The Strategic Guide to B2B Demand Generation
In today’s market landscape (regardless of industry) B2B brands can’t succeed without strong demand generation strategies. Prospective customers require multiple touches before they convert to a lead let alone begin to make a purchase decision — according to Garnter research, it can take up to 24 interactions from inquiry to conversion.
This means B2B demand generation is a long game. It requires well-rounded strategies with multiple tactics, targeted messaging, and cross-team collaboration to guide prospects from their initial point of interest to becoming a qualified lead.
With so much to consider, where do you start? In this post, we’ll run through the basics of B2B demand generation and 5 actionable tactics for execution.
- Demand generation efforts encapsulate customers at every stage of the sales pipeline.
- Effective demand generation strategies take a full-funnel approach, tailoring messaging to prospective customers at different places in their buyer journey.
- The most successful B2B companies are spending nearly half of their marketing budgets on content.
- Technology solutions are key for optimizing execution of demand generation tactics like customer relationship management, email campaigns, social media, and KPI reporting.
What is demand generation?
Demand generation is the process of building end-to-end brand awareness and engagement with your audience. It encapsulates prospective customers, current customers, and even those you lost — basically everyone at every stage of the sales pipeline.
It’s also the first step toward later revenue drivers like lead nurturing and sales. Here you can see how the three are positioned (and how their feedback loops are continually connected).
Demand generation requires a mixture of tactics that work together to provide a holistic, consistent customer experience while also effectively targeting every stage of the buyer journey.
Sound complex? In many ways, it is — especially for B2B brands. Buyers in the B2B sector are making decisions that generally require a larger financial investment than regular consumer purchases and that will have larger implications for their organizations.
Fortunately, technology tools exist today that make it possible for B2B sellers to navigate this complex landscape with strategies that are data-informed and automated to optimize execution. We’ll get into that more later, but first let’s dive deeper into the buyer journey and how it aligns with B2B demand generation strategies.
Taking a full-funnel approach to demand generation
What do we mean by full-funnel? In short, your B2B demand generation strategy must include intentional, targeted messaging for customers at every stage of the buyer journey. Someone who is first becoming aware of their pain points will require much different information than a prospective buyer who is ready to make a purchase decision.
Missing the mark on your messaging in this regard can quickly send customers elsewhere — namely, to brands who are doing a better job making them feel understood.
Here’s how the buyer journey and demand generation process align:
As you can see, demand generation requires different — and targeted — messaging depending on where your customer is on the buyer journey. This is why it requires a mix of tactics that address the range of customer needs that exist along the pipeline.
So how can you execute a strategy that requires so many moving parts? Successful companies do it by employing several tactics, leveraging technology to help automate, target, and evaluate them, and practicing cross-team collaboration internally to provide an optimized experience for every customer.
Demand generation tactics that work
Create great content
Today, content is one of the most-leveraged and most effective demand generation strategies across industries and markets. In fact, the Content Marketing Institute reports that the most successful B2B companies are spending (on average) 40% of their entire marketing budget on content.
They publish all kinds of content:
This wide range of content types is one of the most effective and efficient ways companies can execute full-funnel marketing. When you create content for every stage of the funnel and use best practices like targeted keywords, SEO, optimized website navigation, and blog themes and categories, you can publish content and trust that search engines and your website will lead customers to the content that’s right for them.
If that weren’t reason enough, content has several other demand generation benefits that B2B marketers won’t want to ignore:
- Most effective way to capture top-of-the-funnel interest (72% of B2B buyers start their research on a search engine)
- Builds trust by providing consistent value without making a hard sales pitch
- Provides opportunity to build return audiences (through blog follows, newsletter subscriptions, etc.)
- Encourages brand advocacy with high shareability (blog posts shared on LinkedIn or other social media, backlinks on other websites, etc.)
Use effective lead magnets
Let’s stop here to clarify the difference between demand generation and lead generation. While closely related (and often used interchangeably), they are different. Demand generation focuses more heavily on awareness and interest, while lead generation focuses more on actual conversions. But lead magnets are important to driving demand — and they don’t actually do the job of converting leads, only capturing them.
So what are lead magnets anyway? In short, lead magnets offer something of value (typically a piece of downloadable content) in exchange for contact information. Lead magnet content is higher value than the content published for free on your blog or website. Typically, they aim to solve a particular problem or challenge that your target customer encounters.
Common types of lead magnets include:
- PDF checklists or guides
- Ebooks and whitepapers
- Video content (like webinars or how-to videos)
- Usable templates
The benefits of lead magnets are plentiful: they build trust, demonstrate expertise, show prospective buyers how you can provide value, and give you something tangible (contact info) to use for prospect follow-up.
Increase social media engagement
Today, your social media presence is nearly as expected (and definitely as important) as your company website, and B2B consumers turn to social media to learn more about brands and engage with them directly. It’s one of the easiest ways to interact with your audience and has extremely high shareability potential.
You can use social media to boost demand generation by:
- Build social proof by getting reviews directly through your platforms
- Answering questions
- Responding to comments on your posts
- Sharing blog posts and other content
- Build a following that sees your content on a regular basis
Leverage technology tools
Smart companies use technology solutions to enhance their demand generation strategies to be data-driven, targeted, and automated. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution; some companies leverage tools that handle one specific tactic (like an email marketing platform or lead capture form) while others look for more comprehensive solutions (like end-to-end CRM software).
Depending on your specific budget and needs, you can utilize tech solutions to do things like:
- Systematically manage prospects through the entire pipeline
- Send targeted email campaigns and analyze their performance
- Grow and measure social media engagement
- Capture leads more effectively through a landing page
- Manage content creation and publication
- Create data visualizations for better reporting
Encourage cross-team collaboration
It’s easy to lump top-of-the-funnel prospects into marketing’s bucket and consider qualified leads the responsibility of your sales team. But keeping boundaries rigid and internal teams siloed can negatively impact demand growth. Making demand generation a part of your larger organizational strategy can foster important consistency in messaging and continuity in engagement. This requires aligning your teams and fostering ongoing communication so that demand turns into qualified leads and leads turn into paying customers.
Want to learn more about how RevBoss can help you grow your pipeline and win more customers? Schedule a free consultation with one of our specialists today!