OpGen Media: Marketing Ops & Demand Generation Insights

What is SaaS Demand Generation?

Oct 9, 2019 3:39:05 PM / by Taran Soodan

Mastering SaaS Demand Generation

Customers are the heart of your business. But customers don’t just magically show up at your doorstep ready to buy. They need to become aware of your product and over time build awareness of your brand and interest in your offering. As a SaaS company, you need to constantly be in contact with information about use cases, functionality, and benefits to stay on top of longer sales cycles that include many decision-makers. 

What are the steps that your company takes to create genuine interest in your product within your market? This is where demand generation comes into play.

Demand generation for SaaS companies refers to the marketing and sales programs that generate awareness and excitement about your company’s products or services. 

Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation

Often, people mistake demand generation and lead generation as the same thing. It’s an easy mistake to make. There is significant overlap between the two activities, although there are key distinctions between them as well. 

Let’s start with how demand generation and lead generation are similar. 

Both strategies are in pursuit of the same goal — generating more sales. Both attempt to drive qualified leads into your marketing systems, nurture them, and ultimately convince them to purchase your product. 

Both strategies may use similar tactics in pursuit of their goals as well. Content marketing can play a key role in both demand generation and lead generation, for instance. However, how that content is used may differ. 

While there are similarities, there are some key differences. The goals of both demand and lead generation differ slightly.

  • Demand Generation: Using marketing and sales programs to create awareness and interest in your products. 
  • Lead Generation: Using marketing or sales programs to capture contact information from prospects for future marketing activities. 

While effective demand generation will almost certainly increase leads that enter your pipeline, that is a positive symptom of the ultimate goal of increasing demand for your product. 

Demand generation doesn’t necessarily have to result in more leads either, depending on your goals and strategies. It could result in better leads that convert at a higher rate or a higher value. 

This is why there is often confusion around the two strategies and why the same tactics can play a critical role in both. Demand generation is broader. It refers to a culmination of all of your marketing activities together, not just the aspects that drive leads into your pipeline. 

Why is Demand Generation Important?

The truth is that all companies are engaging in demand generation in some form, whether they know it or not. Some are just doing a better job of it than others. Recognizing the importance of demand generation is critical. It allows companies to take a broader, more inclusive look at their marketing activities as a whole. 

Effective demand generation provides many critical benefits:

Demand Generation Helps Bring in New Leads

Demand generation places a lot of focus on awareness and trust. When your target customers are aware of and trust your brand, you’ll naturally have more demand for your products or services. 

When awareness of your brand increases, you’ll enjoy a fuller pipeline. Companies with strong demand generation strategies find that they are able to shift resources away from outbound lead generation into other areas of their business — such as customer support and success. 

Even better — effective demand generation doesn’t just increase the number of leads companies are able to generate, it also improves the quality of those leads. Increased awareness means that your target audience will have a better understanding of your product and whether or not it will be a fit for them based on their needs. Strong demand generation results in more MQLs, SQLs, and higher conversion rates. 

Attracts Attention to Your Product or Service

One of the primary goals of any demand generation operation is to get your ideal prospects talking. Companies that excel at demand generation find ways to get their target customers discussing their product. Even prospects and accounts that may not be a good fit in the present. Building awareness means that you draw attention to your products and services. 

Nurture Qualified Prospects

Because of the nature of demand generation, the practice naturally supports your lead nurturing efforts. Success in lead nurturing is all about building trust with those that are already aware of your brand and product. They have that spark of initial interest but need to continually interact with your brand to develop that interest into something more serious. 

Demand generation focuses that interest and getting your target market talking about your product. Continually seeing your product being mentioned in discussions around topics critical to your brand is a strong form of social proof that helps to build that trust with prospects that are in your pipeline. In a way, demand generation can help you provide strong user-generated content outside of your owned properties and brand ecosystem. 

Helps You Meet Your Goals

Demand generation helps to move the needle across the board. You’ll generate more traffic to your website. That traffic will be more engaged and spend longer reading your content. More leads will enter your pipeline. Those leads will convert at a higher rate and generate more revenue over their lifetime. 

Demand generation creates awareness, which leads to higher levels of engagement from your audience. There are few important marketing metrics that won’t see improvement from strong demand generation initiatives. 

How Marketing & Sales Teams Use Demand Generation

Demand generation is an important cog in the machine of both your marketing and sales teams. It provides marketing and sales teams with a leg up.

Demand generation enables marketing teams to bring in new leads and qualify them with lead scoring. With more engagement, your marketing teams will be able to learn more about your prospects and custom-tailor your messaging to speak to their biggest needs. Sales then uses those accurately scored leads to identify sales qualified leads (SQLs) that are a match for your product or service. 

Demand generation benefits organizations broadly, but also supports critical processes in both sales and marketing teams. 

3 Demand Generation Campaigns Examples

Demand generation campaigns can be delivered through almost any channel. Now, we’ll provide some examples of demand generation campaigns in advertising, content, and outbound email. 

Remarketing

Did you know that 92% of visitors that visit a retailers website for the first time aren’t there to actively buy? They just want to get to know your brand, see what you have to offer, and set the stage for future interactions. 

Remarketing (sometimes called retargeting) refers to the strategy of displaying advertisements strictly to those that have already visited your website. All popular advertising platforms, including Google Ads and Facebook, offer remarketing campaigns to visitors. 

Once a prospect visits your website, you have a limited amount of time to stay top-of-mind. Remarketing campaigns allow you to ensure that you get your brand in front of those one-time visitors again, on the platforms that they frequent. 

Content Marketing

Content marketing often plays a vital role in successful demand generation campaigns. The nature of content makes it an ideal choice. Content is all about delivering information & value to your audience for free, building trust with them over time. 

Everyone knows the value in creating high-quality blog content, white papers, and ebooks — let’s look at an outside-the-box example — tools. 

WordStream provides a great example with their AdWords Performance Grading tool

The tool requires that visitors enter their email. Then, they’ll receive a report that grades their current Google AdWords performance. Naturally, WordStream’s product focuses on creating, optimizing, and improving AdWords performance. Their tool makes visitors aware of issues and shows them how WordStream can help them to solve those problems. 

Outbound Email 

Sometimes there is nothing more effective than actually reaching out to your prospects and making them aware of your product. Outbound email focuses on developing awareness by providing value. 

While you wouldn’t want to mass-email and cold pitch prospects (as your conversion rates will be low and you’ll risk actively harming your brand reputation), connecting with targeted high-value accounts through email can be extremely effective. 

Often, companies with effective outbound email demand generation strategies will start with a piece of content. A valuable blog post, eBook, white paper, or case study can present a simple but effective way to generate that initial interest in your product without high-pressure tactics. 

Conclusion

Demand generation is something that every company is engaged in, actively or passively. By working to understand the importance of demand generation and taking conscious steps to improve your demand generation programs, you put your company in a position to grow your traffic, keep your pipeline filled with qualified leads, and get your target marketing talking about your product. 

Topics: Demand Generation, Lead Generation, Digital Marketing

Taran Soodan

Written by Taran Soodan