is Demand Generation Important?

Demand generation is vital as it helps position you differently with potential customers. Rather than focusing on selling your solution, demand generation creates awareness of a need.

If you help audiences understand they have a need and how that need affects their businesses, they are more likely to be receptive to sales messaging that will come later.

If you want to grow your business, you’ll need to develop a robust pipeline of new customers. Demand generation places the focus on being attentive to their needs and creating awareness and interest before selling. If you can optimize every point of contact you have with your target audiences, you can increase the quality of the leads you’re bringing in through the funnel.

Demand generation also helps create interest and awareness so that you become a trusted source of information. It helps you create more thoughtful and cohesive marketing outreach to improve people’s experience when interacting with your company.

Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation

Demand generation and lead generation aren’t quite the same, so let’s look at each one to get an idea of where they overlap and where they differ.

They’re similar in that they share the ultimate goal of growing your business and increasing sales, and they both work to attract new customers to your business. However, the approach and immediate goals are quite different.

Lead Generation

Lead generation, also known as lead gen, focuses on gaining a person’s information in exchange for content. The goal is to gain that contact information to facilitate contact and engagement for sales and marketing purposes.

Lead generation assumes your audience already knows they have a problem and are seeking a solution via products or services on the market. They’re in a place where they are ready to assess your business to see if you might be able to help them solve an existing problem.

Lead generation focuses on getting contact information from prospective customers, so it likely involves gated content or other ways to make this transaction happen.

Demand Generation

Demand generation, occasionally referred to as demand gen, is more about awareness and interest and how you can position your company as an important source of information.

Letting you etting in front of your target audiences to create awareness for a need and generate interest in your business. The hopeful result is that as your target audience grows more interested in your company, the more receptive they’ll be once you interact with them.

Get people excited about what you do, and they’re more likely to look to you once they realize they have a need. Creating a demand for your product or service means educating people on the challenges they’re facing and helping them understand why it’s worthwhile to invest resources in a solution.

Demand generation casts a broader net with ungated content used to raise awareness of your brand and solutions. The goal is increased visibility and interest in what you do.

B2B Demand Generation Strategies

What are signs that demand generation might help your company move forward in growth plans? You may recognize a need for more and better leads or higher customer retention. You may realize better systems in your sales and marketing process could create a better experience for your customers.

Once you have created your B2B strategies recognize how valuable demand generation can be. How can you implement it? Here are 10 strategies you can use to make it work for you.

1. Target Your Ideal Customers With Buyer Personas

Creating buyer personas is an important start when targeting audiences with your marketing. These fictional profiles of your ideal customers can help you focus on who you need to reach and what they need to hear from you. A complete buyer persona should have details such as a fictitious name, job role, age, gender, and typical objections and concerns.

These can help you target your ads more effectively and ensure the content you create addresses what your audience wants to read.

Without this focus, it’s easy to get distracted by the message you want to put out, which may or may not resonate. Buyer personas also help your marketing teams work cohesively by creating clear targets for your ads and content.

For each profile, consider who this person is, what influences their purchasing decisions, what challenges they face, and what questions they tend to have before they reach a decision. Being able to reach prospects with ads and content that feel personalized to their experiences and challenges can go a long way towards winning over new customers.

2. Produce Valuable Content People Want to Read

People are busy, and there’s a lot of content out there competing for attention. As much as we’d like to believe people are interested in our content, few people wake up hoping to find a new article or whitepaper to read. However, the right content can significantly shift purchasing decisions.

How can you create pieces that resonate with your prospects and makes them want more? Invest in content of the highest quality. Inbound marketing can be an important part of demand generation, so don’t falter when putting resources into content marketing.

Is content creation an overnight strategy? Not at all. It’s a long-term investment that requires a lot of effort.

