Demand generation is an essential part of any business’s marketing strategy. Whether you’re focused on B2B, B2C, or a mixture of both, you have to constantly generate awareness, interest, and leads.
But how does that fit into the B2B space specifically? What, if anything, makes B2B demand generation different, and how does getting this right help your business?
Glad you asked.
There are many reasons a company might want to focus on their B2B demand generation strategy. It will change the way you think about B2B marketing completely. But before we dive too deep, let’s start with a few fundamentals.
What is B2B demand generation?
Demand generation is the process of bringing awareness and interest to your company and what you sell. This is done by using marketing methodologies such as SEO, blogging, and creative advertising. All of these things individually and combined help drive traffic and awareness of your products and/or services.
Now let’s think about this from a B2B perspective. Standing for business to business, B2B demand generation is the process of bringing awareness to your product or service from other businesses.
For many businesses, B2B demand generation is what drives the most revenue. Since organizations are typically big spenders, it would make sense that a company that sells to other companies would want to focus on their B2B demand generation efforts.
But make no mistake, B2B demand generation is more than a simple TOFU tactic. B2B demand generation involves multiple touchpoints across the lifecycle of the customer. It involves building a trusting relationship between the two companies through emails, webinars, blog articles, and much other marketing content.
You might ask yourself, “Isn’t that just lead generation?” The answer is no; demand generation is not lead generation. Often, these two terms mix, but they are not the same. They rely on one another to produce success, but generating demand doesn’t involve any deal or follow-up.
B2B demand generation vs. B2C demand generation
B2B and B2C demand generation indeed have a lot in common. They most certainly share the same goals, which all revolve around generating interest in your business. But there are a few differences that need to be noted.
The differences between B2B and B2C demand generation derive from the differences between B2B and B2C themselves. Your demand generation strategy will (or at least should) differ depending on your audience. Either it’s another business, or it’s a consumer. Here are a few differences that you can expect to change your strategy depending on whether it’s B2B or B2C.
Decision-making process and buyer’s intent
The decision-making process and the buyer’s intent are so much different because consumers rarely spend much time making a purchase decision. As a consumer, I will stroll through a grocery store and grab things to put in the cart within seconds of seeing them. We are all, to some degree, impulse buyers.
When bringing awareness to your B2B product or service, you must market with more data and less emotion. Businesses do not make purchase decisions based on how they feel. They make purchase decisions based on what will work best for their team, solve their issues, and increase their revenue. The B2B decision-making process also often involves more than one person — this means that your demand gen efforts often will be geared at different customer profiles. Because of this, B2B demand generation is different from top to bottom of the funnel.
According to Shopify, the average B2C customer has a lifetime value of around $147, while the average B2B customer is around $491. Based on this number alone, you can see that B2B transactions bring value to any brand. Up to four times more than B2C.
This is because businesses typically require a lot more to meet their needs. After all, they are catering to an entire company. When you’re thinking of your B2B demand generation strategy, you must understand that you’re hunting for some pretty big fish. Sure, they need to be aware of your business, but they need a much higher level of information to be satisfied. It might require more effort, but considering the value and transaction volume they could bring, it’s worth it.
How to execute a powerful B2B demand generation strategy
Now that we have a basic understanding of the differences between B2B and B2C demand generation and how they differ from lead generation, it’s time to delve into some helpful tips and strategies.
It’s important to note that each company will be different. Depending on your industry, the industry you’re trying to attract, and several other factors, you could have a much more complex or even simplified version of what we’re about to go over. That being said, it’s always helpful to understand a few useful strategies and tips.
Make your messaging as straightforward as possible
Clear messaging is one of, if not the most important elements of sound B2B demand generation. You don’t want false advertising, and you most certainly don’t want anyone to be confused. Clear messaging lets users know who you are as a business, what you do to help them with their issues, and why you offer the best solution. Trello offers an excellent example of clear messaging.
Within just a few words, they explain who they are, what they do, and why Trello is amazing. Anyone looking for a reliable project management solution will instantly be drawn to this, which is why clear messaging matters in B2B demand generation.
