The Current State of Demand Generation
Over the last few weeks, I have been reading a number of reports about the world of B2B demand generation. Having made most of my career in the field of b2b marketing and more precisely demand generation, I find the reports that are published fascinating and if I am honest, at times frustrating.
Having been both a practitioner of demand generation in numerous companies and a demand generation strategy consultant, there are many times I scratch my head and ask, how are we not further along in sophistication? Sure, we have more technology, we are seeing more CMOs sign up for a revenue number and some are using AI strategically in their demand generation, but for the majority of b2b organizations, the same struggles persist year over year.
I believe one thing this demonstrates is that demand generation in a b2b setting is no easy task. As buyers become more sophisticated and complex in their approach to purchases, the job of demand generation follows, and keeping up with that complexity is indeed a challenge.
By far the most frequent question I am asked when working with our clients is, “how bad is it compared to others”? This question is a signal that our clients understand the complex task that is before them, and they truly want to improve.
In an attempt to answer the question, I get, here is a glimpse at the current state of b2b demand generation based on what I have seen from the research. This post is intended to paint with a broad brushstroke and also includes my commentary on some of the data points from the various reports I reference.
The Struggle Is Real
According to a recent study by CSO Insights survey, 68% of respondents stated they struggle with lead generation (for the sake of this post I will not look to define the differences between lead and demand generation).
This statistic alone backs up the point above, generating high-quality leads is a difficult task. However, complexity and sophistication do not have to lead to difficulty.
In my experience, the struggle lies in the fact that many companies still do not have a clear vision of their buyers, the purchase motivations, an understanding of the buying committee, and a complete vision into the buying process.
Without taking this inside-out view, the struggle to generate demand will continue.
Companies are serious about building an always-on demand generation engine, take the time to understand their buyers. They know what roles key stakeholders play in the buying process. They understand that a sales cycle is different than a buying process and they document that process in order to align their content to the entirety of the journey.
If you want to reduce the difficulty of lead generation, start with your buyers in mind.
Budgets Are Increasing
Overall, according to DemandGen Reports 2022 Demand Generation Benchmark report, 69% of respondents said they expect their demand generation budgets to increase this year. While the increase is welcome news for marketers, it should be noted that the increase in budget will surely require greater accountability to demonstrate the revenue that was delivered.
And this is where it gets a bit tricky. In a 2020 Hubspot survey, just over half – 52% are using attribution reporting for their lead generation. This is a problem.
Simply tracking vanity metrics (opens, clicks, visits, etc.) is not enough to demonstrate the values of a demand generation investment. CMOs must demonstrate their contribution to pipeline and revenue as an outcome of the demand generation investments.This is the only way budget increases will continue and marketing will be seen as a growth driver.
Quality vs Quantity?
The age-old question of quantity versus quality continues to be one that is still hotly debated in b2b marketing. In the DemandGen report referenced above, the focus of quantity versus quality is hopefully a sign that the importance of quality is front and center. In the report, 74% of marketers stated their priority (important and most important) is lead quality versus the 54% who stated that lead quantity is their top priority.
To be clear it is advised that lead quality should always take priority when executing a demand generation program. Once the quality has improved, it is then that organizations can focus on increasing the quantity. Organizations that prioritize quantity or quality, will have a hard time demonstrating value and will most likely have a challenge in aligning with sales as they place a premium on quality leads.
ABM Is No Fad
I have had a number of marketers tell me that in their view Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is the next “shiny object” for marketers to go and chase. I may have signed up for that idea seven years ago, but the reality is that ABM is here to stay.
A study conducted by ITSMA, the pioneers of ABM, shows that only 17% of marketers have an advanced ABM strategy in place. However, the study also shows that another 43% are actively working on developing and implementing an ABM strategy.
Taking an ABM approach to demand generation does provide a lot of benefit as many statistics will show and it is one of the approaches that most organizations should look to adopt. If you’re reading this post and wondering where to invest, take a look at our take on demand generation or ABM and decide for yourself.
The Right Content
DemandGen reports that 58% of marketers will use their increased demand generation budget on content marketing.
Of course, you need content to fuel any demand generation campaign, but you need to make sure it is the right content. This leads me to the previous point about understanding your buyers.
Simply blasting content to a buyer is not lead generation. It is using your marketing automation tool as a spam cannon.
In order to get the most value from your content, develop your buyer’s insights and invest in content that is relevant and contextual to your buyers. The reality is this, organizations do not need more content, they need better content. They need content that aligns with their buyers at the exact place in the buyer’s journey.
So what is the current state of demand generation in your organization? If you’re finding it difficult, you are not alone and I would be open to having a chat and seeing if there is an opportunity for you to improve and turn your demand generation program into a revenue generation machine. Click here to put some time on my calendar and let’s see if we can uncover 1 or 2 things that will help.