How to kick-start your demand generation strategy to fuel your growth engine in the new year
It’s a common struggle many companies face: they invest heavily in marketing, but it doesn’t seem to translate into revenue. Despite their sales team’s best efforts, lead conversion rates are very low. As a result, their growth falls short of expectations. And their ability to drive demand for their products and services diminishes.
So, what’s going on here? We believe the way people interact with B2B companies has fundamentally changed in recent years. Buyers are now using digital channels throughout the buying process. If they reach out to a salesperson, it’s likely at the end of the buying journey when companies have less influence on the outcome. So that means organizations need to evolve their marketing and sales strategies to support this behavior. How? By shifting their focus from lead generation to demand generation.
Lead generation vs. demand generation
So, what’s the difference between lead generation and demand generation anyway? It boils down to this: lead generation activities focus on bringing a prospect into your sales process. This often means forcing a connection with your company when a prospect may not even be considering a purchase. But demand generation is all about meeting the customer where they’re at in their buying journey. You’re building trust with prospects so that when they’re ready to make a purchase, they’ll reach out to you first.
If you’re still chasing leads, you’re certainly not alone. A lot of marketers haven’t yet shifted to a demand generation mindset. But we believe this pivot is the key to long-term, sustainable growth. Here are five ways your company can win at demand generation in 2023.
Use ideal customer profiles to target the right audience
An ideal customer profile is a description of your best fit customer. It’s the type of company most likely to buy your products and maximize the value of working with your organization. Basically, this is a representation of your ideal client.
Ideal customer profiles are typically used at the very beginning of the marketing and sales process. They help identify your target audience by looking at things such as business triggers, product use cases and key organizational characteristics. An ideal customer profile is a foundational resource that helps your marketing and sales teams focus on the best audience. And if you’re using account-based marketing (ABM), they can be instrumental in helping to identify your target accounts. Learn more about ideal customer profiles in this article from our blog: Why You Need an Ideal Customer Profile For a Successful Demand Generation Strategy
Build demand by giving your content away for free
Marketing automation trained us to put a form in front of everything. This was a way for marketers to capture interest so they could have something to pass over to the sales team. But the problem with this approach is that you’re making your content harder to consume. And you want your prospects to consume all of it so that you can influence their buying journey.
We tell our clients to use gated content only for select activities like product demos or contacting a sales rep. These are things that indicate the prospect is in-market for a purchase right now. But in most cases, it just doesn’t make sense to limit access to content that helps sell what you’re offering. When you give away your content away for free, the leads will come to you when they’re actually ready to buy. And those are the type of leads that are much more likely to convert anyway.
Get to know your best prospects with intent data
We like to think of intent data as a set of behaviors and triggers that signal potential buying interest. Intent data is a critical part of a robust demand generation strategy. Why? Because it offers insights about who’s in the market for your product, and what type of content they’re interested in. It includes information about online searches and types of content consumed, which you can use to create more of what they’re already interested in.
There are 4 types of intent data. Each offers a different view into who your best prospects are, and what they want.
- Search intent data is search engine keyword information you can use to identify the topics your audience actively search on and interested in.
- Engagement data is information about the level of interest your audience has in a certain piece of content. This could include shares, comments, likes, time spent on page, etc.
- Firmographic data is information about the ideal company you want to target. This includes size, revenue, industry, location and customer base.
- Technographic data is information about the systems and technology your audience is using. This helps you to better understand their technical needs and requirements.
Intent data is a powerful tool that you can use to understand what’s resonating most with your target audience. Those valuable insights can serve as a roadmap for your demand generation strategy, helping you make more informed decisions about content and audience targeting throughout the buying journey.
Turn your digital footprint into your best sales rep
We believe that many B2B companies are still trying to get used to an uncomfortable new reality. And that reality is this: a sales rep’s ability to influence the buyer’s journey has diminished significantly. According to a recent report from Gartner, 80% of sales interactions will occur on digital channels by 2025. Which means that just 20% of a B2B buyer’s decision process can be influenced by a salesperson.
That’s why it’s imperative that your company’s digital presence is on-par with what your best sales rep has to offer. Because that’s really the first (and maybe only) type of interaction most buyers will have with you. An outdated website or sub-par social media presence simply won’t cut it in today’s digital-first world. Instead, companies should view their digital channels as key drivers of demand generation and growth – and invest in them accordingly.
Tap into industry influencers to maximize exposure
Every industry has influencers. And B2B marketers are now beginning to understand just how powerful these influential people and resources can be as part of a demand generation strategy. In fact, 72% of B2B marketers say influencer marketing improves brand reputation (LinkedIn). And more than 38% of B2B companies are currently exploring influencer marketing as a new avenue for generating leads (Ad Age).
Influencers have built-in audiences and high credibility – and people pay attention to them. If you’re selling in a crowded market, incorporating influencer marketing into your demand generation strategy can be a game-changer. We predict that influencer marketing in B2B will continue to grow significantly. And it’s become a key ingredient in the demand generation activities we recommend to our clients regularly.
Why demand generation works
Buyers’ increasing preference for digital channels is changing the way we approach marketing. Tried-and-true lead generation tactics have evolved into something better: demand generation. This shift puts companies in tune with the digital buying journey in a way that isn’t forced or contrived, but natural. A successful demand generation approach meets prospects where they’re at in the buying process. It builds brand awareness, then loyalty, so that prospects will come to you when they’re ready to buy.
Here at GrowthMode Marketing, we’re experts at helping our clients drive growth with high-impact demand generation tools and strategies. And we can help you too! Contact us today to learn more.