When someone says that the average cost per lead in the IT industry is $208, you may not know if this is good or bad.
But you will definitely know it’s a waste of money when none of these leads convert into sales. And for the record, it is bad. That’s one of the highest costs among industries.
“Wait! What if I find a way to generate more leads with the same budget? This will cut the overall expenses, right?”
That’s wishful thinking. Because if you increase the number of leads ten times, you’ll need more salespeople to process them, which means more expenses. And if these leads aren’t qualified and don’t lead to sales, they won’t do any better: you’ll have the same ROI, if not lower.
But I do have good news for you: you can cut expenses and drive revenue if you use demand generation activities instead of lead generation. Don’t know what those are? Let me give you a tour.
What is demand generation?
Demand generation is a marketing approach that creates customer demand before bringing in leads and converting them into sales. Unlike lead generation, demand generation focuses on quality, not quantity (because, you know, high-quality leads are more likely to become a closed deal).
Here’s an example.
Suppose you’re googling exercises or tricks to step up your basketball game. You stumble upon an article that, among other things, mentions the importance of the right sneakers. Now you’re thinking, “Are my sneakers good? What makes good basketball sneakers anyway?”
So you click on the link in the article, which leads you to another article — the one with a comparison table and guidelines for picking the shoes that are right for you.
And that’s how you discover the sneakers that could make you the new LeBron — or at least look sorta, kinda, a little like him.
Just ten minutes ago, you had no idea a) how important the right shoes are, b) that you need these specific sneakers, c) that you need them RIGHT NOW. And that makes you a perfect lead for the sales department.
So what happened? The combination of guest posting and carefully crafted, audience-centered content generated demand by giving you a simple solution to a problem you haven’t considered in the first place.
But don’t think demand generation is just about building business-to-client relations. This approach is a catch for B2B marketing, too.
There are many demand generation activities and tactics you can use to form long-lasting B2B relations. But you have to know how to use them correctly.
And by "correctly," I mean building an effective strategy first instead of randomly trying out different demand gen activities.
10 demand generation activities and tactics for your strategy
You can find dozens of demand generation activities on the web, and some of them will be relevant for one company, not the other.
I recommend going with the same approach as in creative or content marketing: use whatever comes to mind if your audience likes it.
Here's my top-ten list of activities that work great for generating high-quality leads. They may sound trivial, but so does drinking water: we all know it's important and not at all complicated, but did you really drink eight cups today? Didn't think so.
Find out who your ideal customer is
Start by imagining your ideal client or buyer persona, as they call it in marketing.
Remember when you were a teen, and you used to daydream about the perfect date? Their hair and eye color, the music they listen to, if they have a car… Well, it’s sort of like that, only this time, you should rely on data, not fantasy.
For example, you need to determine the optimal size of companies your product is useful for, their business area, average check, and goals. You also need to know what they want and need to predict their future steps.
If you can narrow the buyer persona down to an actual person, that’s even better. Some companies have names and backstories for their buyer personas, like in that Sting song: “I’m a company director, two kids and a wife.” It’s nice to get creative, sure, but still, remember that you have to base most of your personas on data.
Yes, you may have several ideal buyer personas if your product is multifunctional or covers a vast audience.
Like in real life, you may never encounter your ideal buyer persona. But this image will still help you make the clients more real, understand their desires, pain points, and actions.
Map your customers’ journey to discover their needs
When you know your buyer personas, you can imagine what they’ll need at different stages of the customer journey. I feel like I need to explain.
The customer journey, or buyer journey, is the path of a person's interaction with your brand. Usually, it consists of the following stages:
To make this path smooth and turn one-time customers into loyal brand advocates, you have to equip them with the right tools. Imagine Dora the Explorer, but instead of a compass and a map in their backpack, they should have ads, helpful articles, videos, and other content.
This journey requires preparation, and on your end, this means creating a map first.
For example, in the Awareness stage, the client doesn't know anything about you or your product yet. So tell them that with ads. When they move on to the Search stage, use Google Ads, pay-per-click (PPC) ads, good SEO, and product feature articles to keep them on track.
