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What Digital Marketers Need to Realize About Demand Generation

In the ever-evolving world of B2B marketing, demand generation is the latest concept that's being touted as a way to fuel what’s in the sales funnel — and keep it topped up over the long term. 

Different from inbound marketing, demand generation can help digital marketers achieve their goals. Here’s why.

Defining Demand Generation

Demand generation is an overriding term for all the marketing programs and tactics in use designed to get customers excited and engaged with what you can offer them.

Beyond branding and funnel marketing tactics, demand generation efforts are specific methods for creating touchpoints for all aspects of the conversion and sales cycles. The goal is to develop long-term customer relationships, leveraging and extending the excitement for continued product or service purchases.

Therefore, demand generation can mean many different things, depending on your offering and your audience. It might involve answering questions or promoting blog posts on social media, utilizing influencer marketing, creating an e-book or newsletter campaign, or hosting a webinar or in-person event. While any type of marketing potential can achieve these tactics, only a demand generation program enacts tactics focused on long-term relationships rather than immediate conversions.

Inbound Marketing Is Demand Generation

While it may at first sound confusing, inbound marketing and demand generation go hand in hand. Again, it goes back to the marketer’s perspective.

If an inbound marketing tactic is for the short term but is focusing on high-quality content that attracts people to your brand, then it remains inbound marketing. But if it’s across the longer term to make connections and create a community around your brand, it becomes part of your demand generation program. 

In this way, inbound marketing and demand generation are one in the same, while also being different enough to work together to produce leads and nurture customers.

Sales Plays a Role in Demand Generation

Like other aspects of today’s digital marketing department, sales has an integral role in developing and managing demand generation. Marketers move prospects through the sales funnel alongside the thought leadership of the sales team to provide insights and direction on content and campaign strategies.

While the sales team directly builds the customer relationship, it’s the work of the marketing team that gives them the materials to do so. It’s the demand generation outlook that bridges the differences between sales and marketing and gives them common ground to collaborate.

Demand Generation Feeds on Data

To deliver on the needs of each long-term customer relationship, demand generation needs a steady diet of data. It’s that data that dictates content and campaign themes, channels, and targeting strategies. And, for any long-term customer relationship to last, each customer wants to know that a brand knows him or her on an individual level and can personalize interactions over time.

This is why demand generation must be a data-driven strategy that includes quantitative analysis, metrics and testing, and marketing automation tools to intuitively interact with each customer. Collect this data as early as possible in your demand generation program and continue doing so throughout the marketing process.

To ensure your demand generation program tracks the right metrics in the long term, it’s important to know why a customer stays with a brand. That means tracking how the customer engages with your content and channels by measuring clicks, impressions, and downloads. Think about identifying all the data points that help you look forward with your customer relationship, rather than backward at what you’ve done.

You’ll Still Need to Segment Your Audience

While some within the marketing world call demand generation a top-of-funnel approach, it involves segmentation, which often happens farther down the funnel. Only through this segmentation can you drill down to develop the necessary personalized approach to your customer relationships, creating demand based upon individual interests and needs.

To segment your audience for demand generation, you need to start with the criteria that fits your industry and value offering, including how your offering helps your audience segment do their jobs better, achieve certain goals, and become further educated. You’ll also need to set criteria that defines where each segment is in the purchase process.

From there, drill down the segmentation further by looking at which audience segment uses what platform and what type of messages motivate them to act. Find out what type of content they need that addresses that criteria, such as information that helps them do their job or complete a project.

Think of Demand Generation as an Ongoing Process

Demand is ongoing and not only about initial excitement. It’s not simply about making an initial effort or investing in a few check-ins over the course of a customer relationship. Instead, it’s about continually looking for ways to maintain magic between you and each of your customers.

Once you engage with customers, the data you’re collecting should be helping you get to know them better. Once you know what interests them, you can move to the next stage of excitement, where you show them you know them.

However, their interests will change over time, so you’ll need to continually regenerate the demand generation process to rediscover them so they can rediscover your brand. This creates a cycle of discovery and delight — the formula for keeping any type of relationship going.


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