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The Guide to Successful B2B Demand Generation

Follow along as the Linchpin Team walks you through our complete guide to successful B2B demand generation.

1. What Is Demand Generation?

Before executing demand generation for your B2B company, we need to define some terms. What is demand generation?

A common misconception is that demand generation generates demand for your goods or services –– and for a good reason. Of course, that’s precisely what the name suggests. But the concept covers much more than that.

Demand generation encompasses a vast range of marketing activities and strategies that drive the long-term engagement of your brand. The goals of demand generation are as follows:

  • Raise awareness of consumer challenges and needs
  • Position your brand as a trustworthy industry authority
  • Generate leads
  • Sell your product
  • Foster sincere, long-term brand loyalty

Successful, measurable demand generation doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it’s a gradual process comprising various marketing aspects to attain your business goals.

Three Phases of Demand Generation

B2B demand generation can be defined through three primary phases: lead generation, demand capture, and pipeline acceleration. We explain all three below.

  1. Lead Generation – You can’t proceed with demand generation for your B2B company until you have solid leads. Lead generation identifies and cultivates potential customers for your brand, products, or services. Once you’ve secured qualified leads, you can nurture and guide them through your sales funnel.
  2. Demand Capture – Demand capture takes hold of the existing demand in your market. Demand capture guides potential clients to your business when there’s a need, and you have the solution. This phase of demand generation usually includes SEO optimization and PPC ads.
  3. Pipeline Acceleration – Once you’ve captured a potential client’s attention, the goal is to move toward sale as quickly as possible. Pipeline acceleration engages with consumers and hits the pain points appropriate to their station in the buyer’s journey.

Demand Generation: A Breakdown

As we said above, demand generation isn’t a single action, nor can it be condensed into a simple checklist. Instead, it’s a holistic marketing strategy comprised of techniques and methods to increase brand engagement.

And while it’s impossible to create an exhaustive list of demand generation tactics, we can break down the concept into five primary stages, which we do below:

Set Goals

You cannot begin any marketing strategy without first defining what a successful campaign will look like. The same is valid for demand generation. Before you ever round table with your team to start creating your demand generation strategy, you must clearly define and set your goals.

Define and Understand Your Audience

In addition to goals, there’s one more essential piece to demand generation that you must define: your target audience. Who is your ideal consumer? Your audience directly informs the steps you take to reach your goals.

Once you define your target audience, you need to understand them. What do they like? How do they shop? What are their pain points, and how can you address them? Audience research allows you to understand your target consumer and shape demand generation strategies to reach them effectively.

Create Compelling Content

Now that you’ve secured the first two steps, creating content that engages your audience and compels them to buy is time. Your content creation process should produce content that targets consumers at every stage of the marketing and sales funnels.

Your content should, at different points in the buyer journey, do the following:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Increase brand interest
  • Educate consumers on their challenges and the unique, superior solutions you provide
  • Provide supplemental product, service, or company information that reinforces that you are the best choice

Deliver Content through Appropriate Channels

Once you’ve created your content, you must determine the best method of distribution to reach and engage your audience effectively. There are infinite ways to reach your audience. Knowing their consumption behaviors will inform which channels you’ll utilize for content distribution: socials, email, site blogs, podcasts, YouTube, or even live events.

Most of the time, B2B demand generation occurs on multiple channels for the highest engagement.

Measure the Success of Your Demand Generation

And finally, measure the success of your demand generation strategies and methods. You won’t understand the efficacy of your efforts unless you evaluate hard, measurable data.

Regardless of your gut feelings regarding your success, don’t make any calls until you review the data. Then, if the numbers show your methods are working, continue. But if you don’t see the expected results, rework things, and try again.

2. Why Is Demand Generation Important?

At this point, you should have an exhaustive understanding of what demand generation is and how it works. But why is it essential for B2B companies?

Demand Generation Positions Your Brand as an Authority

Demand generation doesn’t merely build interest and engagement (though those are important aspects of this strategy.) It cultivates reliable brand awareness that results in high-quality leads. Demand generation can make your messaging more authoritative and allow you to engage successfully with potential clients.

Your clients have endless opportunities to seek out solutions for their needs. With the internet at their fingertips, they can find the products or services they need for their businesses.

But if you can show them that your company sets industry standards and that your brand is the trusted voice in your market, they have every incentive to partner with you to meet their needs.

Demand Generation Identifies Strong Leads

Demand generation helps you identify and nurture strong leads, empowering you to guide them through their journey and ultimately earn more sales.

Unlike other forms of marketing or advertising, demand generation allows you to position your business for each unique potential client strategically.

Demand generation helps you sell your product or service by creating awareness of a need.

When your audience is acutely aware of a need or issue, they’re primed to receive marketing messages that hit their specific pain points.

Growing your business entails drawing in a steady stream of new clients. By creating interest and awareness before the sale, new customers more readily accept and even seek out information about your offer.

Challenges Associated with Demand Generation

Demand generation, when done well, is massively beneficial for B2B companies. But as with every marketing strategy, demand generation has its challenges. You can avoid pitfalls in your demand generation execution by keeping abreast of potential issues.

Leads Aren’t Turning into Customers

You could be doing all the right things, but your leads –– even the seemingly strong ones –– aren’t turning into clients.  

This could be happening for a few reasons:

  • You aren’t nurturing the leads you have
  • There’s no follow-up with engaged leads
  • Your content isn’t meeting consumer needs

These three are only several reasons your leads aren’t committing to purchase. If you can pin down why you aren’t converting more leads, you can make the changes required to attain your goals.

The Time Investment

As we discussed earlier, demand generation isn’t a quick fix, and you won’t see immediate results. Many marketers find themselves frustrated with the time commitment demand generation requires.

