A quick guide to demand generation
Demand generation is a type of marketing program that helps drive long-term awareness and engagement throughout the entire customer lifecycle. While focused on generating revenue, aspects can include awareness, inbound marketing, lead generation, sales, and retention.
Today, demand generation goes beyond generating leads to support sales. Instead, it focuses on providing information and supporting people to help them make the right decision for themselves at the right time while encouraging them to consider your brand as the perfect fit for their needs.
Understanding demand generation marketing and the top strategies for a successful demand generation program can help your brand be more successful throughout the customer journey. Read on for a quick guide to get you started.
What is demand generation?
Essentially, every touchpoint in the consumer journey from prospect to retention and upselling can be included in the term “demand generation.” Each activity that helps to drive awareness and interest in your brand, product, or service, to generate leads that can help close the business is considered demand generation.
Demand generation and lead generation are often used interchangeably, but they are in fact, different. Lead generation focuses on converting new prospects, while demand generation builds awareness, generates leads, converts those leads, and retains them as long-term customers.
Key aspects of a demand generation strategy
To create demand, people need to know who you are and start creating a relationship with your brand. Developing brand awareness with your primary audiences can help ensure they can recognize your brand and start building trust with what you have to say and offer.
- Start by identifying and building your brand identity, which is how your business differentiates itself from competitors. Use these tactics to drive recognition and affinity to your brand.
- Identify opportunities to establish thought leadership so that people will consider you an expert and authority in your industry. When you are seen as an expert, people will be more apt to think of your brand when trying to solve a problem.
- Be active on social media and other platforms to communicate your brand and engage with followers. This includes using public relations strategies to develop a relationship between the public and your brand.
Call this lead generation or inbound marketing, but once you create a demand for your brand through brand awareness, you need to be able to capture those who are interested. These tactics can help convert visitors into leads and leads into customers while creating ongoing demand for your product or service.
Examples of tactics to capture demand include blogging/content marketing, paid advertising, conversational marketing, email marketing, website conversions, and more, which we will detail later.
Once you’ve generated and captured demand, there are tactics you can use to help close sales. Sales agents are an obvious answer, but other examples of tactics that can help close the gap between marketing and sales include testimonials, case studies, fact sheets and FAQs, estimate calculators, and more.
Once you’re able to capture contact information, you can send emails or other personalized outreach to your leads, answer their specific questions, and help them understand why they need your product or service.
Be sure any tactics you have (other than sales agents) to close sales are easy to use and functioning as expected; otherwise, you could risk losing sales.
To achieve sustained growth, you must retain the customers you worked so hard to acquire. Demand generation isn’t just about generating demand until the sale but also about continuing to generate demand to retain the customer long-term. You should always provide your customers a positive impression of your brand, including exceptional customer service.
Some tactics to help with retention include client marketing, ensuring customers know of any new products or services, are educated with “how to” and “help” content, and ultimately getting value out of their ongoing relationship with you. Show you appreciate them, encourage feedback, and constantly optimize the customer journey.
You should also use this as an opportunity to generate up-sells and renewals, generating even more opportunities. Keep the conversation, and two-way engagement opportunities open here to help ensure this growth and retention.
5 strategies for a successful demand generation marketing program
You can use several tactics for demand generation programs, many of which you may already be using strictly as a lead generation or retention strategy. With some tweaking, you can use these strategies across the entire lifecycle of the customer.
1. Content marketing
Content can be just about anything, including blogs, videos, ebooks, podcasts, webinars, social media posts, infographics, whitepapers, case studies, etc. You can then use this content on your website or social media channels, emails, blogs, paid TV or radio advertising, etc.
Content marketing should be a key piece of your demand generation program because you can use content to answer your audience’s questions, build trust, develop relationships, generate interest and engagement, and retain existing customers. By informing, persuading, or entertaining your audiences with content, you create a bond with your brand.
2. Paid advertising
- Amplify your content with paid search ads, helping get your content and website in front of people actively searching for related terms and keywords.
- Use display advertising, including images and videos, to get your brand in front of specific audiences in targeted areas. Optimize for click-throughs or view-throughs with ads using text, images, and links to your website.
- Social media platforms also provide paid advertising opportunities to ensure your ads get in front of the right people at the right time. Integrate remarketing or lead generation tactics to make your dollars go further.
