Demand generation is digital marketing that has adapted to changes in B2B buyer behaviour. Buyers increasingly reject the seller-centric way of pushing buyers through a funnel. Instead, buyers do their own research before reaching out and moving themselves in-market, rather than being moved.
By growing demand generation skills, meeting this change head-on and ditching the old paradigms of gated content or e-blasts, demand generation-led marketing teams are seeing amazing results.
Demand gen marketing explained
A demand generation marketer’s task is to supply buyers with the right information, at the right time, in the right places and in the right format. Then, buyers can make an informed decision.
Key demand generation skills are marketing, data analysis, content creation and problem-solving. Useful attributes include communication, adaptability, patience and creativity.
This blog will provide a bird’s-eye view of demand generation skills and how they are critical to the success of a demand generation campaign.
Here are the skills 👇
1. Analytical skills
While demand generation marketers don’t need to be fully-fledged data scientists, they do need data analysis skills.
Data analysis will help a demand generation marketer optimise their campaigns and track effectiveness for reporting purposes.
Analytical skills enable marketers to collect, analyse and interpret the data their team collects. Website analytics, customer behaviour indicators and campaign metrics allow for decisions and campaign optimisations based on data rather than assumptions.
Here are some tips for being an analytical demand generation marketer:
- Get comfortable knowing what data is useful for the various domains of demand generation and the steps you can take to alter outcomes.
- Maintain a focus on your audience segmentation and make the most of the tools and software available to you.
2. Content creation and copywriting
Demand generation without content is like bread without flour. Content is the fundamental material of demand generation. The quality of the blogs, social media posts, webinars, videos and eBooks you produce depends on the content creation and copywriting skills of your demand generation team.
And if you want anyone to consume – and become fans of – your content, it must be high quality. It has to provide value and be easily digestible. It has to speak to your audience in a way they relate to and make them feel positively towards your organisation. Generic content doesn’t cut the mustard.
Your creators, whether they’re copywriters, B2B influencers or even webinar hosts, need to know how to engage an audience.
Here are some tips for better content creation:
More than anything, content creators need to understand that distribution and content are two sides of the same coin. Your content needs to become a reliable presence in your audience’s life.
What does that mean?
Well, let’s say social media is your main content distribution channel. You need to post content on a regular cadence with a regular structure, talking to the same audience in the same voice and bringing consistent value. You need to build an expectation and then meet it reliably. That’s how you build an audience and get cut-through on social media.
And we’re including algorithms in this discussion – they count as an audience and similarly reward reliability.
3. Digital marketing expertise
A demand generation marketer has several channels they can gain expertise in.
Effective leveraging of these platforms requires a sound understanding of how they work and what you want to achieve within a demand generation campaign.
Blogs are an ideal route when audiences are search engine-driven. A demand generation marketer specialising in blogs requires strong SEO skills. SEO comprises on-page, off-page and technical SEO.
On-page is optimising a blog’s keywords, headings, tags and other such things to make it as discoverable as possible.
Off-page SEO is all about backlink-building, while technical SEO is about website performance. A skilled demand gen marketer leverages these three for brand-building among buyers arriving through search.
There are various social media platforms with varying degrees of relevance to B2B marketing. But if there’s one platform every B2B demand gen marketer should be an expert in, it’s LinkedIn.
LinkedIn provides access to a highly engaged audience expecting to consume work-related content. Being a text-first medium, posting on LinkedIn is relatively straightforward compared to Instagram or TikTok. It plays to the usual strengths of a demand generation marketer.
Live events can make a big impression on your ideal customer profiles (ICPs). A demand generation marketer specialising in webinars needs the skills to break out of the sleep-inducing narrated slide deck mindset; instead, you should put on a show that attendees can get excited about!
At Cognism, our demand gen team have got creative with webinars – with superb results. Webinars are complex, so we’ve compiled our thoughts in one place to help marketers run better webinars and win hotter leads.
With many algorithms prioritising video content, video can make your brand highly visible and provide additional ways to reach your audience.
People respond well to faces, so get in front of the camera or work with an influencer who will! Phones are good enough nowadays to produce rough-and-ready content, so get the messaging right, and you will see good results.
SEO aims to improve a website’s organic (non-paid) visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs). The goal is to increase the quantity and quality of traffic to a website. Always remember that, while algorithms change, quality content and user experience remain king.
SEM (Search engine marketing)
SEM involves paid advertising on search engines like Google. It includes Pay-Per-Click (PPC) ads and aims to drive immediate traffic and conversions. SEM provides quick results and is highly scalable. Effective keyword targeting and ad quality are essential for success. Regular monitoring and optimisation are necessary to control costs and improve ROI.
