Demand generation is a data-driven marketing strategy that creates awareness of and interest in a company's offerings through the use of technology.
A true 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.
Demand Generation Fundamentals
Since demand generation programs encompass every single touchpoint (from building awareness through customer retention), they can be broken down into four manageable parts: brand awareness, inbound marketing, sales enablement and customer retention.
In order to generate demand, people have to know who you are. The first step is to develop brand awareness, the extent to which contacts and customers are able to recollect and recognize your brand.
Brand Awareness Methods
- Building brand identity: Your brand identity, how your values and purpose are manifested, helps your business differentiate itself from competitors. Developing a brand that resonates with your audience is vital to facilitate the recollection of your company and offering.
- Properly identifying buyer personas: In order to facilitate recall, you need to first know who the people are you’re trying to reach. Without properly identifying and outlining your buyer personas, you won’t be able to reach your potential customers where they are, making this stage of the process vital to your success.
- Establishing thought leadership: Maintaining thought leadership will help to position you as an authority in your space. When people think about your industry or the problem you solve, they are more apt to think of you if you’ve established thought leadership.
- Leveraging a strong social media presence: In the same vein as thought leadership, maintaining a strong social media presence is integral to brand recall. Leveraging social media is one of the easiest ways to communicate your brand. Individuals begin to associate what you post about with your brand. It also allows you to showcase your company culture and ideals in a succinct and authentic way.
- Maintaining public relations management: Maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship between the public and your organization is vital to developing good brand awareness. You want your business to be associated with good press and solving problems, not for bad press and creating problems.
- Creating a go-to-market strategy: Your go-to-market strategy is like your hypothesis, and demand generation is like your first experiment. Ultimately, you don’t know exactly what your market will demand from your offering or how quickly people will adopt your brand, but you can use your initial understanding and research on potential customers to get started. From there, you can use your demand generation efforts to inform your brand and product strategy moving forward — better aligning your brand and offering with buyer needs and positioning them for enhanced recall in the future.
Many believe the misconception that demand generation and inbound marketing are one in the same. But they're not. Demand generation is a function; you want to generate demand for your product or service. Meanwhile, inbound marketing is the method by which you can carry out that function. If you believe in educating your customer base and guiding them through the funnel with valuable content and offers, inbound marketing can help you do that.
Inbound marketing tactics work not only to convert visitors into leads and nurture leads into customers but also to generate demand for your product or service. After all, inbound is all about enabling consumers to identify and solve for their challenges with the help of your organization.
The list below details the essential inbound marketing elements needed to properly execute a comprehensive demand generation strategy.
Inbound Marketing Methods
- Blogging and SEO: In order to educate your visitors and begin to guide them down your funnel, you must be able to attract them to your website. Writing blogs about the topics your contacts care about and optimizing that content for search is a great way to organically draw visitors to your site.
- Paid advertising: Paid advertising can include targeted ad campaigns on both paid search and paid social channels. While it is often associated with inbound marketing, paid advertising can be executed with an inbound approach. Like blogging and SEO, it attracts visitors to your site by focusing on the keywords you know your buyers will be searching for.
- Gated content: Gated content consists of e-books, guides, white papers, videos or any other content that is worth downloading because it provides high value to your visitors and leads. These materials are vital because they allow you to continue educating contacts through the buying process. Additionally, when visitors fill out forms to access gated content, your company gets access to their information and they become leads.
- Lead generation: You’re not going to be able to sell to anyone without first generating leads. Ultimately, your sales team needs someone to follow up with. A lead is an individual that has voluntarily given you their information, providing candidates for you to nurture into marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). Besides filling out forms on gated content offers, you can also capture contacts’ information through chatbots, giving you another lead generation channel.
- Email marketing and lead nurturing: You’re not going to get a contact to go from converting into a lead to becoming a customer without educating them further, especially if your company has a complex sales process or a long sales cycle. By sending your contacts emails with valuable content and other resources, you can nurture them through the funnel. At each stage, you can present the next logical step, helping them progress along their journey.
Marketing and sales alignment is critical to the success of your entire business. Fortunately, sales enablement initiatives driven by a comprehensive demand generation strategy can promote unification across marketing and sales and, in turn, close more business.
The list below features sales enablement methods that can be executed by your marketing team to close the gap between marketing and sales.
Sales Enablement Methods
- Testimonials: A testimonial is like a trust mark. In a testimonial, someone considered to be a peer to your buyers endorses your company, suggesting to your potential customers that they should be confident in your skills and offering.
