15 B2B Demand Generation Strategies to Increase Leads

RJ Licata Marketing Manager
Key Points
  • B2B demand generation is a marketing powerhouse that builds brand awareness, increases traffic, and secures new leads.
  • Demand gen for B2B companies is all about creating a predictable pipeline for your sales team.
  • B2B demand generation programs often include blogging, downloadable content, webinars, podcasts, videos, influencer marketing, PR campaigns, SEO, and more.
  • SEO is the glue for all of your demand gen activities, delivering a rising tide that lifts all marketing boats.

What did I find when I checked my LinkedIn feed this morning? I was greeted by a surprisingly fun video by a marketing analytics software company offering up a new research report. Since it sounded interesting, I downloaded it. But the company didn’t just deliver the report I had requested. They also shared a number of complimentary reports. That’s an excellent example of B2B demand generation marketing in action.

What’s more, they invited me to an upcoming webinar, featuring a trailblazer in the analytics space. Nice!

I couldn’t help but notice their many listings when I searched for anything related in Google. I became hooked when I found their free tool for some quick data intelligence.

You can see where this is going.

I may not purchase their software today. But, imagine the next time I’m buying additional analytics software to help uncover new insight from our digital marketing data. Do you think they’ll be top of mind? Absolutely.

B2B demand generation is a marketing powerhouse that builds brand awareness, increases traffic, and secures new leads. It’s the antidote to silos between the sales and marketing teams. So, if you want to generate a full, healthy pipeline of prospective customers, it’s exactly what your B2B company needs.

what is demand generation

WHAT IS B2B DEMAND GENERATION?

B2B demand generation is the process of creating awareness and demand for your products or services. Demand gen expands your audience, generates buzz, and drives traffic to transform interest into action.

B2B demand generation is all about creating a predictable pipeline for your sales team. First, it includes the initial campaigns so that your target audience opts in to your mailing list. Beyond that, it guides your audience to engage with your content, attend your events, and more. B2B demand gen nurtures and engages your prospects, keeping your brand top of mind.

The goal is to move them through the buyer’s journey until they become a qualified lead. Then, you can transform them into a new customer with the perfect sales pitch.

B2B demand generation vs lead generation

Demand generation aims to grow your audience by bringing new visitors to your website and introducing them to your solutions. On the other hand, B2B lead generation aims to convert your audience into qualified leads. It’s a subtle distinction, and the two strategies are deeply connected.

B2B demand generation feeds into lead generation. First, you need to drive awareness through demand generation. You also may need to keep them interested for a while. Not everyone is ready to opt-in or to convert on day one. Others, especially at large enterprises, are locked into vendor relationships that prevent them from looking for alternatives until set times.

An audience member may not be ready to talk with your sales team today. However, they might want to watch your videos or read your blog posts. Consuming useful, entertaining and actionable content builds trust and brand awareness. So, when that audience member is ready to consider a purchase, you’ll already have a foot in the door!

Lead generation is more focused on converting you into “qualified” status, where you meet all of the lead-qualifying criteria and are ready to engage with the brand.

Demand gen and lead gen overlap in certain areas. For example, if you offer product-focused webinars, driving registrations could be considered both. And when nurturing your database, both are applicable for building the relationship as you move them through the conversion funnel.

B2C vs B2B demand generation

B2C companies typically have to get buy-in from only one person: the customer (and maybe their spouse or family). B2B marketers, on the other hand, usually have to get the buy-in of entire teams, key decision-makers, and sometimes even an entire department.

This all adds up to a much longer sales cycle for B2B companies. In certain cases, a B2B purchase decision may take six months or even longer than a year. Decisions are made after careful deliberation by multiple parties and various approvals at different levels of the organization. So, your B2B demand generation campaigns are just one step in the process of building your sales funnel.

Read more about funnel phases in our post: What The Heck is ToFu, MoFu, BoFu?

