Successful B2B marketing takes more than digital ads, messaging, analytics and creative content. You need a plan.
Demand generation encompasses the strategy that influences buyer’s awareness of your organization and how they interact with your brand through the entire buying cycle. It’s an approach to digital marketing that not only generates sales leads but nurtures them through the close.
When done well, comprehensive B2B demand generation can deliver stunning results, accelerating customer acquisition and retention to help ensure long-term profitability.
- Business intelligence SaaS provider GoodData saw $8M in new pipeline and $3.4M in annual recurring revenue from an integrated demand generation program that combined an interactive gaming experience with email campaigns, mid-funnel content and selling tools.
- At multinational enterprise telecom company GTT, a campaign targeting executive buyers and supported by a wider demand gen strategy drove a 20% conversion-to-meeting rate.
- DataCore, a pioneer in software-designed storage, leveraged demand generation to educate hospital IT departments about the benefits of virtualizing their data storage structure, increasing leads by 78% within 30 days.
Want to achieve similar results with an end-to-end approach to your digital outreach? Follow the steps below to lay the groundwork for a comprehensive B2B demand generation plan.
Research the market and identify your ideal customer profile
Demand generation should be rooted in research into the accounts you want to attract and grow. That research can originate with analysis of your existing sales data, qualitative interviews with sales reps, web and advertising analytics, customer surveys, analysis of competitors and broader data on the markets you serve.
The marketing organization then brings value to this research by making it actionable. Developing an ideal customer profile (ICP) will help ensure your campaigns generate optimal ROI by reaching the companies with the greatest potential to grow your revenue. This high-level strategic document should inform all of your tactical decisions when developing messaging, content and paid channels. It should consider characteristics of your ideal customer that include:
- Market challenges
- Operational pain points
- Industries they serve
- Employee headcount
- Geographic reach
- Maturity stage
- Technologies they use
The more you understand about your ideal customers, the more effective your planning will be.
Buyer personas help tailor your marketing to reach the right people
Once you have an ICP, you can hone in on the people who will make or influence the decision to purchase your products or services. Personas are profiles of fictional prospects that help inform real-world marketing programs and targeted content development. They can be based on real-life contacts within your existing accounts, interviews with customers, and conversations with Sales. You’ll want to identify typical buyer demographics, like job title and education level, as well as their daily pain points, work challenges, goals, and role in the purchasing process, then validate your assumptions with Sales. Just like the ICP, your personas will help you develop campaigns that reach the people most likely to buy from you while making the resources you deploy more efficient.
Mapping the buyer’s journey
After you’ve developed buyer personas—typically three to five that line up with members of the buying committee for your offering—it’s time to consider their process for making a purchase. A buyer journey map is another strategy document that informs your demand generation planning. It documents the typical needs and actions of each persona through the awareness, research, consideration and decision stages of the sales funnel.
This step of your planning helps your team identify gaps in content or engagement where you might lose the interest of potential buyers. Your buyer journey maps should inform new campaign creative and targeted content to fill those gaps and improve your lead generation. That might mean ramping up your SEO and increasing PPC spend to build awareness, creating a new infographic and ebooks that are appropriate for the research stage, or producing webinars and free trial campaigns for later in the journey.
Create high-quality content that accelerates sales through the funnel
In B2B marketing, quality is just as important as quantity—if not more so. Low quality content that isn’t targeted to buyers’ exact needs can waste their time and your budget while generating low-quality leads that don’t convert. Effective demand generation requires content customized for targeted personas that speaks to their unique challenges your product can solve. Build a high-performing editorial calendar by incorporating personas and buying stages into your plans for content. Then create a more strategic approach than your competitors by offering insights that buyers won’t find elsewhere using language that demonstrates your familiarity with their challenges.
One important step in this process that often gets overlooked is planning for late-funnel assets that prospects encounter once they begin talking to Sales. Ask your sales leadership what content they use during their outreach and what they’re missing. Sales will know firsthand what buyers are talking about and the product information they ask for when considering a purchase. Be sure sales reps have access to your demand generation plan and editorial calendar. Fill any gaps they identify and make your internal content library easy to access during one-on-one outreach.
Launch, optimize and measure
With a comprehensive editorial calendar and messaging backed by insight into your customers, you’re ready to launch. This is where the tactics and channels most associated with demand generation come into play. Develop or revisit your SEO, content marketing, social media, email campaigns, digital advertising, and thought leadership through the lens of your wider demand gen strategy. Refine them based on what you know about your customers and how they buy.
As prospects begin to engage with your efforts, you’ll have the opportunity to identify what’s working and what’s not. A demand generation strategy is not static, and your ICP, personas, buyer journeys and messaging should all evolve over time. With real-world data from your web analytics and CRM platform, you can also optimize your targeting and approach to individual channels, making incremental tweaks to improve the ROI of your campaigns.
The value of a demand generation strategy comes from better understanding your prospective customers, then applying that knowledge in a systematic fashion to your investments in marketing. The end result is improved ROI, increased sales velocity, lower customer acquisition costs and ultimately more revenue for your organization.
Turn strategy into action
Whether you’re exploring B2B demand generation for the first time or refreshing your existing strategy, you don’t have to go it alone. PMG has a long history of partnering with B2B tech and SaaS marketing organizations to drive business value through high-impact content and digital marketing programs—helping companies like yours define their strategies, deliver on their objectives, and smash their KPIs. Contact us today for a free 20-minute consultation.