By Randy Frisch
Demand generation is focused on driving awareness and interest in your products or services once a prospect has shown interest. It’s about driving a lead into the pipeline.
In other words, demand generation is a marriage of marketing programs with a structured sales process that’s deployed after the lead has been captured.
At Uberflip, our content team works closely with the demand generation team to understand what content is needed to fuel our campaigns. The days of high-fiving everyone after earning a whole bunch of clicks to a link in an email are gone.
As marketers, our job is to drive people to revenue. That’s the ultimate goal of demand generation—building trust by continuing to drive your target buyers through the funnel, with content as a driving force. After all, we know people are far more likely to make a purchase decision after they’ve seen at least seven pieces of content. The question is, how do we deliver a content experience that propels prospects to self-nurture?
This isn’t accomplished in just one move. Demand generation involves a series of moves to convert and nurture prospects, then continue to support them through the buyer journey. In order to understand how to get personalization right in demand generation, we first need to look at what it looks like when it’s done wrong.
Nurture Like You Mean It
One common type of personalization fail comes in the form of the email nurtures marketers often send off. To be sure, marketers’ email nurture game has improved over the years, but we can do better. Many marketers have already moved away from the email-as-newsletter format, where leads would have to read the email, embrace the call-to-action, and then click a link to engage with some content.
These days, the more popular approach is a simpler one—use email to direct the prospect to a single asset that lives in a native feed or news stream.
The problem becomes how to get that prospect to move on to the next personalized asset. If we just drop them into our news feed, they’ll simply see the next most-recent post. The problem is that a chronological approach rarely produces relevant results for the customer. It’s not mapped out to their needs or buyer’s journey.
To put personalization at the center of your demand generation efforts, send the person to a collection of assets all geared around that same campaign that you are speaking to. That way, if the customer wants to self-nurture out of interest, they are able to do it.
Blackbaud, a cloud software company that powers social good, does this very well. At Blackbaud, one of their lead marketers, Lisa Kenney, carefully curates specific content collections designed to flow all the way through from beginning to end.
This is a smart approach for a company like Blackbaud. “Social good” is a broad category, meaning their team has to serve a variety of markets across the globe, all segmented by product and use. However, because of Lisa and her team’s efforts, each email they send out feels personalized, with a specific call-to-action that links to a dedicated stream centered on a specific persona and segment.
None of this is organized by content type; sometimes the first asset is a blog, and sometimes it’s a video. Whatever the case, once in the stream, the prospect will have plenty of other relevant content to choose from.
Remember, at the end of the day, it’s also about providing consistent experiences. By designing your demand generation efforts around dedicated content streams, you’re creating controlled environments that drive conversations.
The Landing Page Minefield
Demand generation marketers also run into trouble when it comes to keywords and paid searches. Depending on your keywords, paying for clicks can get pretty expensive.
This puts the onus on us as marketers to keep our prospects engaged and clicking through once they get to our landing page, otherwise we’re just creating a dead-end experience and wasting money in the process. This is a big challenge for marketers, as the average conversion rate of a landing page is only 2.35%. That means 97.65% of visitors aren’t engaged enough to continue forward on their buyer’s journey.
Marketers debate about the reasons for this. A lot of it centers on whether we should send prospects to dead-end landing pages or allow visitors to continue their journey organically if they don’t want to convert on that asset.
I think as long as you provide structure to the experience, give your prospects the chance to navigate to other relevant content. After all, it helps build trust.
Again, the key here is personalization. If you let your visitors explore, surround them with assets that are relevant to them and that encourage them to continue their journey, which means thinking more about engagement than conversion. There’s nothing wrong with making an offer in order to capture valuable information from your prospects.
However, instead of trying to push a free demo, offer something with less commitment and more top-of-funnel value, like a blog post or something along those lines.
Not everyone agrees with me on this, and that’s OK. Some of you are committed to your landing pages, and you only want to attract people who are ready to convert before you let them browse. Still, let’s be clear on what needs to happen post-conversion.
After they get that ebook or that free demo, they still might not be ready to make a purchase. In that case, how do you keep moving them through the buyer’s journey?
Whatever you decide on, make sure you decide on something. It would be a shame if, after getting your prospects to convert on your landing page, you’re stuck waiting for your prospect to opt back into the funnel on their own.
To that end, here’s a tip: optimize your thank-you page. Keep the engagement going.
Don’t stop at “Thanks for giving us your information. Here’s a link to that report.”
Follow that report up with six other pieces of content centered on that topic. Make sure that you design every element of the paid ad/landing page/lead capture process to continue seamlessly into the email nurture you’re sure to drop them into afterward.
To make personalization work in your demand generation strategy, it’s important you track engagement. This way, you know what assets lead someone to purchase, which in turn allows you to better personalize similar experiences down the road.
Advanced tracking requires analytical tools like Google Analytics. As you scale, you’ll want to track more of those activities back to your marketing automation platform.
A focus on tracking data not only allows you to demonstrate the real value of your demand programs and fueling pipeline, but also to better understand how your customers consume content to self-nurture them through the journey faster.
Content fuels not only your demand generation but all of your marketing efforts. Find out how to “Do More with Content Marketing” and use it to impact sales.
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