Struggling to get results and generate leads and sales for your B2B business?

It could be that you’re using outdated marketing practices that don’t work.

Because of the rapid technological advancements in the past few years, customers have become more empowered to control the buying process.

To ensure your sales pipeline keeps flowing with qualified leads, you shift your focus and resources away from traditional marketing. Instead, embrace B2B demand generation.

What is Demand Generation?

B2B demand generation is a marketing technique designed to create interest in your product or service in its simplest form. It hinges on identifying your target audience or ideal customer profiles (ICPs) and their common pain points. You then create content that triggers a demand for the solution.  Demand generation is a great way to help you:

  • Reach new markets
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Educate audiences
  • Generate trust

With the costs of traditional marketing going up and reach decreasing, demand generation is the best way to ensure 

Traditional marketing is invasive — marketers force themselves into a consumer’s space.  Demand generation is almost the opposite — B2B buyers reach out to you after a trigger moment. 

How is Demand Generation Different from Lead Generation?

As you study different marketing strategies and how to generate inbound leads and sales, you’re most likely to come across two similar terms — demand generation and lead generation.

What’s the difference between the two?

Let’s quickly look at what lead generation is before we look at the differences. Lead generation is the process of building up audience interest in your product through nurturing.

How is that different from demand generation?

Target Audience

One of the main differences between demand and lead generation is the audience targeted. Demand generation focuses on attracting a new audience, while lead generation focuses on converting said audience into paying customers.

Purpose

Demand and lead generation serve different purposes in the buyer journey. For example, demand generation focuses on raising brand awareness while lead generation prioritizes proving brand value. 

However, the main difference in purpose is that demand gen is designed to attract, while lead gen is meant to convert.

Stage of Your Funnel

Another difference is that demand generation is a top-of-the-funnel (ToFu) activity and therefore relies on ToFu content and strategies. On the other hand, lead generation is a middle of the funnel (MoFu) and bottom of the funnel (BoFu) activity.  

Content Types & Strategies

The content and strategies used for demand generation differ from those used for lead generation. That’s because demand generation mainly focuses on attracting an audience, while lead generation focuses on converting that audience. 

Demand Gen vs. Lead Gen — Which Should You Use

With so many tools, tips, and strategies you can use to generate sales, it can be overwhelming to know which to use.

So, between demand and lead generation, which should you use?

The answer here is simple — both.

Demand generation and lead generation are complementary strategies that, used well, can result in explosive results for your business. For instance, you won’t have any leads to nurture without demand generation. And without lead generation, you’ll have a massive audience but few or no sales.

Top 6 Most Effective B2B Demand Generation Strategies

Now that you know what demand generation is, let’s quickly dive into some of the top strategies you can use. 

1. Clearly Define Your Brand & Brand Identity

One of the first steps to creating an effective demand generation strategy is to clearly define your brand and brand identity. This is essential as your brand is the foundation upon which all other strategies hinge on.

Branding is important as it defines how your audience perceives you, which influences how they respond to you. The main components of your brand include elements like your:

  • Visual elements (logo, colors, e.t.c.)
  • Tone and voice
  • Messaging

However, branding goes beyond that and encompasses your values, among other things. Studies show that 71% of consumers prefer brands that align with their values.

What does this have to do with B2B demand generation?

A lot.

Remember, B2B buyers are not emotionless robots. They’re people too. That means at their core, an element of consumer behavior helps drive their corporate buying decisions. And one of the strongest elements in that regard is your values. 

So, before executing any demand generation strategy, make sure to have your branding and brand identity clearly defined.

2. Understand Your Buyers

To effectively generate interest for your product, you must understand your buyers. The best way to do this is to develop buyer personas and ideal customer profiles (ICPs). A buyer persona is an individual responsible for making purchasing decisions for the company, the latter being the ICP.

Developing your buyer personas and ICPs will help you understand your target audience’s pain points, challenges, and aspirations. As a result, you’ll be in a better position to craft content and messaging that resonates with them. You’ll also be better able to find customer acquisition channels that yield results. 

In short, understanding your buyers will help you create a demand generation campaign that draws in targets that are more likely to convert.

An element that can aid you in understanding your buyers better is buyer intent data. Buyer intent refers to the probability of an individual turning into a customer. Intent data, therefore, refers to the behavioral data you gather about an individual from their online activities. This can reveal a lot about your leads and the likelihood of converting. 

Your buyer personas and ICPs, if designed well, will guide all the demand generation activities carried out by your marketers and sales reps. It also ensures that every interaction with your customers, from discovery to post-sale, is personalized. As a result, your marketing efforts will be rewarded with high-quality leads.

3. Create & Publish Authority-Building Content

Once you’ve defined your buyer personas, creating content that meets their needs is the next step to creating a demand generation campaign. 