This is a fundamental part of demand gen marketing. It engages and nurtures leads, retains customers, and drives sales. It’s a cost-effective way to reach a targeted audience directly. Key aspects of email marketing include list building, segmentation, personalised content, automation and analytics.
Social media marketing
This involves creating and sharing content on social platforms to build brand awareness, engage with an audience and drive traffic and conversions.
Each social platform has its unique audience, culture and content style. Consistency, authenticity and eye-catching visuals help draw attention, while paid ads, which are easy to set up, can enhance reach and targeting precision.
This uses visual banners or ads on websites, apps, or social platforms to raise brand awareness and drive traffic. Display advertising is effective for remarketing to your site visitors.
Top tip: Use A/B testing to optimise ad creatives and targeting for better performance.
4. Lead generation
Lead generation is the stage after demand has been generated. It’s when your messaging becomes more focused on the value of your service and the problem it solves. You could think of it as demand capture – it’s about turning interest into leads.
Calls to action push signals of intent, such as booking a demo.
Lead generation also requires the creation of landing pages. Landing pages are optimised to encourage visitors to signal their interest, often by submitting a contact form.
Our tips to maximise landing page conversion:
- Have one clear call-to-action.
- Integrate contact forms/don’t make them click through to another page.
- Highlight successes through testimonials and case studies.
- Test and refine again and again.
Start by identifying high-traffic, low-converting pages for optimisation.
Here are some other ideas for effective lead generation:
- Align your lead and demand generation strategies with a lead scoring system. A lead scoring system is a model that predicts readiness to buy using a variety of data points.
- Track the performance of all your CTAs and use the data to refine copy and delivery/positioning.
- Use paid channels to reach your buyers at the right time.
5. Audience segmentation
Audience segmentation is the process of dividing your target market into smaller groups based on shared characteristics. This allows you to tailor your marketing messages more effectively to each group, pumping up conversion rates. Being able to think critically about audience is a key demand generation skill. Why?
Because tailoring your marketing efforts to different customer personas is foundational to marketing. In fact, if you try to market something without a person in mind, the end result will be generic and appeal to no one.
Segmentation helps ideas germinate and develop, putting you in your buyers’ minds. That’s how you start to see results.
Here are some examples of successful audience segmentation in demand generation:
A B2B software company may segment its audience based on the firmographic characteristics of businesses, such as company size, industry, or revenue. This helps tailor marketing messages and solutions to the specific needs of each business grouping.
Phrasee, an AI that writes better subject lines, Facebook ads and push messages, provides content based on client sector:
6. Project management
A demand generation campaign is a complex project. It requires the ideation, creation, distribution and refinement of multiple content pieces in parallel, all aligned to the same goals.
Project delivery success depends on priority alignment across your team, achievable deadlines and coordination across functions. Content creation is a multi-step yet linear process, so missed deadlines will have knock-on effects down the line.
Here are some tips for better project management:
A demand generation marketer has a lot of tools at their disposal to make project management easier. Check out recommended B2B marketing tech stack, including project management software, to find your ideal solution.
7. ROI focus
All areas of a business need to be able to demonstrate their value, and marketing is no exception.
Even if you produce good ROI, if you can’t demonstrate it, your demand gen program will likely be shut down. So, you need a sound grasp of ROI before embarking on a campaign.
But besides that, ROI is a useful metric to track to gauge the effectiveness of your efforts. It will help you control spend and measure returns.
As demand generation is a relatively new concept compared to lead generation, you may have to make the case for its value.
At Cognism, an important step in our shift from lead generation to demand generation was splitting the funnel. By measuring the conversion rates of direct inbound leads and MQLs separately, we learnt that our demand generation efforts drove leads with much higher intent – 1 in 25 converted compared to 1 in 500 MQLs.
The impact of your demand generation campaign basically comes down to engagement metrics. You should track impressions, reach, likes, shares, comments, reactions, CTR, scroll depth, time on page, bounce rate, and video views.
These metrics are indicators that people are positively engaging with you, building awareness of your brand and solutions, and coming round to the idea of submitting a demo request.
If these are on the up, your conversion metrics will soon follow.
To be ROI-focused, you need to think like a director. You will need to manage:
- Costs, which include time spent by salaried employees, as well as spend on content, distribution and software.
- Attribution modelling, or understanding the results produced by each initiative.
