Why demand generation should be more in-demand

The lack of alignment between marketing and sales is common in a B2B environment. In an ideal world, these two departments should act like siblings – clearly different, but part of the same family, and therefore aligned on the bigger picture and united in their efforts to succeed. Instead, in many instances, they are often at war – blaming each other for lack of sales delivered against the target.  

Where this occurs, KPI alignment must be reconsidered. B2B marketers must shift from measuring their marketing efforts with the usual vanity metrics such as; content downloads (which can often become a source of low intent ‘leads’), website traffic, or social media followers to considerations such as; customer lifetime value (LTV), customer acquisition cost (CAC) and LTV:CAC ratios, which are tangible, revenue-oriented outcomes. Moreover, marketers must learn how to tie these metrics to the specific strategies, campaigns, and content that they are running to truly identify where the most ROI is coming from. 

To encourage this change in thinking, B2B organisations must start planning for the long-term. Lead targets are generally calculated on the volume rather than the quality of leads received, which often results in high numbers of low-intent leads. For this reason, it’s essential for B2B marketing teams to move away from lead generation campaigns and concentrate more on demand generation and lead qualification. 

In the B2B world, where buying processes can be lengthy and complex, this is particularly true. According to Gartner, a typical sales cycle can take up to six months, not surprising with the number of different parties involved (from influencers to procurement) which can range anywhere from 8 to 11 stakeholders.

In addition to this, 95% of B2B prospects aren’t actively looking for a product or service, so it’s imperative to catch their attention at an early stage so they can convert in the future.  

Why is lead quality important?  

As contentious as it sounds, what constitutes a good lead is often a cause for disagreement between departments. It may appear that a person downloading a free eBook in exchange for their personal details is interested because they’re consuming content, but in reality, their buying intent is extremely low (how do we even know if that person even read the eBook?). These ‘leads’ are often passed onto sales teams who attempt to convert them into paying customers, but they fail miserably as they’re not ready to purchase. 

This causes frustration because what’s the point of owning 1000 leads at a low cost if the sales team is unable to convert them into sales, let alone sift through the volume to find the potential one! Ultimately, this is an inefficient allocation of time, resources, and budget.   

Implementing a demand generation programme 

This is where a successful demand generation programme can help. Brands can use demand generation programmes to reach prospects with high-quality, educational content that they can consume at their own pace. Content should be tailored according to where the user is in the buying journey – whilst giving them the freedom to enter or exit the funnel at any time as the journey is no longer linear. For example, if someone has yet to realise their problem, top-level content that guides them toward it might help. If someone is already deep into the buying process, they may need instant access to all content to help them evaluate the options available. No matter where your prospects are in the buying journey, make sure they have easy access to your content.  

It’s important to make demand generation content ungated. Many businesses have reservations about ungated content, but we believe that not asking people for their personal information in exchange for a free piece of content improves marketing effectiveness over time, since it removes barriers from raising brand awareness and trust.   

A demand generation campaign also offers the advantage of a lower advertising cost. Companies often focus on short-term marketing activities like paid ads to source potential customers faster, which can be expensive when running them on cold audiences who have little brand recognition. In contrast, a demand generation campaign designed to warm up the audience can generate higher quality leads with a lower cost per acquisition over time, making the marketing campaign more profitable. 

As prospects interact with your content, they become more mature and educated about your brand – resulting in a very high level of buying-intent when they’re ready to contact a sales representative. As a result, the sales process is sped up and the lead-to-opportunity ratio (an important marketing metric), increases. 

What should a demand generation program include?  

Think high-quality content. This includes user-centric content that satisfies the user’s intent, addresses their existing challenges, and is SEO-optimized. There are still lots of examples in the B2B world where companies use their content to sell their services.  Instead they should be serving their users’ needs, for example: 

  • Thought leadership & insight 
  • Videos & podcasts that tackle problems 
  • Ungated eBooks/reports/whitepapers that share wisdom 
  • How-to and solution comparison blogs   
  • Email newsletters with editorial content 
  • Communities of like-minded companies or peers 
  • Guest posts by industry evangelists 
  • Brand ambassadors on LinkedIn 

As part of content distribution, demand generation engines should be well planned and led by content strategy, aligned with SEO and MarTech, and supported by paid ads. Content should also be as tailored as possible, especially if you are targeting different industries or niches – which will also lower the cost of paid advertising over time. The most important thing is to build a content hub that will host all content produced – and will be used later to capture demand.

Furthermore, it is crucial to create a seamless journey that allows users to discover all available content without engaging with sales – meaning all content should remain ungated, and then only asking for details once the buyer is ready to speak to sales. 

Want to know more?

Luckily for our clients, Torpedo knows more than a thing or two about this. Our talented team have a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to strategising and executing these solutions. Give us a call when you’re ready to know more.

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