B2B demand generation marketing: Nearly everything you need to know

Whether you’re working at a startup or a large enterprise, demand generation marketing is too good for business to ignore. Because imagine this…

You’ve just launched a unique, innovative SaaS platform. You have no doubt that it’s the best on the market, sure to revolutionize your industry. BUT… no one’s buying. Like, at all. Why? Few people know your platform exists. And even the people who do know can’t articulate why they would choose your platform over another.

So, despite being the best on the market, you struggle to hit your sales goals. And eventually, you begin to doubt whether you’ll actually revolutionize your industry.

Unfortunately, this scenario happens all the time to businesses with outstanding products and services. But it doesn’t have to. If you apply what you’re about to learn in this guide, you can start to harness the power of demand generation (demand gen) to increase your sales pipeline with quality leads.

Here’s a preview of what we’ll cover:

  • The difference between demand generation and lead generation
  • A 5-step demand gen strategy using AI and exegraphic data
  • How to measure the success of a demand generation campaign
  • Our recommendations for the top demand gen tools
  • Answers to frequently asked questions on demand gen for startups, enterprises and everyone in between

Click the links above to skip to the section that interests you most. Or, stick with us, and we’ll teach you everything you need to know, starting with…

 

What is demand generation marketing?

Demand generation marketing is the process of creating interest in your brand and its offerings. Rather than waiting for your ideal customer to stumble upon your website, demand gen involves actively connecting with your target audience to:

  • Build brand awareness and interest in your offer
  • Attract and build long-term relationships with prospects
  • Nurture prospects towards making a purchase decision
  • Drive steady revenue for your business

If you think this sounds like lead generation, you’re not alone. But there is a difference. So, before we go further, let’s explain…

 

Demand generation vs. lead generation: What’s the difference?

Understandably, many people don’t know how to explain demand generation vs. lead generation. And that’s because both are important for a successful marketing strategy and often go hand in hand.

However, demand generation focuses on interest and desire for your product or service over the long term. In contrast, lead generation (aka lead gen) focuses more on acquiring new leads and customers.

For example, to generate demand, you might create compelling content that teaches your ideal buyer how to solve a common problem related to your offering. On the other hand, to generate leads, you might create a landing page to capture leads interested in signing up for a free trial of your service.

Ultimately, lead gen is a form of demand gen. But demand gen encompasses a broader range of marketing tactics to build brand awareness and get attention from high-quality leads—sometimes before they’re even in the market to purchase a new service or product.

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Why is demand generation important for B2B companies?

You may think, “I already have leads coming in from my marketing and sales team’s strategies. Why would I need to focus on demand gen?”

In today’s digital age, buyers are more informed and less reliant on salespeople for information. They’re also doing their own research before making a purchasing decision.

Just think about what you do whenever you need to buy new software for your job. You could only authorize purchasing new software after explaining why you’ve chosen it to your team.

So, you’ll research and read reviews before making a decision. Then, you may start seeing targeted ads and receiving content recommendations about one company. And because you’ve become familiar with this option, you’re more likely to consider it a top choice when it’s time to buy.

A demand gen campaign helps to build brand awareness to drive qualified leads to your business and build a steady pipeline of sales opportunities. And it does this without your sales team needing to push your audience with hard sales tactics, excessive discounts or endless promotions.

Instead, your ideal customer gets pulled through your demand generation funnel until they’re ready to contact your sales teams for more information or make a purchase.

 

What is a demand generation funnel?

Your demand generation funnel outlines a lead’s steps, from first becoming aware of your brand to making a purchase. It can also help you retain the customers you already have and increase their overall customer lifetime value. 

Creating this type of funnel is similar to any other marketing or sales funnel. You’d start by defining your ideal customer profile and developing buyer personas, then create messaging and content that aligns with each stage of the customer journey. 

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However, you’ll have the most success with your funnel if it’s incorporated into a strategy that begins with a rigorous update to your ideal customer profile.

 

How to develop a B2B demand generation strategy

Your marketing team is likely already doing things to drive demand for your product or service. For instance, you might drive demand with content marketing or social media campaigns.

But to truly succeed with demand generation marketing, you need a plan to ensure you’re targeting the right audience, creating personalized messaging and nurturing leads until they are sales-ready. Here’s an overview of a 5-step B2B demand generation strategy to achieve those goals.

 

Step 1: Determine clear goals and metrics of success

What exactly do you want to achieve with demand? Take some time to determine what a successful demand generation campaign would look like for you and ensure it aligns with your overall business goals.

Here are some examples of goals you may have for your demand gen campaigns:

  • Generate X number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
  • Increase website traffic by X% to build brand awareness
  • Decrease MQL churn rate by X%

Your goals will also inform the metrics you track to gauge success. We’ll discuss that soon. But first, your ICP needs an update. 