At the next stage, the client wants to know if they can trust you and if your product satisfies their needs. That's when social media reviews alongside how-to videos and articles come in handy. I’ll get into more detail in the next chapter.
They say a smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. But you don’t need a sailor; you need returning clients. So think carefully about the customer journey to generate demand.
Create and optimize quality content for different stages
When you have your map ready, it’s time to look into each stage separately and decide what to show potential clients each step of the way. More than that, you need to know what type of content to throw their way and when.
For example, video reviews, podcasts, posts, and infographics work better for people at the top of the sales funnel who are just looking for the cause of their issue or the solution.
At the same time, customers who’ve decided they want to try out particular solutions or products for their business prefer landing pages, case studies, whitepapers, reports, and detailed guidelines.
And at the final decision-making stage, competitive product comparison articles, customer experience reviews, and free trials will encourage your customers to tip the scales in your favor.
In any case, regardless of type of content, it should be:
Suitable for customer needs at each stage of the journey
Informative and easy-to-understand
When your content meets these requirements, the person interacting with it will enjoy every step of the customer journey and become a qualified lead ready to buy your product, even without persuasion from the sales department.
Choose channels for content marketing activities
Even if you've created all kinds of great content, you can't just leave it lying around on your website and expect it to generate leads.
I mean, if this strategy worked, that would save marketers all over the world loads of time and seriously undermine the entire marketing field.
But it doesn’t work. You need to use multiple distribution channels for different content types to reach your target audience.
For example, social media is better suited for news, short descriptions, or videos, while a blog works best for long-reads with practical advice.
You can also offer free content through partner channels — this will benefit your shared audience and get you more exposure and attention from potential clients.
Don't forget about personalized emails: according to McKinsey, 76% of consumers are more likely to purchase from brands that personalize.
By collecting data through questionnaires, interactive elements, or special tools (shoutout to Leadfeeder), you will know what your leads need and offer them exactly that. Just don't forget about the customer journey map: sending a super personalized email to someone who has only once visited your website is creepy.
Take advantage of high-performing content
Good content is the sweat and tears of its creators (and your money), so try to make the most of it.
For instance, you can break down an ebook or manual into a series of articles with infographics, examples, and tables. These same articles can be rewritten into short posts for LinkedIn — the most commonly used social media for B2B lead gen.
As a result, instead of one book ten people would read cover to cover, you will get dozens of posts and articles thousands of potential customers will see. The tears, sweat, and money will finally pay off.
Meet your potential customers
Still, no matter how much content you post online, one of the best ways to generate demand is through events. You remember what events are, right? They’re this great way of meeting new people, exchanging ideas, and networking that humans often enjoyed before 2019.
In all seriousness, events are a legit demand generation tactic. First, by organizing a workshop or conference, you engage the people already interested in your services and collect their information. Webinars also work for this purpose.
Second, during an event, you can tell them more about your product, the one the participants might not know about or didn't think they needed.
Third, face-to-face communication increases trust and can drive sales.
And lastly, events are perfect for networking and meeting new people: partnering up with other industry players, getting to know the thought leaders in your niche, or, you know, just making friends (because it’s really hard to do when you’re a grown-up).
Cooperate with partners for lead generation
Just like I mentioned, partnerships and collaborations are great for generating demand. For example, if your companies have complementary products or services, your partner can generate demand for your product with a simple recommendation or additional discount.
The partner can also explain to their clients why your product is what they’ve been looking for, send them useful links, and, in general, lead them through almost the entire buyer journey without your participation. But don’t forget to return the favor!
You can also organize events with partners or run a joined demand generation campaign. Collaboration gives you access to more resources, which means more opportunities to try out the less popular marketing strategies or big demand generation ideas.
Help your sales and marketing departments work in sync
One of the critical things in demand gen strategy is getting your sales and marketing teams to work in sync. They need to know the details of each other's work to avoid performing the same tasks and complement each other.
Let me give you an example.
A potential customer says, "Oh, I saw your post on how to sell my space cucumbers with your product. How does it work exactly?"
What should your sales agent answer?
