As marketing budgets tighten and revenue goals increase for sales teams, it’s become more important for B2B sales teams to create and focus on strategies that boost revenue.
Demand generation marketing is one way to build awareness and generate qualified pipeline. When done right, it can shorten sales cycles and have you hitting revenue targets in no time.
In this article, we share B2B demand generation best practices we’ve used to 5x our growth at UserGems. You’ll also learn from other demand gen experts about how to consistently attract high-quality leads.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is demand generation?
Demand generation is a marketing strategy used to create brand awareness and attract potential customers.
Though demand generation is often used interchangeably with lead generation, they‘re different.
When comparing demand generation vs. lead generation, think of demand generation as a strategy to make a large volume of potential clients aware of your product in a way that inspires trust and generates interest.
Lead generation, on the other hand, filters through your prospects to find high-quality leads that match your ideal customer profile (ICP) and systematically convert them to customers through deliberate and targeted marketing.
Lead gen. and demand gen. are key marketing strategies for generating pipeline. They work hand-in-hand, and sales and marketing teams can run both campaigns simultaneously.
Top 5 B2B demand gen. best practices to skyrocket awareness and attract high-quality leads
Demand generation campaigns differ based on your industry and ICP.
However, the need to generate a pipeline of high-quality leads is a common thread across every industry.
So, what exactly is a high-quality lead? According to Isaac Ware, Director of Demand Generation at UserGems, you can describe high-quality leads in two ways:
“The less fun answer: leads that show high intent for wanting to talk with sales, not just people that provide their email for content. More fun answer: people that sales won't dread reaching out to because they know they won't get a reply.”
To attract high-quality leads that your sales team is excited to talk to, apply these demand generation best practices.
1. Focus on providing value
“Demand Gen should always be focused on providing value,” says Isaac.
Selling your product is an end goal, but you shouldn’t lead with that. It’s impossible to sell to someone who doesn’t know they have a problem or realize there’s a better way of doing things. Your demand gen campaign should speak directly to your prospect’s pain point. Show them you not only understand but can also solve their problem.
Here’s how to provide value in your demand gen. marketing.
Step 1: Define your target audience
Defining your target audience is the first step to launching a successful demand generation strategy.
It also guides you towards providing value for your ICP that illustrates your understanding of their challenges.
“As simple as it sounds, to attract high-quality leads, start from the list of people you wish to target that are close to your written ideal customer profile and use products similar to what you have,” says Christian Hunnyen, Founder of DesignBro. “This can give you a structure to follow or break from time to time and ensures your activities are going to move towards the businesses you know will take advantage of your product.”
He adds, “having this list will also make it easy to personalize your pitch which makes it easier for them to understand why your product is a good solution for them to take advantage of.”
Step 2: Create content that speaks to their pain point and stage in the buyer journey
70% of B2B buyers prefer to educate themselves before speaking with a sales rep. Another 40% identify possible solutions before initiating meetings with sales reps.
What does this stat tell you?
The first ad, blog post, or social content a buyer comes across might not be what moves the needle. Hence, demand gen is an opportunity to create content that keeps you top of mind for when a lead is ready to buy.
Ask yourself: what is my ideal customer struggling with?
This should guide you in creating content that speaks directly to them.
But your content isn’t just for the buyer. Think of primary users and others whose jobs are made easier through the use of your product. While they may not be key decision makers, they can influence the buying decision.
Step 3: Segment based on buyer journey stages
Yes, content does fuel demand generation. But only when it’s relevant to the user and appropriate for the sales stage they’re in.
Another great demand generation best practice is to segment your personas. This helps you know where your ICP is in the funnel, making it easier for you to use the right messaging at the right time on any channel.
“At UserGems, we run multithread campaigns that are segmented by our ICP opportunities that have an open opportunity, and to take it a step further, we segment by persona,” Isaac explains.
“When someone takes a demo call with UserGems, they get put into a paid media campaign that targets RevOps, Marketing, and Sales individually with their own specific pain points and messaging.
We let them know:
“Hey, marketing! Someone at your company is talking to UserGems about [insert pain point that UserGems solves for their position]”
It’s an amazing way to spark curiosity about the demo call, start internal conversations, and get marketing interested in how we did this so accurately.”
