Demand generation really is just what it sounds like… it’s marketing that generates demand.
It refers to marketing programs that attract new leads, engage and educate those leads, enable sales success, and even aid in customer retention post-purchase.
Demand generation campaigns can consist of ad funnels, email newsletters, webinars and ebooks, to name a few. They do not include call centre campaigns, untargeted email blasts or quick lead generation hacks.
It’s all about long-term, relationship building strategies.
There is a lot of confusion around what a demand generation strategy looks like and how it’s different from similar terms like lead generation and inbound marketing.
We’ll walk through it all, but feel free to skip ahead using the links below.
A good demand generation strategy considers every stage in the customer lifecycle. Its programs are touch-points throughout the cycle.
Here’s a quick overview of the customer lifecycle:
At each stage, there are different programs to leverage in your overall demand generation strategy.
Let’s take a look at the breakdown below for examples.
Awareness – Attract new audiences to your brand.
This means acquiring new leads through SEO, digital advertising, top-of-funnel content and strong social media presence.
Engagement & Evaluation – Keep audiences interested in your brand and help inform them when they’re making a purchase decision.
Here’s where strategic lead nurturing comes into play. Think blog content, webinars, email marketing and ad retargeting.
Purchase – Help prospects feel confident in making their purchase.
Marketing should align with sales here to support the sale. A comprehensive demand generation strategy can help enable sales with testimonials, case studies, fact sheets and online tools (like calculators).
Post-purchase – Support customers after their purchase and re-engage them to bring them back into the purchase funnel.
Demand generation extends beyond just the sale. It keeps customers engaged with your brand post-purchase. Happy customers renew their deals and refer more business! Tools here can include in-person events, referral programs and exclusive offers.
Remember that a strong demand generation strategy has all 5 of these stages in mind. Each campaign is a touch-point, optimised for conversions leading to the next lifecycle stage.
You’ll often hear people mix up the terms demand generation and lead generation. So what’s the difference?
Lead generation is a specific activity of demand generation. Specifically, it falls into the top-of-funnel “Awareness” part of the demand gen strategy.
The purpose of lead generation is to attract targeted leads. It quite literally generates leads. The second function of lead generation is to collect information on those leads that can then be used to qualify and nurture them into sales-ready leads, and eventually customers.
In some cases, lead generation can stand on its own outside of a demand generation strategy. However, without the down-funnel strategy employed by demand generation, leads are less likely to receive the full support necessary to convert into customers. Using lead generation on its own risks not realising the real value of those leads in the form of customers, revenue and profit.
Two more terms that are often confused are demand generation and inbound marketing. While certainly related, they’re not interchangeable terms.
Once again, inbound marketing is one type of demand generation activity.
In this case, though, there’s one more layer. Inbound marketing is actually a tactic of lead generation, which is a function of demand generation. Still with me?
The goal of inbound marketing is high-volume acquisition of high-quality leads.
It’s a lead generation tactic that focuses on creating relevant, educational content to attract people towards your company. This is called generating inbound traffic.
Once attracted, inbound marketing segments leads into buyer personas and serves them more content to nurture them through the rest of their customer lifecycle.
The content can include ebooks, newsletters, podcasts, videos, or blogs, to name a few.
Inbound marketing is an important facet of lead generation and demand generation. Its tactics are heavily used in a demand generation strategy to secure and nurture quality leads.
Demand generation is a data-driven marketing strategy. It’s all about targeting the right person (audience), in the right place (channels), with the right message (content) at the right time (distribution).
In order to optimise each of these variables, you need to run continuous tests with clear quantitative analytics. The aim should always be to link marketing activities to key business metrics, including revenue.
To start, get to know your customers and conduct qualitative research through user feedback and conversations. Engage your sales team here!
Once you’re familiar with your audience’s needs, you can fuel your demand generation strategy with better personalisation.
To run a successful demand generation strategy, your marketing team needs a clear personalisation strategy. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Content Mapping to learn more about that.
Run A/B tests to choose the right content and customise timing for each of your marketing campaigns and customer segments. As this gets fine-tuned, you’ll be able to optimise for conversions between stages in the customer lifecycle. Better conversions = a faster sales cycle = more revenue for your company!
Demand generation is crucial for companies of all sizes, especially new brands and startups.
Employing a demand generation strategy allows your marketing team to think more holistically about their marketing programs: how they fit into the customer lifecycle and how they convert leads through the funnel.
Demand generation begins by attracting and qualifying targeted leads using lead generation and inbound marketing tactics. Once qualified, it drives those leads through a nurturing process (Engagement and Evaluation in the customer lifecycle). After going through this conversion funnel, the remaining qualified leads get passed to the sales team.
In this way, demand generation is the bridge that connects marketing, sales and revenue teams, with customers at the centre.
Is your marketing team using a demand generation strategy?
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