In an exclusive interview with Demand Gen Report, Nate Skinner, VP of Marketing for Salesforce Pardot, shares his thoughts on the evolution of demand generation, top channels for success and more. This interview is part of the What's Working In Demand Generation In 2019 Special Report.
Demand Gen Report: How do you think demand generation has evolved over the past few years? Where do you see it going in 2019 and beyond?
Nate Skinner: Now more than ever, marketers are being pressured to prove ROI to help justify marketing budget and spend. According to Gartner, we've reached a point where marketing has more money for technology than any other department and with that comes a shift from quantitative marketing (getting the most clicks) to qualitative marketing (getting the right clicks).
Teams must get smarter about demand generation by testing what’s working. With bigger budgets comes higher expectations for ROI. Historically, marketing has had a bad rep for the spray-and-pray strategy — targeting all people versus the
few qualified leads. Successful demand generation is now about getting the most qualified leads to your website to engage with the brand in a meaningful way. Savvy marketers will always be able to create favorable numbers, but today's teams want to know how many leads were converted and how.
ABM is one of the hottest growing trends, and it happens to be the antithesis of a spray-and-pray approach. The future of marketing is a more personal approach towards leads to create more genuine and impactful interactions with prospects. AI is another emerging technology for demand generation, helping to automate segmentation and drive insights around campaigns to determine the best next steps to convert leads.
DGR: What is important for demand gen success from an organization/process standpoint?
Skinner: Integrated team collaboration and transparency are critical factors in demand generation success. Sales and marketing teams need to be aligned to effectively communicate and empower each department to succeed.
Most organizations understand the importance of both departments needing to be in sync on what metrics to track and measure to drive successful demand generation, but they often haven't agreed on how to define those metrics — how does each department define a qualified lead or conversion? Is it someone who has clicked on the website, or someone that has consistently engaged with several pieces of content? If marketing and sales have different interpretations of what makes a qualified lead, then one of two things will happen: teams may be missing out on qualified leads or creating a bottleneck by capturing too many leads. While technology can augment demand generation, it can only go so far. It’s imperative that cross-collaborative teams actually interact, discuss measurement and define success in order to optimize for the organization's success as a whole.
DGR: What are some of your top tactics/channels for demand generation?
Skinner: I believe the top five tactics or channels for demand generation right now include SEO, email, direct mail, review sites and content marketing.
A stellar SEO strategy helps drive visibility in search engines when prospective customers are looking to solve specific challenges. It's an important top-of-funnel strategy for your business to rank well for keywords your target buyer is searching for.
Direct mail, while a more seasoned demand generation strategy, still works in B2B because it can stand out from the noise and overload of information online.
Review sites are a great channel to build credibility and trust in your brand. People look to others for reviews and experiences for lots of purchases, and technology purchases are no different. People also trust experts that evaluate products and services on review sites for objective insight into a brand’s credibility and best fit. However, be aware that converting customers to reviewers can be costly, but worthwhile.
Lastly, content marketing is a critical tactic for driving demand generation. When done effectively, strong content helps educate and inform prospective customers. One way to do this is by creating authentic content that shows the “how to” for buyers and showcases your brand as a helpful resource and thought leader.
DGR: How do you think marketers can enhance their demand generation with ABM?
Skinner: Those same tactics I mentioned earlier are still relevant but can be done with an account-first approach. An account-based strategy helps focus a tailored and high-value approach to demand generation. Coupled with AI, marketers can get automatic insights into more accounts that are also likely to be strategic to focus on — for example, AI can tell you that these additional 20 accounts look very similar to your top 10 accounts, so let's add these to your priorities — providing white space awareness around your account-based strategy. Coupling these approaches can help scale and make your team aware of trends you weren't previously aware of.
DGR: Is there anything else marketers should know?
Skinner: Marketing and sales are better together, and data is the tie that binds these two teams. We're going to continue seeing the shift to one platform, a common data set and having customers at the center.
To learn more about the demand generation channels and tactics marketers plan to prioritize in 2019, download the full report.