What is outbound lead generation?

Not all outbound lead generation strategies are built equally. While some are effective within a short time, others require a compound investment.

This post distills the best outbound lead generation strategies and how to execute them to get lasting results fast. We’ll cover:

  • Outbound lead generation and how it works
  • Methods you can use to generate leads
  • The benefits of outbound lead generation 
  • And more

Without much ado, let’s dive right in.

 

What is outbound lead generation?

Outbound lead generation is a sales and marketing strategy used to build pipeline by reaching out directly to prospects—and often to people who may not know your company or the solution you offer. It’s a way to open new opportunities and expand your customer base.

Outbound lead gen is a critical strategy for many B2B companies and can take many forms: cold calling, email and social selling. At the end of the day, it’s about reaching out and engaging with potential future customers. And, in order for it to be effective, you and your team need to be strategic about who you target in the first place and how you reach out to them.

 

Inbound vs. outbound

Simply put, inbound lead generation is about attracting people to your business through content and outbound lead generation focuses on actively searching for and reaching out to potential customers.

The benefit of inbound is that people often find you as they’re actively looking for a solution to a problem they’re facing. The content you created—with no strings attached—caught their attention, guided them in solving their problem and helped build trust with your brand. These folks found your company organically, which means you didn’t have to risk annoying or bombarding them with calls or emails. You simply served valuable content that was relevant to their interests.

Outbound, on the other hand, has a reputation for being a little more aggressive. The upside of outbound is that its active nature has the potential to bring in more qualified, people—and customers—grow your bottom line. 

With outbound, you’re often targeting net-new accounts targeting accounts, so there’s a lot of growth potential. And today, there are many aspects of outbound lead generation that can be automated, making it a less time-consuming process.

So, which method is best for you? That depends on your business and your goals. Many B2B organizations use both. But in general, outbound lead generation can be more effective—especially if you’re looking to reach a specific target market.

 

What are the benefits of outbound lead generation?

There are several benefits to outbound lead generation. They include:

1. Increase brand awareness

By reaching out to potential customers, you’re putting your company in front of people who may not have heard of you. And that can be a great way to increase mind share,  market share and grow your business.

 

2. Hyper-target lead

If you take a very thoughtful approach with your outbound efforts, you can tailor your communications to reach and resonate with people who are great fits for your product/service—and have a high propensity to engage. Doing this allows you to save time, money and increases the speed by which these leads move from prospect to closed-won.

 

3. Speed

And speaking of speed, outbound lead generation also allows you to reach new prospects faster. No need to passively wait for them to stumble upon your blog post or infographic. Since you are sending an email directly to someone who fits your ICP—and at the exegraphic level, you’re already increasing your chances of a response.

 

4. Automation

Many steps within your outbound lead generation strategy can be automated so you don’t have to spend time manually contacting leads one-by-one every day. It also allows for more consistent sales activity over time. 

 

5. Reach new markets

Outbound lead generation helps you reach potential customers on a larger scale. This expands your customer base and builds brand awareness for your business in a more active way than inbound marketing allows.

 

Outbound lead generation strategies

When it comes to outbound lead generation, you need to think beyond the basics. You can’t just pick up the phone and start dialing or send an email without putting any thought into it. Well, you can, but it won’t be fruitful.

Instead, create a strategy that targets the right people and engages them in the right conversation. But, how do you do that effectively? There are several things you can do.

 

Cold calling

Even though it often gets a bad wrap, cold calling is a great way to generate outbound leads and build your sales pipeline. 

Start by researching the best times to call and know how to pitch your company’s products. Make sure you have a prioritized target account list so you know exactly whom to contact…and whom to contact next. Understand what makes these accounts a good fit for your product/service, so you can guide the conversation in the most effective way possible—and even follow-up the conversation with a piece of collateral that can help your prospects solve their problem, whether or not they decide to purchase from you. This is a great way to build trust with them and demonstrate that you have their best interest in mind.

 

Outbound email

A cold, outbound email is another way for you to get in front of a prospect that hasn’t yet heard of you. With email, you can build relationships with prospects, build trust with them and educate them about your product or service.

A word of caution: Spam filters are a big barrier to success for this tactic. If you slap in a bunch of keywords and send a “buy our stuff” message to your database, your email will end up in your prospect’s spam folder and not their inbox. 

So, how do you avoid this? First, personalize your message and make it conversational. Even if you rely on automation to send your outreach sequences, make sure you add the human touch to your message to minimize the chances of your email getting filtered out.

 

Social selling

Social media. What can we say about it besides everyone is on it? So, why not get in front of new prospects there?

Social selling allows you to use social media channels to find new prospects, build connections with them and generate more leads. For the B2B world, LinkedIn is a great platform to use. But, depending on your ICP, you might also want to consider using Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Twitter. 

 

Multi-channel outreach

Teams used to rely on one or two channels to generate leads. That’s no longer the case—and that’s where multi-channel outreach becomes essential. 

Buyers today don’t just read one magazine, listen to one podcast or use one social media platform. They’re much more complex than that—which means you need to stay top of mind for them. With the right outbound strategy, you can do just that.

That may mean that your outreach plans include cold calling, a follow-up email, a message on LinkedIn and other forms of direct communication. Find the balance that works best for your ICP and lean into it.

 

Who makes up the outbound team?

When you’re putting together an outbound team, there are a few key positions you need to fill, which include; 

1. Sales development representatives

Sales development reps (SDRs) are the frontline of many outbound lead gen strategies. They’re the ones cold calling prospects and sending emails—day after day after day. They’re the ones tasked with initially pitching your product/service to the prospects, and getting a commitment from the prospect to learn more.

 

2. Account executives

Account executives take the warm lead from the SDRs and move them (if all goes well) through to closed-won. An effective account executive will always act in the best interest of the lead—and the company—by clearly communicating the value of the product/service they’re selling. Just like SDRs, they’re intimately familiar with your company’s ICP so they know exactly how to speak to the value the prospect can expect and will receive.

 

3. Content marketers

Content marketers are often associated with inbound marketing, but don’t take that to mean they don’t play a critical role in outbound lead gen. In fact, great content marketers can arm your SDRs with content to include in their emails. These could be exciting articles about your industry or products, or they could be short videos, infographics and ebooks that help you explain how your product works in a fun way.

 

Final thoughts

Now that you’re familiar with outbound lead generation—the process of reaching out to potential customers who don’t know you exist yet—you can decide if it’s the best strategy for your organization. While outbound lead gen can be a great way to get more leads and grow your business, it can also be a lot of work. So, make sure you set yourself up for success.

At Rev, we believe outbound success starts at the very beginning, by targeting the right accounts—the ones that fit the characteristics you care about most. We’re not just talking about firmographic details. We believe it’s important to understand how your ideal customers run their business. And with the help of AI, you don’t need to guess. Our Sales Development Platform can tell you exactly what your ideal customer profile is—and it can build you a prioritized list of other accounts that look just like them.

Want a free list of customers that match your ideal customer profile? Contact us.

Inbound vs. outbound sales: What, when and how

We studied the best marketing and sales minds and distilled them to a simple conclusion:

“Every sales strategy can be categorized into two buckets; inbound or outbound, and neither is the better way to sell.”

In fact, both are great and often used together as part of a larger GTM strategy. So, to help you understand inbound and outbound, this post will cover everything from their differences to the pros and cons of each approach. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of which sales strategy is right for your business (and when).

 

What is inbound sales?

Inbound is a sales and marketing strategy focused on attracting customers through helpful and exciting content that draws people toward your product or service. It’s all about providing value to prospects—no strings attached.

Think about the last time you Googled something like, “How to improve SDR pipeline.” You were likely looking for an article, infographic, report or video that would answer your question and give you the guidance you need to quickly get back on your way. (You definitely weren’t looking for a sales pitch.) The same principles are true for inbound sales. 

To support an inbound motion, businesses create content meant to deliver immediate value—agnostic of your product and without selling. The goal is simply to attract and build trust with prospects. The long-term play is to then rely on that genuine trust to build a relationship that eventually turns a prospect into a customer and an advocate.

 

Components of inbound selling

Inbound selling has four key components:

1. Attraction

Before any sale can happen, you need to discover and attract the right audience. Inbound sales relies on content and SEO strategies to draw people in.

2. Engagement

Once you have someone’s attention, you need to engage them further. You can use forms, live chat and email marketing to continue the conversation.

3. Nurture

Inbound sales aims to turn prospects into customers, nurture the relationship and build trust over time. Why not sell right away? Because most people aren’t ready to buy when they first learn about your company and what you can do for them.

4. Close

After you’ve provided value and built a relationship, you can close the sale. You can (and should) use call-to-actions, special offers and free trials to seal the deal.

 

Benefits of inbound sales

Inbound has become very popular over the last several years, and for good reason. It works—and the results are visible.

  1. Increased ROI: Inbound sales is a cost-effective way to sell. It relies on content and digital marketing, which are relatively cheap compared to other marketing, lead gen and nurturing strategies.
  2. Long-term results: With inbound sales, you’re not just focused on making a one-time sale. You’re also focused on building relationships and developing trust, which leads to repeat business and more referrals.
  3. Greater customer insight: Inbound sales gives you a better understanding of your customers and what they’re looking for. You can use this information to improve your product or service and build a stronger bond with your current (and future) customers.
  4. Increased brand awareness: With inbound, you have the potential to reach a broader audience base, which creates wider brand awareness and, most importantly, more leads.
  5. More qualified leads: With inbound sales, you’re attracting prospects who already show interest in what you offer. This means that you’re more likely to close the sale and less likely to waste time on unqualified leads.
  6. Increased customer loyalty: Inbound sales helps you build relationships with your customers, which leads to increased customer loyalty and lifetime value.

Drawbacks of inbound sales

We just listed the pros… but there are also cons. You’ll want to take both into consideration as you determine what’s best for your org.

  1. It takes time to see results: Inbound sales is a long-term strategy that can take months to pan out. This can be frustrating for businesses that need quick sales to stay afloat.
  2. It requires a lot of content: Inbound relies on content to attract and engage customers. This means you need to have a lot of high-quality content to start.
  3. It’s not suitable for all businesses: Inbound sales might not be the best option for businesses that sell low-cost items or those with a minimal target market.
  4. It can be difficult to measure results: Measuring the effects of inbound sales can sometimes be difficult. That’s because there are often many touchpoints between the first contact and the final sale. So, you’ll need to track your inbound efforts to see which strategies are working and which aren’t.
  5. You need to be patient: As we mentioned, inbound sales is a long-term strategy. This means that you need to be patient and prepared for some ups and downs along the way as you measure to see what’s working so you can refine your strategy as you scale.

What is outbound sales?

Outbound sales is the traditional sales strategy where businesses proactively reach out to prospects. It typically involves cold-calling and emailing contacts within your target accounts, and attending trade shows.

