We've said it time and time again. B2B marketing is rapidly evolving at a pace that can be challenging to keep up with.
The skills a marketer needed to generate leads and demand successfully in 2005 aren’t the same strategies and tactics that drive results in 2018.
While some core skills haven’t changed that much (marketers still need creativity and empathy) and some offline B2B marketing channels, such as in-person events and direct mail, still have an important place in many demand generation strategies... it’s impossible to deny the fact that digital channels are advancing at a breakneck speed.
In 2018, a successful demand gen strategy must incorporate various inbound and paid digital marketing channels. B2B marketers need to master many different digital domains to effectively drive full-funnel demand. Mastering these 8 digital demand gen skills is critical to demand generation success in 2018.
8 Crucial Digital Demand Generation Skills
1. Multi-Channel Content Creation
B2B marketers are tasked with scaling campaign and brand messages across many different digital channels and platforms.
Best practices for digital web content creation have evolved significantly, and more importantly, digital content channels have become more distinct. Marketers need to always create content for every channel their buyer personas use extensively.
In 2017, the Content Marketing Institute’s 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends report revealed the average B2B marketer was creating content for 8 distinct channels.
In addition to blogs and social media, many B2B organizations are beginning to generate demand with new channels for digital content delivery, including online presentations, interactive tools, digital magazines, mobile apps and podcasts.
2. Video Production
Did you know that, according to HubSpot, 43% of people want to see more video content from marketers?
Video content isn't just a tool for B2C marketing. The 2017 CMI survey revealed that 30% of B2B marketers believe video content will be “most critical” to their success in 2018.
B2B marketers don’t necessarily need to learn advanced video editing techniques - although it certainly can't hurt. Some of the best content for B2B audiences includes value-focused webinars, influencer videos and behind-the-scenes video clips.
3. Audio Marketing
67 million Americans listen to at least one podcast per month, according to Convince and Convert. Among B2B decision-makers and other consumers, the demand for fresh, valuable podcast content is growing steadily.
Mastering audio marketing can enable B2B marketers to offer more multimedia content. Podcasts can feel more personal than written blogs, but they also don’t carry the same relatively high content creation costs as video.
Capturing the demand for podcasts and translating it into B2B demand may require today’s marketing pros to master the basics of podcasting, including audio recording, distribution and podcast promotion.
4. Authentic Social Media
Forrester research has discovered that 87% of B2B marketers say they struggle to produce content that truly engages their buyers.
According to the research firm’s analysis, marketers tend to focus on creating deals, not on building relationships. Using social media channels to cast your brand in an authentic light is crucial to winning the trust of B2B decision makers in 2018.
Social media can be a powerful platform for B2B brands to showcase their customers, provide a behind-the-scenes look at their company and provide high-value content.
One B2B brand that nailed the use of Instagram is Salesforce. Instead of using the social media network for run-of-the-mill promotions, they use it to document their high-energy staff having fun and engaging in community service activities.
5. Email Nurturing
The demand generation marketers' success isn't measured only by leads generated. It’s measured in full-funnel metrics, including how effectively marketing-qualified leads are nurtured into sales-ready opportunities.
Lead nurturing is a unique digital skill for demand gen marketers because it’s not “just” technology, it’s a heavily-human skillset. Lead nurturing requires great content, but it also requires effectively using marketing automation technologies and other tools.
To maximize full-funnel demand, marketing organizations must be able to:
- Effectively build a full-funnel content roadmap
- Create content for every stage of the buyer’s journey
- Develop visually-appealing, optimized emails
- Produce a high-volume of lead nurturing tracks
- Optimize nurture track performance often
6. Paid Content Distribution
Content distribution is, by many accounts, even more critical to the success of your B2B marketing in 2018 than content creation.
Marketers must not only master owned channels such as their websites and social media profiles; they need to develop skills to manage paid advertising and content syndication across the web. The skills needed to maximize paid advertising spend in 2018 can encompass a wide range of platforms, ad types and techniques, like content syndication, display ads, paid search and social media.
Mature demand generation programs develop sufficient automation at the top-of-funnel to measure various combinations of channels, partners, audiences and assets. They apply these insights in real-time to optimize campaign performance mid-stream. While some marketers manage this process manually, most demand generation professionals find that top-funnel automation technologies simplify the complex art of paid demand generation.
7. A/B Testing
Increasingly, digital demand generation marketers are called upon to think like scientists.
If you can measure it, you can test it.
Running A/B or split tests enables marketers to optimize the performance of their digital demand generation efforts at every stage of the funnel, from paid content distribution to bottom-funnel email campaigns.
Fortunately, many of today’s best demand gen tools provide built-in capabilities for split testing, allowing marketers to translate real-time performance insights into campaign results.
8. Analytics & Attribution
How do you know that your B2B marketing organization’s efforts are driving revenue?
Without analytics and attribution, you don’t. Marketers can't afford to ignore performance data from their automation platform, CRM, demand generation software or other tools. In fact, they need to embrace analytics and attribution, develop a culture of learning and commit to improving in real-time.
You could try to measure the full-funnel performance of complex, multi-channel demand generation campaigns by combining multi-sourced data in Excel, but it’s not especially efficient. Today’s analytics and insight-driven marketers are generally best served by technologies that simplify performance measurement and optimization in complex B2B marketing environments.
Driving Digital Demand Gen Success in 2018
There’s nothing simple about demand generation, especially given the complex, varied digital skill sets that are needed to launch a successful demand generation campaign in 2018. B2B marketers are no longer expected just to capture leads - they need to create content for an array of digital channels, launch multimedia content resources, use social, embrace email nurturing and measure everything.
Scaling demand generation is never simple, especially in an age where marketers face the choice of adapting or getting left behind. While there’s no changing the pace of digital innovation, adopting the right demand generation software stack and smarter processes can create the operational efficiency you need to evolve your skills and strategy.
Curious how today’s most effective B2B marketers are improving their digital demand and revenue generation outcomes? Get 100+ pages of strategies and insight from the 2018 B2B Game Changers in this eBook: Real Revenue Marketing Strategies to Advance Your Game.