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  • Writer's pictureAgnes Lan

Demand Generation for B2B

Many Business to business (B2B) businesses struggle to generate a consistent volume of quality growth upon facing increasing expectations for a better customer experience due to the ease and convenience of online tools. Furthermore, not all leads are equal. Quality leads offer long-term business relationships, lower acquisition costs, and are of higher value. The difference between B2B demand generation vs lead generation is that the prior aims at creating awareness and want for the product or service offered, whereas the latter aims to convert the prospect from the demand generation into qualified leads. The two are deeply connected. Demand generation is correlated with lead generation, but it doesn’t always equate to quality leads.

This white paper focuses on key contributors of a healthy demand generation system - the interconnection between sales and marketing, content marketing, personalization of the content and multi-channel marketing in the shift towards digital engagement.

The collaboration of Sales and Marketing

In any organization, sales and marketing are the primary departments that aim at creating satisfied customers. If the two departments do not effectively communicate, it leads to misunderstandings, frustration and worst contradiction against one another. Resulting in a loss of revenue, confused leads and a hostile work environment. The practice of viewing marketing and sales as isolated functions is the root cause of ineffective demand generation.

Marketers play a critical role during the awareness and consideration stages in helping qualify prospects through education. Thus preventing valuable time from being wasted by sales following up with low-quality leads. No longer is a marketer’s job only to understand customer needs and to create content while sales focuses on closing deals and meeting monthly targets. Sales personnel need to collaborate with marketing to develop strategic initiatives that drive long-term relationships with clients. At the same time, marketers may have to interact with customers and to understand what is happening on the front line, such as customer needs information and product improvement suggestions.

In order for the two departments to collaborate, they must work towards the same objectives and share a common vision. The absence of a company vision can cost each department to set their own priorities, plans and actions as opposed to aligning these activities with each other and the overall goal. Open and regular communication between sales and marketing teams is the first step to create a healthy environment that allows course-corrective actions to occur when necessary. It is vital for the two departments to come together and establish a regular cadence to discuss ongoing efforts and results. Determining the budget of marketing and sales functions, the channels to engage in, as well as the characteristics of an ideal marketing-quality lead, campaign messaging and content. With both sides utilizing the same information system to store data.

Content Marketing

Content marketing has become an important part of B2B marketing, as marketers shift away from the product or service-centric towards customer-centric content. According to a 2019 study conducted by the US Content Marketing Institute on B2B companies around the world, 46% of B2B marketers expect their content marketing budget to increase in 2020. The survey also found that the main goal of B2B companies engaged in content marketing to achieve top-of-funnel goals. In other words, for the purpose of generating awareness and interest rather than deepening relationships.

From the perspective of the buyer, the internet has brought forth a massive amount of content that varies in degrees of accuracy and usefulness. The challenge is no longer finding the information for a particular subject. Rather, it is about identifying and filtering out trustworthy, relevant and useful content. Opposed to being sold, today’s B2B buyers want to be educated and learn how they can do their job better, smarter and in less time. This is where the marketer steps in by providing intriguing content backed with statistics that educate and add value to the buyer’s knowledge. Moreover, content that resonates with the client leads to trust, better brand awareness and the benefit of being identified as an expert in the field.

In the present era of ultra-connected and fragmented reading, prospecting can be very demanding. Consistently producing compelling content is one of the biggest challenges faced by B2B marketers. To formulate a plan, think about what the content will contain to show the connection between the business and the solution that will help the client solve their problems. Furthermore, why will the clients be interested in the content delivered. In order for the content to be found and be trusted, the content needs to provide value, identify pain points and offer helpful statistics or perspectives. Moreover, how will the content be presented? Other than print sources such as white paper and blogs, the rise of the internet brought various forms of expression to arouse a client’s interest. These include video, podcasts, webinars and presentations. Different subject matters to different client segments and choosing the right delivery platform will go a long way in reaching the right audience. Think about this - good content, bad channel is a no go. Bad content, good channel is a no go either.

Personalized content at the right time

Although varying in end result, most studies found that the majority of the email is never opened. A study done by Campaign Monitor found that the average open rate is 18% in 2020. It is not that people are no longer periodically checking their emails before or after work, they are just ignoring the emails sent. Or worse, mark it as spam. One key reason that clients don’t open the email is that it is not relevant. The same can be applied to engagement in other channels such as telemarketing. Engaging the right people at the right time with the right message will more effectively meet the client’s needs, making the communication faster and easier, thereby increasing trust levels and customer satisfaction. Personalization is about tailoring the content so it appeals directly to the client’s interest. This can be achieved through the collection and analysis of data to understand their preferences and attract their attention through that “one-to-one” communication.

On the other hand, no matter how personalized the content is, there is no value if the content doesn’t reach its precise segment. Segmentation means finding common traits and properties among prospects and addressing their needs and shared pain points. To name a few, marketers can segment their master list by the client’s business industry, how they interact with the website (i.e, what they viewed), their stage in the marketing funnel and their engagement level previously with emails and calls.

Additionally, find out who makes the decision over what to purchase, when and from whom can be a challenge for B2B sales. Some examples of key decision-makers are representatives of finance, the IT procurement and the sales manager. B2B sales and marketers need to first know who they are speaking to in order to tailor their content accordingly. This may require research into the client’s buying process and finding out their information over platforms such as Linkedin.

Lastly, consider marketing automation when looking to scale for greater growth. Done well, it can be an extremely powerful tool helping to save up time from repetitive tasks such as email marketing and social media posting while providing a more personalized experience for clients. Indicators of the right time to consider investing in marketing automation is when good data is available, a steady flow of quality leads and content generation, as well as a proven demand nurturing strategy that is really to be scaled.

Multi-channel marketing

Research by Gartner showed that marketing campaigns using four or more digital channels outperformed single- and dual-channel campaigns by 300%. The purpose of course is to attract high-value prospects across channels without sacrificing the quality of content. When choosing channels, look for signs that there are qualified prospects in place. Strong multi-channel marketing can result in increased brand awareness, expanded content reach and better knowledge of the client when collecting data. The key to any multi-channel marketing strategy is to meet the client where they are. People do move around with new channels appearing and old ones fade away. It is important to access the pros and cons of each channel, such as cost and authority before building a multi-channel strategy, Sometimes smaller niche groups may be a better choice over large shared channels like Facebook because users have a common interest that aligns with what the business offers. In the end, no matter what channel is chosen, there will need to be consistent performance evaluation. If underperforming, determine the cause of the performance to revise or discontinue.

Today, businesses must actively participate in the digital marketplace. It is where 97% of the world consumes information. Such level of engagement and traffic has naturally become a must-fight battlefield given the digital shift fuelled by the pandemic. This white paper focuses on key contributors of a healthy demand generation system - the interconnection between sales and marketing, content marketing, personalization of the content and multi-channel marketing in the shift towards digital engagement.

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