The goal of outbound is to find potential customers and turn them into actual customers before those prospects even know or think to look for you. Traditional outbound —which includes a manual process of determining which companies to target—can be taxing. And the stakes are high. Afterall, your competitors are likely out there searching for and pitching the same folks. So, it becomes a race for who can get to them first.

 

Components of outbound sales

There are four key components of outbound sales:

1. Identification

The first step in outbound is building your target account list. As we mentioned, this is often a time-consuming manual process that is often powered by guesswork. Instead, we recommended you build your target account list with a little help from AI.

2. Contact

Once you’ve identified potential targets, the next step is to contact them. This can be done through phone calls, emails or face-to-face meetings.

3. Qualification

The next step is to qualify the potential customer. This is where you determine whether or not they’re a good fit for your product or service. (And, if you use Rev to build your TAL, you’ll have insight into their readiness.)

4. Engagement

The next step is to engage with prospects to sell them your product or service. This can be done through a sales presentation, demo, free trial or other methods.

5. Closing

The final step is to close the sale and get the customer to commit to buying your product or service. This can be done through negotiation, discounts or other methods.

 

Benefits of outbound sales

There are several benefits of outbound sales, which include:

  1. Increased reach: One of the main benefits of outbound sales is that it allows you to reach more prospects; you’re not limited to just your current customer base or website visitors.
  2. Greater flexibility: Outbound sales allows you to be more flexible in your sales approach. With outbound, you can tailor your sales pitch to each customer.
  3. Improved control: Outbound sales gives you more control over the sales process. You control when and how you contact potential customers.
  4. Increased sales: While outbound sales takes more time and effort than inbound, it can lead to more sales. Outbound sales is often considered a “numbers game” because the more people you contact, the more likely you will make a sale.

Drawbacks of outbound sales

And of course, there are drawbacks too. They include:

  1. It’s time-consuming: Sales reps spend time cold calling, sending emails and researching potential leads. This can be very time-consuming and may not always result in a sale. (And, if they’re talking to prospects that don’t match your ICP, they’re wasting their time.)
  2. It can be expensive: Since outbound sales is often very time-consuming, it can also be quite expensive. Companies that engage in outbound sales typically have to pay their sales representatives a high salary and cover the cost of any lead generation tools or software they use.
  3. It can be disruptive: Many people do not appreciate receiving unsolicited phone calls or emails from sales representatives. This can be disruptive and even annoying, which may make it difficult to establish a good rapport with potential customers.
  4. It may not be effective: Despite the time and effort often put into outbound sales, it may not always result in sales. In many cases, potential customers are simply not interested in what is being sold, no matter how hard you try to sell it to them.
  5. It can damage a company’s reputation: If a company’s outbound sales tactics are too aggressive or intrusive, it can damage its reputation. This could lead to fewer people doing business with the company, which would ultimately hurt its bottom line.

When to use inbound vs. outbound

When should you use inbound and when should you use outbound? The answer isn’t always cut and dry, but here are some guiding principles to help you understand when each is most likely to be effective.

1. The type of product or service you’re selling.

If you’re selling a product or service that is high-priced or complex, then you may want to prioritize inbound sales. It allows you to build relationships with potential customers and educate them about your product before trying to sell it to them. In fact, when you invest in inbound for a high-priced product, you’re also creating brand awareness which creates air cover for your outbound teams. And that will help them open doors.

2. The type of customer you’re targeting.

If you’re targeting customers who are already interested in your product or service, then you may want to double down on inbound sales; you can target customers who are already signaling purchase intent. But, if you’re looking to target prospects who may have not yet heard of you—and you want to reach them before they’ve heard of your competitors—outbound is the way to go. Targeting companies that have the characteristics that most resemble your best customers will give you the competitive edge.

3. Your goals and objectives.

Finally, it’s essential to consider your goals and objectives when choosing which, when and how to implement inbound and outbound motions. If your goal is to generate leads and build relationships, then you may need to give your attention to building a stronger inbound motion. However, if your goal is to close deals and make sales, then outbound sales may need your attention. And, as you can tell, both are important parts of the equation—which is why many companies have both.

 

Final thoughts

There are several factors to consider when evaluating inbound and outbound sales. Ultimately, the best option for your business will depend on your specific goals and objectives.

With Rev, you can support your inbound strategy by tapping into our high-quality, AI-powered MQLs and fuel your outbound by building and prioritizing your target list with accounts that have the characteristics you care about most. 

Contact us, and we’ll show you how we use AI and exegraphics to help companies grow predictable pipeline. (We’ll even give you a free list of target accounts that most resemble your best customers.)

10 key demand generation metrics for B2B marketing

Do you think your company’s CEO cares about web traffic, impressions or leads as much as your marketing team? Probably not! Because what she really cares about is revenue. 

So, as a B2B marketer, you need to be able to show the impact your demand generation efforts are having on the bottom line. Otherwise, you’re just working in a silo and your marketing efforts will eventually get cut.

But how do you show the impact of demand generation on revenue? The answer is simple: by tracking and reporting the right metrics.

That’s why, in this blog post, we’ll show you 10 of the most important demand generation metrics so you know how to communicate the value of your demand gen campaigns. We’ll also show you how you can use exegraphic data to get even better results with your demand generation metrics by knowing which companies to target.

Let’s get started!

 

10 demand generation metrics for B2B marketing 

#1 Number of marketing qualified leads (MQLs)

The first important metric to track is the number of MQLs as it can show you how effective your demand generation process is at generating qualified leads and if there are any problems you need to fix ASAP.

If you’re generating demand from a lot of leads but they’re not qualified, it may be a sign that your demand generation campaign is targeting an outdated ideal customer profile (ICP) that relies too heavily on superficial information, like employee job titles and company size.

What can you do instead? Dig deeper to understand the characteristics that actually affect buying decisions at your target companies, such as how your ideal customers operate and execute their company mission. These characteristics are what we call exegraphics. 

For example, let’s imagine you’re a software company that sells a product that helps small businesses with inventory management. If you read through a target company’s job ads and website (or use Rev’s AI-powered platform to collect that information at scale) you might find that company is currently expanding its eCommerce operations but is struggling to keep track of what’s selling where.

You could use this insight to produce demand generation marketing content that’s tailored to their specific needs and pain points. And it’s that type of content that will help you move potential customers through your demand generation funnel and generate better MQLs!

 

#2 MQL to SQL conversion rate 

You need to monitor the number of marketing qualified leads that convert into sales qualified leads (SQLs). This metric is important because it tells you how efficient your demand generation funnel is at converting leads into customers.

If you’re not converting a high percentage of your MQLs into SQLs, it could be because your leads are getting stuck at the top of the funnel. And this is important for your marketing team to know because it can be improved with a few changes to your demand generation strategy.

Here are a few ways to improve your MQL to SQL conversion rate:

  • Make sure your MQL criteria are clear and aligned with your sales process
  • Work closely with your sales team to ensure a smooth handoff of MQLs
  • Create targeted content for each stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Use exegraphic data to score your leads and prioritize the ones most likely to convert

 

#3 MQL churn rate

How many MQLs you’re bringing in is only part of the equation. You also need to keep track of how many of these leads you’re able to retain and move through your funnel. This metric, known as MQL churn rate, can help you identify any bottlenecks in your demand generation funnel and make adjustments accordingly.

To improve your MQL churn rate: 

  • Optimize your lead scoring model to better identify and prioritize top-quality leads
  • Improve your lead nurturing strategy
  • Invest in better targeting and audience segmentation techniques
  • Analyze exegraphic data to identify characteristics associated with high-quality MQLs

 

#4 MQL and SQL to customer conversion rate 

Ultimately, the goal of demand generation is to increase the number of people interested in signing up for your product or service. 

While you won’t always be able to directly attribute this metric to your demand generation campaign, it can be helpful to understand whether your campaigns correlate with an increase in conversions.

Here are some ideas on how to use demand generation content to increase conversions:

  • Create valuable demand generation content such as ebooks, white papers or blog posts that position your company as an authority in your niche 
  • Use calls-to-action (CTAs) in your demand generation content that encourages people to sign up for your product or service
  • Offer incentives such as discounts or coupons for people who sign up after engaging with your demand gen content

 

#5 Customer lifetime value (CLV)

Customer lifetime value is the total value a customer will bring to your company throughout their relationship with you. And this one’s essential for your demand generation campaigns because it can help you:

  • Set a target CPA (cost per acquisition) that you are willing to spend to acquire a new customer
  • Determine which channels are most effective at acquiring high-value customers
  • Prioritize accounts that have a higher CLV

 

#6 Cost per acquisition (CPA)

CPA is the total cost of acquiring a new customer. And if your demand generation campaigns are generating a lot of low-quality leads, then your CPA will be higher than it needs to be.

Of course, demand generation isn’t the only thing that affects CPA. Things like our sales process and product also play a role. However, there are a few demand gen activities you can do to improve your CPA:

  • Improve your lead scoring system so that you’re only targeting leads that are likely to convert into customers
  • Nurture your leads with targeted content so they are more likely to convert when they are contacted by sales 
  • Use exegraphic data to identify and prioritize accounts that are a good fit for your product and show signs of being ready to buy

 

#7 Content performance metrics

Your demand generation campaign can only be as successful as the content that supports it. That’s why it’s important to track a few key metrics related to your content, such as:

  • Views
  • Downloads
  • Shares
  • Engagement 

You shouldn’t obsess too much over those metrics though. On their own, these metrics are vanity metrics that don’t tell you the full story of how effective your content is at generating demand or leads. 

However, when looked at in conjunction with other demand generation metrics, content performance metrics can give you a good idea of which content pieces are resonating with your audience and driving them further down the demand generation funnel. As a result, you’ll know which content pieces to double down on and which ones need improvement.

If you want to improve the performance of your demand gen content, here are a few things you can try:

  • Revisit your ideal customer profile and ensure it’s still reflective of your best customers and not just static firmographic data
  • Develop a better understanding of what type of content each of your buyer personas needs at each stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Use exegraphic data to learn where key decision makers at your target companies are most likely to consume content (e.g. LinkedIn articles vs. Twitter posts)

 

#8 Close rate per channel

Your demand generation strategy will likely include multiple channels, such as paid advertising, organic search, social media and email marketing. It’s important to track the close rate for each channel so you can see which ones are performing well and invest more in those channels. 

For example, you might find that your paid search campaigns have a higher close rate than your organic search campaigns. Knowing this information, you may decide to invest more in paid search as opposed to social media or organic search.

 

#9 Marketing cycle length

Demand generation drives more qualified leads to the top of the sales funnel, which can help shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.

Unfortunately, many companies get stuck in a long marketing cycle because they’re not generating enough demand. So, if you show that your demand generation campaigns contribute to shorter marketing cycles, stakeholders will take notice.

Some things that might indicate your demand generation campaigns have helped to shorten the marketing cycle include: 

  • More prospects moving from one stage of the marketing funnel to the next
  • Increased website traffic from targeted channels
  • Higher conversion rates from marketing qualified leads to sales qualified leads

 

#10 Contribution to total revenue

This is the ultimate metric that ties everything else together. If your demand generation campaigns don’t contribute to the bottom line, you need to re-evaluate your strategy. Why? Because, at the end of the day, you’ll have a hard time justifying your demand generation spend if it’s not directly impacting revenue.

