Demand generation strategies span everything from campaigns that build brand awareness and generate interest in your product or service to campaigns that keep existing customers engaged and coming back for more.
What works for one brand, however, won’t necessarily work for yours, and if you don’t take the time to figure out which demand generation campaigns are worth developing, you risk investing a lot of resources into demand gen strategies that won’t perform well in the long run or – even worse – that will have a negative ROI.
You can avoid this risk by having a solid process for developing new demand gen campaigns and luckily for you, that’s exactly what this post offers. We’ll discuss which steps to take when you want to introduce a new type of demand gen campaign into your marketing mix and will go over some examples of what a successful demand generation campaign looks like, but first, let’s get clear on the concept.
As demand gen covers such a wide range of marketing activities, it can be hard for marketing teams to know what to focus on, and which type of demand gen campaign to develop next.
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Demand Generation vs Lead Generation
Demand generation first and foremost educates potential customers about you, what you do, and how that can help them. The primary goal of demand generation is to create demand for your brand by raising awareness about its existence and offer.
Lead generation builds on that generated demand and aims to collect the contact details of prospects who’ve shown an interest in your product. While lead generation can be an outcome of demand generation, it’s not the main goal.
How to Develop Demand Generation Campaigns
When you’re looking to add a new way of generating demand into your marketing mix, there’s a wealth of options. Facebook advertising, LinkedIn posting, networking, and SEO are just a few of the many things you can do to get your brand in front of your target audience.
So how do you know which one to develop first?
We love the 5-step process Chris Walker, CEO of demand generation agency Refine Labs outlined on LinkedIn. The process can be used for developing both paid and organic demand generation programs and is also useful for categorizing your existing campaigns and defining how to further grow them.
1. Experiment and get customer feedback
During the first phase of developing a new demand generation campaign, you’ll pick two to three demand generation tactics you believe might perform well for your company. That belief may come from data you’ve gathered, from customer feedback, from studying your competitor’s tactics, from an article you read, etc.
Once you’ve picked the tactics you want to try, Walker recommends at least 90 days of highly-focused experimentation before you move on to the next phase.
All of that time is focused on manually testing things that are hard to scale – not on automating things as quickly as possible.
You also won’t allow yourself to get distracted by other ideas and shiny objects, and you’ll put everything into implementing these tactics and analyzing how your audience responds. When a tactic looks promising, figure out exactly how and why it works, and how you can best track its performance going forward.
2. Define positive signals
It may be tempting to then hold the performance of your demand gen campaign against typical metrics such as generated likes, organic traffic, clicks, etc. At this stage, however, Walker says it’s more important to look for positive user signals – meaning qualitative feedback – first.
For example, if you’re experimenting with giving podcast interviews as a way to generate brand awareness, the classic marketing metrics you could track are backlinks and referral traffic. Not so easily trackable but at least equally valuable are user signals such as someone scheduling a product demo and letting you know they heard about you on podcast X.
Other examples of positive user signals are people sending you DMs after they’ve read your content on social media, people inquiring about your product after they’ve seen you on a webinar, or getting featured in a “Top x” product roundup after someone recommended your SaaS to the writer of that article.
3. Trial and prove repeatability
You’ve experimented with a new demand generation tactic and you’ve gotten positive responses to it. Now, Walker says, you need to prove that these positive results are repeatable. If you keep using this tactic, do you keep getting the same types of results?
To continue with our podcast interview example, repeatability would mean that as you keep giving more podcast interviews, more and more people would schedule product demos because they’ve heard you on a podcast.
This phase again takes time as you need to keep executing the tactic to ensure the outcome remains the same (or improves).
4. Build and execute the process
Once you’ve proven a demand generation tactic can get you repeatable results, it’s time to build processes for it so you can scale its execution and performance. That entails:
- creating SOPs to ensure everyone follows the same process
- adopting technology to make the execution more efficient and scalable
- hiring more people to work on this new campaign
If you’re only getting started publishing optimized content to create demand, phase 4 could mean figuring out how you can go from publishing two blog posts a month to publishing two a week. That could include:
- developing systems to come up with new content topics
- hiring freelance writers
- outsourcing your SEO to an agency
5. Integrate the campaign into your marketing mix
During the final phase, you’ll integrate your new demand generation campaign into your global marketing strategy. At this point, you’ve proven that the new tactic works, you know it’s dependable, and you’ve created the processes for it to be executed on a consistent and larger scale.
