COVID-19 Update

Demand Gen Summit: Marketers Look To Generate Demand By Fishing With A Smaller Net

DGS logo genericDuring his presentation as part of the Demand Gen Summit track at the B2B Content2Conversion Conference, Jason Hekl — VP and Group Director of SiriusDecisions — described the concept of “small-net fishing,” in which marketers proactively target narrowly defined groups of new prospects.

His remarks mirrored the strategies of many speakers and attendees who are moving toward micro-campaigns and more targeted messaging to smaller subsets of their databases.

"If you take all this investment in understanding your buyer personas — taking those insights and developing relevant content and messaging from it — you realize you have a lot of insight into your buyer," Hekl noted during his session. "Why does all of this insight have to be leveraged through inbound strategies? If you are relevant, you might as well use that insight in a targeted outbound way."

Hekl outlined four steps to success with small net fishing programs:

  • Planning, forming a hypothesis around questions and pain points prospects may have and mapping it to the buyers journey;
  • Preparation, having the accurate contact and recent call history data available to increase personalization;
  • Execution of the program; and
  • Optimization, drawing conclusions and communicating what was learned with your team and senior-level reps. Then use that info to enhance future campaigns.


In her Demand Gen Summit session, Christine Elliott, Content Strategy Leader for Crowe Horwath, discussed how her company has moved toward micro-campaigns and modular content to drive demand.

“Our goal is to meet people where they are in the buying cycle,” Elliott said. “You have to start with a targeted segmentation. How can you build a program if you don’t know who you are building it for?”

In working with Content4Demand, a custom content firm, Crowe Horwath identified 12 areas where they needed to develop content. The team determined that there should be four pieces of content for each area.

Checklists and infographics have been particularly successful, Elliott noted. “Infographics are the downloaded piece of content for us.”

Elliott said they have more than doubled their average click-through rate in the past two years. “We’re creating more relevant content and presenting it in a more accessible and relevant way for the buyer.”

Progressive profiling — asking increasingly detailed questions in exchange for high-value content — has helped further target their lead nurturing campaign.

Successful Demand Gen Requires Buyer-Focused Content

In a panel discussion, B2B marketers emphasized that demand generation is highly dependent on creating and delivering buyer-centric content.

“To drive demand, we have to create content with a purpose, not just content that our boss or sales team is asking us to create,” said Puneeta Dighe, Director of Content Strategy for Time Warner Cable Business Class.

While Elliott is “not a fan of personas but looking to be converted,” she noted that “individuals have to be part of process and content has to be developed from their perspective.”

Karen Thomas-Smith, VP of Provider Marketing and Reference Management at Optum, an information and technology-enabled health services business, discussed how her team went “rogue” when revamping its lead generation strategy. She started with a small pilot that showed early successes, which included:

  • $106 million in sales pipeline;
  • 89% open rates;
  • 17% click-through rates; and
  • 5,300 form submissions.


After two years, Thomas-Smith’s group generated $284.5 million in sales pipeline and $123.7 million in sales acceleration revenue. She said the next steps are micro-campaigns and A/B testing.

Jim D’Arcangelo, VP of Marketing for, detailed his company’s transformation to an inbound marketing strategy.

In January 2014:

  • Inbound leads drove less than 50% of closed deals and cold calls drove the rest;
  • Paid search drove inbound leads, with CPL of more than $50 and CPA of more than $350; and
  • Paid search leads outpaced organic leads by 5 to 1.


D’Arcangelo noted that blogs have been the cornerstone of the demand generation strategy for the platform for service commerce. In January 2014, the blog received fewer than 2,000 page views and visitors spent 1.5 minutes per page. A year later, those numbers have jumped to more than 30,000 page views, 26,000 unique views and more than 2 minutes spent per page.

“Email campaigns have also been incredibly successful for us across the board,” D’Arcangelo said.

D’Arcangelo also noted that is shifting away from relying on SEO to drive web traffic. “It can be a crux, as it is too easy to just wait for stuff to come in. We’re looking at real-time personalization and ways to automate that over time.”

D’Arcangelo added: “We’ve been living the content dream.” As of January 2015:

  • Inbound leads drive more than 95% of closed deals and cold calling is non-existent;
  • Organic drives inbound leads with a CPL of less than $30 and CPA of less than $190; and
  • Organic leads outpace paid search by 11 to 1.


The Evolving Role Of The CMO

As marketing has become more data and results driven, CMOs have their fingers on the pulse of the business, D’Arcangelo said. “The CEOs and CFOs are coming to us to find out how the business is performing.”

To illustrate the evolving role of the CMO, Liz Miller, VP of Programs and Operations for the CMO Council, noted that today’s CMO is focused on driving revenue. “In our recent survey, more than half said driving top-line growth was a priority.” According to the CMO Council, State of Marketing 2014 report, priorities included:

  • Drive top line growth, 56%;
  • Grow and retain market, 52%;
  • Better define brand value, 44%:s
  • Further customer insights, 37%; and
  • Improve profitability, 32%.


“The role of the CMO is to translate brand value into the business and vice versa,” Miller said. “They’re charged with advancing the business agenda and they are the keeper of the voice of the customer.”

CMOs are being tasked with developing demand gen strategies and content that delivers value, but many are still facing challenges, according to Laura Ramos, VP and Principal Analyst serving CMOs for Forrester Research.

Citing recent research from Forrester, Ramos noted that the overwhelming majority (87%) of B2B marketers say that developing content is a major challenge, and just 14% say their content is very effective at delivering value.

“It is not just a matter of going forth and telling stories,” Ramos said. “The stories need to matter to prospects, customers, marketing, sales and ultimately to the business.”


All of the presentations from the Demand Gen Summit and B2B Content2Conversion Conference will soon be available on-demand.