 

Step 2: Use exegraphic data to update your ICP

Understanding your ideal customer profile (ICP) and buyer personas is critical to creating a successful demand gen strategy. Doing so will inform your targeting and messaging, ensuring that you’re reaching the right people with the right message at the right time.

Unfortunately, many businesses use demographics and firmographics to make generic assumptions about their target audience. These two types of data give you information like geographic location, company size and industry. But they don’t provide the deeper insights that truly define your ideal customers.

That’s why we recommend studying the exegraphics of your current best customers to create a more comprehensive ICP. What are exegraphics? The behaviors, attitudes and motivations of your ideal customers that drive purchasing decisions. For example, an exegraphic of your ideal account might be:

  • Brands that are currently expanding their sales and marketing teams
  • Companies with a CEO who’s an early adopter of cloud-based software solutions
  • Businesses with high turnover in their accounting departments

Why go through all of the effort to create a more rigorous ICP? Because this is how you can better understand your customers’ pain points, buying behavior and more.

As a result, your demand generation campaigns have a higher chance of success because you’ll be able to create content that resonates with the issues your target audience is experiencing.

How do you find this information? Well, you could find it by studying things like a company’s website, job postings or messaging from PR campaigns. It might take you forever to gather sufficient information on all of your best customers, but you can do it.

Another option is Rev’s Sales Development Platform, which uses AI to gather this information quickly and create a dynamic model of your ICP that updates as the behaviors of your ideal customer change.

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Step 3: Create content for every stage of the customer journey

Content is a crucial component of demand generation, as it helps attract and educate prospects while driving them to take the desired actions. When creating demand gen content, you’ll aim to strike a balance of top-of-the-funnel (TOFU), middle-of-the-funnel (MOFU) and bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU) content.

TOFU Content

For the awareness stage, focus on providing valuable information about your industry and solutions to common problems that potential buyers may have. For example, you might create blog posts, whitepapers, infographics and social media posts.

MOFU Content

In the consideration stage, your content should focus on showcasing your product’s or service’s benefits and features. For example, case studies, demo videos, free trials and webinars could help guide prospects to begin seeing your business as a potential solution to their problem.

BOFU Content

Finally, for the decision stage, your content should focus on building trust and showcasing the results that customers can expect when using your product or service. This type of content can include product demos, ROI calculators and free consultations.

As you develop your content, you must also consider what channels you will use to distribute it. These channels may include your website, email marketing, paid advertising, social media and events.

 

Step 4: Test, analyze and optimize

You’ll want to regularly test, analyze and optimize your demand generation strategies to ensure it’s achieving the desired results. This can include A/B testing different variations of content, analyzing the performance of each distribution channel, and making changes based on what’s working and what’s not.

 

Step 5: Measure success based on your goals

Some people think measuring the ROI of demand generation is impossible because they believe there is no direct correlation between the strategies and revenue. However, that’s not true—it just takes a bit more effort to track the right metrics and connect them to your bottom line.

Once your demand gen campaigns run for a few months, go back to the goals you set in step 1. Where are you in terms of reaching those goals? Are you seeing an increase in website traffic or leads? Are those leads converting to customers at a higher rate? If not, it’s time to re-evaluate.

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How do you measure the success of demand generation strategies?

You’ll know whether your demand gen strategies are effective by tracking the metrics related to the goals set for your demand generation campaigns. Here are the metrics we recommend you use to communicate the value of demand gen to the rest of your organization: 

  • Number of marketing-qualified leads (MQLs): These are leads that have demonstrated interest in your product or service through their actions and fit your target buyer persona
  • MQL to SQL conversion rate: This metric tracks the effectiveness of your lead nurturing efforts by showing how many MQLs turn into sales qualified leads (SQLs)
  • MQL churn rate: The percentage of MQLs lost during the sales process
  • MQL and SQL to customer conversion rate: The percentage of MQLs and SQLs that turn into paying customers
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV): The total revenue that a customer is expected to generate over their lifetime with your company
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA): The cost incurred from sales and marketing activities to acquire one paying customer
  • Content marketing performance metrics: This could include metrics such as website page views, blog post shares and email open rates that come from your demand gen content and campaigns 
  • Close rate per channel: The percentage of leads converted to customers through each demand gen marketing channel
  • Marketing cycle length: The average time it takes for a lead to go through the entire funnel and become a customer
  • Contribution to total revenue: The percentage of revenue generated from demand generation strategies

For more information on these metrics, including tips on improving them, check out our article on demand generation metrics for B2B marketing

 

Which tools should you use to maximize your demand gen campaigns?

