B2B Demand Generation: The Complete Guide

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B2B demand generation is one of the most important strategies any business can invest in. No matter what kind of company you run, you need to constantly cultivate demand for your products and services to build revenue and pursue growth. 

Unfortunately, 44% of B2B leaders say it’s becoming increasingly difficult to drive demand for their solutions. The market is growing more competitive, with new vendors making their way into the landscape constantly. At the same time, the preferences and expectations of customers are evolving, making old-fashioned marketing and sales techniques obsolete. 

Building an effective B2B demand generation strategy is one of the best ways to boost your chances of success by making data-driven decisions for your company. With the right plan, you can create a range of campaigns and tools custom-made to engage and convert your target audience. 

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What is B2B Demand Generation?

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Demand generation in the B2B world is a form of growth marketing strategy focused on using data and insights to drive results. Typically, B2B demand generation teams concentrate on building inbound marketing campaigns which boost brand awareness, establish authority, and convince customers to purchase products or services. 

At the heart of any B2B brand generation technique is data. Using behavioral and intent-focused data, companies create strategies that target the specific needs and pain points of their audience. The idea is to position your company as the ideal solution to problems consumers already have. 

Demand generation marketing looks at specific user personas and segments in your consumer base and allows professionals to create marketing campaigns that align with the purchasing journey. Specifically, you’ll be focusing on “Top of the funnel” marketing campaigns, which help to draw more potential prospects or leads into your sales funnel early on. 

The Different Types of B2B Demand Generation

As mentioned above, B2B demand generation is primarily an “inbound” marketing tactic. This means instead of trying to connect with your customers by reaching out to them with cold calls and emails, you use various techniques to draw your intended customer to you. 

There are various types of B2B demand generation strategies brands can consider, but they’ll always be based on deep knowledge and understanding of your target audience. Some of the most common methodologies used in B2B demand generation include:

  • Content Creation: 60% of marketers in the B2B world agree content marketing generates the highest number of qualified leads for the top of their funnel. With a content marketing strategy, you can showcase your thought leadership in a specific industry, highlight the unique benefits of your company, and connect with a wide audience. The content created can include everything from blogs, articles, and eBooks, to podcasts, videos, PowerPoint slides, and webinars.
  • Social media engagement: Via social media, companies can strengthen brand awareness and reach out to specific groups of customers. This is an important part of any demand-generation tactic. Social media is a chance to draw attention to products and services while also providing customers with information about your brand and its personality.
  • Email marketing: Email marketing is an excellent way for companies to capture the attention of their target audience and nurture leads who might not be ready to convert. Often, companies use lead magnets and landing pages to create lists of customers who might be interested in their products and services before sending emails via an automated strategy. 
  • Account-based Marketing: Account-based marketing focuses on creating a very specific “user persona” for each client a B2B company wants to target. This is a strategy commonly used when companies need to sell very personalized services and products to larger customers. ABM marketing campaigns can include a range of different inbound marketing activities, such as LinkedIn ads, mail, and email marketing.
  • SEM: Search Engine Marketing involves a combination of organic content creation for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and paid advertising techniques. The idea is to use a multitude of paid ads and organic content to capture the attention of customers when they’re looking for specific keywords and phrases on Google and other search engines. 

How does Demand Generation Work?

Ultimately, Demand Generation is a marketing strategy that focuses on building not just brand awareness but audience interest. The inbound marketing efforts used in demand generation help to facilitate growth by allowing companies to specifically target relevant customers at the beginning of their purchasing journey. The goal is to fill the sales funnel with as many qualified leads as possible. 

With a B2B demand generation strategy, companies, marketers, and salespeople start by looking closely at the specific types of customers they want to reach. This means building user personas and customer profiles based on competitor analysis, customer insights, and research. Some companies also explore options to buy leads that fit these profiles to enhance their strategy.

Once companies know what their prospective customers are looking for at every stage in the marketing journey, they can begin to build content and marketing campaigns to capture audience attention and boost brand reputation. Fundamentally, the core focus of a demand generation strategy isn’t to necessarily convert customers but to make sure customers are aware of a brand, its values, and the products or services it can offer. 

Who is Responsible for Demand Generation?

Questions on who should be responsible for demand generation have caused some controversy over the years. In some companies, sales companies are responsible for lead generation, while marketing teams are focused on demand generation. Some organizations even outsource demand generation to specialists who are experts in their field. 

In a standard company, however, most professionals agree that sales and marketing teams should usually be aligned around a demand generation strategy. Marketing teams need to gather data from sales teams to understand the customers they’re creating content for. At the same time, sales teams need to know which content generates demand, so they can adapt their sales pitches. 

Why is B2B Demand Generation important?

Ultimately, demand generation is important because, without demand, companies can’t cultivate sales. Businesses need to actively create the desire for their products and services, so they can continuously collect leads and convert customers. Around 70% of marketing teams already invest in B2B demand generation to boost their conversion rates. 