2. Build trust
How many times have you instantly paid $10,000 for a product just because you saw an ad once?
We’re going to guess the answer is never. 😅
Demand generation is about building awareness AND trust. Yet the trust aspect is often overlooked.
For your prospects to trust what you say is true and credible, “provide tons of content, value, and social proof,” says Isaac Ware, our Director of Demand Generation here at UserGems.
“Make it an easy decision for them. Because they have been shown so much success from our customers, they know what we do and who uses us before they ever submit, so they aren't caught off guard during the sales call.”
Here are two demand generation tips for building trust in your target audience and attracting high-quality leads.
Step 1: Take advantage of content marketing/thought leadership
“Content marketing and thought leadership are great ways to build your brand, increase your visibility more broadly, raise your profile and attract more clients,” explains Paige Arnof-Fenn, founder of Mavens and Moguls.
“Activities like hosting podcasts/webinars, writing articles, and building your following on social media all contribute to increasing your awareness with potential customers and building your credibility with a larger community.”
Some of these might feel overwhelming. Paige suggests that you can start small and build as you go.
She recommends using these three demand generation tactics to build your credibility:
- Write guest posts: “Instead of trying to start your own blog or newsletter, try regularly contributing to existing well-trafficked blogs in your industry or newsletters of like-minded organizations reaching the same target audience as you,” she says. “Make sure you put your URL or contact info on it so they can find you and follow up.”
- Speak at events: “For me, I started speaking at local events and then submitted proposals to speak at industry conferences and trade shows nationally and eventually global events too before the pandemic.” You can take advantage of webinars and podcasts that share a similar audience to your ICP.
- Go where your customers are: “You do not need to blog or be on all social media platforms but make sure you are active on the ones where you are,” says Paige. If your customers do not use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to find you, then you do not need to prioritize those channels.”
Focusing on where your customers also help you make efficient use of your (limited) resources.
Step 2: Publish user-generated content
User-generated content (UGC) is one of the most effective ways to build credibility. It serves as social proof and is considered more authentic than what brands say about themselves.
In addition, ads featuring UGC get 73% more positive comments on social networks than traditional ads. And 79% of customers say it highly impacts their purchasing decisions.
It’s also one of our favourite demand generation best practices here at UserGems.
“Too often, I see demand gen strategy being executed with content that isn’t truly valuable,” says Isaac. “We are so lucky here at UserGems to have an entire community of customers and employees passionate about the product. So our organic social content, from individual Gems, is mentioned in sales calls, or our playbooks are mentioned in attribution for why they converted to a demo call.”
How do you generate UGC for your brand?
- Build a great product: Sorry, you can’t skip this. Happy customers will organically talk about your products and recommend them to potential users.That’s why it’s so important to ensure you achieve product-market fit before you launch. Then continuously improve to meet your customer’s needs.
- Talk to your customers: Sometimes, all you need to do is ask. Setting up a data-driven customer success process can automate asking customers for testimonials when they find value in your product. “When a client hits 1x (breakeven) with UserGems, we send some gifts to celebrate. At 5x, we're asking for G2 reviews and other forms of advocacy,” says Steven Farina, customer success manager at UserGems. “At 10x, we're trying to secure a case study. At each of these specific moments, the actions are auto-generated in a series of tasks and emails.”
3. Empathize with the sales team
100s of people just downloaded a lead magnet (like an ebook, whitepaper, or template) in exchange for their email. This list is passed to the sales team to convert them to customers. However, the sales team discovers that it’s a low-quality list, and less than 10% are actually interested in your product.
So, it’s back to square one.
“Empathy for the sales team puts a focus on lead quality,” says Isaac. It encourages revenue-team alignment.
When sales and marketing teams understand each other’s challenges, they can ditch “spray and pray” marketing. Instead, they can deploy an account-based marketing strategy to target the same customers, effectively reducing acquisition costs.
To encourage revenue team alignment, here’s what to do:
Step 1: Open communication channels
Sales-marketing alignment requires both teams to communicate regularly.
