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Marketing Glossary / Demand Generation

What is demand generation?

Definition and guide to running effective b2b demand gen campaigns

B2B marketers use demand generation to raise product or service awareness, build credibility, and engage with B2B customers.

This guide educates B2B marketers about demand generation concepts, distinguishing them from lead generation, and offering strategies and tools for effective online ad campaigns to generate demand for a product or service.

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Demand generation vs lead generation

B2B demand generation (or demand gen) differs from lead generation (or lead gen) by focusing on positioning a product or service to pique a prospective customer’s interest. Demand gen makes it possible for buyers to learn about a product without direct sales contact. In contrast, lead gen is a strategy that uses incentives to collect contact information, typically via a lead generation form, for follow-up by sales.

Increased brand awareness

Effective demand generation strategies rely on brand awareness, social media, direct messaging, and content marketing to enhance buyers' product/service awareness and to clarify value. This is crucial, as most B2B buyers independently research products/services before engaging with sales.

Improved lead generation

B2B demand generation marketing cultivates trust among potential customers, and encourages contact detail sharing, which boosts response rates in lead generation campaigns and fosters generating more marketing-qualified leads (MQLs).

Higher return on investment (ROI)

Combining demand and lead gen strategies leads to a higher ROI on online marketing campaigns for B2B orgs, with increased sales revenue and more closed deals.

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Content marketing and social media

Marketers use content strategies like social media, blogs, ebooks, industry reports, webinars, and live events to stimulate online demand. Importantly, these tactics don't require customer contact information. The goal is to educate, streamline information, and spark purchase interest.

Demand generation ad campaigns

Online ad campaigns educate and enhance brand awareness, helping customers remember the product or service and how it will benefit them. Ad formats can be imaged-based (such as Dynamic Single Image or Carousel Ads) or include Video and Sponsored Content Ads. Refer to LinkedIn’s brand awareness guide to learn about creating and running non-lead generation campaigns.

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Email and direct messaging campaigns

B2B marketers use email and direct messaging, like LinkedIn Message Ads, to educate prospective buyers and build interest. Ideally, these campaigns should target a critical audience segment with a single call to action (CTA), such as “learn more,”  directing customers to a website or landing page for more info.

Websites and landing pages

B2B marketers need detailed web content for products promoted in a demand generation campaign, like a website, blog, video channel, or LinkedIn Company Page. These destination pages should showcase the product’s market position and educate potential buyers.

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Step 1: Understand the target audience

To develop targeted online demand-generation campaigns, B2B marketers must research their most valuable audience segments and create buyer personas or ideal customer profiles (ICPs). This helps identify prospective buyers based on their demographics (e.g., geography, income, and roles within their organization) and psychographics (e.g., special interests and business challenges).

Beyond traditional market research methods such as surveys and focus groups, certain B2B marketers employ relationship intelligence tools. These tools tap into real-time, first-party data from platforms like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, helping marketers custom-tailor campaign messaging to target buyer personas. It provides insights that encompass the content often shared or engaged with by the intended customers on LinkedIn, their inquiries within online peer groups, product and service comments, as well as specific interests or hobbies.

Step 2: Use engaging copy and creative

B2B buyers prefer transparent brands that aim to educate rather than sell, creating emotional connections through understanding and compassion for their challenges and needs.

Therefore, it’s crucial to showcase brand values in all demand-generation campaign messaging and creative. Highlight the product or service benefits over features. For example, a B2B business that values supporting its buyers can showcase their global product support and ease of use in ad campaigns.

LinkedIn’s ad copy guide provides details about crafting compelling messages for digital ad campaigns.

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Step 3: Include calls to action (CTAs)

Every online ad, social media post, or email campaign must include a clear and direct call to action (CTA). CTAs in demand gen campaigns should focus less on immediate sales or conversions, and more on enticing the buyer to seek more information.

Examples of effective B2B demand generation CTAs include “learn more,” “read more,” “follow” for social media profiles, and “download” to access non-gated ebooks or industry reports.

Step 4: Use tools to select targeted platforms

B2B marketers should choose media platforms and ad formats aligning with target audiences or buyer personas.

Understand platform specifications, including ad formats, file sizes, and video lengths. LinkedIn’s ad specs may differ from those on social media, traditional media, or video platforms. Communicating this to creative teams prevents launch complications.

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Step 5: Measure and optimize campaigns

B2B marketers can track and measure the success of a demand generation using campaign reporting and analytics data to understand their target audience:

  • Engagement: Shares, likes, and comments on social media ads and sponsored content.

  • Page views: The number of visitors to a page from a demand gen button or ad click.

  • Bounce rate: Amount of time visitors spent on demand gen content.

  • Impressions: How many times a demand gen ad was seen.

  • Open rates: Percentage of opened demand gen emails or message ads.

  • Clickthrough rates: Total clicks received on demand gen ads, social media posts, or emails

Measuring demand gen impact may take time due to fewer direct metrics to track and associate with a specific sale or marketing-qualified lead.

However, marketers can optimize demand generation advertising CTAs, creative, and messages using A/B testing to increase engagement and page views. A/B testing lets marketers test two different sets of design and copy choices in the same demand generation ad, email, or web page.

Incorporate brand lift studies 

Surveying users before, during, and after a campaign, helps B2B marketers assess a demand gen ad's impact on brand lift metrics.

Important brand lift metrics include:

  • Ad recall: Assesses test group members ability to recall ads from the past seven days.

  • Aided awareness: Gauges members' familiarity with a brand or product.

  • Product consideration: Assesses members' likelihood to consider a brand or product for their next purchase.

  • Recommendation: Evaluates members' likelihood to suggest a brand or product for future purchases.

  • Brand familiarity: Checks members’ familiarity with a brand or product.

  • Brand favorability: Examines members' favorable perception of a brand or product.

A well-planned B2B demand generation strategy positions products or services effectively and builds brand awareness and credibility with prospective buyers. The critical differences in demand gen vs lead gen are that prospective buyers do not need to provide contact info to get product or service information. Demand gen campaigns focus on upper-funnel marketing strategies versus closing deals.

To run successful demand gen campaigns, B2B marketers must understand their target buyer personas and their online habits. They need high-quality content and creative to guide user decisions.

Continuous measurement and improvement of their demand generation campaigns enhances audience engagement, page views and overall campaign optimization. Brand lift studies aid in iterating and optimizing demand generation marketing campaigns.

LinkedIn assists B2B marketers in crafting and monitoring demand generation campaigns using display ads, video ads, InMail, and organic and sponsored content. It offers sophisticated targeting and campaign performance tools to reach the right buyers, measure, and maximize campaign ROI. Visit LinkedIn Ads to learn more for further insights on generating demand.

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