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Before discussing demand generation definitions and strategies, let's confirm that you're in the right place.
If you realize most of your target market isn't immediately ready to purchase your B2B SaaS product, or some aren't even aware of the problem your product can solve, you're in the right spot.
Go to market (GTM) and digital marketing strategies have significantly changed, especially in the B2B tech and B2B SaaS industries. Companies now recognize they must conduct in-depth market research to better understand their target audience, improve positioning, and establish and nurture relationships with potential customers before they're ready to buy.
A go to market strategy is a comprehensive plan businesses use to bring a new product or service to market. It is designed to mitigate the risk inherent in launching a new product or service by outlining the tactics, marketing channels and strategies to be used. In the B2B SaaS world, a go to market strategy is particularly important because it helps companies reach potential customers and generate demand for their product or service.
However, even though they understand this, companies may not know where to begin or how to structure their demand generation approach and end up struggling with sustainable demand generation strategies and ever-changing go to market approaches.
That's why we've developed the ultimate demand generation guide for B2B SaaS companies.
We'll dive into the various components of demand, explore the evolution of buyer behavior, highlight the significance of dark social in the buyer journey, and emphasize the shift from lead to demand generation.
Once you've finished reading this guide, you'll have the knowledge and strategies to plan and execute a successful demand generation program that will help you cut through the noise and build relationships with your target market.
So, let's get started.
Demand generation is a comprehensive strategy that aims to build long-term relationships between brands and customers. It involves various marketing and sales approaches to create awareness, generate interest, and capture demand, ultimately speeding up the sales cycle.
Demand generation extends throughout the entire buyer's journey. Its goal is not limited to acquiring new customers but rather connecting your brand with potential customers from the beginning of their journey to the point of purchase and beyond.
Throughout the demand generation process, the focus is on educating the target market, particularly those who may not yet be aware of the problems or challenges your product solves, the overall category it belongs to, or the potential improvements it can bring to their workflow.
In marketing, demand generation refers to the systematic and integrated approach of creating, nurturing, and capturing demand. It is not a single tactic or campaign but a holistic strategy that requires marketers to work closely with sales, customer service, and customer success teams.
The primary goal of demand generation in marketing is to create brand awareness and establish relationships with potential customers at different stages of their journey, from being aware of your brand to making a purchase decision. To do so, marketers must provide valuable content, address pain points and objections, and build trust, all while showcasing their product's unique selling points.
Demand generation in marketing is a continuous process that helps move prospects through the sales funnel and ultimately results in a steady flow of new customers.
Before diving deeper into the guide, let's first understand what makes demand generation important for B2B SaaS companies. Before you can sell your product and capture demand, you must first create awareness and educate your potential customers about the value your product offers.
In today's SaaS market, simply having a good product is not enough. Companies must differentiate themselves from their competitors and highlight the unique benefits of their solutions to stand out, which is exactly what demand generation helps achieve. By creating targeted content and engaging with potential customers throughout their journey, demand generation drives interest and builds trust, making the sales process much easier.
Besides establishing brand awareness and building trust, demand generation also helps generate qualified leads for your sales team. By targeting specific audiences and engaging with them through valuable content, you can attract high-quality leads that are more likely to convert into paying customers.
To answer this question in more detail, we will look at demand generation through two categories: demand capture and demand generation itself. The following chapter will also provide the answer to another important question:
It is important to distinguish between two different aspects when talking about Demand Generation.
When approaching buyers who already recognize the need for your product, we're talking about demand capture, or better said, capturing existing demand.
Now, that's not always easy, especially considering the B2B landscape typically involves more complex sales cycles due to multiple decision-makers, such as boards, buying committees, and C-level executives.
As a result, the relationship between B2B buying, content, and sales reps has undergone a significant shift and demand capture in the B2B SaaS market now requires combining various tactics and channels to reach multiple decision-makers at different stages of their buyer's journey.
That usually involves focusing on website content, social media channels, review sites such as G2 and Capterra, online events, Google ads, and email marketing campaigns. The buyer journey is far from being a predictable, linear path; instead, it can be described as a dynamic and intricate process or, well, messy, like in the image below:
However, demand capture doesn't just involve reaching out to buyers who already recognize the need for your product but also getting in front of buyers actively searching for solutions in a different category. It's about challenging their initial assumptions and guiding them toward a better-suited solution within your category they may not have considered before.
Let's use Slack as an example. Before Slack, businesses primarily relied on email for internal communication. Slack redirected demand by introducing a team collaboration platform that offered real-time messaging, file sharing, and integration with other business tools. They highlighted the inefficiencies of email and positioned Slack as a centralized hub for communication and collaboration.
Now, let's talk about a more proactive approach, generating demand and why it is important.
The problem with demand capture is that you're still limiting your efforts to potential customers who are aware of the problem and are active on the market. But here is a catch. Only a tiny percentage of buyers actively seek solutions to their problems. Capturing just that small fraction of demand is insufficient for sustainable growth.
Tip: Early-stage B2B SaaS and tech companies should invest most of their resources, around 75-80%, into demand generation. The remaining 20-25% should be allocated toward capturing demand.
To grow effectively, it is important to generate demand among the remaining 95% of the market (95-5 rule). Instead of waiting for customers to come to you or fighting over the small portion of the market that's actively buying, demand generation empowers you to take charge of your growth by engaging potential customers early in their decision-making journey, which is exactly what makes it so much more important than demand capture.
The first step to increasing demand for your product is deciding whether to create a new category or improve your current product to stand out from competitors. Creating a new category is ideal for products that need to bring attention to the problem they solve, educate their audience, gain momentum, and become the preferred solution when their audience is ready to buy.
