For years, marketers have been trying to perfect their best lead generation strategies, but what if your objective is to create a need for your product or service in the minds of your potential customers rather than drive leads? This is where a well-executed demand generation strategy becomes a pivotal asset in your marketing toolbox. Demand generation is about educating your prospects into the sales funnel and ultimately creating a demand for your product or service. It is an all-encompassing lead nurturing process with many facets, so we created 5 tips to help you build a successful demand generation strategy.
- Clearly Define and Follow Your Demand Funnel
The demand funnel is a visual framework that gauges prospects’ progress in the buying process and it’s where demand generation begins. However, despite being so crucial, 68 percent of B2B organizations have not identified their funnel (MarketingSherpa). Essentially, this means these organizations don’t have a concrete plan, which is a major fault. Before you create and define your funnel, your marketing and sales teams must effectively communicate with one another to ensure that the two teams are united in their efforts. Your website plays a critical role in filling your demand funnel with leads, so make sure it is regularly updated and easy to navigate. To track a prospect’s progress in the buying process, triggers must be established to define what actions will be taken at each stage of the sales funnel and by whom. Similarly, the criteria for scoring leads must be solidified so that segmentation can be done correctly. Segmentation is vital because it allows your marketing team to organize its database into lists, which enables marketers to nurture leads more effectively.
- Make Your Buyer Personas Come to Life
Buyer personas are essential tools that help you understand exactly who your target audience is and how to communicate with them. In a case study done by MarketingSherpa, buyer persona marketing yielded a 900 percent increase in the length of visits and a 171 percent increase in marketing-generated revenue. Your brand is an identity with a personality, values, and traits; therefore you must create your personas to reflect that identity. Once your marketing and sales teams have defined the details of your brand’s identity, give your persona a name and think about his or her background. Decide on characteristics like age, gender, education level, hobbies, occupation, pain points and things that would turn the persona toward or away from your brand. Discuss if your persona is an influencer or decision-maker and who or what might influence him or her if the prospect is, in fact, the decision-maker. By collaborating to thoroughly establish your personas, you eliminate any confusion with team goals as well as what type of action should be taken and when.
- Build a Thorough Content Calendar
Similar to mapping the buying process with your personas, both your sales and marketing teams should also map your content to find its strengths and weaknesses. A content calendar allows you to lay out a timeline for your content, which will help your team plan the release of content during peak traffic times. It is also a checkpoint for all your content; when it is added to the calendar, it is reviewed again, giving the marketing team an additional chance to assess the content’s value. Communication is key. For example, your sales and marketing teams can’t just agree that visuals are key because that’s too vague. One marketer could create a light-hearted meme while another could create a chart with data for the same persona and your message will be inconsistent and ineffective. To prevent this, create a style guide with specific content guidelines. Finally, you want your content to tap into the emotions of the prospect. It should talk with buyers, not at If your team uses cookie cutter content, “74 percent of the people it reaches will lack a connection and feel frustrated”(CMO). Use specific statements that ask questions and offer persona-specific opportunities. Your personas are your go-to guide for manufacturing content, so make sure they are well vetted.
- Work Smarter Not Harder When Scoring and Nurturing Leads
A good starting point is having your sales and marketing teams agree on some lead scoring criteria. Specifically, how to define marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads, which can be tricky. In fact, only 25 percent of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales (Gleanster Research). Some common criteria include demographics, interests, behavior and their role in the decision-making process. There is no scoring model that can guarantee perfect results, but understanding implicit and explicit information is a good starting point. Explicit information is accumulated through forms and can include company size, industry, etc. Implicit attributes are based on digital behavior such as the rate at which a prospect clicks through websites or which emails he or she opens. There are four common scoring models that place varying value on explicit and implicit information: Interest-Only Scoring: This model solely uses a prospect’s behavior to assess his or her interest. Qualification-Only Scoring: Conversely, this model focuses exclusively on the data that matches characteristics of the prospect to those of a defined persona. Two-Dimensional Scoring: This model combines the previous two models. Predictive Lead Scoring: This model goes through previous leads to compare them with current prospects to determine their fit. Once you’ve established how to best score your leads, decide how to effectively nurture them. Email marketing is a great tool for this, but your marketing team must create emails that are relevant, trustworthy, coordinated and offer a conversation. Relevant emails drive 18 times more revenue than generic broadcast emails (Jupiter Research) so before your team sends out a blast, make sure they’ve checked off the aforementioned criteria. Like lead scoring, lead nurturing is not an exact science, but there is plenty of science to back up its value. Companies that master a lead nurturing strategy generate up to 50 percent more sales-ready leads at 33 percent lower cost (Forrester Research). But before you start releasing content in an effort to nurture, check that the channels you are using are the channels where your personas are.
- Measuring Success With Analytics
While emotional connections are great, at the end of the day, you, as well as your boss, want to see the numbers. The point of marketing analytics is to give you a play-by-play of what worked and what didn’t for each prospect during the buyer’s journey. It is easy for your sales team to look at the revenue and be pleased with their work, but marketers have to prove that they’ve been actively driving revenue. Therefore it is essential to define the appropriate metrics for each team to receive accurate data and refine their methods. When discussing what data to track, you must decide on what is directly relevant to the decision making process. Key KPIs will need to be established so that both teams can be held accountable and see the demand funnel’s efficacy. If a large part of your strategy is social media, make sure every post is being tracked and measured. I know, that seems obvious, but 53% of social media marketers don’t measure their success (Awareness, Inc.). When manufacturing demand, analytics is essential, so it is important that both teams understand how it works and how to assess the results.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in August 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Want to learn more about demand generation? Check out our demand generation white paper below: