In B2B, demand generation is a critical component of marketing success. By creating awareness and interest in a product or service (and so much more), demand gen aims to attract prospects and guide them through the buying journey. However, it’s often confused with lead generation or overlooked as an up-market activity.
To provide you with a better understanding of what it is and what it means to your business, we’ll take a closer look at demand generation, including:
- Definition of demand generation
- Demand generation during a recession
- The difference between demand generation and lead generation
- The five stages of demand generation (demand gen and the funnel)
- Benefits of demand generation for B2Bs
- Creating a demand generation strategy
- Examples of demand generation strategies and tactics
- Best practices for demand generation
- Measuring demand generation
- Common demand generation mistakes for B2Bs to avoid
- Get the best results from your demand generation strategy
Definition of B2B demand generation
Demand generation (or demand gen) refers to the process of stimulating demand for your product or service by creating awareness and interest in it. It involves a series of tactics and strategies aimed at attracting prospects, building a relationship with them and guiding them through the buying journey.
The importance of B2B demand generation during a recession
During a down economy, B2Bs must stimulate more demand to get the same number of sales. This makes demand gen activities even more important. However, to get the best results from your demand gen activities, you must perfect your targeting. Because buyer dynamics shift in a recession, you must recalibrate your targeting. This means adjusting your marketing strategies from your buyer personas to your messaging, to develop campaigns that resonate with your audience and reach them where they spend the most time. If you’re interested in learning more about gaining and maintaining market share during a recession, read our Recession Marketing Playbook.
The difference between B2B demand generation and lead generation
Demand gen is a broad, holistic marketing approach that aims to create a buzz and build interest in your product or service among a wider audience. On the other hand, lead generation (or lead gen) is a subset and a critical part of demand gen that focuses on capturing and nurturing potential B2B clients who have shown interest in your products or services.
For example, to create demand, you may run social media ads, create informative blog content or host webinars. Then, to identify and engage prospects most likely to become paying customers, you’d use lead gen tactics, such as capturing leads through gated content or offering a free trial.
Here are some of key differences between the two:
- Focus. B2B demand generation is focused on creating interest and desire for your product or service, while lead generation is focused on capturing your prospects’ contact information.
- Stage in the funnel. Demand generation is used at the top of the funnel to create awareness and interest in your product or service, while lead generation is used further down the funnel to capture leads and move them closer to making a purchase.
- Metrics. B2B demand generation is often measured by metrics such as website traffic, engagement rates, and social media followers, while lead generation is measured by metrics such as lead conversion rates, lead quality, and cost per lead.
- Strategy. Demand generation strategies are often more focused on brand awareness, content marketing, and social media engagement, while lead generation strategies may involve more direct response tactics such as email marketing and pay-per-click advertising.
The five stages of B2B demand generation (demand gen and the funnel)
There are five different stages or levels of B2B demand gen for each part of the funnel. These stages require different tactics and strategies to effectively stimulate demand and convert leads into customers. Additionally, these stages are not always linear and may overlap.
- Brand awareness: This is the first stage of demand generation, where the main goal is to increase the audience’s familiarity with your brand. During this stage, you’ll focus on creating a positive brand image and establishing trust with potential customers. Brand awareness tactics include content marketing, social media advertising, influencer marketing, etc.
- Lead generation: During this stage, you’ll capture contact information from prospects who have shown an interest in your brand or products. The main goal is to build a database of leads that can be nurtured into paying customers. Common tactics for lead generation include gated content, email marketing, and webinars.
- Lead nurturing: Once leads have been captured, the focus shifts to nurturing them through the sales funnel with targeted content and communication. The goal is to build trust and credibility with the lead, and to move them towards making a purchase. Lead nurturing tactics include personalized email campaigns, retargeting ads, social media engagement, etc.
- Sales enablement: At this stage, you’ll want to equip your sales team with the tools and resources they need to close deals. This may mean providing sales training, creating sales collateral and implementing a CRM system.
- Customer retention: After a sale is made, you’ll want to turn customers into repeat buyers and advocates for your brand. Tactics for customer retention may include customer satisfaction surveys, loyalty programs and personalized communication.
Benefits of B2B demand generation
Demand gen efforts don’t just drive awareness and stimulate demand, but they can also help you meet your sales and marketing goals by:
- Generating more, high-quality leads: Demand generation can help your B2B company generate more leads, which in turn can help you increase your sales pipeline and ultimately boost revenue. By targeting your efforts to the right audience and using the right messaging, you can improve the quality of your leads and increase the likelihood that they will convert into customers. These tactics enable you to build stronger relationships with leads by providing them with valuable information and resources at each stage of the buying process.