If you’re already creating content and don’t feel like you’re gaining much traction, consider what you’re publishing and how it differs from other content in your industry. If it’s similar to what others are publishing, it may not be enough to help you stand out. Consider the following ideas:

  • Look for new ways to tackle the same topics.
  • Offer a new angle on an old subject.
  • Curate insights from other experts.

3. Offer Valuable Content for Free

Should you save your best content for your lead generation efforts? Ask for contact information and other insights in exchange for it? Not at the demand generation stage. Remember that when we talk about demand generation, we’re talking about awareness and visibility. This means creating content for prospects at all stages of the buyer’s journey and consistently showing up as a trusted resource at each stage.

Don’t worry that you’re giving away your best content for free. Demonstrating your insight and authority on relevant topics is a valuable way to show customers that you understand their needs. Create resources they can’t resist reading and sharing, and you could be the first person they think of when they’re ready to move forward with a purchase.

4. Use Platform Features to Extend Reach

Look for ways to extend your reach through established platform features you may already be using.

For example, Facebook advertising is a popular channel for companies to build visibility with relevant audiences. With in-depth targeting features allowing you to reach specific audiences and measure results via analytics, this can be an essential element in your marketing.

Facebook has a built-in feature allowing you to create lookalike audiences, which are custom audiences similar to people who are already interested in what you sell. You just need to create these audiences in the app, and you can benefit from the expanded reach they’ll give you.

Plus, these aren’t random users. They closely match people you’ve already connected with. You can also try larger audiences or smaller custom audiences based on interests and create your lookalikes from there.

Increasing visibility often means looking for ways to expand or duplicate your efforts to reach more people. Lookalike audiences are a great way to try this in your advertising.

However, is Facebook for every business? Likely not. It’s often best-suited for B2C brands where customers can purchase right from the app or make quick decisions on something they can easily purchase from your site.

5. Use Display Ads to Raise Brand Awareness

Using display ads effectively can be another way to get your brand in front of new audiences. Further, managed placements allow advertisers to specify where they want their ads to appear, allowing them to target relevant audiences.

If you can control where your ads appear, you can focus your efforts on individuals who are likely to be interested in what you offer.

Display advertising is less about conversions and more about getting your name and brand out in front of prospects. They can allow you to access prospects and raise awareness of your brand and message. Managed placements can also help you focus your investment with effective targeting and outreach.

6. Increase Conversion Rates With Display Remarketing

Remarketing can be a powerful way to build awareness, help prospects remember you after your initial interactions, and boost conversion rates.

There are a lot of distractions that can pull a prospect away after they visit your website. If you notice that many users seem to visit once and not return, it would be valuable to understand why and explore ways to regain their attention.

This is where remarketing comes in, allowing you to increase repeat visitors and even extend the amount of time visitors spend on your website.

Effective marketing often means that a prospect needs to see your brand and encounter your messaging multiple times before you become memorable. Remarketing helps you build on new traffic you’ve managed to attract and bring these individuals back to your website to learn more.

7. Optimize Your Campaigns With Contact Segmentation

Demand generation is all about delivering the right message. If your message doesn’t fit the audience you’ve targeted, they are unlikely to convert.

With this in mind, consider how it might affect your target audiences to see content that doesn’t suit where they are in their path to becoming your customer.

Someone who has never heard of your company isn’t quite ready to see in-depth content that answers questions customers typically have closer to purchase. Instead, they need introductory content to help them recognize a challenge in their organization and a first look at how you solve those types of problems.

For a prospect further along in the buying process will have identified their need, learned what you do, and explored what you offer. They’ll want more detail and have more specific questions that pertain to their unique situation.

You can use contact segmentation to manage this in your customer relationship management (CRM) system, which means organizing your customer contacts into groups based on what stage they’re in. Once your contacts are defined, you can target campaigns to each group to deliver content they are likely to find valuable.

When your outreach resonates with the recipient, they’ll be more likely to welcome further contact rather than remove themselves from your mailing lists or otherwise cut contact. Another benefit of contact segmentation is that you’ll be able to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns better and adjust as needed to best suit your audience.