But more than this, you have to get specific with your messaging. You can’t just spew out basic information and expect it to stick. Here are two tips on how to do that.
1. Stand out by developing unique selling points
Take, for example, what Trello said above. They are unique because they offer solutions for developing teams, whether you’re in a high-rise building or your home office. They know that every team is different and contains a variety of people. Their selling point is that their solution adapts to you.
2. Target pain points
Although B2B demand generation (and anything B2B in general) doesn’t focus on emotion, there’s no better way to relate to someone than to understand their pain. People buy things because they have an issue that they can’t solve independently. You have to understand your buyer, what pain points they have, and then market what you’re selling as the answer to their issues and pain points.
Create free and valuable content
For a B2B demand generation strategy, it’s important that nurturing comes first. Users should not have to exchange anything for these resources. This will set you apart from the crowd once again as an authority in your space.
Since we mentioned them above, let’s take a look at what Shopify offers as free content.
Right from their main page, you can see that they have a tab dedicated to free resources. And just as a side note, the messaging is very clear, too. This has allowed Shopify to stay on top of the game and has almost made them a household name. Anytime someone has a question about eCommerce, they can find it here.
Free and valuable content is such a powerful resource for businesses to utilize. Oftentimes, businesses get caught up in their revenue stream that they don’t even think about the free aspect. Sure, blog posts are free, but it should be more than that. Truly free and valuable content allows you to do the following.
1. Develop a solid inbound marketing strategy
The main purpose of creating content that is valuable and not generic is to bring awareness to your brand through inbound marketing. A single piece of content could rake in hundreds or even thousands of unique views per month if done correctly.
2. Become an authority in your space
I hinted at this above, but it’s important that we all truly understand how important this point is. Being the go-to source for information is every company’s dream. You want people to think of a certain situation, pain point, or scenario and instantly register your name as the authority on the subject. Inevitably, some of those users being attracted by the free content will convert.
3. Stretch your dollar further
Because of its nature, B2B demand generation typically doesn’t cost you much. Unlike a PPC campaign, demand generation is designed to attract and nurture leads with little to no impact on your budget.
Sure, paid campaigns can definitely be a big boost to traffic and awareness, but they kind of defeat the purpose of demand generation as a whole. Organic traffic and outreach will always be more effective in the long run.
Other free content that you can utilize in B2B demand generation
As you may have noticed, B2B demand generation relies heavily on content. Some of that content is pretty obvious, but some things you might be looking over. For that reason, I will go over some examples of B2B demand generation content that you can implement almost immediately.
Blog articles and posts are probably one of the most widely used pieces of content. The reason is fairly simple: because they work. Think about when you have an issue that you want to solve. You go online, type in some keywords, and usually, an article pops up. That’s more than likely how you ended up here.
SaaS companies, eCommerce stores, and more use this type of content. Anyone that wants to make a statement in their industry has a blog. Take a look at the example below.
Flipsnack is a digital publishing tool that allows users to make digital catalogs, among many other things. Users create these catalogs for a variety of online and physical stores. It makes sense that they’d want to attract other businesses in eCommerce.
Remember when we talked about how businesses are looking for the cold hard facts? They buy based on data, not necessarily emotions. One of the best ways to present an issue and a solution for B2B demand generation is through a case study.
A case study is a detailed explanation of a certain scenario or case in the real world. Using this case, the study shows the tool’s effectiveness in question. Being a blogging community for developers, Hashnode has quite a few case studies that explain the effectiveness of developer tools.
Technical tools like this often require a detailed explanation for users of all skill levels. Even if someone is aware of its effectiveness, a case study on the tool in question can help drive demand and awareness.
Ebooks and guides
Although not everyone has the time to read an entire ebook, they are very useful for attracting higher-level and higher-quality leads. They’re perfect for B2B demand generation because they offer that extra bit of data that other businesses might be looking for.