- Value metrics like customer lifetime value (which tells you whether your average customer is growing in value or not), average order value (which tells you how to understand market positioning) and conversion rate (which shows the efficiency of marketing efforts).
8. Communication skills
Marketing teams that express clear communication are teams that are aligned, supportive and efficient.
Every team member needs to maintain a view on what their colleagues need to know, and communicate that in a timely manner. They should be comfortable articulating concerns and ideas.
Failure to communicate properly can result in slipped deadlines, duplicate work and poor execution.
In demand generation, communication failure can result in team members becoming isolated from the team’s purpose and feeling undervalued, leading to conflict amid sloppy time management.
Best practice in demand generation is still evolving. At Cognism, it has only been in the last year that our demand generation engine has been firing on all cylinders.
As your company scales up its demand generation efforts, marketing staff must be adaptable, learn new marketing approaches and be confident in ditching old mindsets.
Demand generation requires an embracing of new marketing approaches. Influencer marketing and dark social are relatively new schools of thought within B2B marketing. Marketers have adapted and made them top-of-funnel levers.
Here are some strategies for staying updated and flexible:
Marketers love sharing what they know with other marketers – that’s good marketing! That means there is a ton of boots-on-the-ground expertise and discoveries being offered on social media.
In fact, our CMO Alice de Courcy is always sharing her thoughts on our demand generation journey; why not give her a follow!
10. Data-driven mindset
The customer journey is real but mysterious. Buyers can seem like apparitions to a marketer. Data is one of a marketer’s strongest senses to perceive their buyers and their journeys towards purchasing.
The efficacy of calls to action, the value provided by a content piece and the success of distribution efforts all leave a data trail that must be tracked and optimised for. The data these generate are the clues that your buyers are having the interactions you want.
To embark on data analysis, you need hypotheses around the things you want to measure. These can be simple.
For instance, ‘thumbnail design B is more appealing than thumbnail design A’.
Or, ‘messaging framework A drives more demos than B’.
These statements should be clear and simple.
Then, run A/B tests, presenting customers with the two options until you have enough data to get a clear picture.
Follow these guidelines to become a data-driven marketer:
- Always be testing. Testing helps you overcome preconceptions and improve your results.
- Give your data time to breathe. It can take a while to gather enough data for low-frequency data points like conversions.
- Change one variable at a time. If you want to improve conversions, change one thing in the funnel at a time, or you can’t know which variable had the impact.
- Become familiar with all the essential metrics. For starters, learn these 10 B2B marketing metrics.
11. Patience and persistence
One common experience among demand generation teams is anxiety around the initial start-up period while your content flywheel gets up to speed. You won’t be able to attribute much in the way of leads to your demand gen efforts for a while, so you need to make your bosses understand that before embarking.
And once it’s going, you’ve got to keep it going! Don’t ease up; keep putting content in front of your buyers and success will come.
Here are some tips for maintaining patience and persistence in marketing:
Many aspects of digital marketing require patience and persistence to see results. Your blogs can take a long time to rank on search, and your social media presence requires diligent and regular posting to grow.
It’s important to start with a clear strategy and not chop and change. Small in-flight adjustments are reasonable, but overall, try to stay the course.
12. Creativity and innovation
The success of a marketing campaign hinges on the diligent execution of a tried-and-tested strategy. There are easy-to-find playbooks and best practices for almost everything.
Analyse the most successful B2B marketing campaigns and you will find professional execution of a clear and sensible strategy. Being bold, original and visionary is perhaps the domain of high-end advertising agencies.
In demand gen marketing, the trick is to work creatively within restraints. Every company will have its own specific contexts under which a marketing team has to work. And there’s no playbook for that – you have to work it out for yourself.
How do I execute a demand generation strategy with a three-person team? How do I do zero paid spend demand generation on social media? How do I do video if all my team struggle in front of camera?
These are questions that require creativity to solve.
At Cognism, we’ve had great success growing the personal brands of some of our senior marketers on LinkedIn. What started out as weekly posts from CMO Alice de Courcy and VP Marketing Liam Bartholomew has grown into thousands of engaged followers and, as of this summer, a book: Diary of a First-Time CMO.
We feel that’s pretty innovative!
Demand generation skills: the last word
In all, the vital demand generation skills are marketing, project management, data analysis, content creation and problem-solving. With these skills, your team can build and maintain a content engine that generates demand and delivers hot leads.
To grow these skills and excel as a demand generation marketer, follow Cognism on LinkedIn. Demand generation is our favourite subject and we’re leaders and innovators in the field.