79% of marketing leads never convert into customers, according to HubSpot. The most commonly-reported reason? A lack of lead nurturing.
Even the highest-quality content won’t lead to sales revenue if there’s no plan to move qualified new leads through the sales funnel. B2B marketers are increasingly called-upon to switch their thinking and success metrics away from generating a high volume of leads to creating customized experiences that converts leads to opportunities.
Quality over quantity is now a focus for many B2B organizations, and rightly so. A holistic, full-funnel approach to demand generation is quickly overtaking other approaches to marketing success. What are the building blocks that make up an effective, full-funnel demand generation strategy?
The Building Blocks of a Holistic Demand Generation Strategy
Demand marketing involves many components, including content creation, content promotion, lead nurturing and sales-marketing alignment. Successful demand marketing isn’t about relying on any one of these tactics to be your silver bullet. It’s about connecting all of these elements in concert for optimal program performance.
Here’s a high-level overview of the building blocks that our marketing team at Integrate uses to develop a holistic demand generation program. When coupled with the right technologies top- and middle-funnel marketing automation, these tactics can make a significant impact on marketing’s ability to contribute to revenue.
1. Document Demand Goals
Every demand generation program we execute begins with documenting our objectives. Having a clear definition of success is crucial to guide our efforts. Goals vary based on organizational needs, but some things you may want to measure for your demand generation objectives are:
- Number of new contacts generated
- Conversion rates between various funnel stages
- Percentage of target accounts touched
- Number of opportunities or new customer revenue influenced
2. Identify Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are representations of your target customers. They include demographic information and personality traits as well as firmographic data like company size and industry. Buyer personas should contain enough psychographic characteristics to help marketing, sales and customer success teams understand the people they’re targeting. Your profiles should address the following factors:
- Your prospects goals, motivations & challenges
- Their preferred resources (i.e. where they go for information related to their role)
- Common objections encountered during the sales cycle
- Purchase triggers that can encourage them to implement your solution today
For an easy-to-use template to help you create or improve your buyer persona profiles, click here.
3. Develop Messaging Map
A message map ensures that all the great content your marketing team creates speaks to your various buyer personas. It’s a great tool to connect the dots in your customer journey, identifying the types of resources and messages your personas need to hear at each stage.
Your messaging map should specific pain points and goals that matter to each persona as prospects progress through the awareness, research and consideration phases. It’s also important to identify the types of content (email, video, webinars) that resonate best with your target personas and accounts. Once created, your messaging map should guide future content creation, as well as repurposing of existing content resources and identification of gaps in your content marketing strategy.
4. Create Content Calendar
Taking your messaging map a step further, we recommend creating a demand generation content calendar organized by persona, lifecycle stage and major themes. This detailed approach to creating a content calendar, helps establish a balanced content strategy for maximum effectiveness.
Netline reports that 98 percent of organizations executed mid-funnel content strategies in the last year, compared to just 2 percent who leveraged top-funnel strategies. This is a huge area of opportunity for B2B marketers. Creating a full-funnel content calendar assures you create the resources necessary to engage, convert, nurture, close and delight new prospects and customers.
5. Repurpose Premium Assets
Let’s say your organization has the resources to publish one piece of premium content per quarter, such as a research report or co-branded white paper packed with exclusive data and insights. Breaking those premium assets down into smaller components is key to maximizing returns from your content marketing efforts.
Typically, when we release a new piece of long-form content, we also:
- Create complementary assets: The research report may contain enough material to break it into multiple high-quality content offerings, including a whitepaper, webinar and workbook.
- Publish smaller content components: The new eBook or whitepaper could potentially be repurposed into 4-6 blog posts as well as several worksheets and templates.
- Multimedia content: Often times, with a bit of creativity, the data from the report can be compiled in an infographic, or broken up into individual graphics that can be used across social media to expand the visibility and reach of your premium content.
6. Develop a Distribution Plan
50% of B2B marketers attribute the success of their content marketing initiatives to content distribution. Forbes contributor John Hall believes the other 50 percent may have a “lack of focus” on the importance of strategic distribution. With each new program and content campaign, your organization needs a documented plan for getting the content in front of the right personas.
Much of this plan should be based on knowledge of where your personas find content and include tried-and-true channels, such as search, email, social and content syndication. But testing new sources for paid and organic content distribution can uncover prime new opportunities for engaging new prospects and generating demand.
7. Choose the Right 3rd-Party Partners
One of the best ways to engage new prospects at the top of the funnel is to work with third-party media partners who can syndicate your high-performing content to established audiences with whom they’ve built trusted relationships.
There’s a lot to consider when choosing the right partners for paid content syndication and distribution, including their:
- Audience demographics and firmographics
- Account-based marketing capabilities
- Available targeting options
- Data validation processes
For deeper insights, we recommend 11 Tips to Make Content Syndication Work for Demand Generation.
8. Update Nurture Paths
When a new piece of premium content is released, consider whether it should be worked into your current nurture paths. Often times, new content can replace outdated lead nurturing workflows or prior touchpoints. It’s also important to ask yourself whether you need to develop new nurture paths for first-time contacts who download this new premium asset, or whether they should be routed to an existing lead nurturing workflow.
9. Refine Target KPIs
Setting goals at the outset of any demand generation program is an instrumental step to success. But for B2B marketers who are new to demand generation, developing target KPIs in the beginning can be a bit of a guessing game. You many have no idea how many new contacts you can generate, what percentage will convert to sales-qualified leads or how many new opportunities you will impact.
However, each additional demand generation initiative will lead to better understanding of your core metrics, including average cost-per-lead and sales revenue generated per initiative. It’s important that you make time regularly (whether weekly, monthly or quarterly) to apply learnings to your overall demand gen goals.
Demand Generation: It’s a Lot to Orchestrate
Long term demand gen success doesnn’t come from simply creating a great piece of long-form content and publishing it to your website. While they may gain traction, it will be short-lived if you’re not actively speaking to your buyer personas, distributin new content and nurturing leads into sales-ready opportunities.
Demand generation requires an always-on, holistic approach to building relationships with the right people and developing sustainable interest in your products or services. With the right mix of tactics and tools to orchestrate and integrate demand gen efforts, you can create a scalable strategy built for success.
For a step-by-step guide to advance your demand gen efforts, download the free B2B Demand Marketing Assessment Guide & Orchestration Workbook. It includes twelve customizable worksheets and templates to help you drive stronger demand marketing results.