Improving an existing product is better suited for mature categories with established competition. To gain a larger market share, it's important to differentiate your product from competitors. Later in this guide, we'll explore creating a new category and ways to differentiate your product. You can find more details under the section Category Creation.
But how do we engage that massive part of the market that's unaware of their problem or your solution?
That's where the real demand generation game starts.
In the following chapters, we will talk about exactly that: how to generate demand and guide buyers through the decision-making process. We will discuss different tactics (with real examples), from content marketing and SEO to hybrid acquisition models and paid advertising, to help you create an effective conversion funnel and ensure sustainable long-term growth.
It's common to confuse demand and lead generation, but they are far from the same thing. If you're having trouble distinguishing between demand vs lead generation, you're not the only one. These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are actually quite different.
Demand generation strongly emphasizes improving positioning, understanding your target audience, educating potential buyers, and building strong connections with them well before their actual purchase intent.
Its goal is to optimize conversions and metrics, depending on the type of leads we engage, such as MQLs, SQLs, or SQOs. Additionally, demand generation covers all three funnel stages: Top of the Funnel (TOFU), Middle of the Funnel (MOFU), and Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU).
It involves creating interest among potential customers who may not be aware of the problem your product solves. Demand generation is often a long-term game focusing on brand awareness and positioning and building a deep understanding of the buyers' needs.
Furthermore, it aligns marketing, sales, revenue operations (RevOps), and customer success teams to collaboratively optimize the overall customer experience and streamline the buyer journey.
Lead generation, on the other hand, is the step where initial interest turns into a potential lead, which usually means obtaining someone's name, email address, or other contact information. It's the process of identifying prospects as potential leads and nurturing them toward becoming customers.
Lead generation typically uses gated content and similar methods that require contact information to be shared by a prospect before they can access the material. Demand generation is more focused on ensuring the right people see the right content for them, which means gating resources isn't always the best approach.
While demand and lead generation have distinct goals, they are interconnected and work together to drive successful marketing and revenue outcomes. We can look at lead generation as the final step in the demand capture process after creating and nurturing a relationship with your target prospects, and they've finally reached the phase where they're ready to purchase.
Demand generation lays the groundwork by creating awareness, building brand recognition, and establishing trust. It creates a community of potential buyers receptive to your messaging and offerings. Lead generation then comes into play by capturing and converting those prospects into leads.
The key is to strike a balance between demand generation vs lead generation. If you focus too much on lead generation without having the right demand generation approach, you may easily end up with poor database quality, long sales cycles, higher customer acquisition costs, or just leads that don't convert. On the other hand, the demand generation approach improves pipeline velocity, cuts down long sales cycles, reduces customer acquisition costs, and improves prospect quality.
Finally, it's important to note that lead generation alone will never work as effectively without a strong demand generation strategy. While lead generation is crucial in converting prospects into leads, it relies on the foundation established by effective demand generation and demand capture efforts.
Let's dive into the specifics of B2B demand generation and its importance in the world of B2B SaaS. In a B2B setting, demand generation can make or break your business. Without strong brand awareness, a solid reputation, and a community of potential buyers, your SaaS product may struggle to stand out in the crowded market.
B2B demand generation comes with a range of benefits for businesses operating in the SaaS industry and beyond. Some key ones include:
Demand generation has a direct impact on increased revenue. By connecting with potential customers early in their journey, you influence their decision-making process, ultimately driving more sales and revenue the moment they are ready to buy.
Demand generation initiatives also improve your brand's visibility and recognition. As prospects encounter your brand at different stages of their journey, they become more familiar with your products, building trust and credibility. Building relationships with prospects from the outset creates a foundation for strong customer relationships. Not to mention, customer retention rates often improve when clients have a positive and continuous interaction with your brand.
Finally, effective demand generation helps you allocate resources effectively, as it ensures that your marketing efforts reach a broader audience, not just those actively seeking your product. This allows you to maximize your return on investment and optimize your sales funnel for better lead generation and conversion rates.
Creating demand for a B2B SaaS product is what this whole guide is all about! It's far more complex than simply creating a demand for traditional consumer products, as the B2B SaaS market has unique challenges and nuances.
Some key steps we will cover in more detail in the following chapters include identifying your ideal customer profile, creating a compelling value proposition, and leveraging different channels to reach prospects at various stages of their journey. We will also discuss the importance of research and analysis, proper metrics, as well as the power of targeting and personalization.
Through all of these steps, you will learn how to create a demand generation funnel specifically tailored for B2B SaaS products. This involves understanding where your target audience spends their time, how they consume information, and what drives them to make a purchase. By implementing the right strategies and tactics, you can create a demand for your B2B SaaS product that will ultimately lead to higher conversions and business growth.
Demand Generation Strategy for the B2B SaaS industry differs from strategies in other industries in several ways:
Complex sales process: B2B SaaS often involves a more complex and extended sales cycle, with multiple decision-makers and influencers. Demand generation strategies need to address these complexities and nurture leads accordingly.
Product complexity: SaaS products can be technically complex. Demand generation strategies must effectively communicate the value and functionality of these products to potential customers who may not be tech-savvy.
Subscription model: Many B2B SaaS companies operate on a subscription model, which requires ongoing lead nurturing to retain customers and maximize customer lifetime value. This differs from industries with one-time purchases.
Audience knowledge: B2B SaaS caters to a specialized audience that understands technology and is often looking for solutions to specific business challenges. Demand generation content and messaging need to align with this expertise.
Integration of technology: B2B SaaS companies often rely on various tools and platforms to deliver and manage their services. Demand generation strategies may involve promoting integrations with other software, emphasizing the tech stack's compatibility.
