By Kim Charlton
Anyone who’s been through a website refresh knows how invested stakeholders throughout the organization can be in the outcome. Fonts, colors, images, language … from the C-suite down, few things invoke more passion than the public face of the company. But are people really focusing on the right things?
What good is a beautiful site if no one ever discovers it? How does a site move the needle for revenue if it isn’t designed to move buyers through a purchasing journey? And what return does it create for the organization if it doesn’t offer opportunities to engage with the content and provide contact information for sales outreach?
It’s not enough for your website to be beautiful anymore. Reports show that visitors spend an average of two minutes viewing a page on a publisher site before moving on. Your site must be functional to make the most of that limited attention. In my experience, demand generation is the secret sauce to turn a web presence from an online brochure to a performance machine.
As co-founder of a B2B demand generation agency, my colleagues help companies in SaaS and tech develop the right strategy and content to reach their goals. Here are a few of the insights our clients have found most useful:
What is demand generation? And why does it matter for B2B?
Put simply, demand generation encompasses activities that help potential buyers discover your offerings online and interact with content that could influence a purchasing decision or initiate a sales conversation.
It leverages strategies in paid, owned and earned channels, along with ongoing testing and optimization. Demand generation rolls up social media, paid digital, search engine optimization and marketing (SEO/SEM), content marketing, webinars, email marketing, influencer strategies and more, all working toward the same result: generating leads that convert to customers.
Sound like a lot to take on? As a starting place, consider the following tactics for your demand gen strategy:
Segment your audience to create more relevance.
Segmentation empowers your team to customize content for specific buyer roles and needs. For example, we have found success in both demand gen and account-based marketing campaigns by identifying key decision makers at target companies and investing in more personalized content for them. Segmenting email lists by sub-industry or industry size can also make your outreach more effective.
Tie off-site content back to your SEO goals.
Since its founding, Google has used inbound links to gauge the credibility of websites. Even as its algorithm has grown much more sophisticated, links, brand mentions and other signals from external sources have a dramatic effect on how Google ranks a site. Consider your website’s target search keywords whenever you promote your brand off-site — through public relations, social media, guest posting or thought leadership content.
Incentivize prospects to ‘raise their hands’ and offer contact info.
We’ve found that high-value assets like e-books, white papers and analyst reports generate better results when gated by a contact form. The same is true with registration for on-demand webinars, product demos or trials. Using demand gen tactics to promote this content can also help maximize the number of contacts earned.
Nurture prospects who aren’t ready to make a buying decision yet.
Email drip campaigns and remarketing display advertisements keep your brand top of mind while offering invitations to return to your site. Incentivize prospects further by offering limited-time offers or free trials integrated with your marketing systems.
Help sales qualify leads while keeping the pipeline full.
Most B2B customers interact with marketing content before they reach the sales team. A scoring system can maximize your sales resources by calculating when a lead is sufficiently interested to justify direct outreach. This is typically managed with marketing automation software, although you can develop a simple scoring process through careful analysis of sales data.
Look at what your successful leads have in common. What are their job titles? Did they download your content? Open your emails? Find the data points that have the biggest influence on sales, and develop a points system to begin qualifying leads based on what you’ve learned through your marketing.
Execute cross-sell and win-back campaigns.
Demand generation isn’t just about reaching new people. Existing customers and lost sales still represent opportunities to grow revenue. For example, product announcements and industry news communicated to customers via email or social media can create awareness of your brand in the context of products they might not have considered.
Lost customers are able to stay engaged if they continue to receive content that helps them resolve their pain points. Down the road, that relationship provides an avenue for discount offers or renewed sales outreach.
What Killer Demand Generation Looks Like: An Example In SaaS
Michelle is an operations vice president interested in business intelligence software. During her initial Google search, she sees a sponsored link to an e-book, The Ultimate Guide to BI Software. She clicks the link, where she finds a preview image of the e-book, along with a gated form to download it. She’s not ready to provide her information but continues to read other company-written articles and subscribes to the blog.
Later, she notices ads for the software appearing on her LinkedIn profile and other sites she visits. She then receives an email with a link to the e-book she’d shown interest in. This time she decides to download it, providing her contact info and some basic background on her company. By the time a representative reaches out, she’s also read case studies and has seen the company mentioned on an industry expert’s social media, paving the way for a successful sale.
Tying It All Together
A successful B2B sales cycle doesn’t just happen. It depends on many interrelated efforts to raise brand awareness, build credibility and engage the customer — things a website can’t accomplish on its own. Whether it’s created by an agency or by leveraging resources in-house, a comprehensive strategy for demand generation is key to realizing the best return for your business’s investment online.
Kim Charlton is co-founder of PMG and a member of the Forbes Agency Council. This article originally appeared at Forbes.com.