But how do you measure this one? Here are a few ways to track the contribution of demand generation to revenue:

  • Calculate the percentage of new customers that came from demand generation initiatives
  • Look at the total revenue generated from new customers in a certain time period and compare it to the amount you spent on demand generation during that same period
  • Use customer lifetime value (CLV) to see how much revenue each new customer generated throughout their relationship with your company

 

How exegraphic data can help you run more effective demand generation campaigns

Exegraphic data is critical—yet often a missing piece—for understanding your target market well enough to generate demand that leads to sales. But what exactly are exegraphics? Exegraphics are any behavioral characteristic of a company that could be valuable in determining whether or not they’re fit or ready to buy your product or service.

For example, let’s say your company sells marketing automation software. By tapping into exegraphics, you could see which companies resemble your best customers—which ones have the characteristics you care about the most. Maybe that’s marketing orgs that are heavily investing in marketing sophistication and executing with a small team.

Using that information, you could then generate demand by running a webinar on how lean marketing teams can use marketing automation software to improve the efficiency of their campaigns and get better results.

 

Final thoughts

By understanding and tracking these key demand generation metrics, you can show your stakeholders the value of demand generation and how it contributes to achieving key performance indicators across all areas of the business. 

To get even more ROI from your demand generation campaigns, you can use exegraphic data to make sure you’re targeting the right companies with exactly the type of content that can influence them to buy. 

How can you get started with exegraphics? Contact us and get a view into the exegraphics behind your best customers—so you can immediately adjust your strategy.

13 essential demand generation tools for B2B marketers 

Your marketing budget may be tight. But some tools are too valuable to pass up—especially when it comes to a process like demand generation marketing that depends on your brand’s ability to reach and engage potential new customers.

In this blog post, we’ll show you 13 of the best demand generation tools that are worth the investment when developing your next campaign. We’ll also show you how Rev (that’s us!) uses AI technology to find exegraphic data that enhances the value you get from any of the demand generation tools on this list.

But, first, because there’s often some confusion about demand generation vs. lead generation, let’s start with…

 

What is demand generation?

Demand generation is the process of generating interest and brand awareness for your brand, rather than waiting for customers to come to you.

Unlike lead generation, which is about getting people to raise their hands and identify themselves as potential customers, demand generation marketing is about building customer relationships that last—even before they’re ready to make a purchase.

Ultimately, the goal of demand generation is to position your brand as a leader in your space. That way, when your customers are finally ready to buy, they’ll think of you first—making them high-quality leads before they even hear from your sales team.

Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get into the demand generation tools that will help you execute a successful demand generation program!

 

13 of the best demand generation tools for B2B marketing teams

There are hundreds of demand generation tools, each with their own unique capabilities that can assist you with everything from content creation, lead scoring, lead nurturing and more. 

But, in this list, we’ve compiled what we believe to be some of the best to support an effective B2B demand generation program. 

Let’s get started! 

 

#1 Rev

An effective B2B demand generation strategy depends on having a thorough understanding of your ideal customer so that you can target them with relevant content and messaging. Unfortunately, many companies use shallow criteria to develop their ideal customer profile (ICP) and, as a result, create target account lists and demand generation content that miss the mark.

Rev’s AI-powered sales development platform helps you create a more comprehensive ICP by identifying companies that behave like your best customers and predicting which of those companies are most likely to buy from you.

Using Rev to update their ICP and target account list, Oracle recently executed a demand generation campaign that resulted in high-quality MQLs moving 23% faster through their funnel. How? Because Rev made it possible for Oracle to know which leads showed signs of early-stage buying intent and nurture them with targeted thought leadership content. 

 

#2 Ahrefs

Demand generation depends on creating content that answers the questions your target audience is already asking. One of the best ways to find those questions is to research the most popular keywords in your industry using an SEO tool like Ahrefs.

Ahrefs also allows you to see how your competition generates demand by offering a suite of tools to research their SEO strategy, including their most popular keywords and content, link-building strategy, paid ads and more.

SEO-driven content isn’t a requirement for a successful demand generation campaign. But if you’re not optimizing your content for search engines, you could be missing out on a huge opportunity. Ahrefs is a great demand generation tool to help bridge that gap.

 

#3 Quora

Quora isn’t exactly a demand generation tool, but it is a platform that can be used to support your demand gen marketing efforts. If you’re not familiar with Quora, it’s a Q&A platform where people can ask questions and get answers from experts in the field.

Even though Quora isn’t a demand gen tool, it deserves a place in your demand generation marketing strategy. That’s because, with Quora, you can position yourself as an expert in your field and drive traffic back to your website or blog.

To do this, you’ll want to find questions that are relevant to your business and provide helpful in-depth answers. Be sure to include a link back to your website or blog in your answer, so that people can learn more about you and what you do.

Quora is also a great way to find common questions that you can use to create valuable inbound marketing content that helps guide leads down your customer journey. For example, if you see a question that’s being asked over and over again, you can create a blog post or article that addresses that question. Everything here applies to Reddit as well!

 

#4 Leadpages

Demand generation isn’t directly concerned with generating leads right away. But some of your demand gen content (e.g. whitepapers or webinars) can capture leads that you can later pass to your sales team to convert into customers. And for that, Leadpages is an excellent demand generation tool.

Leadpages makes it easy to build attractive landing pages using templates (or the drag-and-drop editor if you want something more custom). You can also A/B test your landing pages, see which one performs better and make changes accordingly.

The right landing page can make a big difference in your conversion rates. And Leadpages makes it easy to create and test landing pages until you find one that works best for your demand gen content.

 

#5 LinkedIn Sales Navigator

On its own, LinkedIn is one of the best social media platforms to generate demand for your brand’s products or services. Just by posting updates, articles and other content, you can build brand awareness and attract new leads to your business. But if you want to take things to the next level, you need LinkedIn Sales Navigator.

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a sales prospecting tool designed specifically to help sales teams generate leads using LinkedIn. With this tool, you have access to powerful features, such as lead recommendations and InMail messaging, that can help you connect with more prospects and close more deals.

Another great thing about LinkedIn Sales Navigator is that it integrates with your CRM, so you can track your interactions and progress with each lead in one place.

 

#6 Wishpond

Demand generation is all about creating a system by which to nurture and moved leads through the sales funnel until they’re ready to buy. And Wishpond makes it easy to do all of that in one place.

Wishpond is a demand generation tool that allows you to run social media campaigns, contests and sweepstakes that generate demand and leads. You can also use it to develop beautiful landing pages, lead capture forms, email marketing campaigns and more.

 

#7 RiteKit

If you’re going to use social media for generating demand, then you may as well use a tool that simplifies how you create and share great content that gets in front of your ideal customers. RiteKit does just that.

RiteKit offers a suite of tools to help you create better social media content, find the right hashtags and get your content in front of more people. And because it’s impossible to be everywhere at once, RiteKit helps you schedule and publish social media content across all the major networks (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn) simultaneously.

 

#8 Outgrow

Interactive content, such as quizzes and calculators, is one of the best ways to drive demand and generate leads because it’s so effective at engaging people. Outgrow is a demand generation tool that specializes in creating these kinds of interactive content experiences.

With Outgrow, you can create quizzes, chatbots, calculators, and other interactive content experiences without any programming or design knowledge. For example, if you’re a SaaS company, you could create a quiz that helps people find the perfect software solution for their needs. Just choose a template, customize it to match your brand and publish it on your website. 

 

#9 Hotjar

Your demand generation content might be great, but if your website’s design is preventing users from taking action, then you’re not going to drive demand or generate leads. That’s why Hotjar is one of the most recommended demand generation tools on the market.

Hotjar is a heat mapping tool that shows you how users are interacting with your website. With Hotjar visual reports, you can see where users are clicking, scrolling and what they’re typing. This feedback will help you make necessary changes to your website so that users have a better experience and are more likely to take the actions you want them to.

 

#10 Zapier

A lot of the tasks involved in demand generation can be repetitive and time-consuming. Of course, that means they can also be automated. And Zapier is the tool built for exactly that. 

Zapier lets you connect your favorite software applications and create “Zaps” so that tasks can be completed automatically. For example, you can connect your CRM to your email marketing software and automatically add new leads to your email list. Or, as another example, you can connect your webinar registration form to your CRM so that new registrants are automatically added to your database.

These automations will save you time so that you can focus on more important tasks, like developing your content strategy or creating meaningful relationships with the new leads who interact with your demand generation content.

 

#11 EverWebinar

Webinars are a common demand generation tactic for B2B marketers, but they can be time-consuming to set up and monitor. EverWebinar is an automation tool that streamlines the entire webinar process, from sign-ups to follow-up emails.

EverWebinar also allows you to create on-demand webinars, which are great for driving demand if you cover evergreen topics or if you want to develop a lead generation asset to use on autopilot. With EverWebinar, you can also do split-testing on your webinars to see which topics, times or landing pages perform best.

 

#12 BuzzStream

Your demand generation strategy won’t survive without an effective outreach strategy. You need to be able to identify and contact influencers, bloggers, journalists and other key people so that you can get your message in front of the right people. BuzzStream streamlines this entire process.

BuzzStream is an outreach platform that helps you find the right people to contact, track your interactions and measure your success over time. For example, you can use BuzzStream to find contact information for influencers in your industry, track when you’ve emailed them or tweeted at them, and see how often they respond to your messages.

BuzzStream also has several features that make it easy to manage your outreach campaigns, including customized templates, follow-up reminders and reporting tools.

 

#13 ZoomInfo

You’ll have the most success with demand generation when you have the right data at your fingertips. ZoomInfo is a powerful sales intelligence platform that gives you access to millions of business contacts and company profiles.

With ZoomInfo, you can search for leads based on industry, size, location, revenue, job title or a handful of other criteria that matters to your business. You can also use the platform’s advanced search features and filters to find specific companies or individuals who are a good match for your product or service.

ZoomInfo also has a wide range of tools for other demand gen activities, including lead scoring and email outreach. Its powerful lead scoring algorithm uses advanced data science to give you leads that have recently searched for topics and keywords related to your business. And its automated outreach system uses market signals to deliver emails and alerts that move potential customers through the sales funnel more quickly.

 

Get the most out of your demand generation tools with Rev

No matter which combination of demand generation tools you choose, your demand gen strategy is only as strong as your ability to identify and target the right companies.

If you’ve been basing your ICP on superficial firmographic data, you’re probably missing out on a lot of qualified opportunities. You might also be failing to develop demand gen content that resonates with your target buyer.

Because Rev harnesses the power of exegraphic data to identify the behaviors of your best customers, it can give you confidence that you’re targeting the right companies and tailoring your content to their specific needs. That way, when you use other demand generation tools, you know that you’re using them to their full potential.