When there’s a trend in buyer behaviour, proper communication ensures sales and marketing teams align on how to move buyers down the funnel. For example, if your buyers need more convincing, you can create more case studies.
Also, if a question repeatedly comes up during sales calls, the marketing team can proactively create content that answers their questions, so your customers and sales teams are better prepared.
Step 2: Use collaborative tools
The ability to measure the impact of demand gen efforts can strengthen the relationship between your sales and marketing teams. It also aligns them on what jobs need to be done to hit revenue targets.
Cobalt considers the revenue team alignment they achieved with UserGems a key driver to achieving 12x ROI in less than a year.
Paraphrasing Clare Corriveau, Cobalt's Director of Demand Generation, "I and the Director of Business Development have a shared number. And alignment on shared goals enables us to collaborate more effectively as our BDRs are able to focus their prospecting efforts in the best possible place(warm leads such as contacts related to current and past customer accounts) and use their time effectively."
4. Implement an always-on campaign
Want to get rid of pipeline anxiety? The “magic” is to implement always-on campaigns.
Always-on campaigns ensure your SDRs’ pipeline is consistently full of qualified leads — which translates to hitting your revenue targets faster. Besides keeping you top-of-mind for your target audience, it’s a great strategy for nurturing prospects into high-quality leads with targeted content.
Here are some playbooks to generate demand with an always-on campaign.
Playbook #1: Automate pipeline generation
According to Marketing Sherpa, the greatest barriers to lead generation for B2B marketers are a lack of resources in staffing, budgeting, and time.
With pipeline generation software like UserGems, you can automatically generate high-converting leads by tracking buyer job changes of your past customers, prospects, and champions. It’s also a tool built to grow with you as you scale, so you only need to set it up once, and you’re good to go.
Here’s how Michael Witt, Marketing Ops Manager at Mixpanel, explains it: “We’ve fully automated the UserGems workflow to the point that the leads just show up for the reps to work on. This is great because there’s very little lift required from the sales team.”
Playbook #2: Re-engage with previous customers
Marketing to your previous customers is an untapped demand generation channel in B2B sales. Following the great resignation, 40% of B2B buyers changed or planned to change their jobs.
Companies miss out on this opportunity by depending on manual tracking from sales reps or overlooking it altogether. With UserGems, you automate repeat business by tracking job changes of your previous customers.
UserGems tracks your buyer movement on autopilot and surfaces them in your CRM as warm leads. In addition, we provide automated playbooks you can plug in to personalize your outreach. This strategy ensures your sales and marketing teams always have a full pipeline.
5. Keep an open mind about your demand generation channels
Here’s our final tip on demand generation best practices: Keep an open mind on your demand gen. channels.
“While traditional marketing roles focus on the channel most of the time (SEO manager, Paid Media Specialist, Email Marketing, etc.), Demand Gen should be focused more on value rather than the specific channel,” Isaac says.
“This means SEO, email, content, paid media, and ABM are all under your watch depending on what your goals are, and nothing is off limits as long as you're focused on providing value to generate pipeline.”
Will Yang, Head of Growth at Instrumntl, agrees with him. “I think it's really important to create a demand gen campaign that's flexible enough for you to be able to react quickly when you get new information about potential customers. And that means being open-minded about where those leads come from”.
Yang continues, “for example, if you've been targeting people in one industry and all of a sudden one of your best leads comes from someone in another industry who doesn't fit your target audience at all but has an urgent need for what you offer, don't dismiss that lead! You never know where great connections will come from or where they'll take you."
Grow your pipeline with these demand generation best practices
A successful B2B demand generation strategy is what makes the difference between a tired B2B revenue team constantly hustling for the next lead and a happy revenue team hitting its targets with a steady stream of qualified leads — even with limited resources.
To make sure you keep your pipeline full and hit your sales targets, apply demand generation best practices to your strategy, such as:
- Providing value
- Building trust with your ICP before demo requests
- Encouraging revenue team alignment
- And implementing an always-on campaign strategy.
UserGems helps you automate pipeline generation by tracking job changes of past customers, prospects, and champions and providing automated playbooks for outreach. With UserGems, our customers get a bigger pipeline and win more often.