Content marketing is one of the best demand generation strategies as it enables you to solve customer pain points at scale. It’s also one of the best strategies as most B2B buyers start their buyer journey by researching products and solutions online. That’s especially as studies show that when B2B buyers are considering a purchase, only 17% of their time is spent actually talking to vendors. The rest of the time is spent pouring over different pieces of content to get to know a product well and if it fits their needs.

That’s why you must have a solid B2B content strategy that will help you attract, engage, and convert your leads into customers.  

While demand generation mainly involves reaching new audiences, you shouldn’t focus on ToFu content only. You should create content for every funnel stage as some new leads will come through the MoFu and BoFu stages. In essence, you’ll have to create content that:

Drives Awareness

This is for the segment of your audience at the ToFu stage and can include:

  • Blog posts
  • Social media posts
  • Infographics
  • Podcasts

Most of the content at this stage is free, meaning consumers don’t need to part with their contact details to access the content.

Educates 

Educational content is created to target those at the MoFu stage primarily. It can include content types such as:

  • Webinars
  • Guides
  • Whitepapers 
  • eBooks
  • Quizzes
  • Email newsletters 

Unlike content designed to drive awareness, educational content is meant to generate leads. As a result, it’s not uncommon for consumers to be required to part with their email address to access it.

But content creation is not the end of the content marketing process. You must also promote the content you create. Share your content via email or social media, syndicate it, post on forums, e.t.c. Do everything in your power to increase the reach of your content. That’s how you create great demand for your product.

Converts

Conversion-focused content is targeted mainly at buyers at the ToFu stage. Examples include:

  • Case studies
  • Reports
  • Product demos

Including ToFu content in your demand generation strategy is essential as some buyers find your brand or product when they’re ready to buy. Capturing them at this stage will help make it easy for your SDRs to close the deal. 

Developing a robust B2B content marketing strategy is one of the most important elements to consider as you create a demand generation campaign.

4. Develop an Effective B2B SEO Strategy

One demand generation channel you certainly must focus on is search engine optimization (SEO). This is the practice of improving your site to boost rankings, visibility, and conversions.

As a B2B brand, you must ensure that your SEO efforts are B2B-centric. Otherwise, you’ll waste time and resources attracting the wrong audience. To craft an effective B2B SEO strategy, a few best practices include:

Check out this guide for more tips and strategies on building effective B2B SEO campaigns. 

5. Use Social Media Marketing the Right Way

With over 4.5 billion users, social media is a powerful platform for creating interest in your brand and driving demand for your products. More studies show that 91% of consumers visit a brand’s website after engaging with them on social media. 

To succeed with your social media campaigns, you must know which social media platforms your audience prefers and focus on them. Trying to be on every platform will just wear you thin and lead to a waste of resources. 

When it comes to B2B demand and lead generation, we recommend LinkedIn — here’s how we use LinkedIn to grow our agency. One reason is that LinkedIn was designed specifically for building strong professional networks. And with an 800 million strong user base, you have a large audience you can target.

However, LinkedIn can be quite tricky to navigate, especially for demand generation. One of the major reasons is the strict policy that limits most aspects of marketing, particularly scalability. However, to get the most out of LinkedIn:

  • Leverage personal profiles more than brand accounts
  • Optimize your profile for visibility and engagement
  • Create value-packed content consistently
  • Engage with other content creators
  • Encourage team members to be active

Well-executed, your LinkedIn demand generation strategy can be one of your primary lead sources. Check out Funraise’s story for a glimpse of what you can achieve on LinkedIn.

6. Leverage Established Partners

Another strategy to leverage in your demand generation campaigns is partnership marketing. This is when you partner with another brand to help each other reach your marketing and overall business goals. It’s especially effective in raising brand awareness and driving relevant traffic to your website and product.

For partnership marketing to work, you must collaborate with a brand in the same industry as you and must attract the same audience. However, your products must be complementary and not compete. Examples of partnership marketing at work include:

  • Promoting partner products in a webinar
  • Content partnerships where you cross-promote each other’s products in blog posts
  • Collaborating on industry research or piece of content
  • Referring prospects to each other when possible
  • Listing each other on partnership pages

Partnership marketing is a very powerful demand generation strategy that has the advantage of helping get past the trust barrier quickly. In addition, because a trusted source is recommending you, it becomes easier to convert the traffic that comes through partnership marketing.

How to Create Your Own Demand Generation Campaign

B2B demand generation is an excellent way to keep your pipeline filled and sales on an upward trajectory.

The question is — how do you create your own demand generation campaign?

Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Set Goals and KPIs

One of the first steps to creating a demand generation campaign is to set goals. These will help you know what you’re working towards and measure success. Examples of goals you can set include:

  • Brand awareness
  • Increase traffic to your site by X% or by a certain number of visitors in a month
  • Improve MQL and SQL leads by X%

To measure whether you’re meeting your goals or not. You can do this by aligning key performance indicators (KPIs) to your goals. Here are some KPIs you can consider using:

  • Pageviews per visit
  • Bounce rate
  • Average time on page
  • Click-through rates
  • Funnel conversion rates

These will give you a picture of how your demand generation is performing. This will help you continuously create better iterations. A great free tool to measure demand generation KPIs is Google Analytics. 

