Demand Generation: Lifeline To Sales Pipeline

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Demand generation aims to identify potential prospects based on their initial behaviour and guides them through a nurturing process so that the sales team receives high-quality, highly- qualified leads. 

While demand generation has a lot in common with lead generation, it takes time and spans multiple touchpoints, campings, and content pieces. It includes just about anything a brand does to generate buzz, awareness and recognition.

There is no denying that one of the significant challenges businesses face today is creating demand for their products and services. 

What is Demand Generation?

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Demand generation refers to any activity that drives awareness and interest in your product and/or services with the ultimate goal of creating a predictable pipeline that will grow the business. 

It’s an umbrella team that covers all your marketing and sales initiatives from every touchpoint in the customer’s journey – from initial prospect interest to upselling customers. 

Demand generation is a data-driven marketing strategy that creates awareness of and interest in a company’s offerings through technology. 

A real demand generation strategy accounts for every touchpoint in the buyer’s journey — all the way from anonymous visitor to delighted customer. It leverages data in decision making to align your marketing and sales teams, track marketing’s contribution to Revenue and, most importantly, drive growth for your organization.

The Essential Demand Generation Framework

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A demand generation framework helps you organize your complex marketing and sales activities into a straightforward process. While your actual structure may differ, it should include the following elements:

# Planning: Specify your goals and milestones, define your target market and stakeholders, then develop a strategy to reach your audience.

# Preparing: Identify and develop strategic messaging and offers to create a marketing campaign.

# Executing: Market and promote your demand generation campaign across all channels.

# Assessing: Use reports and data to determine progress and how you can better optimize your campaign to find more qualified leads.

Lead Generation Vs Demand Generation

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Demand generation and lead generation are like peanut butter and jelly in the marketing and marketing automation world. They’re different (and tasty) but work well in tandem with one another. And in the ever-changing digital marketing and marketing automation software industry, these two concepts represent pillars of stability. 

At first glance, demand and lead generation may seem like interchangeable terms. However, there are significant differences and overlap:

In demand generation, you’re creating a buzz to let the world know that your brand’s products or services are available. In growing demand for your brand, you will also develop a target audience, brand loyalty, and a pool of leads who are genuinely interested in doing business with you. Demand generation content may involve blog articles, social media posts, or branded videos.

Once you educate your audience about your brand and product, you can begin lead generation, which means converting and nurturing those leads into customers. Lead generation content may include gated articles, courses, or direct mail campaigns.

Demand generation is creating awareness of and interest in your company and its products, or sometimes even your industry as a whole.

Lead Generation uses the content or other marketing efforts to collect names and contact info for future follow-up. 

One easy way to understand the difference is to think about how each of the above leverages content.

Demand Generation typically gives away content freely to build awareness. There might be a CTA, but it will come at the end of the piece (“Want to know more? Contact us/click here!”).

Lead Generation typically places content behind a “gate” to motivate form submissions (“Want to access this valuable content? Fill out this form, and we’ll send it to you!”). Those contacts then go into a queue where the sales team can reach out and engage with the ones who seem most qualified. (For good measure, lead gen content will usually have a CTA at the end as well.)

It’s important to note that each of the “gen” twins has its place within a content marketing program—they shouldn’t occupy the same space.

The Three Pillars of Demand Generation

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1. Lead Generation

A lead refers to any person or organization that has displayed an interest in buying what you are selling. Lead Generation is the process of converting these interested parties into customers. The process involves attracting an individual or organization through publicity material like blogs or social media and then developing their interest in your product by making them an offer.

2. Demand Capture

It refers to the process of capturing the individuals or organizations that already have a demand for the products you are selling. In today’s digital world, search engine optimization and the use of specific keywords can be seen as an example of trying to capture demand.

If you are an online seller of wooden furniture, you would be sure to use keywords like ‘wooden furniture’ or ‘wood furniture’ so that when someone searches for “buy wooden furniture,” your brand’s name pops up. This is called capturing demand.

3. Pipeline Acceleration

It is a strategy used to increase revenues with efficiency. Pipeline acceleration simply means accelerating the sales funnel’s process, such as converting leads into buyers efficiently. It is crucial to turn your leads into buyers in a highly competitive market as soon as possible. The longer it takes, the greater is the risk of losing the lead.