Data-driven decisions: Data analytics play a critical role in B2B SaaS demand generation. Understanding and analyzing data, including customer behavior and subscription metrics, is crucial for strategy optimization.
Customer success: B2B SaaS relies heavily on customer success and ongoing customer satisfaction. Demand generation strategies may need to incorporate post-sale engagement and support efforts.
Industry trends: Staying updated with evolving technology and industry trends is crucial, as the B2B SaaS landscape is known for rapid developments. Strategies should adapt quickly to leverage new opportunities.
As you can see, demand generation strategy in the B2B SaaS industry distinguishes itself from other industries and requires a comprehensive and holistic approach. Unlike conventional strategies, B2B demand generation is not just about generating leads; it's about crafting a dynamic approach that can significantly enhance your business's growth and bottom line.
This approach integrates various components, including content strategy, social media strategy, email strategy, all the way to leveraging Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms.
CRM platforms such as HubSpot CRM play a pivotal role in streamlining these efforts and providing valuable attribution insights. With them, you can optimize your campaigns and demand generation strategy towards peak performance while efficiently eliminating lower-performing content and channels.
B2B demand generation strategy entails understanding your audience, identifying key decision-makers, and aligning with industry trends. But it goes beyond that; it's about creating a narrative that resonates with your audience, piques their interest, and guides them through the entire buyer's journey. This process involves attracting prospects and nurturing them until they convert into loyal customers.
Finally, to generate and nurture leads, you need to work on establishing a good B2B demand generation funnel. This funnel encompasses all the stages of the buyer's journey, from attracting prospects to converting them into customers.
But what exactly does it take to create and execute a good B2B demand generation strategy?
Let's take a look at the different elements that play a crucial role in this process.
Before planning any demand generation activities, you need research, research, and more research. Granted, this is the most tedious and time-consuming part of the process, but doing it right will save you a lot of trouble down the line.
So, what exactly will you research, and how? Let's dive in.
Start with your existing customers and try to understand them better. What do they like and dislike about your product or service? What type of content resonates with them the most? Listen to customer success (CS) and customer support calls, conduct customer interviews, talk to your sales development representatives (SDRs), read surveys, and pay attention to customer feedback.
This research will help you gain insights into your customers' pain points, motivations, and buying behavior, show you what works and what doesn't, and help you identify the best channels for reaching your customers and fueling your demand generation strategy creation.
Once you're done talking to your existing customers, it's time to focus on potential prospects. This target account research includes identifying key decision-makers, understanding their pain points and challenges, and gathering insights into their business goals and priorities. Who do you want to sell to? What challenges do they face? Where do they hang around online? How can you engage them?
By having a clear picture in mind of the key accounts your B2B SaaS wants to target, you will be able to personalize your targeting strategies for the most effective results. And the more you know about your top target accounts, the better equipped you are to tailor your messaging and engage them effectively.
So, now you know who you're selling to. What's next?
It's time to check out the industry trends and market dynamics. Pay attention to the news and industry publications, keep an eye out for market changes, customer preferences, and emerging technologies. Perform an in-depth competitor analysis and ensure your SaaS is on a strategic path to differentiation, not imitation.
By understanding the current industry landscape, you'll be able to identify the most effective channels for reaching out to prospects, develop better strategies and content, and craft more personal messages.
Creating engaging content is a cornerstone of a good demand generation strategy. Content research involves understanding the topics and themes that resonate with your target audience. It includes identifying relevant keywords and search trends, analyzing the performance of existing content, and researching industry thought leaders.
By conducting content research, you will determine the types of content and topics your audience is likely to engage with. This will give you an idea of what kind of content to create and how to get the most out of it. Armed with this data, you can create better content that resonates with your audience.
When conducting channel research, you should focus on identifying the most appropriate platforms and mediums to reach both the end-users and decision-makers in your target audience. This involves understanding their online behavior, preferred communication channels, and social media habits. By gaining insights into their digital presence and preferred channels, you can tailor our messaging and content delivery to match their preferences.
After all, different audience segments often have varying preferences for receiving information. For example, end-users may be more active on social media platforms, while decision-makers might prefer industry-specific forums or professional networking sites. By understanding these details, you can optimize your outreach efforts and deliver content in a way that resonates best with each segment.
Finally, channel research helps you stay informed about emerging trends, especially in the B2B SaaS digital landscape. New platforms or communication methods pop up daily, and you need to be aware of their potential impact on reaching your target audience.
Another important aspect of a successful demand generation strategy is deciding whether to create a new category or differentiate within an existing one.
Category creation involves the creation of an entirely new space within a specific market. It surpasses mere product or service innovation and focuses on introducing a completely novel way of addressing a problem or fulfilling a need.
Differentiation is the process of distinguishing a business's product or service offerings from those of the competition by highlighting unique characteristics, value propositions, or customer experiences. It involves creating a distinct identity that resonates with target customers and positions the business as the preferred choice within a specific category.
There is no playbook or one-size-fits-all solution that will help you determine which of these strategies is right for you—demystifying category creation involves assessing market dynamics, understanding the competitive landscape, and carefully weighing existing opportunities against potential risks.
With new strategies and technologies emerging constantly, it's hard to stay ahead of the game and keep up with the latest trends. One trend that has increasingly gained popularity in recent years is Product Led Growth (PLG).
Product Led Growth involves leveraging your product as the primary means of acquiring, converting, and retaining customers. Instead of relying heavily on traditional marketing and sales tactics, PLG shifts the focus to creating a valuable product experience that drives demand and leads to organic growth.
PLG is particularly effective for B2B SaaS companies, as it aligns with the subscription-based business model and allows for continuous feedback and iteration based on customer usage and needs.
