Keeping indoor plants alive can be tough. Especially if you don’t pay attention to each plant’s specific needs.
Try watering your Monstera as infrequently as your succulents. It won’t last a month.
B2B prospects are a lot like indoor plants. To successfully attract them to your product, you need to understand their specific pain points and tailor your marketing content accordingly.
What is B2B demand generation?
Demand generation is a marketing and advertising tactic including various activities that help you increase awareness and demand for your product or service.
Demand generation includes various marketing activities that help you increase awareness and demand for your product or service.
But because of the wide scope, the lines between demand gen and other sub-functions within marketing are often blurred.
So let’s set the record straight: b2b demand generation is a strategy to create brand awareness and demand for your product through digital tactics resulting in a strong pipeline of potential customers.
B2B Demand generation vs. lead generation
You might ask, “What is the difference between demand gen and lead gen?” Both functions exist to create a pipeline full of qualified leads.
While B2B demand generation serves to build authority and awareness so potential customers enter the purchase funnel, a lead gen strategy is focused on turning an already engaged audience into leads through direct outreach.
So the debate isn’t whether you should pick one over the other. Driving leads and conversions require you to adopt both demand and lead generation.
If you’re not yet certain about how to drive growth in demand and MQLs simultaneously, go check our guide on viable B2B growth strategies.
First, you must create awareness for your product and service aka run demand generation tactics like content creation, SEO, SMM, webinars, paid social and PR . Then, you need to use lead generation campaigns to steer those leads into your funnel.
Why B2B demand generation is more important than ever
While marketing teams are almost always still measured on MQLs, creating awareness for your product is more important than ever.
“1. Buyers have access to an abundance of information which empowers them to navigate most of the buying process ON THEIR OWN.
2. Buyers want to execute most or all of their buying processes independently without engaging vendors.
3. We're in the dark social era where B2B buyers discover & evaluate products through the internet & their NETWORK (communities, social, word of mouth, content platforms, etc.), not a Sales rep.”
B2B demand generation teams have to create demand and empower buyers in their ICP so they can move along the buying journey independently and start a conversation when they’re ready to buy.
5 steps to build a B2B demand generation strategy (+ examples)
Your B2B demand generation strategy should have four components — ICP research, an awareness-led content strategy, an existing marketing flywheel, and alignment with sales.
While you can’t emulate entire strategies from other companies, we’ve used examples to show what they got right, so you can think about incorporating those tactics in your B2B demand generation strategy as well.
1. Study your ICP
Content creation is an important piece of a demand gen strategy. But before you begin creating content, you need to do customer research.
Identify your dream prospects, research their customer journey, find their pain points, and talk to sales to determine what buyers usually want to know at each stage in the sales cycle.
Ask yourself these hard questions:
- Does your product/service really solve the problem your ICP has?
- If your focus is SEO, does your target audience use search to find a solution?
- Are they ready to buy from you?
Bookmark: Here’s how you can create an Ideal Customer Profile in 5 Steps
2. Create a content strategy
Remember your content strategy is a plan, not a bunch of tactics strung together.
Demand gen content needs to educate and answer questions your prospects have. Ideally, you want to leverage your content to position yourself as the industry expert and become the go-to resource on the topic.
Your b2b demand generation strategy needs to answer questions like:
- Who’s going to read your content?
- What makes it unique?
- What problems is your content solving for your ICP?
- What formats and channels will you focus on?
- Who will write the content and where will you be publishing it?
Drift is a great example of a brand that has positioned itself as the leading authority on conversational marketing. Their learning center acts as a one-stop shop for all things conversational marketing.
PR is another way to cement your authority and generate buzz.
Take Litmus, an enterprise email marketing platform, for example. When the iOS 15 update rolled out, their PR agency used newsjacking to position their CMO as an expert on mail privacy protection through an article on how the Apple update would affect the future of email marketing.
As a result, Litmus reached 540 million people and had tons of inbound requests from the likes of WSJ for expert commentary.
You might like: Surviving the iOS 14 and Cookie Apocalypse
Free tools and calculators are yet another way to capture attention and provide value to your target buyer.
WordStream used this b2b demand generation strategy back in 2011 by creating an AdWords Performance Grader. Since then, they’ve “graded billions of dollars in AdWords spend” helping them solidify their identity as the foremost expert in the PPC industry.
It’s important to note that these tactics are not cheap. And in the current economic downturn where marketing budgets have been slashed, your content strategy may have to operate on a leaner model.
“We can see that the prices to advertise on social channels like LinkedIn and Facebook…they’re dropping by 20-40%. So the companies that are willing now to spend more on social, they will have such a huge presence.”
Pro Tip: Thinking about ABM? Here’s What You Need to Know About Account-Based Marketing
3. Capitalize on existing demand
Most likely, demand for your product already exists. People are actively searching for your solution. You just need to be present where their search occurs.
