CEOs continue to focus on customer acquisition, retention and engagement as their respective function leaders face more fallout from challenging economic headwinds.
Marketing leaders are a key contributor to this activity, as they generate and shape demand for potential customers unfamiliar with their products and services and buyers who are already aware of, and actively evaluating, their offerings.
With no shortage of potential demand generation tactics for marketing leaders to pursue to improve their acquisition and retention results, they must focus on three high-priority activities throughout the rest of 2023:
- Optimization of landing pages for the near-term;
- Refinement of gated content; and
- Development of learning experiences in the second half of the year.
1. Optimize Landing Pages Through Ongoing Experimentation
A critical component that impacts the performance of any demand generation campaign is its landing page. With this in mind, marketing leaders must conduct an audit of each campaign landing page, where they dissect and review key page elements into their component parts independently (such as title, copy, imagery, call-to-action, etc.). They must then assess whether each element aligns with campaign goals and resonates with the intended audience to ensure the highest conversion performance.
Landing pages are most effective when they’re aligned with the right audience and stage in the buyer journey. Marketers can challenge conventional thinking by A/B testing alternate approaches with their existing demand generation campaigns. The resulting performance will validate whether their assumptions were correct.
2. Refine Gated Content To Increase Lead Volume & Engagement
Marketing leaders under pressure to generate new leads or accelerate lead pipeline should consider refining their approach to the gated content itself behind a lead capture form.
Gating the wrong content at the wrong time during the buyer’s journey can discourage potential buyers from continued engagement with a marketer’s brand and lead to high bounce rates. Likewise, gating the right content at the right time can do wonders for nurturing leads, building strong relationships with buyers and, ultimately, providing a high-value exchange where a marketer can receive contact information.
Many organizations gate content even though it does not create the best customer experience. The drop-off in form completion rates from those who arrive on the landing page is an indication of visitors’ distaste with the tactic. Marketers can improve the experience and the result by pre-populating fields or even hiding forms for known leads or accounts.
3. Shape Demand With Learning Experiences To Support Future Growth
Lead generation campaigns are typically deployed to educate prospective buyers about product or service offerings. This approach can be successful for capturing leads among buyers who are actively seeking out a specific solution. However, marketing leaders should complement these lead gen strategies with demand generation tactics to shape buyer demand, not just capture it.
Many demand generation campaigns are designed with a singular focus in mind: Generating demand for (and the purchase of) product or service offerings. By approaching demand generation programs with a transactional focus that prioritizes lead capture, marketing leaders neglect an opportunity to establish long-term affinity between their brand and their market.
To shape demand, marketing leaders should educate buyers about the product or service offerings by addressing unmet, unknown or underappreciated needs or challenges. This approach is especially useful for shaping demand among customers who are not actively in a buying journey. However, it can also be deployed to accelerate the path to purchase for those actively in a sales cycle — leading to larger orders than expected.
Data shows that when a buyer engages with a digital experience and learns about a product or service, they are 1.29X more likely to buy more than they had planned. However, buyers are 1.73X more likely to buy more than expected when they learn about their own needs and goals. These self-reflective activities are better at shaping demand and helping a buyer purchase a premium product or more than originally planned.
To summarize, marketing leaders looking to improve demand generation performance should:
- Optimize campaign landing page performance immediately by embracing ongoing experimentation across page components, such as design, copy, calls-to-action and form length;
- Refine gated content in Q3 to support lead capture to increase buyers’ willingness to provide their contact information by ensuring there is a clear and fair value exchange; and
- Develop learning experiences in the second half of the year to help shape demand generation pipeline to support sustainable, future growth by helping buyers self-reflect on their own needs.
Whether marketing leaders choose to deploy some or all these demand generation tactics, they must ensure that each one aligns audience expectations with business priorities, target audience insights, channel-specific contexts and the conversion process.
Jeffrey L. Cohen is a Director, Analyst in the Gartner for Marketing Leaders Practice.