How to Build a Winning Demand Generation Strategy

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Lead generation is as important to public relations as news mentions. Cision’s 2014 State of the Media report found that 35 percent of PR professionals said sales conversion was a top priority for their team. While this may have fallen under the marketing team more so than a communications team in the past, the landscape of PR and marketing is evolving and becoming more interdependent and data-driven. Understanding an integrated marketing environment will feed success when pitching brands and working on campaigns by allowing you to clearly show revenue ROI that will make your results more tangible to business leaders.

Here are three tips for a winning demand generation strategy:

1. Build your strategy based on revenue drivers


Start by asking yourself this question: Does this idea generate revenue? If you have to build a demand generation program from scratch, introduce yourself and your initial ideas to the accounting, sales, IT and marketing departments as each will provide info you need to help shape your campaign.

Depending on what tools are already available to your business, you may have to implement new technology to allow you to track conversion-driving activities on your website. Stats to monitor include third-party websites that brought users to your site, time on page, which pages have the highest traffic and which are leading to conversions (i.e. requests for information or quotes) on the site. Use this data to create additional opportunities for engagement and conversion on those high-traffic areas. All of the data collected in these spaces will help you answer that primary question and understand which campaigns engaged your audience enough to become a lead that later converted into revenue.

2. Leads are people, so build customer personas

By leveraging your connections in the sales and marketing departments you should answer these five important questions before starting your campaign:

  1. Who is buying our product?
  2. Why did they buy from us?
  3. How long did it take them to purchase?
  4. How did they find us and what was their path to purchase?
  5. How much are they spending?

These questions build the basis for a customer profile. Your sales team can provide good insights on why a prospect did or did not convert. By understanding what works and what doesn’t for the sales representative, you can work more effectively with your marketing team to craft messaging that will lead to wins rather than losses to competitors.

Question four, is where results from previous campaigns and website behavior is most valuable. With this you can segment your potential clients by the products they need, how valuable of an opportunity they represent and how many touch points it may take to convert them. Engage with your sales team and learn what customer pain points exist and then you can strategize with marketing about how your products or services solve those issues.

3. Target your campaign to a specific audience

You cannot be everything to everyone at all times. It’s important to narrow your target audience for your first campaign to those that have the highest opportunity for conversion and tailor your messaging to meet their needs. Time is money, so gunning for the biggest fish in the pond doesn’t make sense when need to drive up lead numbers. Using data from existing and former clients, plot the revenue generated from their business and the length of time it took to convert them from a new contact to a new customer.

The goal is to find a grouping of clients who have a high value and incurred low opportunity cost. (i.e. a quantitative cost of the time and resources required to convert the sale.) This understanding will further develop your client personas and provide you a clearer picture of what tactics worked so they can be replicated on prospects..

Once you understand your business’s sales cycle and create a persona of your target client, you are ready to build out content for your campaign.

Don’t be a content barbarian. Follow these five steps to rule content as a king:

1. Create relevant and valuable content

Once you’ve determined the prospect segment that will have the greatest value with the lowest opportunity cost, create content that resonates with the pain points discovered. Connect that content to the solution your product or service offers. Here are three types of content prospects find valuable:

1. White papers or blog posts that answer questions professionals you are targeting may be too embarrassed to ask

2. Host webinars featuring respected thought leaders

3. Conduct surveys polling the dynamics of your industry and build reports from that data

Want more tips on creating content that drives results? Register for Gini Dietrich’s “From A to Z: Blogging and Content for PR” webinar!

2. Test paid ad channels


Your audience is out there, but if you don’t test different promotional channels you may never find them. Run pilot campaigns on a variety of advertising channels like Google, LinkedIn and Twitter. The audience for display ads can be segmented by city, profession, age group, personal interests and even someone’s current location. Track which one feeds your sales funnel the most. Then you can begin to optimize your messaging on the most successful channels to increase your reach and improve both the quantity and quality of leads over time.

Be sure to funnel this data into your client personas as you learn what content and messaging resonates with your core audience via the clicks and leads generated.

3. Keep marketing emails short and sweet

Email marketing copy needs to be brief, persuasive and direct. Answer the following in as few words as possible:

1. Why should your prospects read what you’ve sent them?

2. What are they being offered?

3. How will it help them?

Your emails should include a call-to-action (CTA) that creates a sense of urgency and incites an action. Single words like “Download” or “Register” work well, but in general try avoid CTAs that are longer than five words. Differentiate your CTA by making it an image bubble and have its color contrast the rest of the email. You want it to stand out and draw the eye.

4. Run A/B testing

Test different copy and colors in your email marketing and landing pages. For instance, one test we conducted on button colors within emails found that orange elicited a 46 percent higher engagement rate than blue. This optimization improves ROI on all of your activities. Test different images, headlines, body copy lengths or even the use of video on a landing page to find the sweet spot where you receive the most downloads or registrations.

5. Repurpose the best content


After running a number of campaigns you will know what content generated the most leads and leads-to-conversions. Now is the time to find new ways to reuse it:

1. Take elements of your best thought leadership materials and turn them into blog posts. Tie this content back to something of regional or industrial importance that is topical at that time.

2. Update an annual study with a mid-year addendum and re-release it to your prospects and clients. This is a great opportunity to invite a valuable client partner to provide their feedback on the industry or your research while also providing additional touchpoints for your sales team with their prospects.

3. Turn a tip sheet into an infographic by visualizing data found within it.


Images: The U.S. ArmyTimo Newton-SymsJustin S. CampbellDaveBleasdaleKevin Dooley (Creative Commons)

About James Rubec

James Rubec is a data geek, a former public relations lead and journalist with a love of content and advocacy. Ask him anything @JamesRRubec and be sure to follow @Cision_Canada.

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