70% of demand generation marketers say their budgets will grow this year, according to DemandGen Report’s 2018 Benchmark Survey Report. Simultaneously, 63% of respondents to the same survey said their company’s revenue would grow by more than 20% in 2018.
The idea of the “right” B2B marketing strategies has evolved significantly over the past decade. 68% of B2B marketers rank in-person events as a key engagement tactic, according to the survey, while 67% point to email marketing.
In 2018, demand marketers must be proficient at most, if not all, of the digital marketing disciplines at play in a modern B2B demand marketing strategy.
3 Essential Parts of Digital, B2B Demand Generation Strategies
While some B2B marketing organizations may choose to outsource or in-source elements of their demand generation campaigns, marketers and leaders can’t afford to fall out-of-touch with best practices for generating full-funnel demand.
The best digital demand generation strategies are made up of three cohesive parts:
- Content that entertains, educates or interests the target market.
- Distribution of that content across the channels and mediums preferred by the target market.
- Testing and optimization to consistently increase the effectiveness of content, channel and conversion rates.
Let’s explore these components a bit further.
1. Content-Driven Marketing
Content marketing is the fuel in any demand marketing engine. Content helps marketing and sales teams attract the right leads, nurture prospects through the funnel, close deals and even upsell existing customers.
Your organization needs content for every stage of the buyer’s journey, from early-stage awareness assets to customer loyalty use-cases.
The most effective digital B2B marketers understand that in today’s digital world, they must go beyond written content. While there’s still a premium place for written material, the best results are often driven by multimedia components–creating or repurposing content for different mediums and channels.
There’s a good chance you’re among the 92% of B2B marketers already using video content for marketing.
Video content is beneficial at the top, middle and bottom of the marketing funnel. It can catch the interest of prospects just beginning their research journey. Video is also highly effective for MOFU and BOFU engagement, delivering things like product demos and client testimonials.
Today’s decision-makers conduct a great deal of the research process independently, so video’s tendency to pack a great deal of information into a short timespan can facilitate a strong brand connection at any stage of the buyer’s journey.
The following video formats can prove a powerful addition to your demand generation arsenal:
- Tutorial or explainer videos
- Presentation videos
- Interview videos
- Case studio videos
- Influencer interviews
- Behind-the-scenes interviews
- Client case studies
- Product demos
Nearly one-fifth of B2B marketers produce podcasts, according to the Content Marketing Institute’s 2018 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends–North America report.
While audio content may not have the same widespread adoption as video content among B2B marketers, research indicates that it can be a highly effective way to reach B2B decision-makers. According to one Nielsen study cited in MarketingCharts, podcast listeners are 68% more likely than the overall adult population to have a postgraduate degree and 51% more likely to be working in management.
A recent survey by LinkedIn revealed that podcast popularity is growing, particularly among professionals 35-years and younger. According to a survey by the social network, 42% of millennials listen to podcasts, while 44% of individuals in a leadership role listen in.
Content Marketing Institute (CMI) published a study last year which found that 46% of B2B marketers use interactive content in their marketing strategy. Interactive content can be the most engaging form of content in your repertoire.
- Written content is usually skimmed.
- Video content can be sped up 200%, and impatient viewers will skip through the video.
- A podcast episode can be played, but a disconnected mind could be disengaged entirely and not even hear the voice in their ear.
However with interactive content, users must literally interact with the asset. The ability to capture their undivided attention makes interactive content powerful. However, the CMI study revealed the value of interactive content beyond just engagement:
- Some forms of interactive content, like calculators, for example, have a reusable value. This means a single user could come back to use the tool multiple times, increasing the touch points and familiarity with your brand.
- The interactive nature of the content engages more senses and increases message retention.
- 68% of marketers agree that repurposing content into interactive form expands the reach and ROI of passive content.
Common Types of Interactive Content:
- Quizzes, Polls and Surveys
- Multi-Touch Media
- Interactive eBooks
- Diagnostic Tools
- Troubleshooting Tools
- Interactive Infographics
2. Multi-Channel Approach
According to the same Benchmark Survey, 41% of marketers state that adopting lead multi-channel management is a top priority for 2018. However, there’s currently a sizeable gap between intention and the status quo.
According to the results of an Econsultancy survey cited in SearchCRM, just 4% of multi-industry organizations worldwide believe they provide an “excellent” multi-channel customer experience, while the majority rate their multi-channel customer experience as “okay” or “poor.”
Currently, the majority of demand marketers employ a variety of channels and touchpoints for prospects and customers, ranging from websites to social media, in-person events, email and beyond. Multi-channel management has the potential to integrate these touchpoints into unified customer experiences.
In the years ahead, B2B marketers intend to explore and master technologies to better orchestrate demand marketing and launch a unified customer experience.
Authentic Social Media
The “right” role of social media within a full-funnel demand generation strategy has evolved significantly in recent years. Social media isn’t just a distribution channel. It’s also not just a competitive intelligence tool or an open-source intelligence mining platform.
The most highly-effective demand marketers understand social media for what it is–a multi-purpose platform for B2B research, listening, lead generation and lead nurturing.