8. Power Up Your Email Marketing

Once you have someone’s email address, how quickly do you reach out with marketing emails? Are you sending emails to your entire mailing list? If so, you risk putting off whole groups of prospects by making them feel overwhelmed, or worse, like your company doesn’t understand them.

Instead, email marketing should carry out the idea that you need to deliver the correct information to the right people with impeccable timing. The shotgun approach of spamming people with multiple emails is likely to earn you a long list of “unsubscribe” responses.

Consider your email marketing to be a powerful way to communicate with customers at scale. However, to do so effectively, you need to make them feel unique and understood.

This means sending emails that directly address different groups, speaking to their concerns, and answering their questions. These groups may be broken out by stage in the buying process and even by industry.

Effective email campaigns require testing, so get ready to not only target groups of similar prospects but also to test your email marketing. Try A/B testing on your subject lines, copy, visual elements, and CTAs. Test different variations and optimize your campaigns using the best performing elements.

9. Offer a Free Tool or App

When you first raise awareness of your brand, you’ll need to win over people who can be brand ambassadors. One of the best ways you can win over new prospects is to offer a free tool, an app, or another resource your target audience can’t ignore.

Does giving away valuable resources go against your sales goals? Not when it comes to demand generation. Remember that in this process, you want to boost visibility and get your brand noticed. Expanding your reach may mean giving away something valuable in exchange for the impact it will have in your initial campaigns.

This is especially important for new brands trying to win attention in crowded markets. Allowing prospects to experience your brand and connect with your company in a personal way can pave a smooth road down the line to larger purchases.

10. Explore Lead Scoring to Evaluate Success

Testing different strategies for demand generation can bring you some successes and some losses. In many cases, you’ll track leads coming into your company and consider each a win, but what if they never convert to a customer?

Increasing the number of leads coming into your company can’t be your only focus if they don’t go on to become happy customers. As you evaluate the quality of the leads you generate, you’ll begin to realize that some leads make it further through the customer journey, while others move through stages to become a customer.

What’s the difference? When you begin to analyze the different actions your leads take when engaging your company, you’ll start to notice patterns of behavior that are more likely to lead to conversion.

If you can find a way to track the interactions prospects have had with your company and compare them to outcomes, you can discover behaviors that increase the chance that a prospect will convert. Once you do this, you can repeat those interactions to win customers.

Lead scoring, or evaluating incoming leads, is a way of measuring the quality of your leads to ensure you can invest in initiatives that attract the best quality leads. Remember that demand generation is raising awareness and generating excitement for your company or brand. It’s not about attracting big audiences who don’t have a genuine interest in your business.

Lead scoring allows you to evaluate your customers’ behavior over time to determine their level of interest in your business. It can take into account various actions showing intent, such as which pages of your website they’ve viewed and if they’ve engaged in behavior indicating they want to see more of what you can do. They might show this by requesting more information or signing up for demonstrations of your products.

If you’re struggling to gain leads, don’t worry about the quality at first. Just keep implementing strategies to increase your reach and bring more people to your business. Once you have increased your leads to the point that you need to start identifying the most valuable ones to nurture, then you’re likely in a position to consider lead scoring.

Demand Generation Case Studies

Need more proof of how demand generation can increase interest in your brand and benefit your company? Check out the following two examples of companies who have benefited from demand generation:

  • Premise, a data and analysis company, engaged demand generation, inbound marketing, and lead management. They used CRM implementation, lead scoring, and a content audit to improve their results across all marketing initiatives. Results included a streamlined CRM with all data organized, clear strategies identified and implemented, refined content strategy, and improved campaigns via social media, email, blog posts, and other programs. 
  • Okta, a company managing workforce and customer identity and authentication, worked to empower its sales and marketing teams. Using marketing automation, chatbots, and AI, Okta enhanced their customer experience at every point of contact. Since implementing Drift, Okta has benefited from a 30 percent increase in their pipeline and doubled their conversion rate from marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads.

