Demand generation is a data-driven marketing strategy that uses inbound methodology to create awareness and interest throughout the buyer and customer lifecycle. Demand generation is focused on generating revenue and is most successful when executed using a variety of sales and marketing tools.
A proper demand generation strategy accounts for every touchpoint in the buyer's journey - all the way from anonymous visitor to satisfied customer and throughout the customer's lifetime. It leverages data to align its marketing and sales teams, tracks marketing efforts to revenue and, most importantly, drives organizational growth.
Basics of Demand Generation
Because demand generation encompasses every single touchpoint (from building awareness to retaining customers), it can be broken down into four manageable parts: brand awareness, inbound marketing, sales enablement and customer retention.
To create demand, people need to know who you are. The first step is to develop brand awareness, the extent to which contacts and customers remember and recognise your brand.
Methods for Brand Awareness
● Build your brand identity: your brand is actually the sum of all your touch points with customers, and that helps your business stand out from the competition. Building your brand identity to create popularity and recognition with your audience is critical to facilitating customers remembering your company and what you offer.
● Identifying the buyer persona: To make it easier for customers to remember you, you first need to know who you are trying to reach. Without correctly identifying and describing your buyer personas, you won't be able to reach your potential customers where they are, making this stage of the process crucial to how well it will go.
● Establish knowledge marketing/thought leadership: maintaining thought leadership helps you position yourself as an authority in your field. When people think of your industry or the problem you solve, they are more likely to think of you if you have established thought leadership.
● Have a strong social media presence: just like thought leadership, maintaining a strong social media presence is an important part of getting customers to remember your brand. Leveraging social media is one of the easiest ways to communicate your brand. People begin to associate what you write about with your brand quite simply. It also allows you to showcase your company culture and ideals in a succinct and authentic way.
● Maintain good PR management: maintaining a good mutual relationship between the public and your organisation is crucial to developing good brand awareness.
● Create a go-to-market strategy: your go-to-market strategy can be seen as a hypothesis, with demand generation as a first experiment. Ultimately, you won't know exactly what your market will demand from your offering or how quickly people will embrace your brand, but you can use your first impressions and research on potential customers to get started. From there, you can start using your demand generation work to inform your brand and product strategy - that is, to get better at aligning your brand and offer in tune with buyer needs and making them remember you better in the future.
Many people make the mistake of thinking that demand generation and inbound marketing are the same thing. But they are not. Demand generation is a function - you want to create demand for your product or service. Inbound marketing is the method by which you can perform that function. If you want to educate your customer base and guide them in the process through the "funnel" of valuable content and different offers, inbound marketing will help you do that.
Inbound marketing as a tactic works not only to convert visitors into leads and turn leads into customers, but also to create demand for your product or service. Inbound marketing is simply about enabling consumers to identify and solve their problems with the help of your business.
The list below outlines the key inbound marketing elements needed to properly implement a comprehensive demand generation strategy.
Methods for Inbound Marketing
● Blog and SEO: To educate your visitors and start guiding them down your "funnel", you need to be able to attract them to your site. Writing blogs on the topics your potential customers care about and optimizing the content for search is a great way to organically attract visitors to your site.
● Paid advertising: paid advertising can include both targeted ad campaigns on paid search and paid social channels. Although often associated with inbound marketing, paid advertising can be executed with an inbound approach. Just like blogging and SEO, it attracts visitors to your website by focusing on the keywords you know your buyers will be searching for.
● Gated content: gated content consists of e-books, guides, white papers, videos or other content that is worth downloading because it provides high value to your visitors and leads. This content is important because they allow you to continue to educate contacts through the buying process. Additionally, when visitors fill out forms to access gated content, your business gains access to their information and they turn into leads.
● Lead generation: you won't be able to sell to anyone without first generating leads. Ultimately, your sales team needs someone to follow up with. A lead is an individual who has voluntarily given you their information and provided you with candidates that you can nurture to create marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). In addition to filling out forms to receive gated content, you can also obtain contact information via chatbots, giving you another channel for generating leads.
● Chatbots and conversational marketing: chatbots are another way to interact with potential customers and clients visiting your website. From lead generation, qualification and customer support, chatbots can provide answers both automated and live, giving website visitors the ability to get answers to their questions in real time with minimal effort.
● Email marketing and customer care: you won't get a contact to go from converting to a lead to becoming a customer without educating them further, especially if your business has a complex sales process or a long sales cycle. By sending emails to your contacts with valuable content and other resources, you can nurture them through the "funnel." At each level, you can present them with the next logical step and help them move forward.
● Website conversion rate optimization: with the right optimization, your website is a powerful way to help your organization capture qualified prospects for your product or service. Through a Call-To-Action (CTA) strategy and organization, strategic conversion points, clear labels, and visitor-centric navigation, you can not only provide value to your visitors, but also nurture future potential customers.
Marketing and sales are crucial to the success of your business. Fortunately, sales enablement initiatives driven by extensive demand generation can foster a merger between marketing and sales and in turn close more deals.
The list below contains basic sales enablement methods, tactics and examples that can be performed by your marketing team to close the gap between marketing and sales.
Methods for Sales Enablement
● Testimonials: a testimonial is like a stamp of quality. In a testimonial, someone who is considered a peer of your buyers endorses your business and suggests to your potential customers that they should feel confident in what you can do and what you offer.