Ebooks are a massive resource for companies and prospects alike. As you can see from the image above, just the title is enough to grab people’s attention. 101 Ways to Use Third-Party Data to Make Smarter Decisions. That’s definitely not a topic you’ll find in the average blog article.
This is aimed specifically at people that are having an issue with third-party data. As the world moves closer and closer to cookieless tracking, this could prove to be quite the resource for any company that has previously relied on third-party data to track and advertise.
B2B-focused events are great for demand generation. Although this is more of an outbound marketing strategy, it can certainly prove useful for many companies looking to cover all the exits.
Seminars, conferences, and networking sessions are all great examples of B2B demand generation events.
Take a look at this example of the B2B Marketing Expo. This massive conference for B2B-specific businesses boasts all kinds of masterclasses, resources, and connections that you would not get anywhere else. Although you might not be able to attend something like this or create something on this scale, it’s worth creating your own in-person or digital event.
Podcasts have quickly taken over the entertainment world. They are a great B2B demand generation tool for anyone looking to voice their opinion and provide useful information for their users.
Here’s an example of a B2B specific podcast. As you can see, B2B Growth focuses on highly specific topics and even invites subject matter experts to help drive the point. Although this podcast doesn’t represent any specific business, you can definitely see its impact through the fact that it has 4million+ downloads.
Further reading: The Top 15 B2B Marketing Podcasts To Grow Your Revenue
Videos are the bread and butter for many B2B companies. Video ads explaining solutions, explainer videos on YouTube for onboarding, and even internal videos made as guides. It’s all extremely useful for targeting B2B clients.
Videos like this one from Ahrefs help other businesses understand the topic they’re covering (in this case, freelancers), which inevitably drives traffic to Ahrefs. On top of this, these resources can be used on social media, blog posts, and newsletters to help reinforce your B2B demand generation strategy.
Much like podcasts, webinars are a great way to add that extra level of interaction between businesses. Often, webinars cover niche topics that pertain to the industry they’re trying to target. Think of it like a live ebook-reading where viewers can interact and ask questions.
Take this webinar, for example, from Ledgeview. Not only are they talking about aligning sales and marketing, but they are using a common tool to do so, a CRM. This will attract a number of B2B clients that are looking for any and every way that they can get sales and marketing to be better aligned.
Some people think of ebooks and white papers as the same thing. While this is true to some extent, white papers are almost primarily B2B focused, whereas ebooks can be used to target anyone.
A white paper is specifically designed to highlight the solution that a product or service provides. Again, if we go back to the point above where we talked about marketing with emotion versus data, you can see why these can be massively effective in the B2B space. Here’s an example from LeadsBridge.
LeadsBridge is a tool that allows you to connect and synchronize your lead-generating marketing tools. It makes sense that they’d want to target people looking for lead management solutions, so they created a white paper highlighting their solution.
Utilize account-based marketing
At its core, account-based marketing requires both sales and marketing to work together. The idea is that both teams come up with ideal accounts that are the best fit for the solution, working together to get them to convert.
This process doesn’t have to be a specific business but rather a generalized profile based on your current conversions. These are called user personas.
User personas are great tools for businesses selling to other businesses, as it allows them to create catered ads for said profiles.
Of course, this process will be wildly different depending on a number of factors. Industry, targeted industry, the willingness of both the sales and marketing team, as well as a few other factors will all play a role in this process. That being said, there are three basic steps you need to take before implementing account-based marketing into your B2B demand generation strategy:
Align sales and marketing teams
The sales and marketing teams have to be on the same page, aim toward the same goals, and even share some OKRs in order for account-based marketing to work.
Fully understand user personas
If you want to target high-profile B2B clients based on user personas, you have to understand these profiles fully. This might require you to revamp your user personas and even add more detail.
Launch personalized marketing campaigns
Combining everything we’ve talked about until this point, the last step in account-based marketing is to launch personalized campaigns. These are ads, webinars, and other pieces of content that can be personalized for specific industries and pain points.
Implement lead scoring
Lead scoring involves giving scores to leads to determine their quality. Essentially, you score each lead based on a number of characteristics. These characteristics can include attributes, activity on the web, email engagement, and many others. The idea is to identify and prioritize leads with higher scores in order to streamline the conversion process.