- Case studies: Case studies are similar to testimonials, but they provide proof to buyers of the work you’ve done. They also help buyers build trust while offering tangible results for buyers to consider.
- Fact sheets and FAQs: While testimonials and case studies are customer-facing, fact sheets and FAQs are often internal tools. Fact sheets provide information about your product or service, covering elements that could arise during sales calls. These often include comparisons between your product and those of your competitors, allowing sales reps to have peace of mind when discussing your competitive landscape. FAQs are talking points that buyers have previously asked about and you know arise frequently during sales conversations. They are presented as a list for sales reps to reference when they need succinct, well-thought-out answers. Ultimately, you want to provide sales reps with the best possible answers so they don’t stumble or overthink when it matters most.
- Estimate and discount calculators: At the end of the day, conversations with potential customers come down to the amount of value that they can gain from a partnership with you. With that in mind, it’s wise to help your sales team, and the end customer for that matter, visualize an outline of how much value contacts are going to receive by agreeing to a deal. Estimate and discount calculators help with that.
While acquiring new business is important, retaining, delighting and evangelizing your existing customers is critical for achieving sustained growth with your demand generation strategy.
You always want to go above and beyond for your customers, providing them with the ultimate impression of your company and your delivery. By under-promising and over-delivering, you can delight customers at every step of their journey. Of course, providing excellent customer service in this way is just one important method to fuel customer retention.
Customer Retention Methods
- Execute client marketing initiatives: You should always ensure your clients are aware of any new products or services that are available that could improve their experience. HubSpot is a great example of this. When they recently rolled out their Service Hub software, a tool focused on strengthening customer experience, they sent information out to their existing Marketing Hub and Sales Hub customers, telling them about their new product. Often, companies provide discounts to their existing customers to prompt such purchases.
- Use a knowledge base: By leveraging a knowledge base, a technology used to store information about your product (e.g. “how to” and “help” articles), you can help people get more value. It allows you to communicate how customers should effectively use your offering and outlines best practices for different scenarios.
- Employ a ticketing system: Whenever you are working with another company, consumer questions and problems will inevitably arise. A ticket system, a software that compiles all your customer support requests from various channels and helps you manage them, provides a simple means for clients to submit issues, or tickets, to you. From there, you can categorize, catalog and address the issues as quickly as possible, increasing customer satisfaction because people know their voices are heard.
- Appreciate your customers: Customer appreciation can include exclusive offers and services along with the events you host for your customers. These small tokens of appreciation can go a long way toward retaining customers and making them feel acknowledged.
- Generate up-sells and renewals: If you deliver your offering well, you should generate up-sells and renewals, but that doesn’t mean you can just bank on expansion happening. You should have a team devoted to helping customers understand when their renewals are coming up and what products or services are best suited for them. You’ll be able to generate more opportunities that way as people are more likely to take the next step after they’re prompted.
- Encourage feedback and make iterations: Demand generation should be a cycle. You market, sell and deliver your offering to individuals and then you interpret how they move through their buyer and customer journeys. Ultimately, you want to determine how you can improve your product and process. If you are thorough and track how people are experiencing your product at every step of the journey, then you can go back to the beginning and make the experience better for the next person.
- Leverage Net Promoter Score (NPS): Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures how likely someone is to recommend your company to others on a 1–10 scale. Using this customer satisfaction metric, you can easily identify how loyal your customers are and divide them into three categories: promoters (9+), passives (7–8), and detractors (0–6). Since it’s a standard tool that’s used across industries, you can compare how you’re doing against your competition or over the entire market. Another benefit is that by identifying customers who are promoters of your brand, you can pinpoint individuals who are good candidates to contribute testimonials and case studies.
The Importance of Data-Driven Decision Making
As we mentioned earlier, your go-to-market strategy represents your hypothesis for what the market wants. From there, demand generation represents your first experiment to support or disprove your hypothesis. Once you form a conclusion on your first hypothesis, you make another hypothesis and continue to test.
An essential pillar of any effective demand generation strategy is consistent optimization fueled by cross-channel analysis. Demand generation marketers are constantly experimenting and optimizing to simultaneously drive efficiency and revenue. Doing so enables them to effectively attribute marketing’s contribution to revenue, providing superior visibility stretching beyond the entire marketing and sales funnel.
A demand generation program is an essential step toward optimizing your marketing funnel and increasing your lead generation efforts. For a comprehensive look into what it takes to be a demand generation marketer and the tactics you can start deploying within your organization, download our Essential Guide to Demand Generation.
This post was originally published June 7, 2018.
Topics: Demand Generation