A recent webinar I attended pitted B2B lead generation and B2B demand generation against each other in a one-on-one-style game similar to top trumps. Suffice to say I was rather surprised. This reaction was most likely fuelled by the fact that our blog has previously written in-depth about the relationship between lead generation and demand generation. We also discussed how they work in partnership with lead nurturing to create a comprehensive campaign to turn strangers into customers.
B2B lead generation
During its comparison of B2B lead generation and B2B demand generation, the webinar provided ‘insights’ on lead generation such as ‘there’s a lack of feedback loop’, ‘all leads are considered the same’, and my personal favourite ‘it focuses on quantity not quality’. This is unbelievable information to tell any interested marketers – especially those who may be looking for advice and guidance. The truth is, if you consider lead generation to suffer from these shortcomings, then you’re not doing lead generation correctly in the first place.
As the image above shows, lead generation is the entire process of converting strangers to sales-ready buyers, and within this there are two clear stages – demand generation and lead nurturing. The key factor that runs throughout this entire process is targeted messaging and segmentation. If your business sells manufacturing equipment for the agriculture industry, there’s no point sending marketing messages to your local chain of bookmakers. It just makes no sense. Everything that takes place within a lead generation marketing campaign needs to be focused and highly targeted – whether you’re contacting a database or generating demand via social media.
B2B demand generation
With the task of driving prospects to your landing pages and helping convert them to leads, demand generation is a vital stage of the lead generation process. It’s also important for any marketing department to generate excellent ROI at this stage, so once again targeting is vital. It may seem difficult to target demand generation messaging for unknown prospects, but it’s not, and here’s why.
Prospects are not unknown entities. Having completed your persona research and gathered information from the sales team on the ideal customer, it should be clear what type of decision-makers you need to get your messages in front of. The next step is simply to find out where they digest information and spread your message there. For example, if your organisation provides e-learning solutions and you need to attract HR manager prospects, then create a blog that is highly targeted to their pain points (such as reducing training costs). If your SEO is correct you’ll already be picking up prospects in the research stage of their buying cycle. However, what about those that aren’t aware they have a problem or don’t know there’s a cheaper way? Well, start by posting a link to your blog on social media sites and groups which your target audience uses (as identified in the persona research) such as LinkedIn Groups. If you are sending emails, segment the database based on job role and other criteria (set by your sales team) and include a call to action which drives the reader to your blog. By targeting your messaging to specific decision-maker groups, you dramatically increase your conversion rates from prospects to leads. Once they become leads, you can then nurture them towards a sale with more relevant and targeted information and advice.
The creators of the recent webinar have either been sadly misinformed or have failed to correctly use a B2B lead generation strategy correctly in the past. Lead and demand generation are bedfellows and through targeted messaging and segmentation of data they are more than capable of converting strangers to sales-ready buyers - without the need for top trumps-style analysis. Every lead generation campaign should contain both demand generation and lead nurturing activities, and if it doesn’t, the results are bound to be indefensibly poor.
To find out more about getting the best results from your lead generation activity…