Marketing for IT Companies > Lead Generation for IT Companies > Demand Generation vs Lead Generation vs Account-Based Marketing

Demand Generation vs Lead Generation vs Account-Based Marketing

We can’t use these terms interchangeably. Otherwise, you’ll get fewer Sales Qualified Leads (SQL), and the Cost per Lead (CPC) will be high.

You actually need to create the demand because your target market is not actively buying.

  • Demand generation is the process of getting prospects interested in your services or products. Your main objective here is to get as many people as possible engaging with your content to learn more about your business and your point of view, appreciate your expertise, and start to think about why they might want to buy from you. For example, you make the content freely accessible, and then use Google Ads, Facebook Ads or Linkedin Ads etc. to distribute it to a target audience.
  • Lead generation is the process of turning that interest into leads (names and contact details) for your sales reps. Your main objective here is to capture as many leads as possible by giving people a reason to share contact details and making it easy for them to do so. For example, you gate your content behind a form asking for contact details, and then use Google Ads, Facebook Ads or Linkedin Ads etc. to distribute it to a target audience.

Demand generation and lead generation are closely associated. On the one hand, it’s hard to create a sustainable flow of leads without demand generation. On the other hand, demand should be followed by leads. Otherwise, it loses its value.

Demand Generation Strategies

  • raising awareness about why your product features matter;
  • sharing free resources or tools to show how useful your products or services can be;
  • distributing thought leadership content that demonstrates your niche expertise.

B2B buyers increasingly want to research on their own. This means marketing needs to support the sales process through self-service content relevant to multiple buyers, roles, and target accounts.

The basic thought behind ABM is if your company is a certain size, structure, and in a certain industry or location, you’ll be more likely to buy from us. By focusing on companies that meet our ideal customer firmographics, we can save our marketing dollars and sales outreach for prospects that fit our ideal customer profile (ICP).

The problem with the ABM is that you can’t predict based on those traits alone that they’re ready to buy those things right now. For example, just because you know that “businesses in the IT industry with 1,000-10,000 employees” typically buy your products doesn’t mean that your standard monthly newsletter will resonate with the specific target accounts on your list, or that they’re actually interested in buying your product right now.

Instead of picking accounts based on traits and trying to generate interest, we need to start prioritizing our target customers based on their level of interest and then qualifying them by firmographic characteristics.

Intent data helps solve some of ABM’s biggest challenges:

  • By knowing which topics your buyers are most interested in, you can customize your messaging and outreach to align with the topics of greatest interest to them.
  • By understanding which prospects are most actively looking for your solution, you can know which of them will be most receptive to marketing messages at a particular time.

Businesses need analytics capabilities to understand their current customers’ needs and pain points and identify their high-value accounts.

ABM is about creating clusters of relevant audiences and telling a story to them — and only them. It requires marketers to slow down and carefully consider their audience: Who are they? What are their pain points? What can I say to them about how we can help? And how can I make sure they hear me? ABM forces those questions on marketers every day and gets them to focus the core muscles of their craft that many have ignored for too long. 

It can be daunting to change the way you’ve thought about marketing for the past 20 years. If you need a few tips, here are some of the most important challenges to address:

• Define your ideal customer profile (ICP): Interview several customer-facing team members across a variety of seniorities. Audit your customer data to find what firmographic, technographic or other attributes they have in common. Clearly defining who your ideal customer is makes cross-departmental decision-making easier. 

• Create one target account list: The easiest way to find a groove with ABM is to choose a finite list of target accounts (you may already have one) and dedicate outsized resources and focus to turning them into customers. Celebrate every time an opportunity is generated, and remember: It should be sales’ responsibility to create that opportunity.

• Communicate about that list: What’s marketing doing to create awareness and interest with those target accounts? Which accounts are visiting your site and reading your content? Does sales know how to prioritize their outreach? And do they know exactly what to say? 

An in-depth analysis of existing customers can help you achieve three goals:
1) build a profile of your most profitable customers to pinpoint which prospective accounts to target.
2) identify opportunities within your existing customer base.
3) identify individual decision-makers and influencers to profile.

For example, if most of your top customers in a specific industry use product A & B, but a few leading customers
only use B, it makes sense to engage stakeholders in these accounts to discuss the value product A could bring to
their business.

First-party data (your own company’s data) on your customers – how they engage with your organization
(marketing engagement through email, browsing your website, etc.), what products/services they use, and which
pain points your products address for them.
• Third-party firmographic data for your customer accounts (industry, company size, revenue, location, etc.).
• Additional data depending on your industry. For example, technographic data that tells a B2B tech company
which technologies an account uses, or credit risk data for banks and lenders.

Intent data helps companies interpret buying signals like browse behavior, content downloads, and keyword searches to predict when a company (and a specific stakeholder within that company) is in the market for a product or service. Using intent data helps you identify buying signals from individuals at your target accounts or existing customers, which allows you to be the first to reach out and engage them with relevant offers and information.
Using intent data, you can also see how intent varies among individuals within an account, which may help you understand the dynamics of the decision-making process (e.g., who is involved in the research phase vs. decision-making phase).

In the ITSMA survey, 84% of marketers said that ABM delivers higher ROI than any other marketing approach. Another Forrester report found that marketing and sales teams with a coordinated ABM approach can be up to six percent more likely to exceed their revenue goals than teams with less advanced ABM capabilities. Companies with a mature account strategy benefit from shorter sales cycles, better conversion rates, and are more equipped to move prospects to the next stage in the funnel and cross-sell/upsell existing customers. Seventy-nine percent of organizations that exceed revenue goals report that they have a documented personalization strategy and, in a recent survey, 93% of B2B marketers indicated that personalizing content had increased their organization revenue over time.

According to Forrester’s research, organizations with aligned sales and marketing teams see an average of 32% annual revenue growth, while less aligned companies see a 7% decline in growth. For example, if the company is going to spend time and resources developing hyper-personalized campaigns, sales and marketing should be in complete agreement about the best individuals to target.

Account-based marketing (ABM) focuses marketing and sales efforts on finding best-fit accounts and turning them into new customers, or growing revenue within high-value existing customer accounts. ABM is a customized approach based on the unique business needs and pain points of each account. It targets individual decision-makers with a personalized business message based on role.

Account-based marketing aims to understand the company and the mindsets of the individuals within it on both a professional and personal level.

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