If you’re interested to see the exegraphic data behind your best customers—or get a free target account list of companies that have the characteristics you care about most—so you can see if you’re on the right track, contact us today.

7 of the best demand generation examples for B2B marketing

Demand generation (aka demand gen) is all about creating awareness and interest for your brand and what you have to offer. Unlike lead generation, demand generation is a long-term approach that focuses on building relationships with customers rather than simply acquiring new leads.

However, that’s not to say that demand generation can’t be used to generate leads. In fact, an effective demand generation strategy can help you generate higher-quality leads that are more likely to convert into customers.

So, if you’re ready to add demand generation to your marketing strategy but need some inspiration, you’ve come to the right place! In this blog post, we’ll be looking at seven examples of B2B companies that excel at demand generation marketing.

At the end of this post, we’ll also share our #1 tip on how to make generating high-quality leads from these demand generation tactics a whole lot easier. 

Let’s begin!

 

7 B2B demand Generation examples

#1 HubSpot

HubSpot, the inbound marketing and sales platform, is a company that knows a thing or two about demand generation. In fact, they use nearly all of the demand gen tactics we’ll share in this post. But the one we’ll use as an example here is HubSpot’s robust collection of educational content.

 

Demand generation tactic: Educational content

HubSpot has an extensive library of free content that covers everything from inbound marketing to sales enablement. For example, HubSpot offers ebooks, templates, checklists and even certification courses—all for free, and available for anyone to access.

 

Why this demand gen tactic works

Educational content is a great way to generate demand because it helps potential customers learn about your product or service and how it can help them solve their specific problems. It also helps to build trust and credibility with your target audience. According to recent surveys, almost half of B2B decision-makers report consuming at least 3-5 pieces of content before contacting a salesperson.

 

How you can implement this tactic

If you’re not already, start creating helpful, informative content that your target audience will find valuable. This can be in the form of blog posts, ebooks, infographics, case studies, whitepapers or even just simple how-to tutorials. Once you have this content, make sure it’s easy to find on your website by creating a dedicated section for it and promoting it through your other marketing channels.

 

#2 Neil Patel Digital

If you haven’t heard of Neil Patel, are you even a digital marketer? Just kidding. But seriously, Neil Patel is a huge name in the digital marketing world, and for good reason. He and his team effectively use a wide range of demand generation strategies worth analyzing and implementing in your business. The example we’ll look at here is Neil Patel’s use of free SEO tools.

 

Demand generation tactic: Free tools

Neil Patel’s digital marketing agency, Neil Patel Digital, offers a suite of free SEO tools, including Ubersuggest and Answer The Public. These tools are designed to help businesses improve their online visibility and organic search traffic. But these free tools also help build awareness for Neil Patel Digital and position this agency as one of the top experts in digital marketing.

 

Why this demand gen tactic works

No matter your industry, free tools can be a valuable demand generation tactic. Why? Because they offer businesses a way to provide value to their target audience without any risk or investment. Free tools also serve as lead magnets, providing an easy way to capture leads and contact information.

 

How you can implement this tactic

When selecting a free tool to give away, there are a few things to keep in mind. Your free tool should be:

  • Relevant to your business and industry
  • Something people will actually use and find helpful
  • Easy to use and understand

For example, your free tool could be a software application, an online calculator or even a set of templates. Once you’ve selected the right free tool, promote it through your website and social media channels. You can also include it in email marketing campaigns and run ads to drive traffic to a landing page.

 

#3 Monday.com

Monday.com is a project management software that helps teams collaborate on tasks and projects. If you use YouTube, you’ve probably seen at least one of their ads. That’s because one of their key demand generation tactics is video marketing.

 

Demand generation tactic: Video marketing

Monday.com uses video marketing to promote its software, build demand and drive leads. They create engaging, creative videos that show how their software can be used in businesses. They then post these videos on their YouTube channel and run ads that target people who are interested in project management software.

 

Why this demand gen tactic works

Video allows you to get creative with your marketing and tell stories that will resonate with your target audience. And this is exactly what’s needed to build awareness for your brand. According to Wyzowl’s 2022 State of Video Marketing Survey, 93% of marketers believe video marketing has helped them increase brand awareness.

 

How you can implement this tactic

If you’re looking to use video marketing to generate demand, start by creating engaging, creative videos that tell a story and showcase your product or service in action. Once you have your videos, post them on your website and social media. You can also run video ads on platforms like YouTube and Facebook.

 

#4 Adobe

You probably know Adobe is a digital media software company. But did you know they’re also one of the best B2B demand generation examples out there? One of the reasons is that Adobe has mastered the use of social media marketing to generate demand for its products.

 

Demand generation tactic: Social media marketing

Adobe uses social media platforms like Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to share compelling content that’s informative and entertaining, typically showcasing their products and how their target consumers use them in their businesses. They also use social media platforms to run targeted ads that drive potential leads to their website.

 

Why this demand gen tactic works

Social media marketing is an effective way to reach a large number of potential customers with targeted content. By sharing interesting and engaging content, you can build brand awareness, trust and credibility with potential customers, which can lead to more sales.

 

How you can implement this tactic

If you want to use social media marketing to improve your demand generation, start by creating a social media profile for your business on the platforms where your target customers are most active. Then, create and share interesting and engaging content that will appeal to and educate your target customers.

 

#5 Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a software company that helps businesses improve their search engine optimization (SEO). The company offers a suite of SEO tools, including a keyword research tool, competitor analysis tool and backlink checker. But, the demand generation example we’ll look at here will be their value-packed email newsletter.

 

Demand generation tactic: Email newsletter

Within their newsletter, Ahrefs shares a weekly roundup of the newest content and insights on all things SEO. But, they don’t just share any old content. The team at Ahrefs carefully curates each week’s roundup to ensure that only the best and most actionable content is included.

 

Why this demand gen tactic works

By packing its newsletter with value, Ahrefs nurtures its email list and keeps its platform at the top of each prospect’s mind. The newsletter also includes a CTA to Ahrefs’ blog and YouTube channel, which helps generate leads and traffic for the company. 

Ahrefs doesn’t use its newsletter to directly sell to subscribers. But newsletters also provide an excellent way for businesses to introduce new services and drive demand for them without having to pay to place ads on third-party platforms.

 

How you can implement this tactic

You can implement this demand gen tactic by curating content that would be of value to your target audience. You can start by surveying your target audience to see what kinds of content they would find most valuable. Then create an editorial calendar to ensure a consistent flow of engaging content. 

 

#6 Litmus

Litmus is an email marketing tool that makes it easy for businesses to create, test and track the performance of their email campaigns. One of the ways they’ve been able to build awareness for their brand is through informative, on-demand webinars.

 

Demand generation tactic: Webinars

Litmus puts together webinars led by industry experts on topics related to email marketing. These webinars are a great way for businesses to learn more about email marketing and see how Litmus can help them reach their goals faster.

 

Why this demand gen tactic works

Webinars are a great way to generate demand and leads because they allow businesses to showcase their expertise on a particular topic. By hosting webinars on topics that are relevant to its target audience, Litmus is able to position itself as a thought leader in the email marketing space.

 

How you can implement this tactic

Here are three foundational requirements of a webinar capable of generating demand:

  1. You need to make sure that the topic of your webinar is relevant to your target audience.
  2. You need to promote your webinar through various channels to make sure that as many people as possible are aware of it.
  3. You need to ensure that the quality of your webinar is top-notch so viewers leave feeling like they’ve been given some of your business’s most useful information for free.

If you can at least do these three things, you’ll be well on your way to generating demand and leads through webinars.

 

#7 Rev

Rev is the Sales Development Platform that helps businesses use AI to analyze their best customers and find others that exhibit those same patterns and behaviors. At Rev, we use several different strategies to generate demand for our platform. All, however, start by with exegraphics.

 

Demand generation tactic: Exegraphics

Typically, you’ll start your demand gen strategy—from content to channels to nurture programs—with your ideal customer profile (ICP) in mind. But there’s just one problem: most ICPs are shallow, incomplete representations of the businesses in your total addressable market. Why? 

Because ICPs tend to be based on firmographic data that only tells you things like industry, company size and location. Those data points only offer a limited view of your potential customers.

By incorporating exegraphics data—deep insights into how a company executes its mission—you can get very precise in your targeting and your messaging.

 

Why this demand gen tactic works

To truly create an effective demand generation campaign, you need to go beyond firmographics and get to know how your target companies operate and behave. And that’s where exegraphics comes in.

What are exegraphics? Exegraphics are the factors that influence a company’s decision-making. They include things like:

  • The pain points a company is currently experiencing
  • Trends affecting their industry and target markets
  • The type of decision-maker your content needs to appeal to

By understanding exegraphics, you can create targeted demand generation campaigns that are much more likely to convert than generic campaigns. How? Because exegraphics give you the information you need to speak directly to your target companies’ needs. 

 

How you can implement this tactic

How do you find exegraphic data? Rev’s Sales Development Platform uses AI technology to collect information found on a business’s website, social media platforms, job postings and more. Someone on your team could manually find all of this information. But it would likely take a lot of time and be an inefficient use of your resources.  

With Rev, you can quickly gather exegraphic data on your best customers—and identify other accounts that resemble them too. (Did we mention that the target account list you can build in Rev is also prioritized?)

Want to see how exegraphics work yourself? Reach out to get a free ICP audit that will help you identify the characteristics of your best customers so you can create the most effective demand generation campaign possible!

Demand generation vs lead generation: Key differences, examples and strategies for B2B marketing

Demand generation vs lead generation? Learning the difference between these two strategies is simple.

Demand generation is the process of building awareness and interest in your brand by showing potential prospects you understand their problem. Lead generation, on the other hand, is the process of converting those prospects into leads or customers by convincing them your brand has a solution to their problem.

So, if it’s that simple, where does the confusion come from? Why do so many B2B marketers still use these terms interchangeably?

Because these two marketing strategies usually work together. So, the line between the two easily gets blurred. Still, many companies neglect one of them, which can end up being a costly mistake. Why? In this blog post, we’re gonna show you why as we look at: 

  • Examples of marketing tactics to generate demand and generate leads 
  • How a strong demand generation strategy makes lead generation easier 
  • Real examples of companies successfully infusing demand generation and lead generation to create greater marketing impact 
  • How one company generated $1.5 billion in sales using an AI-powered demand generation strategy

Ready? Let’s get to it!

 

Demand generation vs lead generation: Marketing tactics

Remember: Demand generation is all about building awareness and interest in your brand by showing potential prospects you understand their problem. So, how do you do that? 