- Shortening your sales cycle. Targeted campaigns that generate awareness and interest in your products or services move your ideal audience through the sales funnel more quickly. This can help shorten your sales cycle and lead to more revenue in less time.
- Making more efficient use of resources. By focusing your efforts on your target audience, you can ensure that your marketing and sales resources are being used more efficiently. This can help you save money and increase ROI.
- Improving competitive advantage. When your efforts are strategic, you can help your brand stand out from competitors and establish your B2B company as a thought leader in your industry. This can lead to more trust among potential customers and more sales in the long run.
Creating a B2B demand generation strategy
Successful demand generation requires that you create a B2B demand gen strategy. This is a multi-step process. Here’s how to get started:
- Define your target audience: Before you can create a demand gen strategy, you need to know who your target audience is. This involves creating buyer personas that describe your ideal customers and their characteristics, pain points, goals and behaviors.
- Map the buying journey. In the context of demand gen, buyer journey mapping helps your B2B company identify potential customers and their needs, pain points and motivations at each stage of the buying process. You can then use this to create relevant and personalized marketing messages that resonate with your audience and guide them towards making a purchase decision.
- Set your goals: What do you want to achieve with your demand gen efforts? Set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-oriented) goal that are aligned with your overall business objectives. For example, you may want to increase website traffic, generate more leads or improve lead quality. But by how much, and by when?
- Develop targeted content and messaging: Once you have a clear understanding of your target audience, you need to create content and messaging that resonates with them. This involves understanding their pain points, interests and behaviors, and developing content that addresses their needs and provides value. Targeted content might include blog posts, e-books, whitepapers, videos, infographics and more.
- Leverage social media: Social media is a powerful tool for demand gen, as it allows you to connect with potential customers and engage with them on a personal level. You should develop a social media strategy that includes identifying the social media channels your audience uses, creating compelling content and engaging with your audience by commenting and sharing their content and connecting with them in industry-related groups.
- Use targeted advertising: Consider using platforms like LinkedIn Ads, Facebook Ads and Google Ads to target your ideal audience with relevant ads and drive more qualified leads to your website.
- Use email marketing: Email marketing is another effective demand gen tactic that can help you nurture leads and move them through the sales funnel. To ensure your email efforts are effective, develop an email marketing strategy that includes creating targeted email campaigns, segmenting your email list based on buyer personas and tracking metrics such as open rates and click-through rates.
- Measure and analyze your results: To determine the effectiveness of your demand gen strategy, you must track and analyze your results. This involves using tools such as Google Analytics and marketing automation software to track website traffic, engagement rates, conversion rates, etc. This allows you to regularly review and update your strategy.
- Continuously optimize your strategy: B2B demand gen is an ongoing process that requires continuous optimization and improvement. Based on your results, you should refine your strategy, adjust your tactics and test new approaches to find what works best to help you meet your business objectives and marketing goals.
Examples of B2B demand generation strategies and tactics
Let’s look at the different use cases and B2B demand generation tactics. Your business can use it to:
- Build brand awareness: Does your audience know about your brand? By creating and distributing informative content, you can make your brand visible to your target audience and build brand recognition. You can accomplish this with marketing tactics such as social media marketing, influencer marketing and content marketing.
- Launch new products or services: Does your audience know what you’re selling or why they need it? B2B demand gen activities can be used to generate buzz and interest when you launch a new product. This can be done with product demos, webinars and targeted advertising campaigns.
- Improve client retention: Demand gen can help you keep existing customers engaged and interested in your brand, thus building client loyalty and increasing the lifetime value of each customer. You can improve client retention by providing value-added content, personalized recommendations and targeted offers based on their previous purchases.
- Upsell and cross-sell: You can use B2B demand gen activities to encourage customers to buy more products or services from your company. This includes tactics such as personalized email campaigns, targeted product recommendations, loyalty programs and more.
- Drive client referrals and advocacy: B2B demand gen tactics can encourage engagement in the form of referrals and advocacy from existing clients. This includes creating referral programs and leveraging social proof through testimonials, reviews and user-generated content.
- Target specific industries or verticals: Tailoring your demand generation efforts to specific industries or verticals can help you increase the relevance and effectiveness of your campaigns and attract and convert more qualified leads.
- Get hyper-targeted with your audience: Account based marketing (ABM) is a demand gen strategy that can be particularly effective during a recession as it allows you to maximize your marketing efforts by targeting high-value accounts and building stronger relationships with your prospects.
- Improve ROI: By measuring and optimizing your demand generation efforts, you can improve your return on investment (ROI) and ensure that you are spending your marketing dollars effectively.