Integrating product led growth into your demand generation strategy can have a significant impact on your business. By focusing on creating a great product experience, you can attract and retain high-quality customers who see the value in your product and become brand advocates. This can also lead to increased customer retention rates and higher lifetime value.
Furthermore, PLG allows for more efficient use of resources as it relies less on traditional marketing tactics like paid advertising and instead utilizes the inherent virality of a great product.
Inbound marketing is a strategic methodology that revolves around creating content that aligns with the needs of your target audience. Its goal is to stimulate long-term customer relationships by providing relevant and informative content through nurturing and scoring.
In contrast to traditional outbound marketing tactics like cold calls and billboards, inbound marketing typically involves organic channels such as search engine optimization (SEO) and social media to distribute thought leadership content and attract prospects who actively seek information and solutions online. However, it does not involve actively reaching out to prospects or paid advertisements.
While inbound marketing falls under the demand generation umbrella, demand gen extends beyond it and focuses on the overall process of generating demand and converting leads into customers. That's why its activities may involve outbound marketing techniques, targeted advertising, lead nurturing, events, and more.
A well-executed inbound marketing strategy should capture the audience’s attention in a non-disruptive way, at the same time aligning with the goals of demand generation. The created content can be used to attract the right buyers, build trust with them through helpful and educational information, and ultimately lead them down the conversion path.
Additionally, there is a difference in the approach to leads and content between demand generation and inbound marketing. Demand generation focuses on ungated content, while inbound marketing works with gated content to capture lead information and nurture them further.
Imagine you’re gift shopping but haven’t been told who you’re shopping for. You could wander around the store for hours, or you could narrow down your search and focus on items that suit your person.
The same principle applies to demand generation. Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) serves as a roadmap for your demand generation efforts. It helps you identify and target the right audience most likely to benefit from and be interested in your offer.
Here are a few reasons why the ICP is vital for a demand generation strategy:
Go back to the analysis you did on your existing customer base. Look for common characteristics among your most satisfied and successful customers. Consider factors such as industry, company size, geographic location, job roles, pain points, and buying behaviors.
Next, take a look at the conducted market research to gain a deeper understanding of your target market. Pay attention to market trends, customer preferences, and industry dynamics.
Leverage your customer data to uncover insights about your target audience. Analyze data from your CRM, website analytics, and other relevant sources to identify key characteristics and behaviors of your ideal customers. Look for patterns in demographics, engagement metrics, and purchase history to create framework for your ideal customer profile.
Keep in mind you should continuously refine your ideal customer profile template based on feedback, data analysis, and market changes. Once you clearly understand your ideal customers, document your ICP in a concise and accessible format. Include key characteristics, pain points, goals, and other relevant information to guide your demand generation strategy.
Think back to the moment you identified a problem and took the lead in creating your B2B SaaS company. You saw a gap in the market and were bold enough to fulfill a need. But now comes the critical task of differentiating your SaaS - and that starts with messaging and positioning.
Customization of messaging is at the core of a successful demand generation strategy. It involves crafting compelling and personalized content that speaks directly to your target audience. This content should not only promote your product but also address the specific problems it solves and how it aligns with your customers' priorities. It's about understanding who in the company is experiencing these problems, what's important to them, and how your SaaS uniquely solves these issues in comparison to competitors.
Customizing your messaging is essential. Tailor your content to resonate with your audience, increase their perception of value, and differentiate your product meaningfully. This personalization makes your messaging more relevant and engaging, which is crucial for an effective demand generation strategy. Try to keep in mind that, while there is nothing wrong with emphasizing your product's revenue-generating capabilities within your messaging, your website should focus on value you bring to the table, not just money.
Hand in hand with messaging, positioning your product goes beyond clever marketing and catchy taglines. It's a strategic step that secures a place in your customer's mind. It involves reframing the original reason for creating your company and understanding exactly where your B2B SaaS fits into your customers' lives.
To start, ask yourself one simple question: Does your SaaS really matter to your users? This question forms the foundation of your messaging and positioning efforts. In the end, they are not just about promoting your product; they are about understanding the problems it solves and how it addresses your customers' priorities. It's about knowing who in the company is experiencing these problems, what's important to them, and where your SaaS stands in comparison to competitors.
To understand the positioning aspect a bit better, let's consider an example.
Imagine ranking the importance of two products: project management software and accounting software. In a business environment where efficient project management is critical, project management software would rank high on the importance scale.
But in a financial department where accurate financial management and reporting are top priorities, accounting software would be of paramount importance and would rank higher than any project management software.
The difference in priority between the two products arises from the specific needs and priorities of the customers in each context. By understanding the context in which your product is used, you can tailor your messaging and positioning to directly address your target audience’s pain points and priorities.
This is why, in terms of B2B SaaS positioning, you should always consider the following:
Identify Your Unique Selling Propositions (USPs): Clearly articulate what sets your SaaS apart from the competition. Whether it's advanced features, a user-friendly interface, cost-effectiveness, or exceptional customer support, your USPs should be a focal point in your positioning strategy.
Highlight Value and Benefits: Your positioning should revolve around how your SaaS addresses specific challenges and offers real value to customers. Explain the benefits they can expect, such as increased efficiency, reduced costs, or improved productivity.
Competitive Differentiation: Study your competitors to identify gaps in their offerings and where your SaaS excels. Emphasize these distinctions in your positioning to show potential customers why your solution is superior.
Contextual Positioning: As demonstrated in the example of project management software and accounting software, your positioning should resonate with the specific context in which your product is used. Tailor your messaging to directly address the unique needs and priorities of your target audience in various industries or departments.