By educating them on the problem and presenting your brand as a thought leader by using marketing tactics, like: 

  • Content marketing: Create informational, top-of-the-funnel blog posts, infographics, video tutorials, podcasts, webinars, etc.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Make it easy for prospects to find your website and content on search engine platforms when searching for terms related to the problems your business helps solve.
  • Social media marketing: Publish engaging, valuable content that resonates with your ICP on the social media platforms where they spend the most time. 
  • Email marketing: Send updates about your product or service, thought leadership pieces on topics relevant to your industry, promotional offers and more. 
  • Advertising: Promote your demand generation content through Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads and other paid channels.
  • Influencer marketing: Work with people who have a strong online presence in your industry to promote your content to their audience.
  • PR campaigns: Reach out to journalists, bloggers, and other members of the press to get them to write about your business or feature your demand generation content.
  • Free resources: Offer something of value that people can use for free, such as a template or tool (e.g. a loan calculator from a financial service).  
  • Content syndication: Get your demand generation content featured on other websites and in front of new audiences.

Now, if you’re thinking, “Those are a lot of the same tactics we use to generate leads,” you’re not wrong. There’s a lot of overlap when it comes to tactics for demand gen and lead gen–especially since lead gen technically falls under the umbrella of demand gen. Still, it’s the intention and execution of those marketing tactics that make the difference. 

Remember: Lead generation is about converting prospects who have begun to see your business as a potential solution to their problem. How exactly do you do that? 

By giving prospects in-depth information about your solution, showing them you’ve solved problems similar to their problems before and moving them down your sales funnel with marketing tactics, like:  

  • Content marketing: Create informational, bottom-of-the-funnel content, such as a whitepaper, that prospects will want in exchange for their contact information. 
  • Search engine optimization (SEO): Improve your website’s ranking for commercial and transactional keywords in search results so that when prospects look for a solution to their problem, they find you. 
  • Search engine marketing (SEM): Place ads on search engines like Google so that when prospects perform searches related to your solution, they find links to your website and landing pages.
  • Social media marketing: Use social media platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter to reach out to prospects and build relationships.
  • Email marketing: Send emails that prospects will want to read, with the goal of getting them to click through to your website or landing pages. 
  • Advertising: Place ads about promotions and special offers on websites your target audience visits.
  • Influencer marketing: Collaborate with industry thought leaders and have them promote your brand to their audience.
  • Free trials and demos: Offer free trials or demos of your product or service so  prospects can see the value for themselves.

 

Why a strong demand generation strategy makes lead generation easier 

Marketers often fall into the trap of thinking that lead generation is the only goal. But without demand for your product, lead generation is an uphill battle. That’s why demand generation should be the focus first and foremost.

If you build demand first, lead generation becomes much easier because people are already interested in what you’re selling. How do you begin? Read our demand generation strategy guide to learn how to start generating demand from your ideal customers.

 

Examples of demand generation and lead generation 

Now let’s look at some real examples to help you further understand demand generation vs lead generation. Here are two B2B companies that strategically use demand generation and lead generation to get the most marketing impact. 

 

Example 1: Ahrefs

Ahrefs is an SEO tool that helps people improve their search engine rankings. To create demand, Ahrefs offers a variety of valuable content, like blog posts, video tutorials and free courses on digital marketing. And since that content is so valuable for their target audience, it attracts a lot of interest and awareness of the Ahrefs brand.

Even better, when using blog posts or videos to explain common issues for business owners like, “How to do YouTube keyword research,” Ahrefs shows their audience how the Ahrefs platform provides the perfect solution. As a result, their demand generation content almost effortlessly generates leads without ever needing to make a hard sale. 

Take a look for yourself.

 

Example 2: Monday.com 

Monday.com is a project management software that provides teams with a platform to plan, track and visualize work progress. To generate demand, Monday.com focuses on top-of-the-funnel content like blog content and video ads that target business owners and managers. For example, here’s one of their best video ads

Notice the video ad is short, sweet and to the point—which makes it easy to follow along and understand what Monday.com is all about. Without pushing, the ad also gently encourages viewers to sign up for a free 14-day trial.

Of course, if you do sign up for the trial, you then become a lead and begin receiving emails as part of a lead nurture sequence that encourages you to eventually subscribe to one of Monday.com‘s membership plans. 

Both Ahrefs and Monday.com show that demand generation and lead generation can work together to create a seamless experience from marketing to sales. But our next example company was able to do something even more spectacular. 

This company was able to go from having a list of seemingly dead leads to using a demand generation strategy that resulted in $1.5 billion in sales.

 

How one company increased pipeline by 15% using an AI-powered demand generation strategy

Splunk is a data software company that provides a platform for analyzing machine-generated big data. It’s used by organizations to gain insights into software operations, security and compliance. But, recently, they acquired a company in the DevOps space and needed a way to generate demand for a new offering in a new market segment.

Despite having an extensive ABM list, Splunk still struggled to find new prospects that would be interested in their solution. So, what did they do to generate enough demand and leads to make to increase pipeline by more than 15%?

To start, they used our Sales Development Platform to create a refined ICP. Since Rev uses AI technology to collect and analyze exegraphics—data on how companies operate and behave—Splunk’s new ICP became an aiCP (artificial intelligence customer profile) which continues to update as AI gathers more data on how Splunk’s best-fit customers operate and behave.

With the new aiCP, Rev was able to prioritize Splunk’s list and run a content syndication campaign, creating content that specifically targeted companies with the exegraphic markers for being the best fits for Splunk’s offer and the most ready to buy. In just three weeks, Splunk was able to attribute more than 15% of their pipeline to being high-quality MQLs that were prioritized using their aiCP.

 

Key takeaways 

Demand generation and lead generation are two important but distinct marketing strategies. You can and should use both strategies to ensure the success of your business. Here’s what you need to remember to make sure you get the most out of each.

 

What is demand generation? 

Demand generation is the process of creating awareness and demand for your product or service. It’s about getting your target market to see you as a trusted source of information and convincing them that you understand their problem.

 

What is lead generation? 

Lead generation is the process of converting prospects into leads. It’s about taking those who display interest in what you have to offer and nurturing them through your funnel until they’re ready to buy.

 

Demand generation vs. lead generation: Which one should come first? 

Demand generation. You can’t generate leads without first generating demand. If you do lead gen without demand gen, you’ll waste a lot of time and money on leads that go nowhere.

 

How can you ensure your demand generation strategy results in high-quality MQLs? 

By first taking the time to understand your target prospects, their needs and how their business operates. Then, you’ll create and promote demand generation content that’s specific to their interests and pain points.

To maximize your efforts, create an aiCP. This will help you prioritize which companies to target based on exegraphic data that signals fit and readiness to buy from your company. Contact us, and we’ll give you a sample list of accounts that look and act like your best customers!

Your ICP is broken, and here’s why

Ideal customer profiles are a staple of B2B sales strategy. And they make sense: if you can identify the traits that make your best customers your best customers, you can target the same traits in your best prospects.

The problem with ICPs is that they are generally a shallow way to characterize companies. A sales team can put an entire ICP in bullet points on a single slide. That ICP is often a static document, too, not accounting for changes in your best customers or your best prospects.

In essence, a traditional ICP is a stereotype. Sales teams target prospects on five or so traits. The B2C world has moved away from targeting prospects based on how they look, so why do so many B2B companies still target their best-fit customers that way?

The simple answer is that deeper information about companies is harder to take into account. Really, revenue teams need to identify prospects based on the decisions and behaviors of companies—but that data is hard to understand, let alone formulate. So, ICPs remain assumption-based, superficial and limited.

That’s why we at Rev set out to create a new approach to identifying best-fit prospects. Using our AI-based modeling techniques, we developed the aiCP: a dynamic, customizable and in-depth way to profile prospects across market segments.

Let’s look at the power of aiCPs and how they help revenue leaders target the right prospects.

 

aiCPs target look- and act-alikes.

 Traditional ICPs are so brief (and so shallow) because they essentially identify lookalike firmographics: industry, headcount, revenue, recent funding, specific job titles and so on. However, these are not insightful ways to understand how a company actually operates, and therefore how they compare to your best customers.

aiCPs, on the other hand, rely not on firmographics but on exegraphics. 

Exegraphics are pieces of information or characteristics that convey how a company executes its mission—and they are the crux of aiCPs. Just like the B2C world realized psychographics are far more powerful than demographics, Rev’s exegraphics offer the same caliber of insight beyond old-school firmographics for the B2B world.

Our modeling technique looks at everything from company messaging to hiring boards and employee resumes to understand how a company functions, how it changes over time and how it compares to its peers—and it examines millions of data points to build a clear picture of what actually makes your best customers your best. 

(For a more in-depth exploration of exegraphics, read What are exegraphics?)

Then, we build an aiCP from that picture. You get to really know how your best existing customers function, and what they share in common, regardless of topical characteristics. You know how your target market behaves on the inside—not just how it looks, but also how it acts—now that you’ve put more rigor into defining your ideal customers. Therefore, you can get much more precise in how you target new accounts, cutting through the fluff of firmographic lookalikes alone.

 

aiCPs evolve.

Too often, traditional ICPs remain static within a target market. A sales team identifies traits to look for, and then it sticks with them. However, industries and individual companies are constantly changing, and it makes little sense why a sales strategy shouldn’t evolve too.

That’s why we build aiCPs as living sales strategies: they are meant to iterate continuously, and respond both to the market and to your own human input.

 

Dynamic aiCPs

Once you enhance your customer profiles with aiCPs, incorporating change over time is inevitable. After all, your products change, your customers change, the economy changes. Nothing in a sales environment stays the same forever. The dynamic nature of aiCPs takes those changes into account.

  • aiCPs change with each successful sale. The customers you’re selling to today might look different than the ones six months or a year ago. You can push every sale you close back into the aiCP model so that it incorporates the new data points associated with that customer. Refining the aiCP each time a new customer comes on board keeps your seed list relevant and your targeting in sync with your market.
  • aiCPs grow alongside your best customers. Say your organization started off selling strictly to early-stage tech startup companies. You’re still closing those sales today, but your existing customers have stuck with you through their Series B funding and are increasingly becoming successful enterprise companies. By continuously reassessing your aiCP over time, your target profile grows to include other established companies that behave like your best oldest customers in addition to your best new customers.
  • Companies take actions that readjust themselves. Think of those important moments that dictate the course of a company. A new executive hire. A new product launch. Those fundamentally alter the way a company operates, which means they will either become a better or a worse target for your sales team. The dynamic nature of aiCPs capture those changes to reprioritize them for your revenue team.
  • New exegraphics improve the modeling. Exegraphics are not a static tool either. We at Rev are continuously developing new ways of understanding companies. That means each new analysis of your seed list will adjust the Rev Score of each target account and reprioritize them based on the best understanding available—in conjunction with the most recent assessment of thousands of active peer companies.

 

Customizable aiCPs

For all the characteristics of companies that exegraphics capture, they don’t catch your own human understanding of your revenue team, your company and your customers. That’s why aiCPs are customizable, allowing you to weight certain traits and prioritize accordingly.

Rev’s AI model is not a black box: it’s a powerful tool to give you, as a revenue leader, the target list you need. Pairing that utility with your institutional knowledge enables you to create massively effective customer profiles, prioritized according to your understanding of what matters.

