To the uninitiated, inbound and outbound marketing techniques can seem like two opposing camps. On the one hand, inbound marketing focuses on attracting people. Instead of reaching out through cold calls and email blasts, inbound marketing strategies—like content marketing and search engine optimization—prioritize creating content centered around target customers’ needs and interests. Through meaningful content, marketers in this camp establish themselves as authorities in their field and create long-term results.
On the other hand, outbound marketers prefer to reach out to their customers where they are. In digital marketing, this generally means using paid distribution channels to display ads on online platforms, such as social media, search engines, and other websites, based on available data. These data sets can contain everything from basic demographics, such as age and location, to more advanced information, such as purchase histories and self-reported interests.
Fortunately, more and more marketers are realizing that the key to generating revenue and achieving growth is in combining the strengths of both marketing methods. In fact, according to research from the Content Marketing Institute, 84% of top-performing content marketers used some form of paid advertising to promote content in the last 12 months. One such way of combining inbound and outbound marketing is through demand generation.
What is Demand Generation?
Like most inbound marketing methods, demand generation creates interest by distributing free content centered around your target customers’ interests. However, it takes your content marketing to the next level by making sure that your content reaches the people who are most likely to engage with it. This is done by employing paid advertising techniques, like social media ads and paid searches, among others.
Apart from using paid advertising channels, demand generation can also make use of sales funneling techniques. This means that the type of content delivered is based on an individual’s level of interest in your brand, products, and/or service.
If this sounds like lead generation, that’s because it uses most of the same techniques. The only real difference is that with demand generation, you are not limited by the number of individuals who have agreed to give you their contact information. Demand generation makes use of advanced targeting capabilities of platforms like that of Facebook and LinkedIn.
How is Demand Generation Possible?
Demand generation is possible through sophisticated targeting capabilities found in certain social media platforms. LinkedIn, for example, lets you use targeted ads by choosing from particular parameters, like job title, skills, or seniority. This helps you reach more relevant people immediately on an appropriate scale.
Facebook lets you do this as well, albeit with different kinds of parameters to choose from. However, aside from using demographic data, Facebook also lets you create “Lookalike Audiences.” This is basically Facebook’s way of matching audience data from sources like your website and matching them with the people in their user base.
Does Demand Generation replace lead generation and other outbound marketing techniques?
To give a short answer: no, it doesn’t. Demand generation generally helps you to increase the effectiveness of your other campaigns, including lead generation. Because demand generation does not gather contact information, you will not necessarily be converting leads.
What it does, however, is make your lead generation process easier by priming your target audience into becoming leads. Since they are already interested in the service, it will be easier for you to nudge them further into the buying process.
For all intents and purposes, content is still king. However, with the world drowning in content, marketers today have to find ways to reach their audience without being tuned out. Through techniques like demand generation, businesses stand a good chance of engaging with their audience and convert them into paying customers.
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