Customer-Centric Approach: Understand your target audience's pain points, preferences, and priorities. Position your SaaS as the answer to their specific challenges, demonstrating that you've tailored your product with their needs in mind.
Consistency Across Channels: Ensure that your positioning remains consistent across all your marketing and communication channels. A unified message helps build a strong and memorable brand image.
In terms of B2B SaaS positioning, the context and priorities of your customer matter just as much as everywhere else. If your product addresses a pressing need or solves a significant problem, it will capture their attention and resonate with their specific context. Understanding the context in which your product is used allows you to tailor your messaging and position your SaaS in the best possible light and create messaging that resonates with their needs, increases their perception of value, and differentiates your product from competitors in a meaningful way.
Now that you have a better understanding of the fundamentals of demand generation and how it impacts your bottom line, let’s dive into some actionable tips and best practices that you can implement to drive growth.
When it comes to best practices for B2B SaaS, there's a handful of essentials you simply can't ignore.
First and foremost, content is king - and in the realm of demand generation, it's all about providing valuable, informative, and engaging content that addresses your audience's pain points. A well-executed content marketing strategy can significantly increase your brand visibility and authority.
Now, before delving into nurturing leads, it's essential to understand the importance of different lead types within your pipeline. Leads may be categorized as Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs), and Sales Qualified Opportunities (SQOs). These distinctions are crucial as they represent the progression of potential customers from initial interest to deeper engagement in your sales funnel. Tools like HubSpot can be instrumental in tracking and managing these leads effectively.
Nurturing leads is paramount in the B2B SaaS space. This involves maintaining consistent communication with potential customers, offering them personalized experiences, and gently guiding them down the sales funnel.
Another key practice is leveraging data and analytics, and here, HubSpot’s attribution capabilities can be a game-changer. Use collected data to understand your audience's behavior, optimize your campaigns, and make informed decisions. HubSpot's robust attribution tools allow you to track and attribute conversions and interactions accurately, providing you with insights to measure the impact of each touchpoint in your marketing and sales funnel and enhance your B2B SaaS analytics.
Lastly, always keep an eye on emerging trends and technologies. The B2B SaaS space is constantly evolving, and ignoring new developments will only make you fall behind your competition.
Building successful B2B SaaS campaigns through demand generation will always go back to understanding your target audience, having a good product-market fit, a solid content strategy, and a well-defined sales funnel.
Once you have these fundamentals in place, here are a few practical steps to follow:
As you probably noticed by now, there is nothing easy about creating and executing B2B SaaS campaigns that will actually work, generate demand, turn that demand into leads, and, ultimately, paying customers. This is why many companies turn to demand generation agencies for help.
A demand generation agency has the expertise and experience to develop effective strategies for B2B SaaS businesses. They will help you (and often do it for you) with everything from market research and campaign planning to execution and optimization. They have access to valuable insights and industry knowledge that most companies don't have in-house and can provide valuable guidance on targeting the right audience, choosing the best channels, and creating compelling content that will attract quality leads.
Implementing full-funnel demand generation requires a significant amount of resources. Many smaller marketing teams from the B2B SaaS landscape don't have the capacity and expertise to conduct full-funnel demand generation campaigns; instead, they create short-term campaigns without any strategic planning.
For that reason, a demand generation agency with an excellent portfolio and a previous track record of successful demand generation campaigns might be the best choice for B2B SaaS companies seeking that kind of help and support.
The best way to find the right demand generation agency is to look for performance-based results. The test period is another way to see if the demand generation agency can hit the KPIs that were set initially.
So you did your research, you defined your ICP, and you crafted your messaging - now what? It's time to define the essential metrics your SaaS business should track to guide your demand generation strategy and see you if what you're doing is working.
But just because demand generation is a holistic approach, it doesn’t mean you can eliminate the use of traditional metrics. That’s why we’ll pay attention to different marketing and SaaS business metrics, as they are all equally relevant for identifying early-stage success and tracking the effectiveness of your demand generation initiatives.
Measure the level of recognition and familiarity your target audience has with your brand. Conduct surveys, analyze website traffic, track social media mentions, and monitor brand searches to gauge brand awareness. A strong brand awareness indicates that your demand generation efforts have effectively positioned your brand in the minds of your audience, making it more likely for them to consider your products or services.
Assess how your target audience perceives and understands your brand, including its reputation, credibility, and differentiation. Same as for brand awareness, you can conduct surveys, monitor online reviews and social media sentiment, and gather customer feedback to evaluate brand perception. Understanding how your brand is perceived helps you identify areas for improvement, capitalize on your brand strengths, and address any negative perceptions that may hinder your demand generation efforts.
Track the speed at which leads move through your sales pipeline, from initial contact to conversion. Calculate the average time it takes for a lead to progress through each stage of the sales pipeline, from lead generation to closing the deal. A faster pipeline velocity indicates a more efficient demand generation process, enabling you to generate revenue more quickly and effectively allocate resources.
Quality of Generated Opportunities
Take some time to evaluate the level of qualification and suitability of the opportunities generated through marketing efforts. Assess lead scoring and qualification criteria to ensure the opportunities generated align with your ideal customer profile. By focusing on high-quality opportunities, you increase the likelihood of converting leads into customers, maximize your resources, and enhance the efficiency of your sales efforts.
Sales Accepted Leads (SALs)
How many leads have been qualified and accepted by the sales team for further engagement? Track the percentage of leads accepted by sales from the total leads generated. SALs indicate the effectiveness of your demand generation efforts in delivering leads that meet the sales team's criteria and have a higher chance of converting into paying customers.