Our customers are able to drive their aiCPs. We’ll help you define custom exegraphic lenses. We’ll help you prioritize what’s meaningful or feasible for your revenue team. That can look like just about anything you can imagine—because while we’re passionate about getting you connected with top-quality prospects, you also need to feel passionate about the results.

 

aiCPs open up unexpected market segments, save resources and help you move faster.

Cutting-edge aiCPs offer plenty of advantages over traditional ICPs for revenue teams looking to reach new customers. Yet one of the great strengths of the aiCP model is its ability to identify entirely new market segments for growth-minded organizations.

You can dig deeper into how aiCPs open up new market segments in New ways to identify new market segments. Here, though, are some key insights into how an aiCP drives growth for companies who need to break into new markets.

  • aiCPs do away with assumptions. The exegraphics behind aiCPs are less concerned with what industry a company is in, and more concerned with the interior functions of that company. So when the AI model identifies act-alike companies for your best customers, those often reside in entirely different and unexpected market segments from your typical clients.

 

Without this knowledge, revenue teams looking to breach new segments tend to presume that adjacent markets make for strong prospects. It makes some sense to reason that similar markets will have similar needs, and that this transition will be an easy one. Yet adjacent markets, despite appearing similar, are not always the best prospects. Let’s say your current best customers are auto insurance companies. You might decide to start targeting health insurance companies, while your hypothetical aiCP shows that the financial sector is your strongest addressable market—a pivot you would never make without deep insights into those prospects.

  • aiCPs allow you to breach new markets more affordably. It’s expensive to craft a marketing plan for a new market segment. (One of the appeals of adjacent markets is that the marketing team isn’t building from the ground up.) But with the high-fidelity prioritization offered by aiCPs, you aren’t targeting the TAM from the start. You are taking a strike-team approach: sending in a small handful of sales reps, with basic early-messaging collateral, to make first contact with prospects most likely to bite.
  • aiCPs get you to market faster. That surgical approach to the first prospects gets your team talking to prospects instead of building strategies without on-the-ground knowledge. What kind of engagement is happening? Can your reps close a deal? What needs to shift?

 

The customers you land (and the ones you don’t) can inform both the ever-evolving aiCP and your team’s sales strategy. You’re not stuck waiting for the marketing machine to start turning out materials before you can get started. The precision and high resolution of your aiCP accelerates the info-gathering period and helps you assess, quickly and definitively, whether a new market segment is viable. With this approach, you can manage that in 3-6 months, rather than the more usual 12-18 months to develop a go-to-market program.

The aiCP, in short, keeps your revenue team at the top of their game. Your decisions are driven by data more than generalization. Your targeting is more focused, your likelihood of landing new customers increases. You can accomplish more sales in less time, using less of your resources. And your strategy evolves as you do, keeping your team continuously sharp.

To see how your ICP compares to your aiCP—and get a view of the behavioral characteristics of your best customers—contact us to schedule your free aiCP audit.

Demand generation strategy: 5 core steps for B2B marketing teams

You can attempt to generate cold leads all day. But if there’s no desire or demand for your offer… Well, then you might be wasting your time.

That’s why demand generation is an essential component of B2B marketing. Because if you don’t already have a demand generation strategy, you’re likely leaving A LOT of money on the table.

But, what exactly is demand generation? And how do you build a demand generation strategy that makes the process of generating qualified leads a whole lot easier?

It’s simple. And your marketing team may already be headed in the right direction. But, once you combine and structure the methods we’ll share in this blog post, you’ll have a consistent way to:

  • Build brand awareness and loyalty among your ideal customers 
  • Position your brand as an authority in your industry
  • Send your sales team a steady stream of MQLs

And, as a BONUS, we’ll also show you how to use exegraphic data to get the most ROI from your demand generation campaigns. 

But, before we dive into all that, let’s look at some examples of demand generation so you don’t confuse it with similar strategies, like lead generation.

 

What is demand generation?

Demand generation, also known as demand gen, is the process of creating and nurturing demand for your products or services. It’s a way of showing your ideal customer that your business is aware of their pain points and is a trusted source for solutions to that pain.

Without a strong demand generation strategy, it can be challenging to attract new customers to your business because they won’t have enough knowledge on how and why they should trust your business to help them. But how does that look in practice? 

Here are two great examples of demand generation: 

  • Shopify offers Shopify Learn, a series of free tutorials, online courses and webinars that teach prospects how to start a successful online business. 
  • Wise, the FinTech app for transferring money, offers a free business plan template that promises to help users learn how to connect with investors and grow their business.

Now, if even after looking at those examples, you think demand generation sounds similar to lead generation, you’re not alone. Many marketers use these terms interchangeably because they are closely related. But there is a difference!

 

How is demand generation different from lead generation? 

Unlike lead generation, demand generation is not about convincing prospects to buy what you have to offer. Rather, demand gen is about creating awareness and interest in your products or services. When done correctly, the demand you’ve generated results in prospects being more likely to purchase from you when they are ready. 

So, lead generation and demand generation are not the same thing. Because lead gen is one of the major components of demand gen.

 

The 3 major components of demand generation

Remember: when you develop a strong demand generation strategy, you’ll be able to… 

  • Build brand awareness and loyalty among your ideal customers 
  • Position your brand as an authority in your industry
  • Send your sales team a steady stream of MQLs

And those three benefits sum up the major components of demand generation marketing. But let’s spend a minute looking at each one in more detail. 

 

Building brand awareness and loyalty 

You know that brand awareness is the extent to which consumers are familiar with your brand and what it offers. Without brand awareness, you won’t make any sales. You also know that brand loyalty is considered the “holy grail” of marketing. Without brand loyalty, you’ll struggle to retain customers and spend too much trying to acquire new ones. 

The goal of demand generation is to systematize the process of building brand awareness and loyalty using inbound marketing techniques that have the power to generate leads. 

 

Inbound marketing

Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on creating valuable content that attracts and nurtures prospects at every stage of your funnel. Some examples include: 

  • Writing helpful and actionable blog posts
  • Developing informative eBooks or whitepapers
  • Sending a valuable email newsletter
  • Offering free trials or demos

Soon, you’ll see that this type of content, created with your ideal customer profile (ICP) in mind, is essential to your demand generation strategy. Why? Because inbound marketing is one of the most effective methods for generating quality leads. For example, according to a recent survey, 80% of business decision-makers prefer to learn the information needed to make buying decisions from a series of articles instead of an ad.

 

Lead generation

Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting prospects into leads. On its own, lead gen attempts to attract and convert prospects into leads. 

But, when used as a component of demand generation, lead generation becomes a method of finding prospects most likely to convert (i.e. those who’ve shown interest or signs of readiness) and then using targeted content to nurture them at every touch point of the customer journey–from initial awareness all the way until they decide to purchase your offer. 

 

How to build a successful demand generation strategy

Developing a demand generation strategy doesn’t have to be a complicated overhaul of how you currently approach B2B marketing. But it does require a thoughtful combination of goals, techniques and strategies to have the highest likelihood of success. Here’s how to get started:

 

Step 1: Determine clear goals and metrics of success

The first step in any demand generation strategy is to determine exactly what you want to achieve. Is an increase in brand awareness or website traffic enough? Or do you hope to use demand generation as a way to support more specific goals and KPIs, like: 

  • Generate 2x more high-quality MQLs every month?
  • Decrease customer acquisition costs by 5% before the end of the year? 
  • Increase conversions by 13% for a particular product or service? 

Demand generation can support all of those goals and more. But you’ll never know for sure if you’re getting sufficient ROI if you don’t start with a clear set of goals and metrics.

 

Step 2: Understand your audience by developing your ICP and buyer persona

You’ll never create demand for your offer if you direct your strategy to the wrong audience. That’s why you need to take time to understand what type of organizations fit your ideal customer profile (ICP) and what types of people at those organizations fit your buyer persona. 

If you’re unfamiliar, your ICP is a data-driven description of the type of businesses you serve best. Typically, this description includes firmographic data on things like: 

  • Industry 
  • Company size
  • Geographic location
  • Annual sales and revenue

Using a platform like Rev, you can also harness the power of exegraphic data, which you can use to build a more comprehensive ICP. Unlike firmographic data, exegraphic data allows you to dig into how a company operates and behaves to gather insights on things like how quickly a company tends to adopt new technology or which departments within the company are currently shrinking.

With Rev, you can also generate a living model of your ICP—what we call an aICP—that uses AI technology to automatically update the profile of your ideal customer as the behaviors of your best customers change over time. We’ll get more into how that can benefit your demand gen strategy soon. But first let’s talk about the other component of understanding your audience: buyer personas.

A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. For example, you’d establish your buyer persona on the key decision makers working at the type of companies you’ve identified with your ICP.

When developing buyer personas, consider questions like:

  • What are their demographics?
  • What are their interests?
  • What are their pain points?
  • What solutions are they looking for?
  • Who do they report to? 
  • What are some of their KPIs? 
  • Where and how do they prefer to consume content related to their job?

Once you have a clear understanding of your ICP and buyer persona, you can move on to creating targeted content that generates demand from your target audience.

 

Step 3: Create content that moves your target audience through the customer journey

Now, it’s time to start generating demand and, ultimately, leads. You’ll do that by creating content that educates your target audience and helps them move through the customer journey.

Here are some examples of content you can develop to meet those goals:

  • Awareness. At this stage of the customer journey, you’ll create top-of-funnel content that aims to increase brand awareness and educate your target audience about your product or service. For example, you could publish blog posts that discuss methods for relieving your common pain points for your buyer personas. 
  • Consideration. For this stage, you’ll create middle-of-funnel content that provides more detailed information about your product or service and how it can solve your target customer’s pain points. For example, you could develop a white paper that provides an in-depth analysis of a problem your audience faces and how your product or service provides a solution. 
  • Decision. Finally, for this stage, you’ll create bottom-of-funnel content that focuses on helping your target customer make a purchase decision. Here, you can offer free demos for your product or service so your audience can see if it’s a good fit for what they need. 

To get the most benefit from your content, you’ll also need to have a strategy for promotion and distribution to ensure your target audience sees and engages with your content. Some ideas for promoting your content include social media, email marketing and paid advertising. You may also consider running a content syndication campaign to have your content republished on third-party websites.

 

Step 4: Test, analyze and optimize 

Demand generation isn’t a one-and-done sort of deal. You should always test different strategies and tactics to see what works best for creating interest and demand among your target audience.

One of the best ways to test and optimize your demand generation strategy is by doing A/B testing, which allows you to compare two versions of a piece of content or campaign to see which one performs better. You can also use analytics tools to track your progress and see which demand generation tactics have worked best.

By regularly performing tests and analyses, you can ensure that your demand generation strategy is giving you as much ROI as possible.

 

Step 5: Measure success based on your goals

Lastly, you’ll need to measure the success of your demand generation efforts. You can look to do this around 90 days after you’ve begun your demand generation campaign. But how do you measure your success? Simple: by going back to the goals you set in step 1.

Has your demand generation campaign helped to achieve those goals? If yes, which strategies are working best so you can continue building on that success?

