Lead Generation

How to build a successful B2B demand generation program

B2B marketers today have access to many tools and channels to drive demand generation.

In this post, I will share effective methods and tools I’ve used to build a successful B2B demand generation program.

One important point I’d like to stress is that before you start investing lots of money and efforts into building a demand generation program, make sure you’ve already achieved product-market fit!

I’ve worked with a few founders who had built great products, but failed miserably to grow their business because there were little interests in the market for their products. It doesn’t matter how great the product is. If it doesn’t solve a real problem that people care about, nobody’s gonna buy your product no matter how hard you try to twist their arms.

Why you need to define your ideal customer profile first

Before launching a marketing campaign, the first thing you should do is to define your ideal customer profile. Doing so will help you focus your marketing and sales efforts on generating the right kind of leads for your business.

The ideal customer is the type of customer that your company can have a sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship with. Your ideal customer profile should include these:

  • What problems or pain points do they have in their jobs?
  • What are the current solutions they are using to address these problems or pain points?
  • Are they actively looking for a better solution? What are the features/benefits that they care the most about in a new solution?
  • How will their jobs or lives change by using your product?
  • What are their job titles?
  • Which industries do they work in?
  • What are the sizes of their companies?
  • Where are they located?
  • Which conferences or industry events do they attend?
  • Which online blogs, publications, forums, Linkedin Groups, etc do they follow?

Improve and optimize your website

Now you have a good idea of the types of customers you want to target, the next step is to improve and optimize your website. Here are some tips to improve and optimize your website:

  • On the top of your home page, use a combination of headline, sub-headline, and descriptive texts to clearly explain what your business do, who can benefit from your product, and what are the key values/benefits your product provide to your target audience.
  • Show social proof – Social proof is important to establish your company as a trusted player in your space. You can show social proof by showing logos of well known customers, testimonials or quotes from customers and experts/influencers in your industry, and press mentions.
  • Have Call to Action Buttons at the right places – The Call to Action buttons should be prominent and placed at appropriate places throughout your site. What’s that next step you want your visitors to take? For visitors that are more ready to buy, your CTA buttons could be something like “Start a Free Trial”, “Request a Demo”, “Get Started”. For visitors that are still researching, you should offer compelling content and your CTA buttons could be something like “Download the White Paper” or “Read the Case Study”.
  • Make sure your site is optimized for mobile experience
  • Make sure your site loads fast

Create compelling and educational content for each stage of the buyer’s journey

Not everyone is actively looking for a solution. As such, you should create different content for different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Here are the types of content you need to create in order to attract your target audience to your site, regardless of where they are in their journey.

  • Blog articles – Blog articles are great for generating awareness and driving traffic to your site. You can write about issues and trends that are relevant to your target audience. The aim of the articles is to provide lots of informative and educational value. At the end of the blog post, you should include offers for a white paper, ebook, newsletter, or a webinar to get your visitors to engage with your site further.
  • White papers, ebooks, or guides – White papers, ebooks, or guides make great lead magnets. For them to be compelling, they need to have lots of actionable insights and information. Topics related to tools (i.e. 5 Tools to improve sales performance) or mistakes (i.e. 5 mistakes top recruiters make) have been proven to work really well.
  • Case Studies – Case studies are a great way to build credibility for your business. Whatever you need to do to bribe your customers (discounts, Amazon gift cards, etc) to get your favorite customers to help you, you should do it. The case study should tell a good story, and describe the challenges, the process the customer went about in finding a solution, and the benefits the customer received after implementing your solution.
  • Analyst reports – Being included in an analyst report such as Gartner can be costly, but it adds lots of credibility to your company. You can then promote these reports through various channels to generate leads.
  • Webinars – Depending on the space that you’re in, webinars can work really well in terms of getting your target audience to sign up and attend. Get an expert in your company or team up with a customer, partner, industry expert/influencer. Be sure to provide lots of educational content. You can run your webinars through popular webinar platforms such as GotoWebinar, Cisco Webex, On24 or you can have BrightTalk host and promote the webinar for you.

How to promote your content to generate awareness and leads

Now that you’ve created the necessary content, the next step is to promote those content to generate leads. You can use a landing page tool like Unbounce to easily and quickly create beautiful looking landing pages using their drag and drop tool. Another landing page tool that is quite good is LeadPages.