Importance of B2B demand generation

Increase brand awareness

B2B demand generation programs are awareness machines that don’t just bring visitors to your website. Well-executed marketing campaigns make your brand stand out to people who may not yet need your product. However, when they constantly encounter your brand in thought leadership posts, on stage at industry conferences, or referenced on social media, those demand generation efforts build trust and recognition over time.

Part of your demand generation strategy will create waves right away, bringing your website engaged and interested traffic. A new white paper or research report can do that. But, like all awareness generation strategies, short term movement is just the tip of the iceberg. Eventually, you’ll experience long-term impact as businesses develop a need for your product or service down the road.

Attract more leads

Even though B2B demand generation has a broader focus than lead generation, a well-executed demand generation strategy creates a significant uptick in leads. If done properly, demand gen fills the top of the funnel with a stream of new potential leads, with a certain percentage of these immediately translating into qualified leads while most qualified leads emerge only after months, or even years depending on the industry and offerings involved.

Increase revenue

More qualified leads = more revenue. Demand generation is both a short-term and long-term revenue strategy, so you can expect results not just within a few months but also over the long term as you build your pipeline, nurture it, and establish a comfortable, consistent rapport with your audience.

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B2B DEMAND GENERATION STRATEGIES

We broke down a list of the top 15 b2b demand generation ideas to help you fill your sales funnel.

1. Blogging

Blog posts full of thoughtful, helpful information that address audience pain points and feed their interests are a cornerstone of long-term awareness and affinity building. Blogging is one of the most popular forms of content marketing to gain visibility online, attract relevant traffic, engage with your audience, and guide them to download relevant content, sign up for webinars, or otherwise take a next step in learning more.

2. Downloadable content

Original research is a highly effective content marketing strategy to earn media attention, expand reach, drive online shares, and increase traffic to your site.

But, there are many other B2B content marketing tactics that will convince site visitors to hand over their email. For instance, you can produce guides, white papers, ebooks, presentations, toolkits, templates, swipe files, infographics, and checklists. From there, you can launch marketing automation sequences to maintain the touchpoints and engagement.

3. Live events (and virtual ones, too)

In-person events give industry insiders a place to network, learn cutting edge know-how, and hear from experts in their field. Therefore, your company can build crucial relationships by participating in industry events or even throwing your own branded events.

The experiential quality of conferences gives your brand the opportunity to get truly creative with exhibiting at these types of events. Giant gumball machines, oversized sofas, happy hours, homemade chocolate chip cookies, lotteries, interactive iPad games, dazzling videos, human-sized Connect 4 are just a few of the potential ideas you could bring to your booth to attract attention and get the conversation started.

With the COVID-19 outbreak, you can take creative approaches at virtual events, as well. Lean on what works well digitally, such as video, digital tools, and templates.

Man throwing a dart to represent ABM marketing

4. ABM

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) campaigns zero in on a narrowly-defined audience segment and coordinate multiple marketing channels, tactics, and efforts that are all focused on that segment. Although you’re still trying to drive demand with ABM, you’re precision targeted with your approach, identifying the specific industry and companies (and sometimes the individuals themselves) you want to target prior to your outreach.

An ABM campaign might include outreach via email marketing, content, LinkedIn ads, InMail, and direct mail, along with customized content. You also might guide your audience to personalized landing pages for greater impact.

5. Webinars

Build thought leadership in your industry and boost your pool of opt-ins with webinars. Because they accomplish many of the same goals as live events, webinars are a great substitute if your audience is still wary of social gatherings in a post-quarantine world. Plus, how else can you realistically secure 30+ minutes of your audience’s time with your B2B marketing?

Webinar content can help your audience through common industry pain points or learn about a new product. For even greater impact, interview complementary solutions providers and industry influencers. This will give everyone access to an expanded audience with little to no extra effort.

6. Podcasts

Similar to webinars, podcasting can consistently capture an audience’s attention for 30+ minutes at a time, simply by being a format where audiences are already primed to spend that amount of time tuning in. Better still, the podcasting world is far from hitting its content saturation point. That makes podcasting, for many industries, a relatively low-competition way to build thought leadership, establish a cadence of repeated brand touchpoints, and start forging a relationship with your audience.

