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Today’s buyers can get the information they want—when they want it—online. So how can your marketing message reach them? Demand generation is all about understanding the buyer’s needs and nurturing the decision-making process, rather than merely pushing marketing messages at them. Demand generation involves creating, nurturing, and managing a prospect’s buying interest through cross-channel campaign, lead, and data management.
Demand generation occurs when marketers create, nurture, and manage buying interest through cross-channel campaign, lead, and data management.
To get started with demand generation, you must understand a buyer’s interest area, interest level, and where they are in the buying process. You can accomplish this by analyzing their online behavior, or digital body language.
For B2C, this information can structure content delivery and communications that turn transactions into relationships, which can mean repeat business.
For B2B, lead scoring software can determine which buyers are ready to engage with sales. Lead scoring assigns value to leads based on behaviors that have indicated interest in a company’s products and services. The score ranks the leads that seem more interested and are likely to make a purchase. After passing along these qualified leads, you can engage the rest in a lead nurturing program using lead nurturing software that helps maintain these prospects’ interest level over time.
Once you know your buyer’s needs, you can personalize your marketing campaigns based upon this information. It requires an in-depth level of personalization around targeting, timing, and content. It also involves the use of cross-channel marketing software to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time.
To succeed with demand generation, data quality and data management are critical. As you interact with prospective buyers over a longer period of time, you’ll want to ensure that your data is clean and up to date. And since marketing campaigns often depend on software to get the right targeting, timing, and content for each communication, you’ll need to standardize your data so that it can conform to automated rules for personalization, segmentation, and lead scoring.
As you begin to see results with demand generation, you can adopt a whole new approach to marketing campaign analysis. When you examine the marketing funnel by buyer stage, you’ll recognize that any buying process may encompass multiple campaigns and events. You can then begin to understand how each of those campaigns influenced buyer behavior and how the revenue you achieved can be attributed across the many campaigns involved. This new approach to marketing analysis provides a much clearer view into marketing effectiveness than was ever possible before.
While demand generation and lead generation sound familiar, they are two different concepts. Demand generation is defined as using targeted marketing programs to raise awareness and build interest in a brand and its products and services. Modern Marketers drive demand, creating a want for what you can provide.
Lead generation, on the other hand, is when you identify and nurture prospects with the hopes of turning them into sales leads.
There is some overlap between the two. Demand generation drives interest in products and services, while lead generation uses this interest to nurture prospects and convert them into leads. Lead generation is just one aspect of a broader, overall demand generation strategy.
Marketers can use lead generation techniques without a demand generation strategy and you might get some leads. But in digital marketing, quality always delivers better results than quantity. Demand generation touches every stage of the customer’s journey, building and nurturing prospect interest to better qualify them as leads. Instead of collecting leads from all interest levels, demand generation provides leads that are more engaged and interested. In the end, it’s probably a better investment of your resources.
Demand generation and lead generation work best in concert. In fact, a successful demand generation strategy needs a strong lead generation component. Demand generation helps you increase awareness of your brand, reach new markets, and create interest in your products. That will drive people to your website, blogs, and social media, where lead generation occurs when prospects sign up for emails, newsletters, demos, webinars, and take other actions that indicate interest. This enables you to collect the data you need to fine-tune the lead generation process, nurture these prospects, and convert them to qualified leads.
Content marketing is a vital tool for both lead generation and demand generation. There are many different types of email marketing content—from newsletters to infographics. Blogs, white papers, ebooks, case studies, and other written content provide information that helps build customer trust over time. Infographic, charts, and other visual content can present statistics and complex product points more succinctly than text and are easier for mobile users to digest. While videos can be helpful to break through the clutter and quickly grab attention. Your email campaigns can incorporate all of them, or just one, depending on your audience and the goals you want to achieve.
Regardless of the type of content you make use of, your content should be:
Content can range widely in form and format. You can use written content, such as blogs, white papers, ebooks, and case studies. Sometimes, visual content works better, especially if your audience is composed of visual learners or perhaps they are viewing the content off a phone or mobile device, which doesn’t lend itself as well to longer written pieces. However, an infographic or chart might sum up your point more succinctly and neatly than several blocks of text and would be easier for the mobile user to digest. Some audiences might prefer videos or interactive content. Email marketing can even be a mix of written, visual, and interactive content, if you choose.
Your audience and the needs of your business will dictate what content you use and when.
How you develop your marketing content depends on whether it will be used for lead generation or demand generation.
For example, lead generation relies heavily on what is called gated content. What is gated content? It’s typically a newsletter, webinar, demo, or another type of content that you promote on your website or social media. Interested prospects have to click through to a landing page to sign up for this content—opening the gate, so to speak. In exchange for access to your content, they are offering up their contact information and some data about themselves.
With gated content, your prospects expect that your content has enough value that they are willing to give you their contact information in return. You now have the ability to nurture these prospects through the sales cycle so that they become qualified leads to turn over to your sales team. By observing their behaviors in regard to your products and services, you can determine the type of content to send them next and personalize it. You then hope to guide them through the sales cycles so that they become a qualified lead to turn over to your sales team.
Content marketing for demand generation works differently. It’s not gated because the goal here is to drive demand and pique interest by casting a wider net out to the general public. Instead, your content is available for everyone as an article on your website, a video on YouTube, or a press release. This type of informational content provides thought leadership and enhances your brand and reputation by positioning your company as an expert in the industry.
Demand generation content helps grow your audience so that you’ll have new prospects checking out your social media and other webpages—and signing up for lead generation content.
Demand generation impacts every stage of the customer journey, from when they first learn about you to when they buy an add-on service and become a repeat customer. Demand generation can even play a role in helping satisfied customers become advocates for your brand who recommend your products and services to others.
To be successful, your demand generation strategy should include the following touchstones.
What does your audience already know about your company? To build your company’s identity and reputation, start by asking pertinent questions such as how do you want people to view you? Who is your audience? Who are you trying to help? Once you have this insight, you can work on your brand and image and assess your marketing goals. Ask yourself pertinent questions, such as how do you want people to view you? And who is your audience? Who are you trying to help?
Create buyer personas that break down your audience and give you a better idea of how to reach and connect with them. To engage with the public at large, build your thought leadership, social media, and public relations presence.
Inbound marketing can help create demand for your products and services. Don’t underestimate the potential of SEO-optimized content, like online articles and blogs, to make people aware of your company and the solutions you offer.
Sales enablement is the point where marketing and sales come together. Both teams should be aligned to better fuel your marketing efforts and empower your sales teams. When a customer is close to making a decision, the right content can help convert them into a lead. This includes case studies, customer success stories, testimonials, fact sheets, and reference guides. Making this content easily available to sales provides them with the tools they need to engage with buyers throughout the buying process.
Once you gain a new customer, stay in touch. Emails, newsletters, invitations to events, premium content, and product offers are all proven ways to build customer relationships—and repeat business. Because your most profitable customers are often the ones you already have.