If the standard gated content/lead generation/sales/growth marketing strategy isn't working anymore, you're not alone.
A number of companies shifted to B2B demand generation versus lead gen approaches in the last few years.
However. (You knew there would be a, however, didn't you?)
A lot of them are still getting it wrong.
That's because most marketers assume that B2B SaaS demand generation best practices only apply to top of funnel (TOFU).
Here's a look at what the demand generation funnel actually looks like (and the strategies we use here at Leadfeeder.)
Note: Leadfeeder tracks site visitors so you can see if your B2B SaaS demand generation strategies work. Try us free for 14 days.
What is a B2B demand generation funnel?
A B2B demand generation funnel is a visual representation of how demand generation tactics fit into the sales and marketing funnel. Since demand generation aims to create demand for a product or service rather than pushing for conversion out of the gate, it looks slightly different.
For example, the standard lead generation funnel looks like this:
The demand generation funnel looks similar, but there are some differences:
The main difference between a marketing or sales funnel and a demand generation funnel is the focus on educating buyers at scale so they'll come to you when they're ready, instead of capturing leads and pushing them straight to your sales team.
There are two main ways to think about the demand generation funnel:
An add-on to the top of the traditional marketing funnel.
A complete shift in how we grow and convert pipeline.
So, which is correct?
Here's the thing—for years marketing has focused on gathering as many leads as possible, with a limited focus on how qualified those leads might be.
As a result, sales often wasted time trying to convert leads that weren't ready or didn't fit the target audience.
B2B demand generation tactics shift the role of marketing for the entire funnel. Marketing focuses on educating buyers at scale, so they know what they need. That streamlines the sales process, resulting in higher conversion rates and more revenue.
TL;DR: The B2B demand generation funnel is a complete shift from the traditional funnel to a more customer-centric approach.
B2B demand generation funnel breakdown and best practices
Most marketers and sales folks are familiar with the standard lead generation funnel. So what's the difference between demand generation and lead generation?
Lead generation focuses on gathering contact information as quickly as possible, then qualifying those leads later. On the other hand, demand generation is about highlighting a fundamental challenge or problem with the status quo, presenting a solution, and helping them realize they need a product or service to help.
Let's look at a breakdown of the funnel and some demand generation best practices.
Step 1: Build awareness
This is the top of the funnel, aka the awareness stage. Customers face a problem, but they don't know what the solution is and haven't heard of your brand.
This stage focuses on building awareness demand primarily through education, rather than pitching your solution. Common demand generation best practices include creating content like webinars, industry news, checklists, email courses, and in-depth (but beginner-level) guides.
One way we’ve driven demand and traffic at Leadfeeder is through our B2B Rebellion YouTube videos. It was a weekly video series where we interview industry leaders and share in-depth strategies. Leadfeeder might be mentioned occasionally, but the goal is to educate, not sell.
At this stage in the B2B demand generation funnel, focus on establishing your brand as an industry leader that delivers value by solving their biggest problems.
Step 2: Create demand
Now that people know your brand exists—and that you know your stuff—it's time to turn on the charm. Your prospects have a problem, but you want to be the one who solves it. 💪
At this point, prospects want to get to know your business a little more. Who you are, what your values are, and how you can solve their actual issues. Basically, the goal at this stage is to make their lives (or job!) as easy as possible.
So it's time to lay on the sales copy, right? Nope.
Keep it informative and useful with more in-depth guides, social media posts, industry news, and similar content.
This is when your educational content can get a bit more in-depth. Longer white papers, mid-level guides, email courses, and even webinar series with advanced tactics.
For prospects at this stage of the demand generation funnel, we created in-depth guidelines about website visitor tracking, lead gen, and account based marketing — all common strategies used by our target audience.
Step 3: Identify intent
Ready to turn those leads into marketing qualified leads? This demand generation best practice is about offering customized advice based on their specific needs, industry, or company.
So how do you explain your solution is the best fit without bragging about how great you are? First, see if you are a good fit. Tools and calculators are an ideal asset at this stage.
For example, we know a lot of our prospects have to sell upper management on our solution. To do that, they need cold hard numbers. We created this profit calculator that shows the direct revenue generated by our solution.
Other assets we use to turn leads into MQLs include checklists, templates, and similarly useful content.
Here's the catch—don't gate this content. It's tempting, I know. But users are tired of gated content.
Instead, look for other ways to track downloads. For example, use Leadfeeder custom feeds to track Behavior > File downloads. You'll see which companies download your content without gating — a miracle.
Other strategies that work well at this stage of the demand generation funnel include tracking buyer intent signals and account-based marketing.
Step 4: Capture demand
Now it's time to hand your beloved MQLs over to sales. Keep in mind, though demand generation doesn't just focus on the top of the funnel—these strategies follow through to conversion.
Common strategies at this stage are demo sign-ups and free trials—with tools like Leadfeeder, you can sync companies that are showing intent (by visiting pricing pages, etc.) directly to your sales team (via Slack, CRM, etc.)
Depending on your overall strategy, you might be looking at LinkedIn retargeting or social selling. I won't dig too deep into the strategies in this section because they can vary drastically for different industries and target markets.
Another thing to note: if you're experiencing dark funnel issues, we just wrote a blog on that very subject.
Step 5: Win Customers
This is where all your hard work pays off: your leads convert to paying customers. Demand generation is still essential at this stage. Here, the goal is to keep leads interested and solidify why you are the best solution to their challenge.
Be consistent with your value proposition and center the ROI you deliver. Why are you the best solution? How do you stand out from your competitors? How can you continue to deliver value even after they sign on the dotted line?
This stage is also the start of retaining customers to reduce churn. Make sure your onboarding is streamlined and ask for feedback about their experience. These steps help users feel valued and understood.
The demand generation funnel isn't a plug-and-play strategy. Depending on your industry and audience, you may need to adjust steps in this breakdown. Use demand generation metrics like close rates per channel and MQL to SQL to conversion to track what strategies drive revenue, not just more leads.
If you need help tracking those metrics, Leadfeeder can help.
We help you uncover hidden site visitors even if they don't fill out a lead gen form. Even better, we track what actions companies take on your site so you know what content, campaigns, and strategies drive real results.
Let us know how our B2B demand generation best practices and tactics work for you — happy generating.
Note: Need more data to power your demand generation tactics? Leadfeeder tracks onsite behavior and uncovers hidden leads. Try us free for 14 days.
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