"Ah, sure, I will send you an article with several software options suitable for selling space cucumbers, kitten machines, and hand-made butterflies." (Well, you get the idea).
"Um, where did you see such nonsense? (OMG, marketers are crazy)."
Obviously, the first option will make a better impression on the customer, but the second one is a more likely answer if your departments don't cooperate.
On top of that, sales managers can ask customers if they've read any information on the product earlier and, if yes, where. By delivering this data to marketers, they help to improve demand generation campaigns and, in turn, make selling easier for them.
That's why you should help both departments work in sync: gather joint meetings, agree on common goals, and use complementary methods to achieve better results.
Automate everything you can to improve performance
Although demand generation seems to require loads of individual efforts, you can automate a huge chunk of the work. And you should start with automating data collection, analysis, and reporting instead of manually putting information into MS Excel tables.
You can also set up automatic emailing at particular stages of the customer journey or just send action-triggered notifications since your employees might miss the right time.
This way, different apps can take on routine tasks and optimize the workflow so that your marketers can get more time for creativity and work with qualified leads.
Statistics confirm the benefits of automation: according to Venture Beat, 80% of marketing automation users reported an increased number of leads, and 77% noted growth in conversions.
So it's actually wise to give your dull work to robots and focus on something more rewarding.
Think what you can give for free in demand generation marketing
No matter how much you praise a dish, people can only understand how good it is once they’ve tasted it. That's why you need to give your potential customers freemiums, trials, or samples to encourage them to buy your product.
If the product is actually good, the sales team will hardly need to make any efforts — the lead themselves will want to become regular customers after the trial period is over.
Other free things also work this way: if people like something they’ve been using for free, they are likely to buy it later. You may offer free ebooks, templates, access to extended functions, or anything else that might be useful to your customers and not very expensive for you.
That’s actually an important specification: before handing out free stuff, make sure this will actually help your business and not killdrain its budgets.
Track and analyze your progress with metrics
Last but not least, collect and analyze data. Without tracking, you cannot understand if your strategy or individual activities work for you and how to improve them.
Of course, your primary indicator will be a higher conversion rate and more sales. But you need dozens of other metrics, such as engagement rate or rate per channel, to build an effective data-driven demand generation strategy.
So track everything that can be tracked and compare the results with the goals of your marketing and sales departments. This way, you don't waste money and marketing efforts on ineffective tactics or unnecessary tasks but find a way to increase your company's revenue.
How do demand gen activities help you drive revenue?
By testing and combining all these activities, you can create a demand generation strategy to increase your profits. How? Let's look at the activities again.
Essentially, a customer journey map is the backbone of your strategy, and all other activities are its muscles. Except for data tracking — it's just a way to test if the method works right. So maybe think of it as a fitness tracker that monitors the heart rate and other metrics.
"Enough with the metaphors! What is the profit here?" you ask.
I answer: "In the little changes throughout your company." Look what happens when you use demand generation activities.
Your conversion rate grows
Demand generation creates high-quality leads that are very likely to buy your product or service.
Your employees waste less time with B2B demand generation
Demand-generated leads usually know what your product gives them and how you’re better than competitors, so you don't need to convince them. Consequently, your sales department doesn't waste time on uninterested leads and only helps prospective buyers finalize their decision.
That means you need fewer people in the department.
Your brand gets more recognition
Your content might not lead to sales for every person who interacts with it, but they could find it helpful anyway and recommend it to others. So better content = more shares = more brand awareness = more trust from potential customers = more sales.
As you might have calculated already, fewer personnel expenses and more sales drive your revenue.
The principle "The more leads, the better" loses its relevance for B2B marketing. The quality of these leads is a critical parameter, so the current motto of successful companies should be "The more high-quality leads, the better."
And an effective demand generation strategy is a surefire way to follow this motto. In other words, you must create demand even before collecting and processing leads.
So put on your analyzing cap and start by testing and measuring what demand generation activities work best for your business. And don't forget to adapt them to your customer journey map and create quality content along the way. That’s how you make sure your demand generation efforts don’t go to waste.
Note: Leadfeeder is a sales and marketing tool that knows what companies visit your website and is dying to tell you more about them.
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