Is your lead generation or ABM strategy failing to drive results? It might be time to change your approach from driving leads to driving demand.
The B2B buyer journey has changed. The same old strategies just don't work as well as they used to.
This is why at Leadfeeder we focus on a demand generation marketing strategy.
Rather than focus on gating our content and forcing potential customers to fill in forms, we distribute ungated content on the platforms where our ideal customers are most active.
So how does it work? First, let's talk about what demand generation is.
Note: Leadfeeder identifies anonymous site visitors and helps B2B brands track buyer intent data. Sign up for a free two-week trial.
What is demand generation?
Demand generation is an integrated sales and marketing approach that generates interest in a company's products or services before pushing conversions.
The goal of demand generation is not just to gather prospects already interested in what you have to offer (i.e., lead generation.) Rather, it uses multiple channels to drive interest in your offering and uncover new opportunities.
As a result, demand generation connects your business with groups or companies that might not even know you exist.
Why do B2B companies need demand generation marketing?
The B2B buying cycle is longer than ever. In fact, the average B2B buying cycle is between six and 12 months long. That makes driving growth a challenge.
Many companies gave account-based marketing a try in recent years — it promised to shorten the B2B sales cycle by hyper-focusing on specific companies. ABM can work, but it isn't always the most effective path to drive B2B growth.
Demand generation creates demand where none existed, which can drive exponential growth, help you expand to new markets, increase order size, and decrease cost per acquisition.
Here's why demand generation is so effective:
Say you want to open up a retail store. (I know we're focused on B2B here; stick with me.) You rent a storefront, fill it with products, put a sign out front, maybe place a few ads, then go stand behind the cash register and wait for folks to come in.
When nothing happens, you're confused — you did all this work to tell people your store is open, so why didn't they come in?
Essentially, there's no demand. People didn't know they needed what you had to offer.
With demand generation, instead of standing behind the cash register waiting for people to come to you, you stand out in front of your store and talk to people walking by.
You might offer them directions to the local ice cream store, talk about events happening in your community, and, occasionally, talk about the benefits of your offering.
Demand generation for B2B works essentially the same way. Instead of talking to your audience from behind the register, you get out there and tell people why they need what you offer and draw them in.
What is a demand generation funnel?
Demand generation isn't one part of the lead generation/marketing funnel, it's a different approach where buyers are educated and raise their hand (demo, free trial) when they're ready — instead of being pushed to download a piece of content to become an MQL.
Companies may take slightly different approaches to demand generation. However, most companies follow a path similar to this:
Although demand generation begins at the start of the funnel, it impacts every step of the process. This means sales and marketing must work together through the entire process to succeed.
Demand generation examples to borrow
What does demand generation look like in practice? There's a good chance you consume demand generation content every day in the form of informative blog posts, podcasts, videos, and newsletters.
Here are three examples of demand generation marketing and why they work.
Video demand generation example from Leadfeeder
Leadfeeder targets sales and marketing professionals in the B2B space. Our video series "The B2B Rebellion" covers tactics and best practices for B2B businesses. We interview experts in the field and share their strategies.
While we occasionally mention Leadfeeder, the core goal is to educate users and share solutions for issues all B2B organizations face, like using video in email marketing, scaling on a budget, and marketing/sales alignment.
Free version demand generation example from Buffer
Buffer drives demand by offering users a free version of its social media software. They use content from their blog to educate users about social media and then push users to sign up for a free plan or a two-week trial.
Access to the free version lets users see how helpful the tool is and allows Buffer to dangle the additional features offered in their paid version.
Informative newsletter example from Aleyda Solis
Aleyda Solis is an SEO consultant, conference speaker, and owner of the boutique digital marketing firm Orainti. Her weekly SEO FOMO newsletter shares news, tips, and strategies in the world of SEO.
Other than in her email signature, Alyeda doesn't really talk about herself or her agency in her emails. Instead, she shares links to top SEO tools, jobs, and industry news.
Giving away so much information for free generates demand. Companies that sign up to learn about SEO may get overwhelmed and decide to hire an agency. Experienced SEOs view her as an expert, which also helps her land speaking engagements.
High-level demand generation tips
B2B demand generation is a process. It starts by building awareness and demand by creating high-quality resources that solve your audience's issues — not hiding your best content behind lead capture forms.
Here are three high-level tips to get your demand generation strategy off the ground.
Drop the gate on content
A key component of demand generation is education. By teaching buyers, versus selling right away, you help prospects understand a new way to achieve their goals.
And that means dropping the gates on your content.
Rather than using educational content to gather leads, use educational content to challenge the status quo and introduce new thoughts.
To be effective, non-gated content must be actionable and well-promoted to reach a wider audience.
If you're worried about losing insight into the leads consuming your content, our visitor tracking software has you covered. You can track companies visiting your site, the content they consume, and share all this info with your sales team.
Pay close attention to intent signals
Demand generation strategies aren't just used at the beginning of the funnel. After creating demand, it's important to follow through with prospects likely to convert.
How can you tell? By paying close attention to intent signals.
Intent signals might include signing up for an email list, engaging with your brand on social media, or more specific actions like visiting your pricing page after watching a webinar.
Track the right metrics
With demand generation, it's important to track metrics throughout the process —- not just focus on conversions.
While there's a good chance some of the metrics you're already tracking can inform your demand generation strategy, there might be a few you're not paying attention to.
Lower-funnel conversion: Pay attention to demo and free-trial requests. These are the hand-raisers who are actually interested in your product and provide more value to sales than a content download. If you’re doing demand gen right, the targeted, ungated content should filter down to increase demos and trials.
Cost per acquisition: Ideally, demand generation will bring down your CAC. The only way to know for sure, however, is to track. Consider tracking this metric per channel in addition to overall CAC.
Customer lifetime value: More customers isn't always a good thing, especially in B2B. Make sure the customers are worth it in the long term, not just on this month's ROI report.
Traffic, leads, and conversions are industry benchmarks, but demand generation requires a deeper look into what campaigns are driving real growth, not just more email sign-ups.
Successful demand generation takes time
Like any new strategy, demand generation takes time. Don't expect demand generation campaigns to drive explosive growth in just a few weeks. Start by adjusting your goals — rather than focusing on gated content sign-ups, aim to educate and drum up demand for your offering.
Track the metrics we talked about above, work to align sales and marketing, and you'll start to see the needle move.
Note: Need help tracking demand generation metrics? Leadfeeder can help. Sign up for a free two-week trial.
More leads, no forms.
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