Measure the percentage of leads or prospects that convert into paying customers. Divide the number of customers acquired by the total number of leads and multiply by 100 to obtain the conversion rate. A high conversion rate indicates that your demand generation strategies and marketing campaigns effectively persuade and engage your target audience, resulting in a higher number of conversions and revenue generation.
Cost per Lead (CPL)
Calculate the average cost incurred to generate a single lead. Divide the total marketing expenses by the number of leads generated within a specific period. Tracking CPL helps you understand the efficiency of your lead generation efforts and optimize your budget allocation. Lower CPL indicates that you are acquiring leads at a lower cost, maximizing the return on your marketing investments.
Cost per Acquisition (CPA)
Determine the average cost of acquiring a new customer. Divide the total marketing expenses by the number of new customers acquired within a specific period. Monitoring CPA allows you to assess the cost-effectiveness of your overall demand generation process and evaluate the efficiency of converting leads into paying customers.
Return on Investment (ROI)
Finally, you should assess the effectiveness and profitability of your marketing campaigns by comparing the generated revenue to the associated costs. Divide the revenue generated from marketing efforts by the total marketing expenses and multiply by 100 to obtain the ROI percentage. ROI helps you understand the financial impact of your demand generation strategies, enabling you to allocate resources more effectively and optimize your marketing campaigns for better returns.
Revenue metrics measure the financial performance of your SaaS business. The most commonly tracked revenue metrics include Monthly Recurring Revenue (MRR), Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR), and Gross Revenue.
Customer Acquisition Metrics
These metrics measure how effectively your SaaS business is acquiring new customers. The most commonly tracked customer acquisition metrics include Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC), Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV), and Conversion Rate.
Customer Engagement Metrics
Customer engagement metrics measure how customers interact with your SaaS product or service. The most commonly tracked customer engagement metrics include Engagement Rate, User Adoption, Active Users, and Churn Rate.
Customer Retention Metrics
Customer retention metrics measure how long customers remain active and continue to pay for your product. The most commonly tracked customer retention metrics include Customer Retention Rate (CRR), Average Customer Lifetime, Churn Rate, Net Promoter Score (NPS), and Renewal Rate.
Do you have to track every single one of these metrics to know if your business is successful and if your demand generation efforts are effective? Of course not - it's up to you to decide which metrics make the most sense for your business. Some might be more important than others, and that's okay.
The key is to identify the right KPIs for your company and track them regularly. Combining these metrics with hybrid attribution (that we will cover later in this guide) will give you a clear understanding of how your marketing, sales, and product efforts are performing, help you analyze the results, and make adjustments to your marketing approach if necessary.
The revenue operations function is a relatively new concept in B2B sales and marketing. It focuses on connecting all the dots between marketing, sales reps, customer success teams, and revenue.
Revenue ops aim to bring together all the elements of a successful demand generation strategy and significantly improve the overall attribution models. It helps to accurately measure the impact of marketing and sales efforts on overall revenue. It clarifies complex customer journeys, ensuring each touchpoint is tracked correctly and attributed to the proper revenue source.
While high-level brand awareness metrics, such as website traffic or social media followers, may provide surface-level insights, they are not the main focus of RevOps teams.
Instead, RevOps teams are focused more on essential SaaS metrics that have a direct impact on the revenue stream, such as:
Understanding and focusing on these key KPIs, combined with data-driven insights from attribution modeling, will help you make more informed decisions and optimize your demand generation strategies. With a good handle on the fundamentals of the revenue operations is SaaS, you can start to gain a deeper understanding of how your strategies are affecting the bottom line and begin to see real results.
Building a solid demand generation team is essential for the success of your B2B SaaS company. Now, who should be responsible for demand generation?
Well, here's the thing—we’re going back to the collaboration between the sales, marketing, rev ops, and customer success teams. All three teams need to work together to make it happen. On those teams, you will need specialists who understand demand generation and bring some unique skills to the table.
Within the marketing team, you'll need specialists responsible for content creation, design, SEO, paid advertising, social media presence, and marketing automation. They are crucial in creating compelling and informative content, optimizing visibility, and driving targeted campaigns to capture and redirect demand.
On the sales side, you'll need skilled sales development representatives (SDRs) who are responsible for nurturing leads, qualifying prospects, and following up on opportunities. They play a vital role in engaging with potential customers, understanding their needs, and guiding them toward the right solution.
In addition to sales and marketing, the customer success team also plays an important role in capturing existing demand. Their expertise lies in understanding customer needs, ensuring successful onboarding, providing ongoing support, and fostering long-term customer satisfaction. By delivering exceptional customer experiences, they contribute to the overall demand capture strategy. Additionally, by deriving insights about how customers use the product, they help optimize the positioning and messaging.
Even though it's a joint effort between those three teams, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) typically delegates tasks to the Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success teams, maintaining an overarching view of the big picture and setting the strategic direction. The CMO directly bears responsibility for the outcomes of the Demand Generation Campaigns, as the team operates under their guidance and direction in day-to-day operations.
It's also important to note that a successful demand generation strategy requires an elevated approach; in other words, it must be managed from the top down. That's why bringing the right technology, processes, and people together is essential to create a unified approach across all marketing and sales channels.
For a demand generation team, revenue takes the spotlight over sales. Their primary focus is a holistic approach that creates a sustainable pipeline of potential customers, ensuring a steady flow of revenue that drives business growth.
That requires teamwork among different departments and roles, each focusing on different parts of the customer journey. This journey begins with getting the attention of possible customers and goes on to guide and transform interested parties into actual buyers.
Here's a basic explanation of the key roles in each stage, all collaborating to increase earnings and help the business grow.
Finally, there is no room for silos and playing the department credit game of “who sourced” the pipeline and who drives the revenue. What matters are the results. To get those, you need a team that can work together and understands each other's goals and objectives.