Here are the different methods/channels you can use:

  • Linkedin – Linkedin is perhaps the most effective channel for reaching targeted B2B audience. You can promote your content using display ads or the sponsored posts. I find the Sponsored Posts to be a lot more effective. Refer to your ideal customer profile worksheet and set up the targeting to include the relevant job titles, industries, company sizes, skills, etc. It’s recommended to segment your audience and create separate campaigns for different segments. You can segment by the job titles, industries, or skills.
  • Facebook – Facebook is incredibly effective for reaching B2C and B2B audiences. For B2B, using a combination of different demographic and interests targeting, you can effectively reach your target audience. Since a lot of people include their job titles in their profiles, be sure to use this targeting option. Find out which pages your target audience follow on Facebook (competitors’ pages, industry associations, industry experts or influencers, etc) and target people that follow these pages. You should also test using custom audience and lookalike audience.
  • Google Display Advertising – With Google Display Network, you have the opportunity to reach your target audience on high traffic sites like businessweek.com, Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, etc. The key to make this work is to combine the sites placement with the keywords targeting. For example, if you are promoting an ebook about advanced data analytics, then you can target sites like Forbes.com and show your ads only on content that is related to “advanced data analytics.”
  • Online publications that publish content related to your industry – Reach out to their media/ad manager and see what programs they offer. Most offer banner ads, newsletter ads, and content syndication. You can usually negotiate to do a trial for $2K – $5K. Some popular online publications that cater to IT/Tech audiences are: Techtarget.com, idgenterprise.com, stackoverflow.com
  • Tradeshows – Tradeshows are still an effective place to engage with your target audience. As they are expensive, you should be selective. Make sure you come prepared with collaterals and a demo, showing how your product works in action.
  • Quora – Quora is a popular Q & A site. Monitor the questions/discussions related to your industry and participate and offer your insights/perspectives accordingly. The key is to be helpful and refer people back to your blog if applicable. Quora also has an advertising program that you can test out.
  • Cold Email – Email is still the main channel of communication for B2B audience. The idea is to find email addresses of prospects that meet your ideal customer profile and establish a connection using email. You can use Linkedin, DiscoverOrg, Zoominfo to create your list. You may also use a tool like Rapportive to guess their email addresses. Start your email by asking them a question related to the problem your prospect is currently facing (i.e. Are you struggling with generating meaningful insights from your business data?). Next, explain what you do and mention companies that have benefited from using your product. Finally, end the email with an invitation for a short 10 minutes exploratory discussion or demo.
  • Direct Mail – Sometimes, it may be difficult to reach your target audience through digital channels. If that’s the case, you can experiment with send a postcard or a Fedex package to your prospect. This can be expensive, but if you’re selling to enterprise, it might be worth it.
  • Twitter – I’ve experimented with running twitter ads, but didn’t have much success. Twitter may work for some industries (marketing/sales tech, HR/Recruiting). You just have to test it out and see. But one thing you can do for sure if set up keyword monitoring using tools like Mention.net or Hootsuite. Anytime someone mentions the keywords related to your industry or business, it’s your opportunity to respond/engage and see if there’s an opportunity for a sales discussion or a partnership.
  • Account Based Marketing – Account Based Marketing is about identifying the accounts that are best fit for your business and focusing your marketing and sales efforts on these accounts. This approach can deliver good ROI if you’re targeting enterprise accounts. ABM involves doing one or more (usually more) of these things:
    • Personalized content and web experience
    • Running display ads and targeting key people from your target accounts. DemandBase and Terminus are the leaders in the account based advertising space.
    • Hosting dinners/events
    • Running email campaigns targeting people from your target accounts

How to track your performance

In order to know what’s working and what’s not working, you need to set up appropriate tracking codes for every ad you run. You can then check out the performance of each campaign, medium, or source in Google Analytics. To track your ad, create a UTM code for each ad or link. These are the parameters you need to provide to create your UTM code:

  • Campaign – The name of the campaign. It could be the title of the whitepaper, the name of the tradeshow, or the title of the webinar.
  • Source – Where are you promoting the ad (i.e Facebook, Twitter, Forbes.com, ABC newsletter, etc.)
  • Medium – The method to which you are showing your ad (i.e. email, cpc, display, guest blog,social media, etc)

Nurturing your leads until they are ready to buy

A majority of the leads that enter your marketing funnel are likely not ready to buy from you yet. It could be that they don’t yet have the budget or that they are still in the researching phase.

As such, it is important to nurture the relationship to keep your brand on top of their minds. If you can, it’s best to segment your list and have different nurture streams for different segments.

The key to successful nurturing is having great content, which includes blog articles, infographics, case studies, white papers, product demos, etc. You can also share 3rd party content that are high quality and relevant.

Questions?

I hope this blog post gives you a good starting point to guide you to developing your own demand generation program. There are lots of good resources on the web if you want a deeper dive. You may also drop me an email at NQPETER at gmail.com. I’m happy to answer any questions and share my experiences.

Peter Nguyen
I'm an Interne/online marketing expert with a strong blend of creative, technical, and analytic skills. I have over 6 years of experience doing online marketing for B2B as well as B2C Ecommerce. My expertise is in SEO, PPC, Social Media, Analytics, Copywriting, Landing Page Design, B2B Lead Generation, Conversion Optimization, Web Design, and project management. I am passionate about online marketing and I am constantly learning and keeping up to date on the latest advances on online marketing and social media marketing.
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