If not, what do you think is holding you back? Have you targeted the wrong ICP or buyer persona? Is your content not providing enough value to position your business as an industry leader?

By taking the time to measure your success, you can make adjustments as needed or decide that you need some help.

 

How Rev helps with demand generation

A demand generation campaign that successfully generates MQLs with high potential for conversion requires that you have two things:

  1. A comprehensive list of companies that match your ICP (so you know whom to target)
  2. A data-driven approach to content syndication (so you know where to target them) 

Without these two components, you run the risk of wasting your time. For example, you could end up trying to generate demand from an audience that isn’t likely to engage with your company. You might also fail to promote your demand gen content in the places your audience is most likely to see it.

Rev’s Sales Development Platform helps you avoid these common mistakes. Using exegraphic data, Rev generates a list of accounts who behave like your best customers and have the highest propensity to engage with your demand gen content—and with your sales reps. With that information, you can ensure that you’re distributing your content to the places where your ideal customers spend time online. 

Essentially, Rev helps you take the guesswork out of generating demand and leads by empowering you with the data needed to create and distribute content that resonates with your ideal customers. 

Want to get a snapshot of the behavioral and operational characteristics that define your next best customers? Contact us and schedule your free ICP audit.

Outsourced lead generation: How to choose the right lead generation service

Cold calling. Email marketing. Referrals. LinkedIn. Facebook Ads. Content Marketing. SEO. You see where we’re going? 

There are many ways you can generate leads for your business. But that doesn’t mean lead generation is easy! In fact, according to a recent HubSpot report, 61% of marketers rank lead generation as their biggest challenge.

So, it’s no wonder you’re considering outsourced lead generation as a way to grow your business. Outsourcing can save you time and provide you with a consistent stream of leads ready to convert.

But… that doesn’t mean you can hire just any lead provider and expect amazing results. It’s, unfortunately, not that easy either! But we’ve put together this quick guide to help simplify the process.

Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll learn:

  • The value of lead generation outsourcing
  • The pros and cons of outsourcing lead generation 
  • When you should consider outsourcing 
  • How to choose a lead generation company 
  • The best platform to generate leads above the funnel
  • The benefit of using exegraphic data for outsourced lead generation

But, first, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what outsourced lead generation means!

 

What is outsourced lead generation?

Outsourced lead generation is the process of hiring a third-party lead generation service to find leads for your business. Outsourced lead generation service providers also guide prospects through the initial stages of your funnel, priming them for conversion for your sales team. 

Most B2B lead generation companies begin by creating your ideal customer profile (ICP), identifying companies that share characteristics with that profile and then doing common lead generation tasks like:

  • Cold calling and emailing
  • Cold messaging on social media platforms 
  • Running content syndication campaigns 
  • Using outbound and inbound marketing techniques to promote your product or service
  • Following up with prospects to schedule demos and appointments with your sales team 

Of course, if you have the resources, you could take care of all those tasks in-house. So, you’re right to wonder: what’s the value of outsourcing lead generation?

 

Is it better to outsource lead generation?

Outsourcing lead generation can be a great option for businesses of all sizes. The following sections will help you thoughtfully decide whether it’s better to outsource your lead generation or commit to keeping it in-house.

 

Pros and cons of outsourcing lead generation

Pros

  • Time saved. Lead generation can be a time-consuming process. And by outsourcing, you can free up your time to focus on other aspects of your business.
  • Cost-effective. Hiring a full-time employee or team for in-house lead generation can be costly. And if that person or team doesn’t have enough marketing and sales experience, you may not get the results you want.
  • A team focused exclusively on lead generation. When you outsource lead generation, you work with a team of professionals who are focused exclusively on the task of finding qualified leads. This means they’re likely to have processes in place to generate leads effectively.
  • More leads, more often. A lead generation service provider will likely have more manpower to dedicate to providing leads frequently. They’ll also likely have access to a database of potential leads, which they can tap into quickly.
  • AI technology to find and manage the most qualified leads. The best lead generation services will use AI-powered automation to identify and manage the most qualified leads.
  • Shorter sales process. By hiring a lead generation service, your sales team can focus on selling, rather than spend time cold calling and scheduling demos. This can help to shorten the sales cycle and increase close rates.

Cons

  • Potential for low ROI. If outsourced lead generation is not done correctly (i.e. quantity of leads is valued more than the quality of leads), it can be very costly with little to show for it in terms of new customers. This is why it’s so important to do your research and choose a reputable service provider.
  • Less control. By outsourcing, you give up some control of your sales process. If you’re not actively involved, it can be difficult to track the results of your outsourced lead generation and make changes as needed.
  • Requires an investment. The cost of lead generation service can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars per month.

 

Questions to determine if it’s better to outsource lead generation

Pros and cons may help give you a general idea. But, eventually, you’ll need to think about the specifics of your business to determine if outsourcing is a good option. Here are some guiding questions to help: 

  1. Do you have the resources to staff an entire team of experienced marketers and sales reps to generate leads?
  2. Do you have a method of consistently getting leads that match your ideal customer profile?
  3. Are you happy with your business’s current cost per lead? What about the quality of leads?
  4. Are you generating enough leads to support your sales team’s quota?
  5. Do you have the internal infrastructure to support a successful lead generation program? 
  6. Does your marketing team have the capacity to focus on outbound AND inbound lead generation? 

If you answered “no” to any of the above questions, outsourcing to a B2B lead generation company is worth considering. Your efforts in-house can only take you so far. Outsourcing could allow you to skyrocket your growth by establishing a system of regularly sourcing leads that are likely to convert.

 

How do you choose a lead generation service?

Unfortunately, outsourcing lead generation doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed results. There’s no shortage of lead generation companies that are more than happy to charge you a high price for a list of leads that aren’t a good fit for your business. 

So, what should you look for when choosing a lead generation service? How do you make sure you’re working with a company that won’t waste your money? Here are a few recommendations:

 

Check credentials

Make sure the company you’re considering has experience in lead generation and a proven track record with companies in your industry. You might also check to see what professional certifications their team has. 

 

Read online reviews

When you’re considering outsourcing lead generation, you should read online reviews to get a sense of what other companies have experienced. You can look at Google reviews or Clutch.co to read reviews of companies.

 

Look at previous clients and case studies

Case studies are one of the best ways to see if a company can actually deliver the results they promise. Any good lead generation company will have case studies on their website that you can review. If possible, try to find case studies for businesses in your industry.

 

Request a demo

Whether you’re looking at a lead generation agency or software, you should always get a demo before making a decision. This will allow you to see the product or service in action and ask any questions.

 

Ask these essential questions

Lastly, you should speak to one of the company’s sales reps and ask these questions:

What processes do you use for lead generation? Some companies focus only on a specific lead generation activity. So, you need to make sure the company can provide you with the service that best fits your company’s needs. 

How do you know that your process is effective? You want to know how they measure results and determine their success rate. It should always focus on lead quality rather than quantity. 

What criteria would you use to qualify a lead for my business? Lead generation service providers use data to match companies to your ICP. You want to make sure the data used will share reliable characteristics for determining what can be considered a qualified lead for your business.

Which software platform(s) do you use to generate leads? If your service provider doesn’t use software that collects the type of data and generates results in the way you need, the whole process easily becomes a waste of time and money.

 

Which platform is best to generate leads?

Lead generation teams have many software platforms to choose from. Some platforms help manage a particular part of lead generation while others provide tools to manage and generate leads at every stage of the sales process. 

Here are a few examples of tools used to generate leads: 

  • Customer Relationship Management Platforms (CRMs) help sales reps manage their interactions with leads and customers
  • Account-Based Marketing Platforms (ABM) help sales and marketing teams target key accounts and orchestrate account-based campaigns 
  • Sales Engagement Platforms automate repetitive sales tasks, like emailing and prospecting, to help sales reps sell more efficiently 
  • Demand Generation Platforms (DGPs) help sales and marketing teams generate demand for their products or services 
  • Sales Development Platforms (SDPs) help sales and marketing teams build prioritize target accounts lists—backed by data—for each channel

Which one’s best? Well, it depends on what your business needs and your budget. But, if you’re outsourcing lead generation because you want help with one of the most difficult parts of lead generation—finding leads above the funnel, before they’ve heard of you or your competitors and that match your ideal customer profile—make sure that your lead provider uses exegraphic data.

What’s that? If you’re unfamiliar with the term, exegraphic data refers to data that shows how companies operate and behave. For example, you can learn how quickly a company tends to adopt new technology by looking at exegraphic differences between companies. And it’s these types of insights that make it one of the most powerful resources for lead generation.

 

The power of exegraphics for lead generation

They might not want to admit it. But if you analyzed the typical sales development reps’ (SDR) methods for prospecting, you’d quickly realize one thing: there’s a lot of guessing going on. 

How so? Well, SDRs usually spend hours searching for companies that meet certain criteria, usually detailed in a company’s formal ICP doc. But more often than not, they’re guessing at which companies really “fit” the profile. 

Guessing, really? Yep! They’re guessing based on superficial data on things like employee demographics, company revenue and technologies currently being used by the company. 

But does any of that information really signal whether a prospect really “fits” the ICP or is showing signs of “readiness”’ to purchase? Not really. So, many SDRs fall into the trap of wasting even more time and resources trying to chase down prospects that will never close and leads that end up “clogging” their funnel.

Does any of this sound familiar? This inefficient lead generation strategy could be one of the reasons you’re looking to outsource in the first place. But why outsource to a company that’s just going to run into the same problem, providing you with an expensive list of lackluster leads? You shouldn’t and you don’t have to.

Rev helps sales reps avoid all of that guesswork, making it one of the best platforms for outsourced lead generation. Yes, that’s us. Yes, we’re slightly biased. But here’s why we say it with confidence: 

With Rev, any company can upload a list of their best customers, and AI analyzes that list and produces reports, based on exegraphic data, that essentially say, “here are the behavioral characteristics of your best customers—and, oh by the way, here’s a prioritized list of other companies that look and act like them too!” 

With that information, you gain a better sense of who your best customers are, how they behave and how to best reach them–enabling sales teams to meet prospecting and revenue goals faster and with more predictability.

 

Final thoughts

Lead generation is one of the most challenging and time-consuming tasks for sales and marketing teams. But it doesn’t have to be.

By making sure Rev’s Sales Development Platform is part of your outsource lead generation strategy (and even your outbound prospecting strategy), you can grow your pipeline with high-quality and high-volume leads. Using AI technology and exegraphic data, Rev shows you the fastest route to your revenue goals by listing out the companies you should target next, even before they show intent! 

Curious to learn more about exegraphics and how they can improve your lead gen strategy? Contact us, and we’ll give you a sample list of accounts that look and act like your best customers.

What is a marketing automation funnel?

