Many B2B Tech and SaaS startups have trouble generating demand for their products and services, and if they can't keep up, the cash flow will stop and ultimately, the business could fold.
Even though demand generation is a fuel that moves a company forward, many companies leave it to chance, either because they are not familiar with it or simply because of the complexity of measuring KPIs in the right way.
Demand generation is a science and an art, and you can get better at it with practice. In this guide, you'll find the basic ground rules of demand generation for B2B Tech and SaaS companies.
Demand generation creates long-term brand-to-customer relationships through different marketing and sales approaches. It raises awareness, generates purchasing interest and captures existing demand, reducing the sales cycle.
Demand generation isn't a singular strategy or campaign, and its goal isn't limited to new customer acquisition. Instead, it connects the brand's offering to potential customers from the beginning of the buyer's journey to the point of purchase and beyond.
Consumers often make buying decisions as quickly as a flash. In the worst-case scenario, there are two decision-makers, such as a couple. On the other hand, in the B2B world, usually, committees make buying decisions. Accordingly, B2B demand generation takes longer and needs to provide details and cover more topics to convince multiple parties.
Sales and marketing communicating on a regular basis is crucial to the success of your brand. However, according to Forrester, only 8% of companies have strong alignment between their marketing and sales teams.
Demand generation removes the misalignment within your sales and marketing activities. It breaks down the barriers between the two teams and allows them to work collaboratively. The demand generation approach aligns your business efforts with what your customers and prospects want and need.
There’s always room to outdo your competitors and drive demand for your products and services. The 2019 Demand Generation Benchmark Study revealed that 68% of B2B marketers leverage demand generation to improve conversions and campaign results.
Tech and SaaS companies can benefit from demand generation in the following ways:
Given the importance of demand generation, it shouldn’t surprise that more companies are expanding their budget for demand generation. In the State of Demand Gen 2020 report, 55% of the surveyed marketers stated that they had increased their demand generation activities. Moreover, 78% of the respondents shared that their demand gen budget will grow or remain the same.
If you're having trouble distinguishing between demand vs. lead generation, you're not the only one. Even though these two terms are sometimes used interchangeably and have several similarities, they are pretty different.
The goal of demand generation is to increase interest in your company's product or service and make people want to buy from you. It is often a long-term plan that emphasizes brand awareness and positioning.
Lead generation uses gated content requiring prospects to fill out a form to access it. After that, it increases their interest through nurturing with the end goal of converting them into a customer.
Your tech or SaaS company will have trouble attracting new customers and sales opportunities without lead generation. HubSpot State of Marketing Report 2021 states that marketers report that their top marketing priority for the following year is generating more leads.
The problem occurs when potential customers are not familiar with your brand and are unsure whether they can trust you with their information. That's why lead generation requires more brand power to show results.
Your tech startup can build a more recognizable brand through demand generation to solve this problem. Demand generation is all about educating potential customers about how your products or services can help them solve specific problems and achieve their desired results.
Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation: 7 Key Differences
Even though demand generation and inbound marketing can seem pretty similar at first glance, they are two very different concepts. So, how do you distinguish demand generation vs inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing is a strategic methodology for creating valuable content that aligns with the needs of your target audience and stimulates long-term relationships with customers. It is contrary to traditional outbound marketing, which includes cold calls, radio ads, billboards, etc.
On the other hand, the goal of demand generation is to:
Make your audience aware of your product or service
Align marketing and sales
Continuously optimize the sales pipeline
In simple words, inbound marketing is a single component of a comprehensive demand generation strategy. Although you can leverage inbound marketing in your demand generation activities, there are other ways that you can generate demand for your tech startup.
It is fundamental to understand the difference between demand generation and demand capture in marketing.
Demand generation creates demand in the market through educational content. It helps people learn about your products or services and how they can use them to solve specific problems or achieve desired results.
Demand capture is a way to reach people who are actively looking for a solution or showing interest in your products or services. Demand capture is less about generalized brand awareness and more about making sure people find you online and notice your calls to action.
Revealing this, you can notice the connection and equal importance of demand generation and demand capture.
The answer to who is responsible for demand generation isn’t quite simple. There is a long-standing dilemma whether demand generation is a responsibility of the sales or the marketing team.
