B2B Marketing Blog

9 Must Follow Demand Generation Best Practices

By Andrew Nguyen
Dec 31, 2014
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best_practices_graphicDemand generation is more than generating a high volume of leads and delivering them to sales. Demand generation is about expanding the pipeline with qualified prospects, closing revenue and getting more customers to use your product.

What are the best ways to do this? In this post we count the 9 best practices B2B marketers need to adopt in order to build profitable paid search, lead nurturing and content marketing campaigns.

1) Connect Marketing Data Into Your CRM

Too many lead generation strategies are focused on lead metrics. While clicks and cost-per-lead are helpful metrics to guide the creation of lead generation content, it can provide too narrow a view for optimizing the entire demand generation program. 

When optimizing based on revenue, something we call pipeline marketing, marketers get a better understanding of which content is truly attributing to the bottom line and which is not.  

For example, we found varying costs per lead (CPL) across our different paid online advertising channels. Instead of making spending decisions based on CPL we took a closer look at how those leads were converting into actual sales. When comparing paid channels, LinkedIn Ads had a higher CPL. But those leads resulted in greater total revenue, leading us to invest more in this channel which has been performing exceptionally well.

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Connecting marketing data with your CRM, and optimizing based on opportunity and revenue is a best practice CMO’s need to embrace in order to improve the performance of demand generation.

2) Use List Segments and SDR’s For Lead Nurturing

Having a weak lead nurturing strategy wastes valuable leads. Demand generation needs a lead nurturing program to handle leads that aren’t ready to purchase, but may become sales qualified in the future.

Strategies for lead nurturing include organizing leads into tiers for more precise email marketing campaigns and putting in place sales development representatives (SDR) to call leads shortly after the lead is created.

It becomes increasingly difficult to make contact with leads to qualify them after the first hour.

For lead nurturing strategies involving email, it’s important to segment leads based on qualifications like product line fit, company size, web behavior, email click interaction and job roles. These criteria signal to you the kinds of email content and messaging that will be most relevant to your leads. This is why collecting relevant information is so important.

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Screenshot of Pinpointe

Site visits, web page views, content downloads are all metrics used to create compelling content. 

After developing a segmentation scheme, the next step is to prioritize which factors are most important and begin testing. This allows marketers to focus further on developing messaging that resonates with your leads.

3) Test Paid Advertisement Channels

If the spirit captured by the phrase, “you never know unless you try,” is not used in a demand generation program, it’s a bad sign.

We experiment a lot and, like portfolio management, diversity is key. We’ve had surprising success on LinkedIn Ads and using paid content distributors to generate leads.

The key to success here is developing good buyer personas. This improves lead generation because you are using content and messaging that resonates with your prospective buyers.

What are their pain points? What do they want to learn?

Developing good personas results in better targeting and better content -- and better performance when testing keywords, social platforms, and targeting. Doing research using available data on LinkedIn for developing personas is a good starting point.  

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Grapic by Brand Fever in Using LinkedIn As Your Secret Persona Building Weapon

Developing good personas requires collaboration. It requires commitment by customer success departments, sales, and even development (where internal data must be pulled) to spend time providing the necessary information and data for marketers.

4) Run Bottom of Funnel Ads

Ads that target very specific buyers sacrifice high impression shares and CTR’s with more qualified clicks. For platforms like LinkedIn where marketers can target ads based on demographic information like job type, industry and location, more specialized ad messaging can be used to get qualified clicks.

When ads are more specific, only qualified users will click. For example, we used this ad to target a specific industry. It cost $20 and resulted in $12K in ACV. The ad had less clicks but the clicks came from more qualified prospects.  

Another tactic for targeting more qualified, bottom of funnel prospects, is to create content and ads for searchers looking to compare your brand to a competitor. These searchers are aware of the problem they are trying to solve and are now trying to validate your brand. This type of ad content should be part of the overall paid search campaign. Here’s an example:

competitor research paid ad.jpg

5) Use Multi-Touch Attribution

We recently wrote a post citing why multi-touch attribution is the best model for B2B marketers. It takes into account the longer sales cycle and multiple contacts associated with B2B online marketing.