Take a look at how lead scoring with Encharge works. As you can see, based on this automation flow, each event correlates to a score increase. When the event is triggered, the lead score goes up.
Encharge supports a number of triggers. Essentially, any time a lead enters or even exits a segment, an event can be triggered, and the lead’s score will be affected. We’ve covered everything you need to know about lead scoring in a previous post and even showcase how you can implement it into your B2B demand generation strategy with ease in Encharge. Be sure to check out our article: Lead Scoring: How to Separate the Good from the Bad Leads for more information.
Optimize your email marketing strategy
Everyone has a business email. Whether it’s for individuals or an entire department, businesses have emails. This makes for the perfect channel for B2B demand generation. In a way, email marketing can be considered a whole digital marketing strategy.
There are a few ways you can optimize your email marketing strategy for B2B demand generation. We’ll break them down into four different areas of discussion. Let’s start from the top by following up with free users.
Here’s a nice example from userflow. The email itself is fairly simple. It’s clear that this is a free user, their free trial is about to end, and that if they want to continue to create fantastic flows for their users, they have to upgrade their account.
As a side note, allowing B2B customers to use whatever you’re selling in a free trial is an incredibly effective B2B strategy that can result in some big deals being made.
Secondly, you can take advantage of email opt-ins. Using opt-ins, you can significantly grow your email list. The basic premise is that B2B users need to use their emails to sign up for some useful insight, content, and other marketing materials. This is a common practice, and it goes hand-in-hand with the types of content we mentioned above.
Here’s an example of email opt-in from Bigcommerce.
The third thing you can do to optimize your email marketing strategy for B2B demand generation is create referral programs. These are rewards programs that businesses use to encourage referrals between companies and even consumers. Of course, make sure your budget allows for something like this.
Lastly, you’ll want to automate your email marketing strategy as much as possible. Automation takes all of these points we mentioned for email marketing and sets them on autopilot.
Tips for better B2B demand generation campaigns
Although not everything above will relate to your business and what you’re trying to do in B2B demand generation, there are a few more generic tips that we can talk about that basically everyone can use.
1. Know your customer
You can’t generate awareness without knowing who you’re trying to make aware of. This goes back to creating your user personas, understanding them fully, and orbiting your demand generation efforts around them.
2. Track as much as possible
B2B demand generation will undoubtedly require a lot of assessment and adjustment to get right. Ideally, this process will constantly evolve as the market changes, the company changes, and the audience changes. Because of this, you’ll want to track website visits and activity in real-time and track your metrics and objectives. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to make changes as data comes in.
3. Make your website incredible
As we mentioned before, you want your solution to be the first thing that comes to mind when people think about certain cases. In this realm, you want to be the epicenter of information. As traffic comes in, they want a smooth operation for the duration of their visit. Page load speeds, design, interactivity, and ease of navigation should all be a top priority in B2B demand generation. If your website doesn’t look professional, you won’t be treated like a professional.
Important metrics to track in B2B demand generation
Everywhere you look, there are metrics to be tracked. And no doubt, each organization will be slightly different. But, if you’re having trouble understanding what needs to be tracked, here are three crucial metrics that you can start with.
- CPA (Cost per acquisition) – This is the average cost that’s tied to winning over a single new B2B lead.
- CLV (Customer lifetime value) – CLV refers to the average profit that a single B2B customer will generate for your business during their duration with you.
- Cycle length (Demand Generation) – This cycle starts from the time a prospect becomes a lead and ends when they convert.
Conclusions and takeaway
In conclusion, B2B demand generation is quite different from B2C, and neither should be considered lead generation. It is a specialized area of expertise in the marketing team that, if executed correctly, can produce tremendous results.
Every organization is different. Some businesses don’t even focus on B2B demand generation. But, if you’re providing a solution, whether it be a physical product or online, that can help another business, it is definitely worth implementing the strategies and tips above to optimize this process.