The Integrate marketing team is neck deep in 2019 planning. We’re building a demand marketing strategy that will contribute to the company’s revenue goals for the year ahead. If you’re a B2B marketer, you likely understand the magnitude of this work. It’s an extensive process that requires you to step back and look at the big picture – document your lead, demand, pipeline and revenue goals; and identify the demand generation activities and programs that will get you there.
Often, there’s more on the list than hours in the month. It’s important to understand which demand gen activities drive the most results so you can invest your energy where it matters most.
Demand Generation Activities That Have the Biggest Payoff
Each year, our marketing team gets a little bit smarter. We’re constantly evaluating the performance of our demand generation programs and weighing it against our investments. And while results can vary from program to program, there are a handful of demand gen efforts that we always rely on to create new opportunities and drive revenue.
1. Define marketing and demand generation goals
In our work with thousands of B2B marketing teams, we’ve found that goals can vary greatly depending on the maturity of the marketing organization.
Demand gen goals range from:
- Driving set numbers of leads, MQLs and SQLs
- Reaching certain conversion rates between various funnel stages (i.e. lead-to-opportunity, or MQL-to-SAL)
- Impacting or creating x% of revenue
- Generating brand awareness
- Engaging new contacts or impacting opportunities at target accounts
While documenting annual goals to guide your demand strategy is important, it’s essential to define target outcomes for all core demand generation activities and programs. You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going.
2. Create helpful content
Content is the foundation of demand generation. It’s one of our most powerful tools to engage audiences and create demand. Your content tool box can include things like: blog posts, contributed articles, infographics, whitepapers, eBooks, research reports, guides, webinars, videos, case studies, nurture emails, landing pages and more.
Given the vast amount of content people must sort through, it’s important that you avoid churning out low quality content just to fill space. A well-defined content strategy should start with your buyer personas – understanding their needs, goals and challenges – and then align your content and messaging to the various buying stages for each of those personas.
3. Repurpose high-performing demand generation content
Creating great content takes times and resources, so it’s important to get as much mileage out of your investments as possible. When we identify pieces of demand generation content that are particularly effective at engaging new contacts or moving prospects through specific stages in the funnel, we look for ways to repurpose that content.
For instance, we created The Enterprise Playbook to Account-Based Demand Generation that helps B2B marketers develop and implement ABM strategies. These workbooks have been among our top-performing pieces of content, creating thousands of new contacts. But they’ve also taken hundreds of hours to develop, and that kind of time isn’t easy to come by.
However, with much smaller time investments, we’ve broken these workbooks up into various blog posts, infographics, checklists and templates, allowing us to connect with more marketers through numerous channels.
4. Amplify and distribute your content
All too often demand generation marketers put forth the energy to develop content, and then it sits on the proverbial shelf waiting for people to find it. That approach is all well and good for libraries, but not for marketers. If you want your content to drive results, your strategy must include a variety of promotional tactics to get your work in front of the people who will benefit from it.
At Integrate, our distribution plans incorporate various demand generation tactics, including:
- Regular sharing on social media – This is particularly effective with short form, easily digestible content, as well as visual and multi-media assets.
- Emailing to known prospects and customers – This can be instrumental in deepening relationships with people. Sometimes as much as 50% of our program participation comes from contacts who are already in our database.
- Syndicate through third-party sources – It’s short sighted to wait for all your potential prospects to stumble upon your latest eBook. Working with trusted media partners who have relationships with your target audiences can be an effective way to scale demand generation results.
5. Get face-to-face with your prospects
Nothing replaces the value of face-to-face connection. A regular cadence of field events and industry conferences are a worthwhile addition to any demand generation plan.
If you’re investing heavily in events, you’re likely collecting copious amounts of data on your event registrants and attendees. Manually processing that data is not a demand gen activity that drives results. It drains productivity and destroys event ROI.
6. Refine contact- and account-targeting
It’s unwise for demand generation marketers to take a “set it and forget it” approach to audience targeting. While your core buyer and account personas may largely remain the same, you can often obtain new insights by taking a deep dive into sales processes and customer data that, when acted upon, will improve your demand generation performance.