Multi-touch attribution distributes the credit for the sales across multiple touchpoints and channels. Why does this matter? Tracking performance over time using the revenue metric allows marketers to understand their impact on the bottom line for each channel/touchpoint -- and see how their optimization decisions are resulting in profit.

Here are two tips for using multi-touch attribution in B2B marketing:

1) Track anonymous web visits -- When adopting a multi touch model it’s important to track anonymous visits before they become leads. This allows you to attribute revenue credit to the first touchpoint, the point of brand discovery. Discovering your brand is the important first step in the sales cycle, and thus deserves a portion of the credit for the sales.
 
2) Track at the company level -- Next you’ll want to track company accounts and not just individual users. This is because in B2B sales there may be multiple stakeholders in the sales process but only one account.
 
3) Use the W-Shaped Model -- Lastly, B2B marketers should adopt the W-Shaped attribution model where credit is given to the most important touch points in a B2B sales cycle.

6) Collaborate With Customers

Never forget your customers are potential partners for demand generation. Collaborating on content like interviews and case studies means you’ll get help sharing and promoting your content.

In addition, the quality of your content can improved when you collaborate with customers. Why? Your own story may be interesting, but two companies solving a problem together is an even more compelling story. Customers can bring a perspective on your product features and benefits that you may have missed. They can clue you in on the language and jargon relevant to your vertical.

Other collaboration tactics include speaking opportunities. These are great ways to tell a story that people care about. Always considering how customers can help fill the funnel.

7) Search For Better Metrics

In demand generation, how do you measuring “demand”? With simultaneous campaigns spanning email, content and paid search, reporting can get time consuming. That’s why marketers need to periodically review the metrics being used.

The important question to ask here is: Are there metrics we are missing? Is what we’re measuring providing actionable insights?

Whether marketers start a new campaign, adopt a new product for their workflow -- or it’s simply been awhile -- the demand generation spreadsheet should be periodically reviewed.

For example, did measuring your clicks on the contents of your email inform your content marketing, and result in more leads? If it did then keep measuring it.

To understand if a metric is worth tracking, test it first. Optimize based on that hunch and it may be a number that can guides your demand generation tactics.

8) Re-use Your Best Content

Reuse and recycle isn’t just an environmental tip, it’s a tactic for building an efficient demand generation program. After measuring success it’s time to consider your successful content a parts bin for future content.

For example, you have a ideas for a blog post or white paper but it’s not enough for a stand alone piece, or you don’t have the time to produce it. Consider reusing images, paragraphs and messages from previous content to help fill it out. This can speed up content production and get the idea tested quickly.  

If you're struggling with fresh content ideas, consider how you can take your best content and follow up with a deeper dive, an update, or a new angle. Or take the approach to your topic using an approach that is already working, for example, a success story or how-to, and apply it to a new topic. 

9) Coordinate With Sales

Demand generation isn’t a marketing function, it’s a sales/marketing activity requiring coordination. Here are key areas where sales and marketing can organize for better demand generation execution.

--When anonymous visitors become leads -- Defining when a lead is created is deciding when sales qualification calls should be made. When a lead submission form  is submitted it’s important to follow up immediately. According to a study on lead response management, the odds of calling to qualify a lead decreases by over 6 times after the first hour.

 

To improve demand generation, sales and marketing should know how a lead was created in order to tailor the pitch.

--When new lead generation content is produced -- Content topics can inform sales on what prospects care about. Sales can inform marketing on how the content resonates with prospects. So it’s important that both teams communicate what the existing content is, and when new content is produced.

 

--When new lead generating channels are used -- When marketers test a new channel for lead generation, for example, outsourcing cold calling or paid content distribution, sales teams should be informed. Sales teams can inform marketing the quality of the leads from each source.

 

--When SQL’s move back to MQL -- This hand off helps marketers understand who they should continue targeting for lead nurturing. Using detailed lead nurturing strategies, marketers can also group MQL’s into different groups and target them with content based on different sales qualification information.

That’s all for now, subscribe to our blog and stay up to date with demand generation strategies and tips.

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Topics: lead generation, pipeline marketing, demand generation

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