Let’s use CRM software as an example. The keyword “CRM” has a monthly search volume of 174k in the US. Ahrefs also tells you the traffic potential if you were to rank on the first page.
You could drive 43k monthly visits by ranking for CRM. Of course, your ideal customer persona isn’t going to be searching for “CRM.” They may augment the search term with “best”, their business size, feature, or price.
But, the point remains that you can invest in SEO to ensure you capture existing demand.
The same is true for software marketplaces that are frequented by businesses that are further along in the buying process.
If your ICP is actively looking for advertising agencies, they may compare you to your competitors on sites like G2 or Capterra.
It’s critical you create your business page on these sites and collect reviews for social proof.
You could also run PPC campaigns and ads on social to capture interested leads. But to ensure your ad dollars don’t go to waste, factor in buyer intent.
Ask yourself questions like: Are these leads qualified? Are they just browsing? Or do they intend to make a purchase this quarter?
You can answer these questions with a data-driven approach. Combine all your data sources and feed them into a tool like Primer. Your data gets combined with Primer’s 12 data sources to enrich your database AND find new leads who fit your ICP criteria. You can then create high-fit, high-intent audiences and push your content to nurture them on social platforms.
Additionally, Primer lets you span your ABM campaign reach across many channels, including email outreach.
The result? 90% match rates, decreased CPL, and a dramatic increase in qualified leads.
4. Work with sales
Sales and marketing alignment can make or break your success. LinkedIn’s Moments of Trust report found that 87% of sales and marketing leaders believe collaboration between the two teams is critical for their business to grow.
The goal for both B2B demand generation and sales teams is to drive qualified pipeline and revenue, so there’s no reason that the two shouldn’t be working closely together.
When both teams have a common agenda, the war between marketing and sales over who’s responsible for driving them has to end.
At Outreach, sales and marketing teams are encouraged to collaborate.
"You need to decide not to have a blame-game mindset or culture. When pipeline is viewed as a shared challenge, then it becomes easier to talk about what needs to be done to improve the situation."
- Mark Kosoglow, Former Senior VP of Sales at Outreach (Source)
In theory, it sounds simple. To put this philosophy into practice, demand gen and sales teams have to meet at least once a month to exchange notes about customer pain points, sales enablement content, and the roadblocks both teams face.
Cognism, for instance, has their demand gen and sales teams meet weekly. And sprint sessions are conducted bi-weekly and tracked in Asana.
5. Use personalization
Personalization isn’t just about using firmographic or demographic data. You must also understand your ICP’s goals, values, interests, and psychographics.
A good real-life example is Primer’s cold emails:
The open rates are +90% and the reply rates are 20%-30%. These results were achieved by combining and scraping data.
Of course, all data points are not made equal. What data points are important to you depends on which signals indicate someone is a fit for your product or service. Primer provides you access to hundreds of audience filters to help you segment niche prospects showing strong demand for your type of product.
You can still achieve this level of personalization in 1:1 channels through a combination of automation and manual efforts. But personalizing 1:many channels is a little more complicated than that.
Even though you can target people on ad platforms, you don’t know with absolute certainty who you’re broadcasting your message to.
Some programmatic ad tech tools like Rollworks and Terminus let you target people based on reverse IP-lookup or cookies. But these targeting methods have limitations. 68% of people don’t accept cookies and IP-addresses are inconsistent with a person’s physical location.
Plus, with third-party cookies being phased out completely by Google, personalization is a growing challenge.
The best way to personalize 1:many channels is to use a combination of existing tools that can help you with identity resolution, data enrichment, and segmented targeting instead of relying on one method of personalization.
The challenges of B2B demand generation (+ how Primer can help)
Generating interest and awareness across different channels, touchpoints, and formats in an increasingly crowded marketplace isn’t easy.
Given recent shifts in privacy practices, it has become harder than ever to find your audience across the internet and reach them reliably. Even if you do reach your prospects using a B2B platform like Linkedin, ad/content fatigue sets in quickly due to the ever-increasing amount of content on the Internet.
One way to combat these challenges is through identification data.
Combining multiple data sources will allow you to pinpoint your target audience across B2C social channels like Facebook, Instagram, and even Tiktok. Then, you can use data enrichment to better understand their characteristics, which can allow you to create personalized content and advertising to grab their attention.
Primer combines 12 third-party data sources with first-party data to find high-fit, high-intent audiences and reach them across all inbound and outbound channels – from Google, Facebook, and Linkedin to email and direct mail.
Instead of the average match rate of ~30%, you can expect ~90% match rates on ad platforms with Primer. Plus, lower CPM and higher reply rates to your outbound email campaigns.
Building a B2B demand generation strategy is hard. But with Primer, it doesn’t have to be. Get access to Primer today to unlock your data and audience potential.