There’s a vast array of tools available for demand generation. These tools will help you automate and optimize your marketing efforts, saving time and improving results. Some particularly helpful ones we recommend are: 

  • Rev: A Sales Development Platform that uses AI to help you identify the exegraphic characteristics of your best customers, build a living model of your ICP and provide a data-driven list of high-fit target accounts. 
  • Ahrefs: An SEO tool that helps you do things like track your website’s search traffic, find the keywords your target audience uses on search engines and learn your competitors’ backlink strategy.
  • Quora: A Q&A website where you can answer relevant questions and build brand awareness by positioning yourself as an expert in your industry.
  • Leadpages: A website and landing page builder that includes options for lead generation forms and pop-ups.
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator: A tool for finding, connecting with and nurturing leads on LinkedIn.
  • Wishpond: A tool for creating and running social media contests, promotions and landing pages.
  • RiteKit: A tool for finding and scheduling relevant hashtags for social media posts and other tasks like creating and sharing branded graphics.
  • Outgrow: A tool for creating interactive content such as calculators, quizzes, and surveys to engage and capture leads.
  • HotJar: A tool for analyzing website user behavior and visually representing it through heatmaps, recordings and surveys.
  • Zapier: A tool for automating repetitive tasks by connecting different software and applications.
  • EverWebinar: A tool for automating live and evergreen webinars to generate demand and leads.
  • BuzzStream: A tool for managing and organizing outreach campaigns to potential leads and influencers.
  • ZoomInfo: A tool for finding and connecting with targeted accounts through advanced search filters.

For more information on these tools and why we recommend them, check out our article on the essential demand generation tools for B2B marketers.

 

Demand gen FAQ

There’s no one size fits all approach to demand generation, and it’s essential to tailor your strategy to fit the specific needs of your business. So, you may have questions we haven’t covered in this guide. However, here are answers to a few frequently asked questions that may arise as you get started:

 

How often should I run B2B demand generation campaigns?

The frequency will depend on your industry and target audience, but it’s important not to bombard your audience with too many messages. A good rule of thumb is to run campaigns consistently but not more than once a week.

 

Who is responsible for demand generation?

Ultimately, demand generation is a collaborative effort involving input and buy-in from sales, marketing, product and management. In larger organizations, a demand generation team or department may be responsible for planning and executing demand generation strategies. In startups and SMEs, the responsibility may fall on the marketing team or an individual marketer.

 

Does demand gen work for startups?

Demand gen can definitely work for startups, as it allows them to build awareness among their target audience and generate interest in their products or services.

However, startups may have to tailor their strategies and tactics compared to larger, established companies. This could include focusing on a niche audience and targeting them through personalized messaging and content. Startups may also have to be more resourceful and creative in their approach, using paid and organic tactics.

 

What makes valuable content for demand generation campaigns?

Demand generation content is valuable when it offers solutions and helpful information for potential customers rather than just promoting your products or services. Additionally, it should address your target audience’s specific pain points and needs.

 

How does thought leadership impact demand generation?

Establishing thought leadership in your industry can significantly impact demand generation. By positioning yourself as a go-to source for information and solutions in your field, your target audience will likely turn to your business when they need it. 

Thought leadership pieces can also increase brand recognition and trust, leading to more organic demand generation. Additionally, thought leadership can help establish valuable partnerships and collaborations with other industry leaders, further expanding your reach and potential customer base.

 

How is inbound marketing different from demand generation? 

Inbound marketing focuses on creating valuable content and experiences for customers to attract them to your brand. Demand generation, on the other hand, aims to actively drive demand for your products and services through targeted tactics and campaigns. 

While inbound marketing is a larger umbrella strategy, demand generation can be a tactic you use within or without an overall inbound strategy.

 

Can demand generation increase pipeline growth?

Yes, demand generation can increase pipeline growth by sending your sales team high-quality leads that show signs of being ready to convert. However, it’s essential to remember that a demand generation strategy should be supplemented with efficient lead scoring, lead nurturing and sales processes to maximize pipeline growth.

For example, Splunk increased its pipeline by 15% using Rev to develop an AI-generated ICP, identify leads in a new market segment and run an efficient content syndication campaign targeting high-fit accounts with a high propensity to engage.

 

What are some examples of businesses that demonstrate demand gen best practices?

One example of a company that excels at demand generation is HubSpot. They have a well-defined buyer persona and offer various free educational content, including online courses, webinars and ebooks, to attract their ideal buyers.

Another example is Litmus. To generate demand for their email marketing platform, Litmus has created various resources, such as ebooks and blog articles, to educate their audience on email marketing best practices.

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Final thoughts

Demand generation shouldn’t be an afterthought for any brand that wants to increase sales and attract high-quality leads. It’s one of the best ways to drive long-term growth and success as it builds a foundation for the continuous demand of your offer.

If you want to hit the ground running with demand gen, make sure you take time to understand your ideal customer profile before you launch your next campaign. Contact us, and we’ll help you create an ICP that reveals the hidden characteristics your best customers share.