7. Video

Videos are a rich, immersive way to connect with and inspire your audience. It’s a great branding tool, as well as a powerful demand generation vehicle. Videos are effective in getting your audience to remember your content, because visual content is recalled at a far higher rate than text-based content.

One B2B company that shines with its B2B videos is Salesforce. In just one video alone, you can see CEO Marc Benioff interviewing Julie Sweet, CEO of Accenture and uncovering how the management consulting firm is navigating the COVID-19 world, while featuring live music from 15-time Grammy winner Alicia Keys from her home. Or you can experience status-quo challenging stances to “reorient capitalism around all stakeholders—including shareholders, customers, employees, partners, communities, future generations, and the planet” as part of its Platform for Change initiative. Or showcasing Salesforce customers like Tuff Shed in a Hollywood-style narrative:

8. Direct mail

Direct mail is still a straightforward tactic for demand generation in b2b companies because it’s an easy way to get your business’s name in front of the right people. To make sure your mailers don’t get immediately sorted into the recycle bin, identify specific targets at each business and tailor your offers or promotions to them. In this way, direct mail and ABM are a match made in B2B demand generation heaven.

Also, never underestimate the power of a physical box. When was the last time you didn’t open a FedEx or UPS package? See what I mean?

9. Sweepstakes and contests

Everyone loves free stuff! Throw online sweepstakes and other contests that give your audience a chance to win a free product, service, or reward in exchange for their contact information. If you sell subscription-based software, offering a year of your product for free can also create a loyal convert. 

Make your contest perform double-duty by asking a series of questions that your audience must answer to enter. Their responses can become data points in your market research, help you build customer personas, or create a rich pool of user-generated content.

10. Social campaigns

large hashtag in an empty room

Connect with your audience on the social platforms they use and run social media campaigns that showcase your content and invite engagement. Monitor keywords related to customer pain points so your brand can jump in with helpful information whenever someone needs a solution you can provide. Take advantage of enterprise-grade monitoring tools such as Brandwatch or Keyhole to make your social strategy consistent and scalable.

11. PR campaigns

PR is like a Swiss Army knife of B2B demand generation, as it presents more opportunities for you to connect with your audience than we have room to list here.

For example, connect with the media. Stay on top of the news and think about how your company can enter relevant topical conversations. Then, pitch your stories to the media. 

Have charismatic leadership? Get interviewed in blogs, podcasts, TV, and radio.

Or, turn your videos, tools, and original research into link building assets. Then, share them with industry insiders to use as reference points in their own content.

The more you can get people talking, the more you boost brand credibility and authority in the process of building demand. Learn more about integrating PR and SEO.

12. Influencer marketing

Partner with influencers that have passionate communities. Often, micro-influencers produce better campaign results, as they have a closer, more authentic relationship with their audiences. So don’t focus entirely on follower count, but rather prioritize engagement rate and quality.

And make sure that your efforts are scalable in order to achieve greater impact. For example, Terakeet’s Chorus technology enables us to continuously scour the web and precision-target hundreds or even thousands of relevant influencers for niche markets.

13. Strategic partnerships

Look to strategic partnerships to drive B2B demand. What this involves is partnering with other companies who target the same (or similar) personas as you. Then, co-host events, podcasts, or webinars, or produce a major piece of content together, combining exclusive information from each partner to create original insights. Each company will benefit from the information boost and access to the other’s network.

14. Free tools

One of the most powerful B2B demand generation tactics is to offer a free online tool. Create a tool people love and they’ll not only use it repeatedly, but will also tell others about it, helping you to expand your reach among relevant audiences.

As an added bonus, tools tend to drive a great deal of backlinks. For example, Pingdom’s free page load time tester has generated more than 2.2 million links from third-party sites at the time of this writing.

Calculators, performance checkers, and other interactive tools don’t put you in front of a passive audience; your audience actually engages with your brand as they use the tool. That creates a memorable experience that leaves a lasting impression on your audience.