Tools to Grow Demand Generation

There are a few tools that can be beneficial as you grow your demand generation efforts. Using these tools can help ensure you’re working effectively to reach your goals.

What kinds of tools can help? Look for those that feature marketing, chatbots, email bots, content, or marketing system integration.

1. Marketing Automation

Let’s look at what each of these types of tools can do for you and why they are important in demand generation.

When people get busy, repetitive tasks can fall by the wayside, A host of marketing automation tools can increase efficiency and ensure that time-consuming or repetitive tasks are completed without delay.

2. Bots

Companies like Drift offer tools like chatbots and email bots that act as support systems for your sales teams. Chatbots can send reminders to your salespeople when it’s time to follow up with a client or take the next step in outreach.

Your sales team can even receive emails before sales meetings that give them a quick reminder of the client’s company information, where the client is in the funnel, and what interactions have already taken place to ensure a seamless return to the conversation.

What is Demand Generation - Drift Chatbot diagram

Email bots can help marketing teams send effective email outreach at scale, flag important customer issues as they arise, and direct replies to the correct sales contact.

Content Storage

Having the right content for a potential customer means you’ll need salespeople to quickly find resources. A company like BuyerDeck offers a content repository to help your sales team keep all the resources they need organized and accessible.

What is Demand Generation - BuyerDeck Content Repository example

Customer Relationship Management

A critical element in B2B marketing is keeping your customer contact information updated and organized so anyone on your sales team can easily access it. Look for CRM software options like Nutshell, Zoho, or Hubspot to ensure you’re keeping track of your customers and where they are in your funnel.

What is Demand Generation - Nutshell CRM software example

System Integration

Don’t forget that to make this all work optimally, you’ll want to integrate your whole marketing system to ensure activities happen seamlessly, and you aren’t repeating work or having to step in to update from one system to another manually. Connecting each component can ensure you can always access a high-level view of customer history and information.

Resources to Learn More About Demand Generation

Curious about demand generation and how to implement the strategies we’ve discussed here? You can learn how to position yourself as an authority and reach your customers effectively.

You’ll want to research methods, implement what’s a good fit for your business, and test to measure results. Repeat and scale what works until you’ve expanded your outreach.

There’s a wealth of information if you want to understand what demand generation is and how it might benefit your business. Check out the following resources to learn more:

  • What is Demand Generation? A Complete Beginner’s Guide from the Wishpond blog
  • Everything You Need to Know About Demand Generation: Strategies, Tactics, and Examples from the CoSchedule blog
  • Demand Predictions for 2021 from Demand Gen Live 2021
  • Demand Gen Radio hosted by David Lewis, CEO of DemandGen
  • State of Demand Gen podcast by Refine Labs

Conclusion

As businesses shift online, more and more opportunities arise to connect with prospects in new ways. One of those new strategies is demand generation.

Out hope is that after you’re read this post, you have a much clearer idea of what demand generation is and some strategies you can use to improve it.

As companies use these methods, they quickly learn to automate their efforts to expand their reach and make their marketing investments pay off.

Demand generation depends on your company being able to show up when it matters with content that impacts your potential customers. As you do this, customers begin to connect their challenges to the solutions you offer, and you’ll be able to effectively move them along their buying journey.

Marketing to customers in a way that places their needs at the center of every initiative can be a new angle for companies used to more direct selling techniques. Demand generation focuses on your ability to offer value at every stage and interaction so a customer is already relying on you for information and resources by the time they are ready to buy.

If you’d like help separating lead gen from demand gen or implementing any of the strategies here, reach out for support. We can help you create powerful demand generation strategies and identify which strategies will work best for you.

What demand generation strategies are you currently using for your business? Which of these will you try next?