The biggest benefits of demand generation include the following:

  • Improved brand awareness: Using inbound marketing campaigns, demand generation helps to draw new customers to the top of the sales funnel. This helps to give companies a wider range of prospects and leads to convert. Demand generation also helps to strengthen brand reputation by making the benefits and expertise of the company clear to consumers. 
  • Better lead generation: Although demand generation is different to lead generation, it still helps with the overall lead conversion process. Because companies focus on specific groups of customers with demand generation, the quality of the leads produced is often higher too. You collect consumers who are genuinely interested in whatever you have to sell. 
  • Increased revenue: More awareness of your brand and more qualified leads automatically leads to greater revenue. B2B demand generation works as both a short-term and long-term revenue-boosting strategy. It helps to keep your sales pipeline full of potential prospects who can convert into customers for your brand. 

5 Demand Generation Tips for Your B2B Business

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As customer preferences and the marketing landscape, in general, continue to evolve, there’s no one-size-fits-all strategy for B2B demand generation. Primarily, the focus of every company will be on building better brand awareness and attracting customer attention. However, there are some tips you can use to improve your chances of success.

Know Your Audience

Successful B2B demand generation strategies are highly focused on data. The aim of these campaigns isn’t just to attract the largest number of prospects but to find “qualified” leads for the sales team using information about your target audience. As such, it’s important to gain a clear understanding of who you’re trying to sell to before you begin your campaigns.

Take the time to create buyer personas for each group of consumers you want to attract to your B2B company. These personas should include insights into the demographic and behavioral data of your target audience, as well as their pain points and preferences. The more detailed your personas are, based on market, sales, and competitor research, the more successful they’ll be.

Give Value Before Asking for Anything in Return

The purpose of a demand generation platform is to get people excited by and interested in your products and services. As such, it’s important to focus on nurturing your leads with value. There are various ways for B2B businesses to give value to their audience. You can create content like blogs, webinars, and videos that teach customers how to do important things. 

Alternatively, you could consider giving free demos and samples of your products and services to your clients. This is a particularly effective strategy in the SaaS industry, where many software companies allow consumers to test simple versions of their products before they sign up. 

Create Optimized, Original Content

Content is perhaps the most valuable tool in any B2B demand generation strategy. With a content marketing strategy, you not only provide your customers with beneficial information and entertainment, but you also highlight the thought leadership and expertise of your company. A good strategy can strengthen your credibility and reputation while simultaneously boosting awareness. 

To make the most out of your content, you’ll need to ensure it’s both original and optimized. Don’t simply recreate the posts your competitors have published online. Add something new and unique to everything you produce. At the same time, focus on using SEO strategies to ensure you can position yourself higher in the search engine rankings when customers are searching for solutions. 

Listen to Your Data and Your Customers

As mentioned above, data is everything to a demand generation strategy. For demand generation to be successful, it needs to drive relevant customers to your products and services. This means you need to understand exactly what your customers are looking for. Analyzing the data available from each marketing campaign will make it easier to optimize your future marketing efforts. You can find out which inbound marketing strategies generate the best results and which fall flat. 

Remember, don’t just listen to the data. Look at what your customers are saying too. Testimonials, reviews, and comments left by customers are excellent insights into what actually drives demand among your target audience. They can also be valuable forms of social proof, fantastic for converting uncertain customers. Around 30% of B2B marketers say case studies help generate the most qualified leads at the top of the sales funnel. 

Use a Range of Strategies

Demand generation is a complex and varied process for most businesses. However, a lot of companies make the mistake of only investing in a single technique. This can make it harder to expand brand awareness and strengthen the position of your brand in a competitive environment.

To reach the widest audience and generate the most attention, experiment with a range of strategies. Produce different types of content for your campaigns, like blogs, videos, and podcasts, and measure their results to guide your future decisions. Reach out to customers through email, social media, and SMS, and don’t be afraid to experiment with concepts like influencer marketing

How to Develop a B2B Demand Generation Strategy

While the nature of a demand generation strategy can vary depending on your business and target audience, there are usually various key steps involved in each campaign. No matter whether you’re focused heavily on SEO and content for demand generation or you’re looking primarily at email, here are some of the steps you should follow:

  • Research your market and competition: Getting to know the wider market and the competition in your industry will make it easier to define the unique selling points of your brand. These are the features you can draw attention to when attempting to capture specific audiences for your sales funnel. 
  • Create your buyer personas: Using market research and your own insights, develop a range of user personas to help you understand who you’re trying to reach. Your aim will be to tailor your marketing content to speak directly to these customers, so make sure you understand their pain points, interests, and intent. 
  • Choose your inbound marketing strategies: Focus on inbound marketing strategies intended to boost awareness and pull attention from customers at the top of the funnel. You can experiment with content marketing and SEO, social media, email marketing, and search engine marketing, depending on your specific goals. 
  • Promote and distribute content: Content will always be a core part of a demand generation campaign, so make sure you have a strategy in place for how you’re going to promote whatever you create. You can publish content on your own blog, as well as sites like YouTube, or send guest posts to other brands. You can also promote via email and social media channels to strengthen your reach. 
  • Measure results and optimize: Collecting data isn’t just something you do at the start of a demand generation campaign. You’ll also need to measure the results of each strategy and use your metrics to plan future efforts. Gather as much information as you can about each strategy using built-in analytical tools on social media sites, Google Analytics, and other services. You can even talk to your sales and marketing teams.