If demand generation isn't your team's strong suit, you might consider outsourcing it to a specialized Demand Generation agency with a proven track record. They can bring their expertise and tailor strategies to your specific business needs.
Every sales team is different. Every marketing team is different. And every business is different. There is no one-size-fits-all strategy that will align all the teams relevant to demand generation - sales, marketing, and, if applicable to your company, customer success. However, too often, we see finger-pointing between these departments. Sales blame marketing for bad or insufficient leads, marketing blame sales for not managing them properly, and they both blame each other or customer success for not retaining and expanding customer relationships effectively.
If you're familiar with athletics, a relay race shows us a perfect example of how sales, marketing, and customer success should work together. Each team member plays a specific role - the product team starts the race, then the marketing team takes over and passes the baton to sales, and finally, customer success crosses the finish line for the organization. If you look closely at industry leaders, you will notice that most have a tight alignment between those functions.
But that's easier said than done. According to Hubspot’s “Lead nurturing stats you can't ignore,” nearly 75% of all marketing leads never convert to opportunities when your marketing and sales teams aren't aligned. On the other hand, where there is alignment between sales and marketing, 38% higher sales win rates were seen, according to Marketing Profs.
First, ensure everyone is clear on what your ideal customer profile is. The clearer your ICP, the better you can target and personalize your campaigns for an effective demand generation process. Involve the customer success team in defining and refining the ICP to ensure it aligns with their understanding of successful customer relationships.
Second, create a unified system for measuring success. If marketing, sales, and customer success teams use different metrics to measure performance, alignment becomes impossible. Set up a process that allows all teams to have visibility into key performance indicators, compare successes and failures, and identify opportunities for improvement together. This could include shared dashboards or regular meetings to review and discuss performance data.
Finally, ensure good communication flows between all teams. Your sales team needs to be aware of upcoming campaigns and timing while providing feedback to the marketing team about how those campaigns perform. Additionally, encourage open communication channels between customer success and both sales and marketing, fostering a collaborative environment where insights and feedback can be shared seamlessly.
Since we're on the topic of funnel stages and teams, let's take a closer look at how demand generation fits into the overall marketing funnel.
At a high level, the marketing funnel consists of three main stages: top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and bottom of the funnel (BOFU). Each stage represents a different level of engagement with potential customers, from initial awareness to final conversion.
Let's break down each stage to see how demand generation plays a role in moving leads through the funnel.
At the top of the funnel, the demand generation strategy focuses on creating brand awareness and attracting potential customers to your website or landing page. This stage is all about casting a wide net, reaching as many people as possible who may be interested in your product or service.
Through tactics like SEO, PPC, content marketing, and social media marketing, the TOFU team works together to drive traffic and generate leads. These leads are often considered marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) at this stage, meaning that they have shown some level of interest in your brand or product.
In the middle of the funnel, the focus shifts to nurturing these MQLs and educating them about your B2B SaaS product or service. This is where demand generation really shines. Through email marketing, lead nurturing campaigns, and personalized content, the MOFU team works to build a relationship with potential customers and guide them toward a purchase decision.
The goal of MOFU demand generation is to convert MQLs into sales-qualified leads (SQLs), meaning that they have shown significant interest and are more likely to make a purchase.
At the bottom of the funnel, the demand generation strategy shifts to closing deals and converting SQLs into paying customers. This stage is where sales and marketing must work closely together to ensure a smooth transition from lead to customer. Through tactics such as retargeting ads, personalized messaging, and lead scoring, the BOFU team uses demand generation to push potential customers over the finish line and turn them into loyal customers.
Now that we discussed the basics of demand generation let’s look at some advanced demand generation tactics and strategies you should be aware of to improve your results and take your efforts to the next level:
Buyer behavior in the B2B SaaS space has significantly changed, but many marketing strategies have not kept up with these shifts. Let's take a closer look at how buyer behavior has evolved and its impact on demand generation.
In the past, buyers had limited sources of information. They relied on industry conferences, trade shows, and sales reps to learn about new products. Sellers had more control over the flow of information through planned interactions, and buyers would spend more time interacting with vendor representatives to get the information they needed.
With the rise of the digital age, buyers have gained access to a vast amount of information online. They started independently researching and evaluating products without relying solely on vendor interactions.
In today's "dark funnel era," buyers use digital channels like social networks and online communities. They seek recommendations and input from trusted sources before making purchasing decisions. They prefer to remain anonymous until they are ready to engage with sales representatives. Peer influence, emotions, and motivations play a significant role in their decision-making process.
These changes in buyer behavior have given rise to the "dark funnel,” which severely influences how we need to think about and execute demand generation tactics.
In addition to the traditional demand generation funnel, where a prospect sees your ad, clicks on it, visits your website, and eventually converts, occasionally, you will also have prospects who take a different path. This “dark funnel” consists of all those people who weren't exposed to your advertising but still ended up on your website and converted. But where are they coming from?
Gartner's research shows that B2B buyers are only spending 17% of their buying journey with potential suppliers. What happens to the other 83%? Word of mouth, social networks, communities, 3rd party meet-ups or events, internal company conversations, and independent research. This means that most of their buyer journey is totally hidden from all your software, analytics, and marketing campaigns.
The dark funnel will always exist, and marketers need to change their strategies to create demand in places that aren't measurable, and they need to change the way that they measure marketing success. How? The following chapter will cover one of the ways to get some insights and track performance.
Revenue attribution is nothing but a process of assigning credit to different touchpoints or channels that contribute to a sale. It’s an essential part of understanding how your marketing efforts are performing and where you should be investing resources to increase revenue. Without accurate attribution, it is difficult for CMOs and CROs to assess the ROI of their marketing initiatives and the effectiveness of their strategies.