Best practices for demand generation
To get the best results from your demand gen activities plan to follow best practices:
- Optimize your website: Your website is often the first touchpoint that potential customers have with your brand, so it’s important to make a good impression. Before you begin demand gen efforts, make sure your website is optimized for search engines and conversions, is easy to navigate and provides a clear value proposition.
- Nurture your leads: As discussed earlier, lead nurturing is a critical component of demand gen. Once you capture the contact information of potential customers, you can use email marketing, retargeting ads and other tactics to nurture them and guide them through the buying journey.
- Develop a content strategy. Strategic content is a critical component to effective demand gen. This means developing buyer personas, a buyer journey map, and a content plan so you can deliver the right message to the right people at the right time and at the right places.
- Leverage marketing automation tools. Successful demand gen efforts are facilitated by marketing technology (martech), which uses artificial intelligence to automatically deliver the right ads, emails and web content to prospects, depending on their position in the buying journey. Martech also enables you to qualify and score leads so you can move them more quickly through the funnel and into the pipeline.
Measuring your B2B demand generation activities
To truly understand how your demand gen efforts are performing and optimize your results, you’ll want to set key performance indicators (KPIs). KPIs are metrics that track progress towards specific goals.
What KPIs you’ll track depend on your business objectives, marketing goals, your industry and your tactics. For example, if your goal is to raise brand awareness with programmatic ads, you’ll want to track industry specific benchmarks. If you’re using social media to generate demand for a new product, you’ll want to measure follower growth, mentions and share of voice.
But measuring the success of your campaigns is only a half-step. To get the best results, you must use the insights you gain from your KPIs to optimize your campaigns. This means analyzing the performance of your campaigns, identifying what’s working and what’s not and making adjustments accordingly. For example, if you find a certain message resonates with your audience better than another, you might tweak your messaging. If you discover an untapped audience, you might develop a new persona and target accordingly. And so on.
There are a variety of tools available to help measure your efforts. These include analytics platforms like Google Analytics and social media analytics tools like Sprout Social or Hootsuite. Additionally, marketing automation platforms like HubSpot and Marketo can help you track and analyze the effectiveness of your demand generation campaigns. By leveraging these tools, you can gain a deeper understanding of your audience and maximize your results.
Common demand generations mistakes for B2Bs to avoid
If you’re not generating the results you expect from your B2B demand gen efforts, you may be:
- Failing to define buyer personas: Not having a clear understanding of your target audience can lead to ineffective demand generation campaigns. Without a clear understanding of the demographics, pain points and interests of your target audience, it’s difficult to create messaging and content that resonates with them.
- Neglecting the middle of the funnel: While demand generation is often associated with top-of-funnel activities, neglecting the middle of the funnel can lead to missed opportunities. It’s important to have strategies in place to nurture leads and move them closer to making a purchase.
- Focusing too heavily on a single channel: Overreliance on a single channel, such as social media or email marketing, can limit the reach of your demand generation campaigns. It’s important to use a variety of channels to reach your target audience. To effectively generate demand, you need to identify the most effective demand generation channels for your B2B business. These channels can include content marketing, social media marketing, email marketing, pay-per-click advertising and more. By using the right channels for your target audience, you can maximize your demand generation efforts and generate high-quality leads.
- Lacking alignment between sales and marketing: If your sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned, your demand generation campaigns will be disjointed. Instead, both teams must work together to create a cohesive strategy that targets the right audience and moves leads through the funnel.
- Ignoring data and analytics: Failing to track and analyze the results of your demand generation campaigns can make it difficult to optimize and improve them over time. Keep your efforts on target by regularly monitoring metrics such as website traffic, engagement rates and lead quality to identify areas for improvement.
- Using inconsistent brand messaging: Inconsistent messaging can create confusion among prospects and weaken the effectiveness of your demand generation campaigns. It’s vital that you maintain a consistent brand message across all channels and touchpoints.
- Focusing on quantity over quality: Generating a large number of leads is important, but not at the expense of lead quality. If you focus solely on lead quantity, you may generate a high volume of unqualified leads, which is a waste of your time, resources and marketing investment.
Get the best results from your demand generation efforts
Demand gen is an effective way to build awareness, drive interest and stimulate demand with your target audience. It drives more, high-quality leads into the funnel, nurtures them and helps convert them into clients. As such, it’s a crucial B2B marketing activity during a recession.
However, developing successful demand gen strategy is a complex process involving many steps, following best practices and developing an intimate knowledge of your audience. For this reason, it’s crucial to partner with a B2B marketing agency that understands your industry and that is well-versed in the ins and outs of demand generation.
With 20+ years of service to B2B industries like yours, Elevation Marketing has proven experience helping our B2B clients plan and develop effective demand gen strategies. We thrive on helping companies like yours get extraordinary results. Contact us today to discuss your B2B demand generation needs.