Whether contact- and account-targeting is something you revisit annually or quarterly, it’s a good idea to regularly:
- Ensure your target account list is in sync with your sales team’s evolving targets.
- Evaluate the buying committee. Are you still engaging with the same participants in the sales process? Develop new personas as needed.
- Analyze demographic and firmographic data of your highest value customers to better inform your campaign targeting.
7. Always be testing
Demand generation marketers must be agile and creative. It’s important to always test new demand gen tactics, strategies, channels, sources, content, creative and more.
Some things our marketing team regularly tests are:
- CTA design and text
- Landing and website page layouts
- Headlines and subject lines
- Blog posting or email sending times
You can test a plethora of program elements – from simple factors like button colors to more complex areas like workflow sequences. We encourage you to set up regular A/B tests and most importantly to…
8. Dive into your demand generation data
All the testing, content development and creative marketing in the world won’t be good enough if instinct is your only guide. Today’s marketers must be guided by data. There’s no shortage of metrics to measure.
Whether you’re monitoring click-through rates on ads or CTAs, conversion rates on landing pages, or which pieces of content are driving the most new leads – it’s imperative that you take action on key insights once you uncover them.
9. Keep marketing and sales in sync
Demand generation goes beyond just generating new contacts. It requires a full-funnel approach to guiding prospects through discovery, consideration and purchase. This means marketers and sales pros must work together to:
- Execute towards revenue goals – Successful organizations define revenue targets collectively. While each team may have its own plan to reach those goals, coming together on a regular cadence (whether weekly, monthly or quarterly) to review progress and identify areas for improvement can greatly impact results.
- Identify and engage the right prospects – When developing buyer personas and target account lists, you need to work with sales to identify the right attributes. So every time you go back to demand generation activity #6 (refine contact- and account-targeting), be sure to loop in some members from your sales team for feedback.
- Deliver the right message at the right time – Sales can benefit heavily from all the great content that marketing creates. But sometimes it can be a lot to sort through. Marketing needs to make it easy for sales to access content – and identify which content to apply with which prospects at specific stages in the sales cycle. It’s also important for marketing to understand how and when sales pros use content and the impact that it has. There are numerous sales enablement tools that can help with this. If you don’t have a tool in place, consider putting a weekly call on the calendar with your sales team to keep them in the loop on the content and programs available to them.
10. Work with partners
Some of our best demand generation results stem from our work with great industry partners. It can be a worthwhile effort to identify non-competitive companies with complementary products or solutions, that are targeting the same prospects as your organization, preferably with overlapping target-account strategies. Regularly plan events, webinars and co-created content with these partners.
Partner marketing typically reduces the effort and investment for all involved parties, while increasing the potential audience for your demand generation efforts. The results speak for themselves.
11. Nurture, nurture, nurture
While there can be numerous reasons behind low conversion rates, lack of lead nurturing is the leading cause of failure to convert leads into opportunities and revenue. At the same time, leads that are nurtured effectively show a 50% increase in conversion to sales-ready leads. It’s vital that marketers continue to engage with and provide helpful content for contacts who are in early stages of the buying cycle. Persona-, pain- and stage-based nurture tracks are valuable strategies to drive demand generation results.
This is another area where you will yield significant gains from paying close attention to the data. Monitor the open, click through and conversion rates on your nurture emails. Seek to identify any elements from high-performing nurture content that can be pulled through the rest of your workflow. If you don’t yet have a tool in place to automate lead nurturing, it’s time to evaluate marketing automation.
12. Use templates for demand generation projects and programs
Last but not least, with all the demand generation activities that need your attention, it’s important to streamline where possible. This might mean automating manual demand gen tasks, implementing new processes to save time or identifying new tools that will help increase organizational efficiency.
We’ve created numerous marketing templates that our team uses regularly to make it easier to break big projects and programs up into executable tasks.
Here is a guide to a 7-point 3rd-party demand gen framework that includes prescriptive advice to execute an effective demand strategy.