If you’ve landed here, it’s safe to say you probably have some questions about demand generation. Most likely, the first one is “What exactly is it?”
The common misconception is that demand generation is all about creating demand for a product. The clue’s in the name, right? Well, demand generation is actually far more than that.
In an industry where creating better brand-to-customer relationships is everything, demand generation is an umbrella term for a range of marketing activities that drive long-term engagement—including lead generation, demand capture, and pipeline acceleration.
It includes a series of touchpoints designed to raise awareness of customer challenges, position your brand as a trusted advisor, generate leads, sell your solution, and—if done correctly—foster genuine brand loyalty.
The “long-term” element is essential. Demand generation isn’t a quick fix. It’s a gradual, comprehensive, holistic approach to engagement that comprises dedicated inbound marketing tactics, social interactions, ebook campaigns, weekly newsletters, pop-up events, webinars, and more.
Done properly, demand generation can create awareness around the issues most relevant to your business, provide sales the qualified leads it need to close deals, and position marketing as a revenue generator instead of a cost center.
So, how does Marketo define demand generation?
The three pillars of demand
Demand generation can be easily split into three key pillars:
1. Lead generation
Before any other stages of demand generation can happen, you need to have leads to deliver your strategy to. Lead generation involves gaining the interest of potential customers and adding them to your marketable database. Once captured through a nurture program, these leads can then be handed to sales development to guide them through the sales funnel.
2. Demand capture
If there is existing demand in the market, you can capture it and guide potential customers to your products and services. This process involves a range of lower funnel content that will establish your brand proposition, such as PPC advertisements, SEO optimizations, and 3rd party intent data.
3. Pipeline acceleration
Once you’ve succeeded at generating or capturing demand as opportunities, you can speed up the sales process using pipeline acceleration techniques. These can be as simple as engaging in conversation with potential customers or creating highly targeted content that meets your leads’ pain points and is appropriate to their position in the sales funnel. Field marketing events are also a very common tactic for pipeline acceleration.
The five stages of demand generation
Because demand generation is so comprehensive, the hardest part can be knowing where to start.
In later posts in this blog series, we’ll take a deep dive into the stages of a successful campaign. But for now, here’s an overview of the five key components:
The best place to start planning a demand generation campaign? At the end, of course.
By identifying the end goals of your campaign up front, you can plan the rest of your strategy around them.
For instance, if you pin down your booking revenue goals, you can then work backward to figure out how many opportunities, SQLs, and MQLs you’ll need to hit that target.
And that will dictate how many marketing programs you undertake to generate these leads.
Of course, before you decide what the programs entail, you need to know who you’re targeting.
Understanding your audience and building customer profiles will help you target your marketing more precisely. You can develop personas based on the roles, needs, and objectives of your target audience. And the more details you can include, the better.
Because consumers today are so overloaded with information, strategic audience marketing is more crucial than ever. Ad blockers, email opt-outs, and even new laws, like GDPR, have given consumers more control over which brands they engage with—and they can easily reject brands that fail to respect their communication preferences.
Once you cement your goals and audience, it’s time to plan and produce content for each stage of the marketing funnel.
The pre-purchase, top-of-funnel stage should include “light” thought-leadership content that builds brand awareness, highlights a need, and drives desire.
In the mid-funnel, research-and-consideration stage, your job is to educate buyers of the challenges they face and help them solve their issues with things like whitepapers, buying guides, analyst reports, and ROI calculators.
Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, you’ll deliver company-specific information, like demo offers, case studies, and third-party reviews, to reinforce that your product is the best choice.
Creating great content is important. But you also need to understand the best way to get it to your audience.
Delivering content to your prospects and directing them to the right place will involve a robust mix of programs covering a variety of channels—email, social, direct mail, even live events.
The distribution method will change based on the stage of the funnel. At the top, you’ll likely use display networks, remarketing, and social channels to cast your net.
At the bottom of the funnel, you’ll leverage paid search and email to drive direct response and convert prospects into qualified leads.
You can’t understand how your programs perform unless you measure everything they do.
Remember when we recommended starting your campaign by identifying your end goals? Well, that’s only half the equation. The other half is determining and tracking your key performance indicators (KPIs) to see if your demand generation program is achieving its goals.
This includes early-, mid-, and late-stage metrics that cover everything from the program cost, new targets, and cost-per-target to the number of opportunities your campaign has generated and how much revenue you can attribute to it.
Analytics and operations are two of the fastest-growing areas in marketing—largely because marketers are eager to show the results of their campaigns. Understanding what KPIs you need to track and having the reporting infrastructure in place to track them enables you to easily illustrate ROI.
Three tips for demand generation success
Demand generation can be complicated. But our experience has taught us a few things that can help ensure success. Here are three top tips for making sure your campaigns hit the mark:
1. Give your prospects something great
Whether it’s your weekly email newsletter, an ebook, or a product demo, make sure the things you put out into the world are valuable.
By providing something truly useful, you make a prospect more likely to part with the coveted contact information that helps you qualify them as a lead. Plus, they’ll be much more likely to remember your brand and come back to it in the future.
2 Be original
Content marketing is a crucial element of demand generation. And doing it well requires two things: investment and originality.
There’s no point in regurgitating what’s already out there. In fact, it’s a surefire way to get lost in the crowd. Instead, pepper your content with original insights, research, and expert takes on emerging trends—it’s the best way to make sure your brand stands out.
3. Never stop testing
Let’s face it: marketing is sometimes one big hypothesis. We think we know what messaging resonates and what content our audience wants. And digital data has certainly given us some confidence here. But at the end of the day, we can’t get inside our audience’s head, so there will always be an element of the unknown.
The key to all successful marketing is knowing what your audience responds to—and A/B testing gives you the answers you need.
Do it correctly, and you can increase engagements, improve effectiveness, and raise the bar for your campaigns.
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