- Don’t forget about traditional media tactics such as TV, radio, billboards (out-of-home), and newspaper or magazine (print) ads. While these aren’t effective for all audiences or brands, utilize them if they are right for you.
These are only a few examples of paid advertising opportunities. The key is to know your audience and understand where they spend their time and are most likely to engage with your ads. Then, develop paid advertising opportunities to ensure you are in that space.
3. Email marketing
Once you’ve captured an email address and opt-in, you are free to email those leads or customers.
- Leads: You must continue to generate demand for your product or service. While they have shown interest, you must continue to engage. Use attention-grabbing subject lines and offer engaging content. Be sure to always include a call to action.
Offer content that convinces the leads they need your product or service. Answer their questions and show how your company can resolve their pain points. Use this as an opportunity to develop a relationship with the lead. The important thing is to always provide value; otherwise, they will unsubscribe.
- Customers: Even after a person has become a customer, you can use email marketing to continue to engage with them, retain them as a customer, and even develop opportunities for upselling. Share company updates, teach them how to take advantage of your product or service, give them an inside look at your company, and make it personable.
Personalize content to speak to them at a deeper level. Use the information you have about your customers to your advantage.
4. Conversational marketing
Live chat and chatbots are great tactics to deploy conversational marketing. Prospects, leads, and customers want to know you are available to them to answer their questions and solve their problems whenever they need it. When that happens, it helps generate demand for your brand over competitors. Use these AI tools to make consumers feel they have access whenever they need it.
However, other forms of conversational marketing can include social media, phone calls, and even email depending on your email strategy. Any way consumers can have a two-way conversation with you can be a great strategy.
While your paid ads may be the first introduction audiences have to your brand, your website is the front door that truly opens up the opportunity for demand generation. Your website should showcase your brand, culture, mission, and values.
- Information about products and services should be easy to navigate.
- Have direct, easy-to-find calls to action to make conversion simple.
- Utilize search engine optimization tactics so that your website ranks and is visible.
- Showcase the content developed in your content marketing strategy.
- Have forms or gated assets to encourage prospects to become leads.
These are just a few examples to get you started, but remember, your website should be an extension of your company and brand while having everything someone needs to become a lead, then customer, then retained customer.
Tips for successful demand generation
Because demand generation involves various activities, it’s important to be flexible with your program and tactics. But, here are a few tips to help your programs be more successful.
1. Have clear goals
It’s important to identify the end goals of your campaigns in the beginning. What does success look like? What are you trying to accomplish? What are your revenue or sales goals? Are there specific KPIs you want to achieve?
When you answer these questions and have solid goals outlined, you can work backwards to figure out the opportunities and tactics you’ll need to meet those targets.
2. Understand your audience
It’s challenging to develop a successful strategy and tactics if you don’t understand as much as possible about your ideal customer and existing customers. Not only should you have demographic information like age, gender, household income, education level, etc., but also psychographic data like lifestyles, interests, beliefs and values, etc.
You should also be able to answer questions like what are their challenges or pain points, especially when it relates to your product or service. The more you know about your audience, the more specific you can get with messaging that speaks to them.
3. Be authentic, engaging, and creative
When creating content or launching these demand generation tactics, it’s critical to be authentic to your brand, engaging to your audiences, and creative. Be original and do what you can to stand out from your competitors. Capture and keep your audience’s attention. Help them realize you’re the answer to their problems, and they need your product or service, but do it in a way that will make them feel good about engaging with your brand.
4. Analyze and optimize
You should be measuring as much as you can, as often as you can. KPIs to track can include:
- Cost per acquisition
- Customer lifetime value
- Cost per click
- Cost per impression
- Cost per lead
- Conversion rates
- Close rate per channel
You can also use channel-specific KPIs like impressions, clicks, time on site, click rate, click to open rate, etc.
Reviewing and analyzing the performance of your tactics regularly can help ensure you’re continuing to optimize for the best performance possible.
You may not know what works perfectly the first time. So, as you analyze and optimize, work to test different hypotheses, tactics, messaging, and creativity. Use A/B testing strategies to find out what works best for your audiences.
While you think you may know what’s best for these tactics, some of it will always be unknown. Use A/B testing to understand what your audience responds to while increasing engagement, improving effectiveness, and making your campaigns more successful.