There's an age-old principle in the business world known as the law of supply and demand. In basic terms, a company has a product or service (the supply) that consumers need (the demand).
That principle has remained a constant throughout human history, and is still relevant in our Digital Age of online marketing. Of course, marketers are always looking for ways to increase consumer demand for their organization's product. While professionals may use several tactics to accomplish this objective (an email blast, a banner ad, a special promotion, etc.), there must be an overarching strategy in place for their efforts to achieve best results.
This is where demand generation comes into the picture.
In simple terms, demand generation is both a strategy and a mindset focused on building and nurturing key prospect and customer relationships for the long term. Demand generation encompasses all of the marketing initiatives that you may undertake to penetrate new markets, promote products or updated features to those products, engage current customers, or reach any other key marketing goal.
Demand generation is not a branding concept, nor is it a specific advertising tactic. It is a way to acquire new customers and also keep existing customers coming back for more through personalization, high-value content distribution, and exceptional customer service. We could illustrate it with an email newsletter: a generic flyer that advertises monthly sales does not align with a demand generation strategy; a personalized piece of content that provides helpful information to the reader does. Why? Simply put, one tactic is sales-driven; the other is customer-focused.
Now that we understand what demand generation is, the next logical question would be: "How do I know if my company is doing it right?" It's true that demand generation has a lot of moving parts. Nevertheless, there are certain key elements of an effective demand generation strategy that every company should consider developing. Here is a list that breaks them down:
Content marketing remains a huge component in the realm of digital marketing, with some 70% of marketers actively investing in this technique, and studies showing a generation (on average) of 3 times more leads from content marketing compared to paid search advertising. A unified content marketing strategy should never be neglected, since this is one of the primary ways for you to attract your ideal customer demographic.
The strategic optimization of your website goes hand in hand with content marketing. This may include the development of several landing pages to accommodate various buyer journeys, as well as intuitive UX/UI design. A solid website strategy will ensure that your content has maximum effect, since visitors will be able to quickly and easily find what they're looking for upon arrival.
Both content marketing and website optimization strategies are key elements of inbound marketing. In combination with technical SEO expertise, these demand generation methods will ensure that the organic traffic to your website will result in many leads and conversions. However, what if you need to quickly build up your traffic or lead volume? That's when this technique comes into play:
A well-planned digital advertising campaign can help you to attract a share of your ideal customer base with minimal cost. For example, paid advertising in the form of PPC campaigns is often a good investment to quickly grow your following.
Then, once you've beefed up your organic traffic, remarketing campaigns can help your brand to stay top of mind among those visitors who don't immediately convert from one of your offers (which, according to research, will likely include a whopping 96% of your website traffic).
For both branding and customer engagement purposes, a strong social media presence is a must. When you engage in conversations with your followers on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, you help to clarify your brand's unique selling proposition (USP). At the same time, you are able to disseminate your product/service features and special offers across a vast network for maximum exposure.
Your conversion optimization strategy includes all of the steps in which you apply advanced analytics to measure and improve your digital marketing initiatives. This may overlap with some of the demand generation elements listed above, such as website strategy.
A/B testing is a huge part of conversion optimization, as this method of analysis can provide you with actionable insights into what attracts (or repels) your target customers. Common candidates for A/B testing include landing pages, web pages, email campaigns, CTA buttons, and drip campaigns.
Automating some of your marketing efforts allows your team to focus on the more important aspects of the job, instead of getting "lost in the weeds." For example, a well-designed system of marketing automation will send the right information to the right segments of your contact list at the right time. Even better, this can be done on a "round-the-clock" basis, 24/7.
Besides the points discussed above, companies must ensure that they integrate the demand generation mindset throughout all of their marketing campaigns and initiatives. Basically, you want to constantly remind your consumers why they should buy from you, instead of a competitor. This process should extend throughout the lifecycle of a lead, and then throughout the lifecycle of an existing customer. In fact, demand generation does not stop with the successful close of a sale — it should continue in the form of exceptional customer service, which in turn will result in a pool of referrals from which your sales team can engage new prospects.
It's important to note that, while inbound marketing and demand generation overlap in many areas, there are significant differences between them. For instance, inbound marketing:
Basically, inbound marketing is a single (but critical) element of a successful demand generation strategy.
Today's business leaders must have a keen understanding of what demand generation is, and what it involves. This is especially true when it comes to digital demand generation, since two-thirds of prospects perform their research online before making a final purchase decision. In other words, if you fail to invest in online demand generation, then you'll inevitably lose a substantial amount of business.
In contrast, if your company does invest in a demand generation strategy then you'll likely see sustainable growth over the next several years, as prospects respond to your brand's highly-publicized unique selling proposition, take advantage of your company's personalized content, and share their positive experience with friends and family members.
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