Tracking success is against sales-specific key performance indicators (KPIs) such as average deal size, pipeline value and velocity, and revenue. However, demand generation activities are usually within the marketing sphere - social media, content, etc.
Demand generation touches every part of the sales funnel, and marketers cannot successfully complete all demand generation activities without failing.
It takes more than one person to create strong and lasting relationships with your customers. That being the case, every member of your demand generation team should have the unique skills they bring to the table.
A dedicated demand generation team in your tech or SaaS company will act as a bridge between the sales and marketing teams.
Some examples of specific demand generation positions include:
If demand generation isn’t one of your core skills, outsource it to someone who excels at it.
There is no one-size-fits-all in demand generation marketing. To develop a demand generation strategy that makes sense, you should emphasize what makes your business and audience unique.
Things to consider include competitors, budget, and resources available. The essential steps for building a successful B2B demand generation campaign for your tech startup are:
Establishing your goals
Aligning sales and marketing
Changing from Lead Generation to Demand Generation mindset
Identifying your target audience
Developing a content strategy and creating valuable content
Communicating with prospects
Tracking and measuring results
Continiously optimising the sales pipeline and sales cycle
Now that you have an idea of demand generation and how it works, how can you start implementing it? You can start using the following tips for better B2B demand generation campaigns:
Invest in content creation - Your business must have a content marketing strategy that will capture the intent of your audience. Some content is best for buyers early in the buying cycle, while other content is better for buyers later in the cycle.
Pay-per-click advertising (PPC) - PPC allows you to meet your audience when and where they need answers, especially if you know what your target audience is searching for. PPC generates twice the number of visitors compared to SEO. Moreover, brand awareness can be increased up to 80% through Google paid ads.
Provide a free resource, app, or tool - You can create demand for your products or services by creating a free resource, app, or tool that relates to the problem your company solves.
Partner with industry experts on webinars - Partnering up with experts in the tech field will help boost your brand awareness, create valuable connections with influencers, and improve your position in the industry.
Optimize your email marketing strategies - Email marketing campaigns are a great channel to distribute content that illustrates your expertise and provides prospects with valuable information. Email generates $42 for every $1 spent, an impressive 4,200% return on investment (ROI), making it one of the most effective options.
Use marketing automation - Using AI through marketing automation and chatbots can help you manage tasks and processes and create an effort-free system. When it comes to B2B marketing, you can collect data about your prospects and their activity and use this data to send customized emails and messages.
Content is the driving force of demand generation.
It isn't enough to create content to appeal to today's customers. Your content must be relevant to your target audience and stand out among your competition.
According to Havas's 2019 Meaningful Brands Report, nine out of ten consumers expect brands to deliver content, but 58% of them think that most brand content is meaningless and irrelevant.
Demand generation will put all your content creation efforts into a goal-oriented framework and help you create value for your customers.
Consumers are growing to expect personalized and relevant content from businesses, and demand generation content can help you with that.
A well-balanced demand generation strategy will take metrics into account to identify areas for improvement and create a “well-greased funnel”. Measuring and testing are at the core of effective demand generation.
Out of all the metrics you track, here are some of the most critical demand generation metrics that provide valuable insights for tech and SaaS businesses:
There is a lot of demand generation impact that people ignore because they can’t measure it. Crucial touch-points in a B2B buyer’s journey happen in places that marketers can’t monitor.
Buyers have completed significant steps of their buying process, such as deciding what features are most important to them and setting their business priorities in Dark Social.
Dark Social are places where there’s no intent data and tracking, and these include:
Word of mouth (text messages, DMs, etc.)
Social platforms (Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.)
Content Platforms (YouTube, Spotify, etc.)
Groups and communities (Facebook groups, Discord, etc.)
Analyzing all your channels will help optimize your demand generation strategy, ultimately allowing you to improve your effectiveness and raise the bar for your campaigns.
Like every other business, tech and SaaS companies need to make a profit. Demand generation gives you the framework to attract your target audience and guide them through the entire purchase cycle.
Demand generation is a long-term marketing approach, and you must remember that results will not come straight away. By adding value and being consistent with your efforts, you can create lasting relationships with your customers and turn them into brand advocates.
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