B2B Demand Generation KPIs

Measuring and optimizing the results of your demand-generation strategies is one of the most important steps in ensuring your efforts are successful. Unfortunately, when trying to increase online presence, many companies aren’t sure which KPIs they should be tracking. Here are some of the most important metrics to pay attention to:

  • Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): Marketing Qualified Leads are people who are likely to convert based on their interaction with previous marketing strategies. You can measure marketing qualified leads by measuring their clicks on key pages of your website, the time they spend on your site, and the number of visits they make to your pages. 
  • Number of Leads: Getting leads into your funnel is a core focus of any demand generation campaign. Tracking the number of new leads you get after launching each new marketing strategy is a great way to determine how effective your marketing campaigns are at cultivating interest and spreading brand awareness. 
  • Customer Lifetime Value: Customer Lifetime value looks at the average amount of money a customer is likely to spend with you throughout the course of their interactions with your brand. Looking at this KPI will help businesses to determine which of their customer profiles are the most valuable so they know where to focus their attention. 
  • Customer Acquisition Costs: The cost you incur to acquire new leads will determine whether your demand generation techniques are viable. You’ll need to start by calculating the lifetime value of each customer and the cost you pay for each strategy, like content or social media marketing. The greater the cost per acquisition, the more valuable your customers should be. 
  • Activation and Signups: How many people are signing up for your product or actively engaging with your business by subscribing to your newsletter or following you on social media? These metrics will help you determine whether your demand-generation techniques are having the right impact on the top of the funnel. 
  • Brand awareness: Though brand awareness can be more difficult to track than other metrics, there are various things you can look at to improve your insights. For instance, if more people are mentioning your brand online or on social media, this indicates more people are also aware of you. It’s also worth paying attention to the amount of traffic coming to your site. 
  • Return on Investment: Return on Investment means looking at how much money you’re actually making on each demand generation campaign. This means multiplying the number of sales by the average sales price to find your revenue. You can compare your return on investment to your customer acquisition costs to see if your B2B demand generation strategies are worthwhile. 

Case Studies: Examples of Effective Demand Generation

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Throughout the B2B landscape, there are numerous examples of companies using effective demand-generation techniques to connect with and convert their customers. Any strategy used to bring more leads to the top of the sales funnel is effectively a demand-generation campaign.

Here are a few examples to inspire you:

Generating Leads with Free Tools

Offering value before asking for value in return is one of the most valuable techniques any business can use in demand generation. By giving your customers a free tool, service, or valuable content, you’re demonstrating your authority while convincing them to connect with your brand.

For instance, QuickBooks, the company best known for Tax, accounting, and book-keeping tools, allows customers to access a range of free tools to help them understand the value of the service. There’s a free paycheck calculator available for businesses who want to understand the average hourly and salary pay they should be giving their employees. 

Attracting Attention with Thought Leadership

Content isn’t just a great way to give value to your audience, and it can also improve your credibility, making customers more likely to work with you. The content you produce to promote your brand at the top of the sales funnel can show your audience what your products and services are all about, answer crucial questions, and generate engagement.

Salesforce regularly creates video content which not only highlights its customers and services but also boosts its thought leadership. For instance, in the video below, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff interviews the CEO of Accenture to help connect the brand to other leading companies: 

Appeal to Customers on Social Media

37% of B2B marketers say social platforms are among the most effective tools for encouraging early-stage engagement with a brand. With platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you can create target and lookalike audiences based on the specific data you already have about your customers, making it easier to reach the most valuable prospects for your business. 

For instance, SecureWorks used a Social media campaign on LinkedIn by creating campaign on LinkedIn, which targeted specific customers with lead generation forms. Using in-platform targeting to reach prospects interested in concepts like cybersecurity, the brand was able to increase its conversion rate by 400%!

Mastering B2B Demand Generation 

B2B demand generation might seem like a complex concept for beginners, but it’s an extremely valuable and crucial tool for any brand. The more you invest in data-driven and intelligent demand-generation tactics, the more you’ll bring valuable, qualified leads to your company. 

With B2B demand generation strategies, you can boost your brand awareness, increase your potential for attracting new prospects, and fill your sales funnel. If you’re struggling to design your own B2B demand generation campaigns, reach out to Growth Collective today to find an educated and vetted expert to help you master this technique. 

Ransom Agui
Content Marketing Professional
Former Company
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Ransom Agui
Content Marketing Professional
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About Author
Ransom is a passionate SEO and content marketing professional and is currently the marketing manager of Growth Collective. He has vast experience working with small businesses in Australia and was previously the SEO Lead of a top Instagram growth service based in San Diego.
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