Every organization should be engaged in demand generation to create demand for its products and services within its target audience. But that doesn’t mean everyone should be deploying the same demand gen strategies in the same way. A lot depends on where a business is in its marketing growth cycle: beginner, mid-level or advanced. Demand gen, unlike lead gen, is a comprehensive, but gradual process to achieving success.
Simply stated, demand gen identifies potential prospects based on their actions at touch points throughout the conversion optimization and sales cycles. After prospects are identified, the team further qualifies the prospects depending on where the prospect is in the conversion funnel. It then takes them through a nurturing process to provide sales teams with higher-quality, targeted leads.
This process is designed to result in better conversations between sales reps and prospects, and higher sales. Think of it as a long-term relationship between an organization’s marketing and sales teams, and its prospective customers.
This checklist provides demand gen strategies for all three levels — beginner, mid-level or advanced. Use the list to see where you are in the process, then think about incorporating the strategies to bring your demand gen program up to the level you want to achieve.
Demand gen can be a big challenge for new and young businesses because they aren’t as well known in their markets. The right demand gen strategies can help with the process of building a list of prospects (lead gen), including these five best practices.
Deploy Email Marketing. Despite the doom and gloom people have forecasted about email’s demise, it consistently ranks as one of the best-performing marketing tactics. Companies new to email marketing need a few basics, including a targeted list of potential prospects in their niche, created using an opt-in strategy. For example, they can offer a free resource in exchange for a name and email address from the prospects. The next step is starting a conversation by reaching out to the prospects on the list via email. Regular emails with valuable information help people stay top of mind, so companies have the opportunity to reach them when they’re ready to buy.
Blog Regularly. Blogging is a highly effective channel for lead gen if companies blog regularly. Blogging on a regular basis keeps your website fresh and builds your visibility for Google keyword searches. It’s also a leading way for prospects to develop trust in a brand, and for companies to nurture leads and build credibility as a subject matter expert. Organizations new to blogging should expand the impact of every blog post by investing in the highest quality content, inserting hyperlinks to other pages on their website and adding clear calls-to-action at the end of every post.
Post on Social Media Consistently. Along with blogging, regularly posting on social media using both original content and strategically sharing content from others is one of the essential initial steps for a company new to marketing. Having a strong social media presence can improve visibility and drive up SEO metrics. To get the most out of social media marketing for lead gen, set clear goals, such as attracting a loyal following through regular posts of innovative and valuable information. Also, aim to open up a two-way dialogue. The goal here should be as helpful as possible while interacting with others.
Create Landing Pages and Calls-to-Action. Create clear calls-to-action (CTA) throughout your website and content, including blog posts and social media. The right landing pages and CTAs can help boost lead gen considerably, yet this step is often overlooked by many businesses. The purpose of a CTA is to send visitors to dedicated landing pages where they receive specific offers. When they accept the offers, it helps to build your email list.
Search Marketing. Organic search marketing is one of the most valuable long-term strategies for generating B2B leads. Basic steps to begin creating the foundation for good SEO is largely a by-product of doing things well in several areas, such as content creation, regular blog posts, using keywords correctly, engaging with inbound marketing and being active on social media. In fact, core tenets of search engine visibility boil down to three fairly easy-to-do steps within a marketing program:
Companies well past the beginner stage likely already have well-developed prospect lists and have already launched the tools to execute inbound marketing. Now it’s time to kick demand gen up a few notches with a few more advanced marketing tactics, like investing in great content, leveraging display remarketing and optimizing their search engine marketing.
Invest in Great Content Creation. Inbound marketing is a huge part of a successful demand gen strategy. As the fuel of inbound marketing, content is critical. A solid content strategy for demand gen incorporates several tactics, including giving away your most-valuable insight in multiple forms, such as infographics, eBooks, whitepapers and more. Also, if you’re already publishing blog posts regularly, think about how you can make them even more valuable, such as including original data or research, or providing timely advice on emerging trends written by your subject matter experts. If you offer your list your best tools, resources and offers, you’ll strengthen your demand gen exponentially.
Leverage Display Remarketing. Remarketing has rapidly grown to become a powerful strategy for increasing conversion rates in just a few years. While an organization might be doing a great job of attracting new traffic to its website, it might be falling down on the job when it comes to retaining or converting the traffic. For example, many visitors could visit a site once and never return. While you should be remarketing with a view to increasing conversions, remarketing is also a powerful demand gen-building tactic.
Optimize Search Engine Marketing. As everyone knows, if you don’t show up on the first page of search engine results, your search engine marketing results will be weak. This makes it difficult for any business to get their website in front of potential leads, no matter how well-designed or informative it is. That’s why search engine optimization (SEO) is an important lead gen tactic. Done right, it can put websites in the best position to get on that first page of results. Best practices for optimizing SEO are ensuring you are providing everything that search engines are looking for including:
Not all organizations are ready to implement advanced lead gen strategies. For example, if a company is struggling to generate enough leads to feed their sales pipeline, it’s probably premature to worry about scoring the leads they do have. However, for brands with mature marketing programs, who are ready to take their demand gen strategies to the next level, the following three strategies are worth considering.
Optimize Email Marketing. Taking email marketing to the next level of demand gen involves A/B testing. Everything about email campaigns can be A/B tested to ensure emails are performing as strongly as they possibly can be — this includes headline length, subject line copy, linking strategies, offer placements, image selection, and even button colors. What organizations gain is hard data on what works for them and their prospects in demand gen, and what doesn’t. With this insight, organizations no longer have to guess.
Implement a Lead Scoring System. Demand gen isn’t just about increasing the number of leads for a brand, but also about raising the quality of those leads. Lead scoring is one of the best ways to determine whether leads are at a sales-ready level, so the sales team can close more deals. Lead scoring evaluates the historical behavior of prospects and the actions they’ve taken while interacting with a brand to determine whether the individual prospect demonstrates sufficient interest to be considered a “hot,” sales-ready lead. This is accomplished by examining the actions taken at various touch points, like whether they viewed a specific page that suggests purchase intent, expressed interest in a product demo or used free tools. Lead scoring can also evaluate the strength of a lead by assessing an individual’s role in their organization, such as their level of decision-making responsibility.
Launch Broadcast Advertising. In case you haven’t noticed, podcasts are attracting a lot of listeners. Advanced demand gen marketers can create ad campaigns to turn their niche audience listeners into leads for podcasts, as well as other broadcast advertising media. This works particularly well for podcasts because listeners self-select their downloads, thereby sending powerful signals about topics they’re interested in. No matter how niche the industry, there’s likely to be some that the niche audience is listening to. As a result, brands can pinpoint exactly where their audience is listening.
Demand gen programs can help an organization reach new markets, promote new products and services, and re-engage existing customers. And every organization is at a different stage in the demand gen process. By leveraging the right demand gen tactics at the right time, companies can gradually expand their market base while gradually expanding their lead gen tactics — from beginning to mid-level to advanced. This approach can optimally support the growth trajectory of their organization.