15. B2B SEO

woman searching the ocean with binoculars

A rising tide lifts all boats. So, invest heavily in B2B SEO to optimize your various digital assets to drive loads of traffic to your site.

When you apply SEO effectively to your marketing, you’ll be in sync with the way that your audience thinks by researching the right keywords and considering search intent. In addition, you’ll raise the visibility of your brand which extends your reach and generates greater awareness.

For every piece of content you produce, perform keyword research, conduct on-page optimization, and add relevant internal links. Is the content crawlable – written in HTML, not hidden in an image? Is it linked into a logical site architecture? Did you optimize the URL? How about your title tag? Do your pages load quickly? Is it a great experience?

When you think about your content in term of SEO lead generation, you’ll maximize the return on your efforts.

Advanced Demand Gen StrategiesLearn to Drive Increased Demand through Enterprise SEO.Let’s Talk

B2B DEMAND GENERATION BEST PRACTICES

1. Create a consistent brand identity

The best B2B demand generation is diverse in nature, featuring different formats and establishing different customer touchpoints. The key to making each element in your efforts part of a unified, positive experience is consistency. 

Keep your branding, voice, style, and messaging consistent across every touchpoint. With every piece of content you produce, ask yourself: does this clearly demonstrate our brand values? Does it look and feel like our brand? Is it immediately recognizable as our brand? 

If it doesn’t, revise, revise, revise until your brand voice is crystal clear. Remember, the wrong messaging doesn’t just turn off customers, it also impacts brand reputation.

2. Work closely with sales

Guide your potential customers to the sales team using strong, visually distinct calls to action that are tailored to the persona. Once the prospect enters their information and is deemed a qualified lead, the sales team will take over. From there they can guide them through the remainder of the conversion process. 

A strong bridge between sales and marketing is also essential for understanding the challenges that your audience is experiencing and the type of content your audience is eager to consume. If you rely on quantitative data alone, you’ll miss out on key insights developed through customer conversations. You also won’t know how many of the leads generated by each piece of content were actually qualified, and which leads became the most valuable customers. Only a blend of qualitative and quantitative data can give you the complete picture. 

3. Develop buyer personas and customer journey maps

Design all of the content in your B2B demand generation activities with a specific audience in mind. Target not just the customer persona, but also where that persona is in the buyer’s journey. Once you’ve provided unique content for each persona and funnel stage, make sure there’s a way of scoring leads for your sales team. This will help them understand who they’re working with so they can adjust their approach accordingly.

Here are 9 detailed buyer persona examples to get you started!

4. Analyze and optimize campaigns

To be successful at B2B demand generation, be highly data-driven. Which content lands? What messaging works? Which personas convert? What offers are most appealing? Thoroughly assess the outcomes of each piece of content by topic or offer, tracking:

  • Visibility
  • Overall traffic
  • Organic traffic
  • Conversion rates
  • Marketing qualified leads (MQLs)
  • Sales qualified leads (SQLs)

Set up an online dashboard so you can track these performance metrics not just over the first few months of the content’s lifecycle, but over the long term. 

Once you can connect specific demand generation activities with successful outcomes, you’ll be able to double down on similar strategies moving forward. You’ll be able to discontinue the campaigns or items that aren’t producing meaningful returns, helping to improve overall SEO ROI.

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FAQ

What is B2B demand generation?

B2B demand generation is the process of creating awareness and demand for your products or services. Demand gen expands your audience, generates buzz, and drives traffic to transform interest into action.

What is B2B demand generation vs lead gen?

B2B demand generation aims to grow your audience by bringing new visitors to your website and introducing them to your solutions. On the other hand, B2B lead generation aims to convert your audience into qualified leads. It’s a subtle distinction, and the two strategies are deeply connected.

What are the best B2B demand generation strategies?

Some of the top demand gen strategies include, blogging, webinars, ABM tactics, downloadable content, direct mail, podcasts, email and SEO.

What are some B2B demand generation best practices?

Create a consistent brand identity. Work closely with sales. Develop buyer personas and customer journey maps. Analyze and optimize your campaigns.