● Case studies: case studies are similar to testimonials, but they give buyers "real proof" of the work you've done in the past. They also help build trust with buyers while demonstrating real results for buyers to consider for themselves.
● Fact sheets and FAQs: although testimonials and case studies are customer-focused, fact sheets and FAQs are often internal tools. Fact sheets provide information about your product or service, and cover areas that may arise during a sales call. These often include comparisons between your product and those of your competitors, allowing salespeople to feel comfortable discussing your products versus those of your competitors. FAQs are things that buyers have previously asked about and you know come up frequently during sales calls. It's simply a list for salespeople to refer to when they need concise, thoughtful answers. Ultimately, you want to give sellers the best possible answers to give so they don't hesitate or fuss when it matters most to give clear answers.
● Value calculators: ultimately, conversations with potential customers are about how much value they can get from hiring you. With that in mind, it's wise to help your sales team, and the end customer for that matter, get an idea of how much value contacts will get by agreeing to a deal. Value calculators help with that.
While creating new business is important, retaining, delighting and converting your existing customers is very important to achieving sustainable growth with your demand generation strategy.
You should always go the extra mile for your customers and give them the ultimate impression of your company and how you deliver. By not over-promising and then over-delivering, you can delight customers at every step of their journey. Of course, providing excellent customer service in this way is just one important way to retain customers.
Methods for Customer Retention
● Carry out customer marketing initiatives: you should always make sure that your customers are aware of any new products or services that are available and that can improve their experience. HubSpot is a good example of this. When they recently rolled out their Service Hub software, a tool focused on enhancing the customer experience, they sent information to their existing Marketing Hub and Sales Hub customers telling them about their new product. Often companies give discounts to their existing customers to encourage such purchases.
● Use a knowledge base: by leveraging a knowledge base, a technology used to store information about your product (e.g. "how to" and "help" articles), you can help people get more value out of your products or services. It allows you to communicate how customers should effectively use your offer and describes best practices for different scenarios.
● Use a "ticket system": when working with another company, customer issues and problems will inevitably arise. A "ticketing system", a software that aggregates all your customer support issues from different channels and helps you manage them, provides an easy way for customers to submit issues, or "tickets", to you. From there, you can categorise, catalogue and address issues as quickly as possible, increasing customer satisfaction because people know their questions are being heard.
● Appreciate your customers: appreciating your customers can include exclusive offers and services along with the events you hold for your customers. These small tokens of appreciation can go a long way in retaining customers and making them feel valued.
● Generate upsells and renewals: if you deliver your offer well, you should generate upsells and renewals, but that doesn't mean you can just sit back and trust that you'll automatically grow. You should have a team dedicated to helping customers understand when it's time to renew their trust and which products or services are best suited for them. You'll be able to generate more opportunities that way because people are more likely to take the next step after they're prompted to do so.
● Encourage feedback and make iterations: demand generation should be a cycle. You market, sell and deliver your offer to individuals and then interpret how they move through their buying and customer journeys. Ultimately, you want to be able to determine how you can improve your product and process. If you're careful and find out how people experience your product at each stage of the journey, then you can go back to the beginning and make the experience better for the next person.
● Use the Net Promoter Score (NPS): the Net Promoter Score (NPS) measures how likely someone is to recommend your business to others on a scale of 1-10. Using this measure, you can easily identify how loyal your customers are and divide them into three categories: advocates (9+), passives (7-8) and critics (0-6). As it is a standard tool used in different industries, you can compare how you are doing compared to your competitors or across the market as a whole. Another benefit is that by identifying customers who are advocates for your brand, you can find people who are good candidates to contribute testimonials and case studies.
Running a data-driven demand generation program
Whether it's through the process of generating new leads or increasing the number of customers, your demand generation strategy is only as effective as the revenue it generates and how efficiently it delivers. This principle has led to the rapid development of so-called "revenue operations" as a specific discipline.
RevOps should be accounted for in your demand generation program, either through an in-house revops team, through a partner, or through a combination of in-house and partner services. The core of the RevOps process is aligning technologies, stakeholders and business processes to drive revenue growth and expansion. An effective approach must be multidisciplinary, combining technical and strategic functions, including the following:
● Technical implementation and platform based on your unique business practice, including form strategy, definition of lifecycle stages and lead scoring.
● Technical integration to create a frictionless experience between systems with consistent data throughout.
● Designed processes and "rules of the game" and effective training to align stakeholders behind a process and ensure that no revenue opportunities are lost or interrupted.
● Reporting and analysis to locate "funnel" and pipeline leaks. At a minimum, this reporting should represent each lifecycle stage that a potential customer goes through with your company from first contact to becoming a customer, with clear visibility into your conversions at each stage: visitors to prospects, leads to opportunities, and opportunities to customers. Measuring where you are in the "funnel" and your conversions will happen in your CRM and rely heavily on your marketing automation tool as well as your sales team's manual data collection.
Working with a partner or internally to establish a strong foundation in RevOps pays long-term dividends. A key pillar of any effective demand generation strategy is consistent optimization driven by cross-channel analysis, and effective reporting will facilitate successful optimization for each element of your overall demand generation program, and ultimately allow you to effectively attribute marketing's contribution to revenue.
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