The process of Demand Generation

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The process demand generation broadly includes awareness building, generating interest in the product, and finally converting leads into buyers. This process of conversion has been visualized as the ‘marketing funnel.’ The funnel shape represents the fact that often not all leads can be turned into buyers. If all leads are converted into buyers, it would no longer remain a funnel; instead, it would become a cylinder.

The marketing funnel levels from top to bottom are- Awareness, Interest, Consideration, Intent, Evaluation, and Purchase.

The demand generation process allows the marketing funnel to function. It may sound like a simple process, but it follows a series of 5 different stages –

1. Goals

Determining goals is necessary. It is crucial to set achievable and realistic goals keeping in mind the new market conditions. The set goals must be specific as well; this helps in developing a timeline for campaigns.

2. Audience

Before you begin working on the first step of the marketing funnel, which builds awareness about your brand and product, it is essential to determine who you are targeting.  In order to keep the bottom end of the marketing funnel as wide as possible, it is crucial to select your campaigns’ right audience. The chosen audience becomes your leads, which you then nurture to convert into buyers.

3. Content

To generate audience interest and consider buying your product, putting out the correct content is essential. The right content must reach the audience in a suitable form and through the accurate medium. We live in times of information overload. Therefore creating and curating useful content is not an easy task.

Quality content about your brand and product is robust. It can push a lead beyond the awareness step of the marketing funnel through the steps of interest, consideration, intent, and evaluation.

4. Distribution

Once you know who your audience is and what you want to tell them, the next step is to strategize how you want the content to reach your audience. There are various communication channels available. You must be able to choose those which your audience prefers and distribute the content among these channels.

Your video advertisements may create interest in your brand, while your website may make an individual consider buying your product and express the intent. Finally, your social media collaboration with a blogger may encourage the individual towards a favourable evaluation of your product and purchase.

5. Measurement

Knowing what works and what needs to be changed, it is vital to keep track of the conversion process. Customer feedback is one example that helps measure the impact of various campaigns for demand generation. Tracking the number of hits and engagements on the website or online campaigns is another metric for measurement.

Accurate measurements help in improving the strategy and thus improve the shape of the marketing funnel. It aids in designing a long-term sustainable demand generation strategy as well.

Demand Generation Strategy

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Designing a good strategy for demand generation is vital. Three key elements constitute a sound demand degeneration strategy:

1. Building Awareness of Products and Services

The first step of the marketing funnel and demand generation is the same – building brand awareness. Making your potential customers aware of your products, brand, services, and USP helps retain your brand name. Without generating brand awareness, you cannot get people interested in buying your products.

Keeping in mind the nature of your brand and your target consumers, you need to develop a strategy to create brand awareness. Your awareness-building strategy must be guided by knowing who your target audience is, what they like, and how you can reach them.

2. Capturing Existing Demand and turning it into Revenue

Capturing existing demand in the market is an excellent way to improve your revenues efficiently. While demand creation is a time-consuming process, demand capture includes capturing the existing demand for what you are selling.

To strategize demand capturing, you must study your industry and your competition well. To capture maximum demand in the market, you need to offer the customers something your competitors are not.

3. Align Sales and Marketing Teams for Better Results

The process of converting leads into buyers takes a dedicated team that works in cohesion. Although sales and marketing teams are in charge of different tasks, these teams need to coordinate to generate demand.

The marketing team pushes leads down the sales funnel from aware to interested and to the stages of consideration, intent, and evaluation. The sales team must work in cohesion with the marketers in the final stages of converting the lead into a buyer. They are needed to close the sale and take care of the after-sale services. Since these teams need to work together to convert leads successfully, they must be aligned while designing a strategy.

Challenges to Demand Generation

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1. Identifying Competent Leads

For successful conversion of leads into buyers, you first must identify competent leads. Incorrectly identifying leads can be disastrous for your demand generation program as it is the very first step. Identifying those who have or may have the purchasing capacity to buy your product and willingness to purchase.

Inadequate recognition of good leads is a fundamental challenge that may lead to your demand generation strategy’s failure.

2. Content and Placement

Another common obstacle in the way of successful demand generation is improper content creation and placement. It is essential to reach out to your leads with the right content at the right time in the proper form.

Customizing content of different kinds of buyers, mapping their preferences, and accordingly creating content and placing it in the right places. A sound content strategy can have a significant impact; if ignored, it can also damage the demand generation strategy.