Usually, their only point of reference is the attribution software based on traffic sources like direct traffic, organic search, organic social, referrals, etc., and they often get misleading results that fail to provide enough insights to accurately measure the impact of different channels. After all, how do you measure the impact of offline channels, the dark funnel, and all the other channels that create demand in the first place?
To have better and more relevant understanding of the impact of your marketing activities, you can introduce a hybrid-attribution model.
Using a combination of self-reported and software-based attribution, the hybrid attribution model provides a more holistic picture of customer journeys and helps marketers make better decisions about their demand generation programs. And by self-reported attribution, we mean asking customers which channels brought them to us.
Collecting data using self-reported attribution is a bit trickier than simply using traditional attribution software, but it can be done by asking customers to fill out surveys and forms, listening and participating in sales calls, interviews, etc. By asking, "How did you hear about us?" you get almost immediate insights into what demand generation programs impact your buyers.
Here's how we do it on our website:
By analyzing software-based and self-reported attribution data, you can get a more accurate picture of which channels drive the most conversions. At the end of the day, a hybrid attribution model aims to help you make better decisions about where to invest your marketing budget.
Since we're on the topic of CRM integration, it's worth mentioning that not all CRMs are created equal. When it comes to B2B marketing, there are specific features and capabilities that you should look for in a CRM platform.
Firstly, the ability to track and manage leads throughout their entire journey is crucial. This includes lead scoring, activity tracking, and lead nurturing features. Additionally, advanced reporting and analytics tools are essential for measuring the success of your campaigns and identifying areas for improvement.
Furthermore, a good B2B CRM platform should also offer seamless integration with other marketing tools and platforms, such as email marketing software, social media management tools, and content creation platforms. This will allow you to centralize your data and streamline your marketing efforts.
Take HubSpot, for example. HubSpot offers a comprehensive suite of tools that cover CRM, websites, marketing, sales, and service, making it a versatile platform for demand generation efforts.
Having a robust B2B CRM system like HubSpot CRM is essential for maintaining a clear and unified view of your contacts. It allows your sales, marketing, and service teams to align their efforts and work with a single source of information. With HubSpot CRM, you can efficiently manage prospect information, track interactions, and report on success, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
In terms of websites, HubSpot's CMS Hub provides a reliable and user-friendly solution. Your website serves as a critical touchpoint for demand generation, generating, validating, and converting interest in your offering. With HubSpot CMS Hub, you can easily update content, enhance security, and create a seamless user experience to attract and engage potential customers.
From marketing automation and email marketing to social media management and SEO optimization, MarTech (marketing technology) tools like HubSpot give you the power to create, track, and optimize effective demand generation campaigns. To use all HubSpot's features to their fullest potential, consider working with a trusted HubSpot implementation partner, that can help you with setup, customization, and ongoing support.
Additionally, tools like Leadfeeder, Lucky Orange, Hotjar, and even Google Analytics, and Google Search Console provide a comprehensive view of your prospects and customers, helping you understand their behavior and preferences, optimize your website, personalize messaging, and create more effective campaigns.
By building the right MarTech stack for your business, you can turn demand generation from a static process into an agile and dynamic one that allows for continuous optimization.
Before marketing automation, demand generation was pretty static and limited. Today, demand generation programs are much more complex, dynamic, and flexible. In the old days, it was mostly one-to-many broadcast marketing until marketing automation changed the game and enabled one-to-one marketing.
Marketing automation uses software and technology to automate repetitive or mundane marketing tasks. It allows businesses to streamline their marketing processes, target specific audiences, and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns. In the B2B SaaS context, marketing automation helps companies generate and nurture leads, improve customer engagement, and ultimately drive revenue growth.
What are the best practices for B2B marketing automation? Here are some key considerations:
Before implementing any new technology or strategy, it's important to clearly define your objectives. What do you want to achieve with marketing automation? Is it lead generation, customer retention, or brand awareness? Having clear objectives will guide your decisions and help you measure the success of your efforts.
Marketing automation is all about targeted communication. By segmenting your audience, you can tailor your messaging and offers to specific groups based on their interests, behavior, or demographic information. This will improve the relevance of your campaigns and ultimately lead to better results.
Once you've segmented your audience, we have to highlight the importance of creating personalized content one more time. With marketing automation, you can send personalized emails, messages, and ads based on your audience's interests, behavior, or stage in the buyer's journey. This will help you build stronger relationships with your customers and increase their engagement with your brand.
Lead scoring is a way to prioritize and rank leads based on their interest and engagement with your brand. By assigning points for actions such as opening an email, visiting your website, or downloading a whitepaper, you can identify which leads are most likely to convert into customers. This will help you focus your efforts on high-quality leads and improve the efficiency of your marketing campaigns.
Marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) systems go hand in hand. Integrating these two technologies allows seamless data sharing, better lead tracking, and improved communication between marketing and sales teams. This will help you close the gap between marketing and sales, resulting in better alignment and, ultimately, higher revenue.
In conclusion, mastering demand generation is crucial for any B2B SaaS company that aims to secure a prominent place in the market.
From understanding the core principles of demand generation strategies to optimizing metrics that directly impact revenue, there are many key components to consider in order to achieve success. However, with the right mindset, data-driven approach, a focus on continual optimization, and the right partner by your side, you can create a winning demand generation strategy that will drive growth and success for your B2B SaaS company.
We hope this guide has provided you with valuable insights and practical steps to take as you embark on your demand generation journey. Now it's time to put these strategies into action and watch your B2B SaaS company thrive. Good luck!