Research Target Audience Behavior, Pains, & Needs

Research is another critical element to building an effective B2B demand generation campaign. Dig into everything you can about your target audience. This includes purchase behaviors, pain points, needs, aspirations, and more. Doing so will help you create personalized campaigns that convert like gangbusters.

Don’t worry, though. There are many tools you can use to run audience research at scale. Examples include Hotjar, Semrush, social media analytics tools, and much more.

Choose Your Channels Wisely

Once you’ve set your goals and studied your audience, the next step is to choose your channels wisely. Your channels of choice should help you reach your goals. But more importantly, they should make it super easy for you to connect with your target audience.

Again, this is where research comes into play. By checking out your target audience, you can better discover the channels you can leverage to run successful demand generation campaigns.

Create Tactics Based on Each Channel’s Strengths & Weaknesses

Now that you’ve identified your channels, it’s time to create the tactics you’ll use to generate demand. Each channel has its best practices so make sure to follow them. In the same vein, ensure you avoid breaking the platform’s rules, even if it may give you temporary wins.

Leverage Technology

As you’ve probably noticed, demand generation is a marketing strategy that relies on scalability. That’s why the only way you can pull it off is by leveraging technology, particularly automation. From content strategy and marketing to running social media campaigns to monitoring your KPIs and everything in between, you’ll need the right tools to execute your campaigns.

Measure Continuously

Most people make the mistake of thinking the end of a demand generation campaign is when it’s executed. 

That’s a gross error.

Once your campaign is running, measure continuously. It’s the only way to tell if you’re succeeding or not. It also helps you optimize every aspect of your campaign, ensuring that you get the best results.

Optimize Campaigns Regularly

The most effective B2B marketing campaigns are those that are data-driven. And the best data you can use is the one you get from your own campaigns. So use the data you get from your campaigns to optimize your campaigns. 

That’s why you must always be on top of your numbers and know what’s happening under the hood of your campaigns. Knowing how your target audience is responding is fodder for creating better campaigns.

Examples of Successful B2B Demand Generation Campaigns

Before we wrap up, you’re probably wondering if any brands are seeing success with B2B demand generation campaigns. 

The short answer — there are tons of B2B brands that are winning with demand generation. Here are some examples:

Shopify

One of the best examples of demand generation at work is that of Shopify.

Shopify is a B2B brand that specializes in helping businesses launch, run, and manage online stores. And they’re one of the biggest players in their niche. To get to that level of success, they use a lot of demand generation. For example, they:

  • Publish helpful content and industry reports.
  • Host educational webinars.
  • Create and give away courses that help their customers succeed.

However, Shopify always tailors its content and solutions to appeal to its target audience only when it comes to all three above. As a result, they drive relevant traffic with high conversion potential. 

In 2020, Shopify made close to $3 billion. While that’s not all attributed to demand generation, it’s no secret that demand gen did play a huge role in the brand’s success.

CoSchedule

CoSchedule is a brand that offers a suite of marketing tools. Their platform is touted as being the best work management software for marketers. And reaching that status couldn’t have been possible without a solid demand generation strategy. A few components of their strategy include:

  • Creating and giving away free tools like Headline Studio and the Marketing Calendar.
  • Empowering their target audience with relevant, helpful content.

Headline Studio is used by over 100,000 users every month and plays a huge role in helping generate new customers for the company. 

LeadsRX

Our last example is one of our customers, LeadsRX. LeadsRX is a cloud-based marketing attribution platform. The software captures all the various touchpoints that usually guide prospects along their journey to becoming customers.

So, if there’s anyone who can vouch for B2B demand generation’s effectiveness, it’s LeadRx.

Some elements that led to a successful demand generation campaign for LeadsRX include:

  • SEO gap analysis and an optimized SEO strategy.
  • Strategic content marketing.
  • Targeted link building.

Within seven months, LeadRX got a 170% increase in organic users and a 35% increase in page one rankings.

B2B Demand Generation — Key to Business Growth

Particularly in this new market where the buyer controls the buyer’s journey, you can’t rely on outdated marketing tactics.

You must leverage strategies that work, and demand generation is one of them.

Armed with this B2B demand generation guide, you should be able to pull off some amazing marketing and sales results.

However, if planning and creating an effective B2B demand generation campaign seems overwhelming, we can help you with that. With our proven demand generation strategies, we’ll help you:

  • Generate demand for your product
  • Drive leads your way
  • Fill your sales pipeline

Go ahead, and get in touch.

Ken “Magma” Marshall is the Chief Growth Officer and a Partner at RevenueZen. He’s been battling Google / obsessing over helping brands grow through sustainable SEO & content strategies for the last 7 years. Husband, coffee addict, recovering foodie, mini Australian shepherd puppy dad, and serial entrepreneur (mostly failures, lots of lessons).