There are lots of articles that compare demand generation (as an outbound marketing strategy) and inbound marketing only to give a gold medal in marketing Olympics to the latter. While their arguments make sense, we cannot deny that companies still use outbound strategies for demand generation successfully.
In this post, we will discuss whether you need a mix of demand generation and inbound marketing strategies or focusing on one will bring you the required ROI?
Demand generation as a beginning point to inbound marketing?
First, let us understand what is inbound marketing. Hubspot, credited for coining the term Inbound marketing defines it as something that focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product where they naturally want to be. By aligning your content you publish with the customers™ interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close, and delight over time.
On the other hand, demand generation drives awareness for your product/services.
You are right, demand generation tops the sales funnel. It is a pre-marketing effort because it assumes that your product/services are unknown and has its own set of best practices Let’s also refer to inbound marketing stages Demand Generation and Inbound marketing[/caption] As you can see, inbound marketing is about attracting, converting, closing and receiving feedback for improving your services/products. Demand generation focuses only on attraction. It is lead generation that focuses on conversion and closing. You can read the difference between demand generation and lead generation, here. This, according to me, is the first overlap between the two.
Examples of Inbound and Demand generation
A few examples of traditional demand generation (if viewed in the light of outbound strategy) would be cold calling (telemarketing), email marketing, print advertorials, trade shows etc. On the other hand, according to Neil Patel, inbound marketing is about content creation, SEO, landing pages, backlinks, webinars, influencer marketing etc. I searched demand generation tacticsand the first page had an article by Sprout Social. The 8 amazing demand generation strategies listed are a free report, free resources, updating blogs regularly, video marketing, partner marketing, guest post and social media. We recently wrote a post on top 6 demand generation strategies where we included all of these in detail. Yes, the second overlap! You will see that the best demand generation tactics include content upgrades, free resources, survey, reports, webinars etc. The strategies which are now used for demand generation are similar to inbound marketing. It is due to a digital transformation that the nature of demand generation has changed. I think it is fair to say that demand generation is the first step in your inbound as well as outbound marketing strategy. What tactics you use to generate demand for your product depends on a lot of other factors.
Demand generation, traditionally, is an offensive strategy. Meaning, it is proactive in looking for people who match buyer persona but may not be looking to buy. For example, email blast. The old-school style was one message fits all but today, with tactics like account based marketing and list building along with technology which allows super-segmentation of your audience, you can target exactly who you want and how you want it. So, instead of waiting for them to come to you, you go to them strategically. Another example is cold calling. A study found out that 60 percent of C-suite in IT have considered switching to a new vendor after a cold call. Again, the old school style of cold calling without sales script and etiquettes is long gone. Just look at Moz and Fractly survey
Walking the altar: Demand Generation weds Inbound Marketing
So, do we need to choose one? Do we need to separate demand generation from inbound marketing? Of Course, no! We need a mix of both to achieve our business goals.
- Promote your blog posts in emails and social media
- Offer your best content over a cold call or distribute it on a cold email
- Include your social media accounts on advertisements
Grab the attention of your potential customers through demand generation, hold their attention through inbound marketing efforts and convert them into long-term customers. I do. Understand. *blessings*”