Getting a grip on demand gen vernacular is the first step to success

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Demand gen is a widely misunderstood marketing strategy with complicated and conflicting terminology preventing brands from enjoying its full value

KINESSO’s VP of lead generation strategy, Wendy Herzberg believes that, while demand gen itself is inherently complex, its vernacular doesn’t need to be. Here she sets the record straight on common demand gen terms.

Demand generation, or demand gen, is a powerful way to connect with potential customers that express a genuine interest in your product or service. And when you only pay for fully qualified leads, it’s also incredible value. But with too many poorly defined terms being thrown around in the demand gen space, it’s easy for confusion and a lack of understanding to put marketers off this valuable strategy.

While demand gen itself is never going to be simple, the terminology surrounding it can be. Let’s take a look at some of the common terms and how we use them, giving you a better understanding that will really help you get the most from your demand gen campaigns.

Demand gen vs. lead gen

Demand gen and lead gen are two terms that are often used interchangeably in the marketing world. But they are far from the same thing. To really explain the difference, let’s borrow a demand gen definition from Gartner:

“Demand generation is a data-driven marketing strategy focused on driving awareness and interest in an organization's products and services, with the ultimate goal of developing long-term customer engagement. Demand generation includes lead capture, lead nurturing and pipeline acceleration.”

While the whole definition is useful, I’d like to really focus in on the last sentence. Demand gen is a broad strategy with multiple phases, encompassing lead capture, lead nurturing, and pipeline acceleration. Lead gen, on the other hand, is a much narrower tactic that sits within the first part of this demand gen process. You can best think of lead gen as the basic mechanics behind lead capture. And we’ll talk more about where lead capture fits in a little later on.

Lead gen tends to be a simple one-step process, such as collecting an email address so a prospect can be sent a newsletter or a report. Demand gen, on the other hand, is far more complex and customizable, and can have many moving parts. It’s not just about capturing leads but also educating prospects and learning what their needs are before you move forward. This can best be understood by looking at the B2B space, where demand gen is arguably most effective.

From a B2B perspective, demand gen campaigns are designed to reach a far smaller universe than B2C campaigns, usually through the use of careful targeting and filters. Campaigns are often intended to reach decision makers in specific industries or verticals, with certain roles or job titles, to create an elite sales pipeline.

B2B demand gen campaigns also need to gather in-depth information to ensure leads are fully qualified and useful for the brand before they are passed on. Campaigns are frequently set up to have multiple paths that the user will follow depending on their answers to initial questions and the areas they express an interest in.

The complexity of demand gen campaigns vs. their lead gen counterparts takes us on to two more terms that must be clearly defined. These are ‘user journey’ and ‘user flow’.

User journey vs. user flow

User journey and user flow are two critical terms you need to get a handle on, and understand the difference between, when developing effective demand gen programs.

User journey: the entry point to the user flow

User journey is a term that focuses on the overall experience of the prospect that is answering your questions or submitting their information. It’s where lead capture fits in, and so includes the lead gen part of the process.

Getting the user journey right is about determining who the campaign should reach and what information you want from them – effectively what questions to ask and what fields to include on your forms. It’s also about considering how you pique their interest and entice them to enter the information you want. You need to offer something they will value, rather than just trying to sell them something. Put yourself in their shoes. How would you interact with the questions and what would compel you to enter your information?

User flow: customizing the experience

Once a potential customer engages with the demand gen process, the user flow is the path they take through the experience. A demand gen campaign can be quite intricate, with the route the user takes determined by their responses. Someone who says they work in the pharmaceutical industry, for example, may well answer different questions to someone who says they work in engineering. The forms they fill in will be dynamically generated following their choice of employment sector.

An effective user flow focuses on each step of these form fills – observing the questions the user is being asked and what options they have. This ensures a fully qualified lead accompanied by a wealth of valuable information, without overwhelming the user with too many questions.

The term 'lead nurturing’, as referenced in the earlier Gartner definition, is often used interchangeably with the term ‘user flow’. In practice lead nurturing is based on the information learned from the user flow.

How to prepare successful demand gen campaigns

A clear understanding of terms like demand gen, user journey, and user flow will help you develop an effective campaign. But that’s not all you need for demand-gen success. Before you get started, think about:

  • Who do you want to reach? Are you looking to target decision makers or specific job titles in particular sectors or industries?
  • What do you want to know? You might want to find out whether they need your product or service, whether they’re already using it, or what stage of the sales cycle they’re at.
  • What will interest them? What would entice your target audience to fill in your forms and share their valuable information?
  • What data do you already have? Consider what first-party data you’re already collecting and how demand gen can complement your other marketing activities.
  • How will you communicate? What media channels will you use to respond to demand gen engagement, and what will you do? Send a newsletter? Set up an appointment?

Demand gen is an incredibly powerful way to fill your sales pipeline with leads that have raised their hand and expressed interest in getting more information from you. Unlike the somewhat simpler process of lead gen, demand gen is complicated, it’s customizable, and it’s designed not only to find us the right person, but also deliver the information that will enable long-term engagement.

If you have questions about setting up your own demand gen campaign, don’t hesitate to get in touch.