- B2B Research: Understand the influencer landscape, trending topics, competitors and ideal prospects.
- Social listening and monitoring: Identify windows of opportunity for engagement and deepen lead scoring criteria
- Lead generation: offers, contests, polls, surveys, loyalty programs, gated content, real-time contests, conversations, paid promotions and advertising
- Lead nurturing: Utilizing social intelligence technologies to understand intent and behavior on social media.
Email is still the go-to channel for 67% of demand marketers, according to the DemandGen Survey.
Email lead nurturing is the process of full-funnel lead engagement by providing relevant engagement opportunities at each stage of the funnel. By actively moving prospects through each stage of the buyer’s journey, from awareness to customer, marketers can educate prospects with targeted content, timely follow-ups and personalized communications.
Survey results reveal that email continues to deliver significant results for B2B marketers. Thanks to sophisticated marketing automation technology, it’s easy for digitally-savvy marketing organizations to let technology do the heavy lifting by delivering the lead nurturing communications at the right time to new contacts. However, timeliness is essential.
It’s important to make sure you don’t let your competitors start following up with your new contacts first because you’re caught up in the trap of time-consuming manual lead processing and uploading. Automating the lead verification and upload process can save hours each week and allow B2B marketing organizations to begin conversations with engaged prospects.
Paid Content Distribution
It takes time to build authority using inbound marketing methods. You can’t develop thought leadership or earn search engine authority overnight. You also can’t earn an engaged social media following overnight. And you can’t expect all your potential prospects to come knocking at your door. B2B marketers need to test new sources to generate top-funnel demand at scale, filling pipeline without sacrificing the quality of leads.
If you’re exhausting your organic social and search efforts and you can’t invest more in paid search without settling for lower quality, the answer is paid content distribution or content syndication. There are hundreds of highly qualified third-party media partners who can syndicate your highest performing content to their engaged audiences and convert them to new prospects for your pipeline.
When content syndication is done right, B2B marketing organizations are rewarded with a a costsant stream of targeted and qualified leads. When it’s not done right, you face a potential of dirty data and poor results.
In our experience, successful content syndication consists of the following steps:
- Identify high-quality lead providers and media partnerships
- Verify that prospective partners know their audiences
- Vet potential partners ABM capabilities
- Review targeting capabilities
- Select the right content for paid distribution
- Discuss the channels for distribution
- Define targeting parameters
- Accept only high-quality data
- Route new leads to relevant nurture tracks for prompt follow-up
3. Experimental Mindset
The most effective digital B2B marketers don’t measure and optimize at the end of each digital marketing campaign. They have the culture and processes for in-flight campaign optimization. In other words, they have the technologies in place for continual marketing experiments and program optimization.
Effective B2B marketers are always optimizing and tweaking to maximize the effectiveness of all their digital assets. A/B and multivariate testing are the most effective ways to make data-driven decisions on changes and improvements to your website and digital marketing assets.
Typical items for A/B testing are:
- Calls-to-Action (Text, Color, Design, Etc.)
- Landing Pages
- Email Subject Lines & Preview Text
- Lead Magnets & Special Offers
- Ad Creative and Copy
Depending on your target market, your sources for qualified leads should also be tested. Just because you’re getting good leads from one source doesn’t mean there isn’t a better, more efficient source for potential customers.
Common B2B Lead Sources:
- Digital Marketing (Content Marketing, Social Media)
- Search Marketing (Paid Search, SEO)
- Paid Advertising (Social Ads, Banner Ads, Product Placements)
- Account-Based Marketing (Cold Calling, Appointment Setting)
- Referrals (Customer Promoters, Solicited Referrals)
- Third-Parties (Media Partners, Publishers, Data Providers)
When it comes to paid content distribution or advertising, targeting is critical to achieving a high ROI. It doesn’t matter whom you target or how bad your ad is; it will get clicks. One way or another, your ad spend will disappear. To drive acceptable results through paid channels, you need to get the right clicks.
Narrow targeting can sometimes increase the amount you spend per interaction. However, the higher cost-per-action could be less expensive in the long run if it’s prompting the right prospects to take those actions.
Testing and tweaking your targeting parameters can help discover new outlets and audience segments that could bring excellent results. But, the success metric shouldn’t be measured only regarding quality score, click-through rate, and other advertising platform metrics. The real test is how many qualified leads did your revised targeting produce? Also, what’s the cost-per-acquisition (CPA) compared to other targeting parameters?
With a dynamic approach to campaign optimization, marketers can maximize performance and decrease the cost-of-customer-acquisition while increasing revenue.
The Anatomy of Digital Demand Generation
In 2018, the most effective demand marketers rely on many different digital tactics, ranging from content to visual marketing, marketing experimentation, email and beyond. To generate full-funnel demand and deliver exceptional multi-channel customer experiences, marketers must master many different digital skills.
While demand marketing technology can be used to orchestrate, automate and streamline some elements of the B2B marketing process, other aspects of marketing success require creativity and authenticity, as well as the alignment of people and processes.
Curious about how the most effective B2B demand generation marketers are creating a 2018 strategy? Download your complimentary copy of the new DemandGen Report’s 2018 Benchmark Survey Report.