Once this new campaign is integrated, you can start this process anew for another demand generation tactic.
Word of Warning
While you can keep iterating this process to develop new demand generation campaigns, most companies don’t need dozens of demand generation strategies to generate solid demand. Oftentimes, it’s better to focus on a few tactics that work really well for you than to divide your energy over 10 tactics that only work so-so.
7 Examples of Effective Demand Generation Campaigns
Now that you know how to develop a demand gen campaign, let’s have a look at some examples of successful demand generation campaigns. You can use the demand generation tactics presented here as inspiration if you’re stuck on which tactic to experiment with next.
1. Drift’s podcast
Drift runs no less than four different podcast shows as part of its demand gen marketing strategy. The above shows Revenue Talks, Conversation Starters, Operations, as well as The American Dream.
Each of these podcast shows addresses topics that are interesting to Drift’s main audience and can be found on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify, allowing the brand to get in front of new potential customers.
And while podcasts take a lot of resources to create, there’s a large potential ROI as people who subscribe will be exposed to your brand on a recurring basis.
2. ProfitWell’s Recur media
Subscription automation platform ProfitWell developed Recur as “the only media network dedicated to the world of subscription.” On it, users can find video content, audio content, and articles that help them run their subscription-based businesses and stay in the know.
ProfitWell also makes use of user-generated content by letting site visitors submit subscription-related stories and news. This allows the brand to both publish more content and to keep its users engaged.
Also, note the clear CTA at the top of the page to “subscribe.” It’s very on-brand and a great way to get people to keep consuming ProfitWell’s content.
3. CoSchedule’s free Headline Analyzer
CoSchedule’s free Headline Analyzer is probably one of the best-known examples of offering a free tool as a way to generate demand. While the tool is free, users do need to create an also free CoSchedule account to be able to get the analysis of their headlines. This gives CoSchedule the opportunity to send them a confirmation email and get consent to send marketing emails.
And that’s not all. Users who create an account get access to all of their previously analyzed headlines, an extra reason for them to return.
4. Ahrefs’ free SEO tools
SEO platform Ahrefs offers a range of free SEO tools such as a Keyword Generator, a Backlink Checker, and a SERP Checker. All of these free tools are lightweight versions of what you get when you sign up for a paid Ahrefs account. They work great for people who probably don’t need all Ahrefs has to offer, but for the brand’s target audience, these free tools work as teasers urging the user to sign up if they want a more complete solution.
5. Canva’s Design School
Canva’s Design School is another example of educational content used for demand generation. The school contains a wide range of courses and tutorials, all on how to use Canva for specific purposes such as doing a presentation, teaching, creating material for non-profits, and more.
You don’t need to be subscribed to Canva to watch the content, but of course, you do need a Canva account to be able to execute what you learn. The school shows people who are on the fence all you can do with Canva and it helps Canva users get the most out of the tool.
The latter is important for user retention as many people sign up to tools to then never or rarely use them, or they get frustrated because they don’t manage to get the results they were hoping for.
6. Mailchimp’s shows
In the examples above, all brands developed a demand generation channel with content tightly related to their core offer. Mailchimp’s audio and video platform Mailchimp Presents is different. It holds movies, documentaries, series, and podcasts that don’t have anything to do with email marketing.
Yet Mailchimp keeps publishing content on it, so they must have figured out how and why this works for their audience. Perhaps, their demand generation strategy is to offer email marketers an entertaining refuge from work?
7. 360’s docu-series
Collaborative learning platform 360Learning created its own unscripted docu-series “Onboarding Joei.” It follows Joei as she gets onboarded for a new job and grows into her role. It’s a topic that’s near-to-heart for employees who use 360Learning to acquire new skills, possibly after just having been hired.
The series’ first season won an award and as 360Learning released a second season, we can only assume the series did what it was supposed to do.
Don’t Rush It
If you think it’ll take a lot of time to follow the five steps outlined above to develop a new demand generation campaign, then you’re right. However, taking the time to figure out what truly works for you, is repeatable, and can be scaled will lead to highly effective demand generation campaigns.
If you don’t spend that time upfront, you risk investing a lot of resources into something that will have a low, if not negative ROI. Just think of all of those companies throwing money at Facebook ads without getting real results.
At Flow, we specialize in one type of demand generation channel: SEO. We love SEO because every effort made, every article published, can bring in qualified leads for years to come.
Sounds interesting? Get in touch and we’ll happily tell you more about it.