3. Using Data

Demand Generation is essentially a data-driven process. It is essential to know what to track and how to use the collected data. Quality data about leads, their preferences, and past behaviours can, for instance, help guide the content and placement strategy.

Collecting data on your strategies’ efficiency allows you to learn from your own mistakes and design improved future plans. While it is essential to know what works, it is equally important to know what doesn’t

Demand Generation Metric and KPIs to Measure

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To keep track of your demand generation effort, you can use different benchmarks or Key Performance Indicators. The quality of your leads is an important variable that should be monitored closely.

The quality of leads can be measured using the following metrics:

VariableKPI
Traffic on the websiteNumber of hits and number of visitors
Engagement with contentNumber of likes, comments, shares, and other forms of engagement
Secondary action- passiveSign up for mailing list, newsletter, blog notification, etc
Primary action- activeInquiry for more information on the website or making contact to seek information
Materialization SQLs, MQLs, Opportunities, Deals 

Demand Generation Tactics

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1. Web Insights and Inbound Marketing

Web Insights refers to keeping track of how visitors are interacting with your content. If you know how they interact, you can design the content accordingly to grab their attention and spark interest.

Inbound Marketing refers to using creative marketing methods to draw the attention of visitors and create leads. Using techniques like Search Engine Optimization and social media marketing are commonly used for inbound marketing.

These digital marketing enhancing methods can help you generate demand as well as capture it.

2. Syndicated Content

It refers to republishing your content on other websites to improve your reach. While the number of visitors to your website may be limited, you can reach a wider audience through syndicated content. This is done by allowing republishing the content you create about your website and brand. This increases traffic to your website and can help in the creation of leads.

3. Social Media Marketing

Social media is a quick, efficient, and creative way to reach out to a broader audience. You can build awareness through social media, spark interest, and advertise your brand and products at minimal costs. Social media marketing allows for excellent engagement and can be used effectively for demand generation.

4. Lead Scoring

To streamline and organize the process of demand generation, lead scoring is a great tactic. It refers to rank your leads based on their readiness for making the sale. Each lead goes through the marketing funnel. By storing them, you can develop strategies to target the leads at different steps of the funnel.

5. Measuring and Optimization

A/B tests are ideal for testing your lead quality and conversion rates. Once your web page is up, you can test out different versions of them with your users and see which one performs better. You can also test specific elements of your webpage. This will help boost up your conversion rates and get an insight into the customer mindset.

6. Aligning Sales and Marketing

For successful demand generation, it is crucial for the sales and marketing teams to work in synchronization. They are collectively responsible for pushing leads through the marketing funnel and converting them into buyers. Organizing joint brainstorming or strategizing sessions, combined review meetings, etc. keeps the teams working in coordination.

7. Display Retargeting

It is an online marketing method that means following your website visitor and positioning your brand in their mind. It includes repeatedly displaying advertisements of your product to the visitor on the other website that they visit. This helps in brand retention and enhances brand awareness.

8. Sponsored Research

Sponsoring favourable research is an excellent way of attracting customers. Buying is not an impulsive decision anymore. Customers compare, evaluate, and then decide. Investing in research about your product helps the customer assess your brand and make the final move through the marketing funnel.

9. Providing a Free Resource

This taps into the utilitarian psyche of the consumer and portrays you over your competitors in the market. The free resource also must be well thought of and possess utility to attract the customer. It must also have some connection with the product you are selling to maintain a logical cognitive relationship.

10. Press Play and Video Advertising

It is a great way to capture attention and gives you a short window of time to get the viewer interested. Video advertising is a powerful medium if used prudently. It must be precise, concise, and strong to make an impact. The video advertisement content must be well designed for the desired impact as the average viewer’s attention span is very limited.

Over to you!

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Demand generation a long-term game that requires a jigsaw puzzle strategy. Integrating technology intelligently into your organization to create a “Demand Factory,” as David Lewis of Demandgen coins it, requires a resources investment, a commitment to change management and an innovative, flexible organizational mindset.

Long-term goals of the elegant use of marketing automation and tomorrow’s martech tools should be on every marketer’s radar. However, remember just because you can’t leap forward into the future of marketing right now doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least step forward with the classic demand generation techniques that we all know work. Just remember these basics:

  • # Content that solves problems for your audience will build trust and authority for your brand.
  • # A formulaic approach to lead generation won’t get you anywhere.

Even if you’re in a B2B industry, make every interaction with prospects and customers fun and authentic.

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