Many marketing teams use a funnel to grow their business and build their customer base. They know most prospects aren’t ready to purchase the moment they hear about their product or service, and the funnel nurtures and moves leads along. Marketing funnels come in all sizes, and often become more complex as your team and customer base grows. The key to streamlining your funnel, making the best use of your team’s time and giving your prospects the smoothest experience as you scale is automation. So, let’s dive into all things marketing automation funnel.

 

The basics of the marketing automation funnel

Before we can talk about how to automate your marketing funnel, let’s first cover the basics of this experience so we’re all on the same page.

 

What is a marketing funnel?

We’ve covered marketing and sales funnels at length. (You can check out our articles on demand funnels and B2B sales funnels for an in-depth dive into this concept.) In short, a funnel helps you turn prospects into customers.

  1. First, prospects must learn about your product/service or become aware of your brand.
  2. Once they’re in the market for what you offer, they evaluate you. During this process, you may be pitted against several solutions, including products they already use.
  3. After a prospect has connected with your sales team and built confidence in your solution, they convert into customers. They implement your solution and introduce it to their business during this time.
  4. If all goes well, you create a loyal customer and you retain their business. These are the kinds of customers that tell all their friends and colleagues about your solution, driving more prospects to the top of your funnel. 

Marketing, as you can imagine, is primarily responsible for the top pieces of the funnel—everything from awareness to the moment a lead enters the sales process. Taking a closer look, you’ll see that the marketing funnel (again, which varies from company to company) includes:

  • Awareness
  • Lead capture
  • Prospect
  • Marketing qualified lead

 

What is marketing automation?

As organizations grow, it becomes harder for you and your team to do everything manually. Marketing automation is a strategy that companies can use to scale their efforts and systemize their work. Companies use many automation tools to handle tasks that are repetitive and/or need to be handled at scale, like sending emails, building landing pages, etc.

According to data from Ascend2, 80% of marketing professionals think marketing automation is important for their lead nurturing performance. Furthermore, a recent study from HubSpot revealed, “43% of marketers agree that automation and AI have been the most effective trends for their organization’s growth.” 

 

What is a marketing automation funnel?

A marketing automation funnel is, then, bringing automation to the top half of the traditional “funnel” we outlined above. By automating a lot of the work that would otherwise create a drag on your time (and the customer experience), you’re able to move prospects through the funnel and to sales faster. 

 

The benefits of a marketing automation funnel

Do you need a bit more convincing on the merits of automation? Let’s review some of the major benefits of investing time and energy into automating your company’s funnel.

 

Increase your funnel conversion rate

Adobe Digital Index published a 2020 report on consumer electronics. Their report looked at various industries like electronics, gifts, sports, apparel, etc., and found that the average conversion rate for industries was 3%. According to Chili Piper, the average conversion rate for B2B is 2.23% 

McKinsey has shared at length how automation can improve marketing and sales efficiency. When your team can work more effectively, you can close more deals every time.

 

Improve your data and analytics

When you add marketing automation tools to the mix, they’ll automatically start collecting data that your company will find valuable. Automated tools collect several data points and may even track things you didn’t think to consider. As a result, you’ll find even more value in your marketing and sales strategy as you include these tools in your day-to-day life.

 

Hire when you want to, not when you need to

You may know a company that was forced to hire before they were ready due to a sales boom. Hiring more marketers or salespeople is impressive, but not if you are forced to make the decision. So before you add another person to your company roster, think about the consequences of that decision. Is your business ready to take on the next hire?

Investing in automation software is typically cheaper than adding a new employee. Investing in technology can ensure that you take your time with all personnel additions.

 

When is the best time to introduce automation to your marketing funnel?

As you consider automating your funnel, you probably have thoughts on how this could work for your specific business. At what stage should you consider automating? Are there any particular circumstances that might help you automate earlier? 

Here are a few critical times where automating your marketing funnel makes sense:

 

You have a solid process for engaging leads

There’s a famous quote from Adam Stone, the CEO of D-Tools, “Anything that you do more than twice has to be automated.” Taking such a hard stance in business can be challenging, but automation can save your company time and money. If you’ve built out a solid lead engagement process, it may be time to bring automation into the mix.

 

You want to increase the number of leads coming in

Next, you’ll likely want to invest in an automated marketing funnel if you need to increase the number of leads coming into your funnel. Automated lead generation can be a great way to improve the number of leads your sales team has to follow up on. Rev has a best-in-class Sales Development Platform that can give your company a consistent stream of quality leads that your team can connect with. When you use our platform, our artificial intelligence can surface interesting traits and find companies that are fit and ready to hear your pitch.

 

You need to make it easier for leads to exit the funnel

If you’re like many companies, you struggle with getting customers to exit the funnel. As we’ve established, you don’t have customers until a contract is signed, so getting to the delight phase of the funnel is critical. If prospects are consistently getting stuck in one aspect of the funnel, it may be time to tap into automation.

It’s important to remember that automation is not a fix-all cure. If a part of your funnel isn’t working, you should address that instead of automating immediately. If you don’t fix the underlying issues with your funnel, it will continue to leak customers over time. Automate the parts of your funnel that work so you can focus on what doesn’t.

 

You are working with a lean operation of sales/marketing personnel

Whether you’re short-staffed or ramping up your smarketing team, it can be challenging to do everything with a lean operation. Many companies look for ways to automate and use tools to run their business effectively.

Tools don’t do everything for you. If you work in a high-touch industry, seeing a friendly face will help you close more deals. If your team is small, find ways to make their lives easier. How can automation help them do more with less?

 

How to set your marketing automation funnel up for success 

Understanding marketing automation and funnels separately is a significant first step for any marketing or demand generation team. It gives you the foundation you need to start exploring the areas within marketing that could benefit from automation. It gives you a nudge toward exploring the tools you can put into place to help streamline and scale your funnel. As you start looking into automating your funnel, consider a few things that will be critical to your success.

 

Start above the funnel

You need to engage with the right prospects. Otherwise, every step you take after is wasted. But, how do you know if you’re targeting the right ones?

Most companies today have created and rely on a one-sheet that details their ideal customer. This ideal customer profile (ICP) often relies on firmographic data, like industry, company size, geography, etc. and guides demand gen teams on whom to target. But, that’s not enough. Take a page from the B2C marketing book and make sure your ICP also includes behaviors.

 

Solve the first-mile problem

Many companies aren’t aware of what really makes their prospects a fit for their product or ready to buy. As a result, poor fit opportunities enter the funnel and both marketing and sales teams spend ample time working companies that will never close.

At Rev, we can help you understand what makes your best customers your best—and help you find others that look and act just like them. Using our Sales Development Platform, we can analyze a list of your best customers and tell you the traits (exegraphics) that make those customers great. Those exegraphics are then compiled to create a deep, working aiCP (AI-powered customer profile) and is used as a blueprint to find, create and prioritize a list of similar companies you can target.

 

Give prospects immediate value

One of the most complex parts of marketing is getting on people’s radar. After all, they can’t purchase from you if they don’t know you exist—or what you offer. In a sea of competitors, getting the recognition you want can be challenging.

One of the ways to gain that recognition is to help your prospects solve a problem, no strings attached. What do we mean by this? Share content that will help your target audience solve a problem or level up their skills, regardless of whether they use your product or service. (And now that you have more insight about your audience via exegraphics, you’re better positioned to deliver content that matters to them.) Creating and distributing free content that is actionable and helps the reader overcome an obstacle positions your company as a trusted thought leader.

Let’s talk about distribution for a minute. This can be tricky. Which channels should you use? Should you gate or ungate your content? The answer is always, it depends. Where does your audience gravitate? What are your goals? These are some questions you should ask yourself. However, consider a mix of channels and ungated content. 

There are benefits of gating content, like immediately capturing an email you can start working. There are also benefits of ungating it. When you ungate content, you make it easier for your audience to find—and easier for them to share. This is a great way for you to fuel brand exposure and start building trust. Once they come to love your content, the barrier to entering an email for a gated piece of content won’t seem like a steep price to pay.

 

Get their contact info

When you’ve identified content pieces to gate (and make sure they’re extremely high quality!), you need to think about the experience and workflow you’re creating with each landing page you build. Building lead capture pages may not seem like a big lift if you’re only putting up a couple of pages a year. But, chances are, if you’re looking to grow your business, you need something more scalable, sophisticated and automated.

That’s where tools like Marketo and HubSpot come in handy. Whether you use their templates or design your own layout, you can quickly spin up a page that aligns with your brand, includes the form fields you need and routes the collected content to your CRM. You can also assign each content piece a different score, and that interaction is tracked and recorded for each lead.

But, don’t stop there. If a prospect doesn’t engage with a piece of content that automatically MQLs them, you’ll want to nurture them by continuing to give them more value.

 

Stay top of mind 

After potential customers become aware of your company, it’s essential to keep your company top of mind. They may not be ready to purchase when they first hear about you, so work on building mindshare so they think of you when they’re looking for a solution to the problem you solve.

Nurture programs can help—and automating them can help you scale. HubSpot and Marketo both include email automation that manage all of this for you. Using email automation, you can set up nurture sequences that not only send your list new content, it will also track engagement that can be used for lead scoring or triggering another series of events. If, for example, a prospect engaged with a specific type of content piece, you could set up a flow into another track of content to give them a more tailored experience. This automated, custom-feeling experience will warm your lead and move them closer to the purchasing stage.

 

How do I know if my marketing automation funnel is working?

We’ve all been there. Implementing a new product is challenging because it’s not always easy to know if it’s working. Thankfully, there is a step-by-step process you can follow to ensure that your new automation is actually working for you and your team.

 

1. Start with your baseline measurement

Every good experiment starts with a baseline measurement. If you don’t take the time to establish where you start, there is no way to ensure that automation is working for your company.

For example, if you are automating your emails, look at past email data. What was the average time it took to get the emails sent out and to collect reporting on their performance? Once you know that number, testing the automation will be easy.

 

2. Create a check-in system

Next, you want to create a check-in system. Automation won’t change your numbers overnight. It’s vital to give this experiment adequate time to work. It’s not all about the first check-in, either. You can’t give up on an automated system after one negative check-in.

Create a spreadsheet for your automation experiment. In the first column, add your baseline measurements. Pick an interval for check-ins, and put those dates in the remaining columns. Check-ins every 30 days should work for most automation programs.

 

3. Compare and contrast

Once you have a few check-ins, you can begin to compare the numbers. Are you doing better? Worse? Are your numbers waffling between good and bad? Talk with your team (both sales and marketing) about their experience with automation. Have these months been easier or harder? You need to grab quantitative (numbers) and qualitative (personal experiences) data around automation.

 

4. Tweak as needed

Once you have the data, you can tweak it as needed or know that your marketing automation funnel is working for your business.

 

Conclusion: Your guide to the marketing automation funnel

Marketing automation is becoming more popular. Investing in automation makes sense as companies move to be more efficient and effective. Whether your organization is big or small, automation can help you build your funnel and close more deals.

If you’re ready to see how marketing automation can help your marketing efforts—starting with the right targets and leads, you need Rev. Contact us and we’ll show you the exegraphics behind your best customers.