Some marketing methods, like PPC advertising, provide near-instant results. But demand generation requires a significant time investment. In a world where we all want instant gratification, the demand generation feels counterintuitive. But when you understand the benefits of long-term engagement and loyalty, you’ll find demand generation to be the ideal method for sustainable business growth.

Message Segmentation

B2B clients expect personalization. Therefore, your content must speak to the right audience at the right stage in their journey. This can prove a challenge when executing demand generation.

Creating customized content for each audience segment is essential for your demand generation efforts to pay off. Personalized content speaks to consumers’ immediate needs, which positions you to provide solutions to their long-term needs.

However, creating personalized content requires deep knowledge of your audience. You must know your buyers’ needs, and your timing must be right. Know your target consumer, and you’ll be able to craft messages that address their unique challenges.

4. How Is Demand Generation Different from Lead Generation

Demand generation and lead generation are sometimes used interchangeably. And while the two terms are related, they’re not the same. They help you increase sales and attract new clients, but the method and immediate goals differ. So let’s examine the two marketing strategies.

Lead Generation

Lead generation gains personal information in exchange for content. Acquiring contact information through lead generation is often the first step in personal engagement with sales as the ultimate goal. It usually involves gated or restricted content, like an e-book, white paper, or recorded event. Users typically have immediate access to the content when they provide contact information.

Lead generation is most effective on individuals who know they have a need and are looking for solutions. In addition, they’re likely already evaluating your business to determine whether you’re the best fit for them.

Demand Generation

Demand generation focuses more on creating awareness and interest among potential clients. It’s all about building long-term engagement that leads to sales and growth.

Successful demand generation allows you to position yourself as a trusted authority in your field. It cultivates interest. And it highlights consumer needs and educates them on the best next steps.

It’s a long game that cultivates trust and even endears consumers to your brand.

Lead generation provides instant results. Demand generation increases a user’s receptivity to your business. Demand generation takes a more gradual approach, but it produces robust leads more apt to choose your business over your competition.

5. The Role of Data for Demand Generation

The most effective, successful demand generation strategies are data-driven. Your data provides hard evidence of the measures that work and those that don’t.

If you aren’t sure what’s working, you won’t be able to fully understand how to cater to your audience or create solutions that meet their needs. Data within demand generation empowers you to define metrics and KPIs that matter for your business while informing you how to act on the information you have.

Intent Data

Intent data inform your communication methods, helping you deliver the right content to the right leads. The more personalized your content, the more effective. And it’s through audience data that you can know if your content reaches and engages your target consumer.

Lead-Defining Data

Data-specific metrics can help you define your business’s qualified lead. Every B2B company will have different requirements for a qualified lead. Regardless of your standards, lead-defining data ensures everyone works from the exact definition.

When you use data to determine the value of your leads, you can shape sales and marketing efforts to target individuals at the right sales funnel stage.

Tracking the Right Data at the Right Time

Data-driven demand generation evaluates metrics at every sales funnel step, providing a clear picture of its effectiveness.

  • In the beginning, demand generation is about awareness and engagement. For example, when you publish new content, you want to know how many impressions and total views it receives. These early engagement rates show how audiences react and respond to your actions.
  • Consumption metrics show whether your early-stage metrics are accurate and lead you to take the most appropriate actions.
  • How many of your leads convert? Tracking close rates on individual channels and holistically show you which channels and actions are most effective in earning sales.

You’ve got data scattered at all points in your sales funnel. Knowing which metrics and KPIs to track –– and when to track them –– gives you access to invaluable information that informs your demand generation decisions.

6. Demand Generation Strategies

By this point, you know the value of B2B demand generation. But how can you implement and execute it in your own business? Here are a few strategies that will get you on your way.

Target Your Audience with Buyer Personas

Creating buyer personas allows you to understand your audience and predict which solutions will best meet their needs. Therefore, as you create a demand generation strategy, you want to establish buyer personas early on upon which you can build out your efforts.

Create Content People Want to Consume

Your content is the primary driver of traffic to your site. In addition, quality content raises awareness of your products and services and determines whether potential clients choose you over a competitor.

Create content people want to consume. It will lead them to your site and engage them throughout their buyer’s journey. Then, when they enter the consideration and purchase phases, they’ll already be familiar with your brand and will be inclined to buy from you.

Offer Content –– and Ask Nothing for It

As explained above, lead generation provides content in exchange for contact information. To earn trust and build awareness and engagement, offer content for free. Free content brings people in and shows off your authority and expertise without friction with lead generation tactics.

Increase Conversions with Targeted Remarketing

Targeted remarketing helps prospective customers remember your brand and their initial engagement with your products or business. Remarketing allows you to increase repeat site visitors and introduce (or reintroduce) them to the products that hit their pain points.

Make Use of Segmented Email Marketing

When executing B2B demand generation, you shouldn’t send mass emails to your entire contact list. Instead, craft custom email content for segmented audiences.

By creating a robust email marketing strategy, you can put the right copy in front of the right prospects at the right time. In demand generation, timing is critical. So consider how your email marketing team can communicate with leads to make them feel understood, providing timely and relevant solutions to their needs.

Win People Over with Freebies

We all love free stuff, even for your B2B clients. In one of the points above, we highlighted the efficacy of free content. Don’t stop there.

Offering free tools, worksheets, apps, webinars, or even e-books puts your products, services, and business in front of the very people who are likely to become your clients. Remember that demand generation is largely about visibility and engagement. If you can provide quality, valuable resources at no cost, you communicate that there’s more in store down the road.

B2B Demand Generation Starts Now

Demand generation is essential for your B2B success. If you aren’t prioritizing demand generation efforts, why? Connect with our team at Linchpin SEO today so we can begin the conversation today.