B2B digital demand generation can reach professionals in all industries who are spending more time online. To focus on personal well-being, develop new skills, or simply acclimate to the new virtual work reality, B2B buyers have turned increasingly to online research. Lots of online research, as they look for new ways to be productive and solve problems.
In some cities right now, you can barely get online. Of course, much of that has to do with consumer Internet networks being tasked with all that video streaming, but it’s also indicative of how much time people now spend online researching and evaluating their next big B2B purchase. And smart marketers know it’s the buying group you really have to look for, not just individuals at an account.
Since the start of the pandemic, True Influence has made purchase intent data available to help B2B marketers track high-level buyer research behavior in their markets. The graph on our home page that tracks interest in demand generation categories paints a clear picture – online purchase research is up, often dramatically, across most major market sectors.
For B2B content marketers, this creates a unique opportunity not only to get your message in front of audiences with both time and interest to engage but also to maintain a healthy pipeline ready for sales outreach in a few months, when the B2B landscape stabilizes a bit.
Clearly, we see an emergence of B2B demand generation that’s going to continue for a long time to come.
Digital demand generation is the new normal
Before March 11 when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, demand generation was in something of a down cycle.
Since then, we’ve seen interest spike. Our InsightBase™ intent signal monitoring platform tells us that, globally, online research on this sector has doubled. And we’ve seen traffic on our own site multiply over the last couple weeks.
B2B sellers are looking for intelligent ways to keep their revenue pipelines healthy, in anticipation of some sense of normalcy returning to business. And it’s just not feasible to keep spending money in Q2 or Q3 on face-to-face meetings. It’s going to be a while before that way of relationship building is available to us.
We are going to get out of this mess, but nothing – including B2B marketing and sales – will be exactly the same again. We’re still going to be Zooming each other, and asking ourselves why we were spending all that money on travel and attending seminars.
Understand, the pre-COVID events business was huge. And it may take years for this sector to fully rebound. That’s hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more, shifting online. And for B2B sellers, data-driven demand generation will be a high-performing channel.
Demand Generation today and revenue down the road
For the record, not every market is primed for a spending shift into demand generation right now. Online and technology sectors are doing great; some others like travel and hospitality are really struggling and will continue to do so for a while.
We’re telling our own customers in these markets to hold back on spending right now. And it’s not just travel, consumer or retail. Some industries will need to be bailed out by the federal government to survive, but after seeing our own traction in early Q2, I can say with confidence that B2B will be okay.
You can check our front-page graph to see that interest in some markets such as education and technical services has dramatically spiked since the pandemic was declared. Others, like finance and manufacturing, are holding steady.
A few basics to get the most from your digital demand gen dollar
Of course, for some of you, this may be the standard operating procedure. But it never hurts to revisit best practices and make sure your efforts line up behind the strategic goal of building a strong revenue pipeline. For any B2B seller considering new or escalated spending in demand generation, here are a few basics to get the most from your investment in the current environment.
1. Create new, high-quality content
Engaging with potential customers relies entirely on offering them useful, practical information that supports every phase of their decision-making process. Currently, a lot of online research happens at the exploratory level, so “high-funnel” content that describes how your solution category meets business challenges is probably best. No hard-selling – educate and build trust.
2. Write about what’s happening now
You can’t pretend that it’s business as usual these days. It’s not, for you or your customers. Openly acknowledge the current challenges everyone is facing. If your solution can help them weather the next few months, emphasize that benefit; if not, address how your product or service will help them in Q4. But above all, be genuine and communicate honestly in the moment.
3. Add video and interactivity to your content mix
Everybody craves personal connections today. Adapting your whitepaper or tipsheet content into webinars or personally hosted videos are great ways to engage prospects on an emotional level. Again, content is king, and you must educate. But a personal touch goes a long way.
4. Understand your prospect’s needs before you connect
The key to winning new business is talking to prospects about issues that matter to them. You can’t do that by shooting blindly at mailing lists, even if they meet your ideal customer personas. You want to know:
• That a prospect is actively in-market
• Where they are in their personal customer journey
• Their role in their company’s ultimate buy decision
Demand Generation is revenue continuity insurance
Digital B2B demand generation is emerging as a dominant revenue generation strategy that will continue well after the current COVID-19 pandemic is behind us. Investing in great content and intent-based audience and buying group intelligence will ensure your revenue pipeline stays ready to grow your business.
That’s where tools like the True Influence Marketing Cloud™ elevate digital demand generation programs across each stage of the buyer journey funnel. The category-defining intent signal monitoring technology analyses billions of online research events, and the proprietary Identity Graph maps these signals directly to the individuals who are researching a purchase (even those WFH). Overlay this intent data with buying group contact analysis using InsightBase, and you get a complete picture of whom you should talk to and what they want to know. The marketing cloud gives you a centralized point to activate intent-driven B2B digital demand generation down to the level of buying group contacts.