The supply chain is evolving at an incredibly rapid pace, with technology and digitalization at the forefront. That’s why in 2019, my team asked the global logistics industry a simple question: what is the ideal balance between technology and human expertise?
According to our subsequent research study, the results were clear: supply chains require a balance of 60% technology and 40% human expertise.
When it comes to marketing, and more specifically demand generation, it is important to also think about what balance of technology and human expertise will deliver the optimal results for your business. However, I think a more critical question is: what percentage of our marketing programs should be digital and what percentage should be customer-centric?
I believe an effective demand generation strategy must be both 100% digitally driven and 100% customer focused.
This doesn’t mean there isn’t a time and place for traditional advertising, such as event sponsorships, TV ads, or direct mailers. Those offline channels will always have a place within marketing if they continue to be mediums consumed by our audiences. The key, though, is to drive your prospects to a measurable digital experience that you create specifically for them.
To build a successful demand generation strategy – one that goes beyond lead generation and creates true demand for your company’s products or services – you should focus on these five tech- and people-focused steps:
Start by understanding your audience(s)
Customer intelligence is your best friend. If you don’t have recent, reliable data on your key audiences, this is a great place to start. In many cases, there are sources of customer data in-house that can be hugely valuable to your demand generation strategy. It simply requires asking the questions and uncovering what is available to you. If necessary, investing in new ways to capture meaningful customer data will enable you to better understand your audience and how you can best serve them. There are a plethora of ways to collect customer insights that can identify what your audience cares about and what their biggest challenges are. These learnings can help you develop audience personas, which can be the foundation by which you create all your messaging and campaign strategies.
Make your website your central hub
Today, almost no purchase decision – big or small – is made without a visit to the company’s website. And in the case of B2B marketing, your website should be more than just your online brochure. It can play a critical role in capturing and nurturing your audience. If you don’t have content that resonates with current customers and prospects and a primary call-to-action on your homepage, you’re leaving significant revenue-generating opportunities on the table.
"No strategy is foolproof, and no campaign execution is perfect. Leverage your customer insights to guide you, but remember that personas and data are only directional"
Develop digital & content programs based on customer intent
Instead of investing in advertisements where you hope your audience will be, let your audience come to you. Google is often the first place people go to search for services and information. If you’re not ranking on search engines organically for key phrases that your audiences are actively searching for, try focusing on balancing longer term content strategies with shorter term paid strategies. Paid search, as well as website retargeting and email nurture programs, are efficient tactics because your audience is already displaying intent for your products or services.
Lean on your subject matter experts (SMEs) to help guide you
COVID has greatly accelerated the digitalization of business, and keeping up with these changes can be a daunting task. That’s why it’s critical to partner closely with your SMEs, both internally and externally. From your head of digital marketing to sales leadership, make sure you’re working closely with those that know your business best to develop integrated campaigns that pull users through the entire funnel and take the intended actions.
Accept that failure is key to success
No strategy is foolproof, and no campaign execution is perfect. Leverage your customer insights to guide you, but remember that personas and data are only directional. What works for some may not work for everyone. Understanding the best approach requires testing and learning. You should always aim to win, but be prepared to fail. Just make sure you always learn how to improve for the next time. Review your analytics, A/B test your theories, adjust for new approaches, and don’t be afraid to end something that didn’t work as planned.
Our aforementioned Tech + Humanity study and campaign were great examples of employing a successful customer-centric digital strategy. We commissioned a survey to gather audience insights, developed a hub on our website for it to live, created supporting content and digital tactics to promote it, engaged our sales leaders to present it, and conducted a debrief to analyze what worked well - and what didn’t. These learnings have been invaluable for us as we’ve scaled our efforts with the goal of producing more campaigns that continually drive leads, while nurturing and providing value to our existing customers.
So, while 60% technology and 40% humanity may be the right balance for supply chain professionals, every marketer should strive to be 100% customer-focused and 100% digitally driven to be successful at generating lasting demand for your business.