Definition of demand generation
Demand generation is a branch of growth marketing that focuses on top-of-the-funnel customer acquisition. Its main aim is to get the customers’ attention to your product, capture new leads and pass the most qualified potential customers to the sales team to finish the job. It’s highly driven by data and relies on split testing and experiments to deliver the best campaign results.
The main purposes of demand generation
The ultimate goal of each marketing campaign is to drive new customers, but it’s not as simple as that. There are several main purposes of each demand gen strategy.
1. Building awareness
When customers are unfamiliar with who you are and what you sell, and they may not even know they have a problem that you aim to solve, this is when you build brand awareness. At this stage, you’re more focused on making a name for yourself and creating trust with potential customers rather than going for a straight sale.
2. Capturing demand
You’re fighting against competitors on a well-known playing field. This is where you’re aiming to capture demand in an existing market, with customers already familiar with who you are, what you do, and how you solve their pain points. This is where you can create content about what makes you different from the competitors.
3. Aligning your sales and marketing teams
While having the same end goal, sales and marketing rarely work in alignment with each other. Demand gen can create supporting content that immediately benefits the sales team.
This can be lead magnets, sales sheets, case studies, email sequences or anything else that moves leads from the top of the funnel to the sales stage.
Main types of demand generation
Depending on the type of results you want to achieve and the budget you have to work with, we can distinguish between several different types of demand generation.
Pay-per-click is the most common form of paid advertising where companies bid on specific keywords with their sponsored placements. With demand generation, the purpose is to find the keywords with the best conversion rates and the lowest cost per click.
As PPC is mainly concerned with immediate conversions, this is not the ideal platform for demand generation. You can use it for this purpose, of course, but if your main aim is to generate demand with PPC, your ad spend is going to skyrocket quickly without an immediate ROI.
Social media ads
There are many platforms where you can run ads, the most common being LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. With social media as part of your demand gen strategy, you place the right ads in front of the right audience segments to get the best conversions at the lowest ROAS.
Similarly to PPC, this strategy is better suited for lead generation rather than demand generation. You can, however, use social media posts to try and generate demand from organic traffic. Depending on your industry and target audience, social media ads can get very pricey.
Content marketing and SEO
With this demand gen strategy, marketers create content that drives new visitors to company websites, ultimately converting those visitors into paying customers. Content marketing and SEO go hand in hand, as each good piece of content needs to be driven by a strategy focused on hard, measurable outcomes, rather than guesswork.
This is the ideal demand generation strategy as you can create different types of content that span all the way from the top of the funnel to the very bottom and get immediate conversions from content.
One of the oldest branches of demand generation, email marketing aims to drive new leads to the pipeline using email as a form of communication. Although it has an incredibly high return on investment, email marketing has a lot of fine nuances that make a difference between a success and a complete flop of a campaign.
Emails can be used across the sales funnel and they’re a good platform for demand generation. Bear in mind that you have to build a sizeable email audience first before you start generating demand – and this is often the harder part of the job.
Online and offline events
When done right, events can create a huge demand for a product or service. Thanks to online events such as webinars, pricey venues are a thing of the past. If you have the right guest list and an attractive presentation, this can be a highly scalable way of driving customers for a business.
The biggest challenge with events, online or offline, is that organizing them and participating requires significant investments in time and money. And if you launch your own event (such as a webinar), you’ll need an interested audience first.
Demand generation vs. lead generation
The difference between these two is in the stages of the sales funnel. As mentioned, demand generation aims to capture the interest of customers at the top of the sales funnel. On the other hand, lead generation spans across the entire sales funnel as there are different types of leads that you can generate. These include: information qualified leads (IQLs), marketing qualified leads (MQLs), sales qualified leads (SQLs) and sales ready leads (SRLs). As such, lead generation is a broader term.
Demand generation vs. growth marketing
Out of all the marketing terms out there, growth marketing is the broadest. This is a commonly used term for all traditional and not-so-traditional ways to get new interest for a product or service. Growth marketing strategies span the entire customer journey while demand generation is only focused on top-of-the-funnel acquisition.
Metrics for tracking demand generation
As mentioned above, demand gen focuses on data-driven outcomes rather than vanity metrics. This means that the metrics you choose for tracking campaign success will be directly tied to the results. However, the metrics and KPIs will depend entirely on the results you want to achieve. Some good examples include:
- New SQLs
- New demo signups
- New free trials
- Free trial to paid customer conversion rates
- And others.
Needless to say, the metrics you want to measure will also be heavily influenced by the marketing methods you choose.