B2B growth marketing and demand generation strategies have been instrumental in the growth of several billion-dollar companies in the past decade. It’s not enough to implement traditional B2B marketing strategies. B2B marketers must turn to growth hacking and demand generation to get ahead.
What is B2B Growth Marketing?
B2B growth marketing is a data-driven approach focusing on acquiring and retaining customers in the shortest time possible. Also called growth hacking, growth marketing aims to grow a business’s customer base and revenues by all means necessary, including unconventional means.
B2B growth marketing is not just about becoming a thought leader in the industry or getting good ratings and reviews. Compared to traditional B2B marketing, growth marketing relentlessly optimises owned, earned, shared, and paid media to drive massive growth for the company, which sometimes comes at the expense of profitability.
For growth marketers, vanity metrics like traffic, session duration, and bounce rate doesn’t matter. They use growth as the sole key performance indicator. Growth can be measured as more users, more subscribers, or more revenue. Increased product utilisation can also be used to gauge growth.
As a result, B2B growth marketing is often a short-term strategy. Once you start seeing results, you should switch from these short-term unconventional tactics to more strategic and long-term strategies utilising conventional B2B marketing techniques.
Benefits of B2B Growth Marketing
Growth marketing solves the primary concern of every B2B marketer: generate highly qualified leads that convert to sales. Along the way, it also produces the following benefits:
- Increased SEO Rank
One of the primary growth marketing strategies is creating high-quality content that utilises SEO best practices to get in front of customers faster. As a result, your site ranks higher in search engines and is perceived as a domain authority for your niche.
- Widespread Brand Awareness
B2B growth marketing strategies are focused on targeting the right group of customers. As you create high-quality content for them, your brand reputation increases. Soon, you become a recognisable brand with high credibility.
- Better Customer Service
Growth marketing involves communicating with customers on a more personalised level. B2B growth marketers must talk like their customers to drive massive growth. This more profound understanding of the customers’ needs and wants results in better customer service, higher conversion rates, and increased customer retention rates.
Success Factors for B2B Growth Marketing
No two B2B companies are alike, and what worked for Company A may not necessarily work for Company B. However, there are several common denominators when determining what will cause a B2B growth marketing strategy to fail or succeed.
- Having the right mindset
Growth marketers must be focused on growth above everything else. If the result doesn’t produce growth, despite how seemingly excellent the other metrics are, it’s time to scrap the initiative.
- Rapid experimentation
Growth marketers must be agile and quick to pivot. Rapid experimentation is at the core of growth marketing, and failure is expected. Growth marketing involves finding new strategies quickly so you can hack the system and deliver massive growth.
Data tells you if you’re strategy is working or not. B2B growth marketing relies heavily on data and uses it to make decisions. In B2B marketing, sales cycles are long because of the many individuals involved in the decision-making process. To succeed in growth marketing, these long cycles must be reduced, and finding the right strategies to do so consists in being obsessed with what the data reveals.
- Omnichannel strategy
B2B growth marketers must run their strategies across multiple channels simultaneously to achieve massive growth in a short period. Doing so involves setting up measures and performance metrics that determine which channel is fulfilling its potential and reveal which campaign is working or not.
2023 B2B Growth Marketing Trends
As 2023 starts to unfold, B2B marketers can expect to see more of the following trends:
- Integrated approach vs ala carte services – To address more sophisticated search engine algorithms, brands must be able to combine digital PR, SEO, and content marketing into a unified approach to boost credibility, authority and visibility.
- Approaching growth marketing as a marathon, not a sprint – Marketers must be prepared to commit to a long-term strategy with short-term gains to maintain the marketing lead.
- Creating a purpose-driven brand – Brands are held to a higher standard than before and are expected to make a stand on important social issues.
- Higher focus on post-sale customer engagement – Customer retention is more important than ever to drive repeat purchases and create brand advocates.
What is B2B Demand Generation?
B2B demand generation is creating and nurturing relationships with potential customers to convert them into leads or customers. While the concept of demand generation is not new, the term itself is relatively new, only emerging in the past decade.
Demand generation has quickly become an essential component of a successful marketing strategy despite its relatively recent introduction to the business world.
Demand Generation vs. Lead Generation
Lead generation is often confused with demand generation, but these are two very different strategies. Lead generation is about capturing demand, while demand generation involves creating demand. Demand generation is a holistic, long-term strategy that encompasses the entire customer journey. Lead generation is only a subset of demand generation since its concern is converting targeted audiences to quality leads.
|Demand Generation||Lead Generation|
|Creates demand for your products and services by educating buyers on how your products and services solve business pain points||Captures the demand of the people already searching for your solutions|
|Builds your brand as a preferred vendor||Establishes your brand as one of the available solutions|
|Aligns buyer’s business objectives with your unique ability to solve them||Buyers already know their problems and are looking for the best solutions|
|Has shorter sale cycles with higher close rates since buyers are convinced that you have the best solution||Has longer sale cycles and lower close rates as buyers compare multiple vendors to determine the best solution|
|Lower competition and higher margins||Higher competition and lower margins|
Demand generation involves lots of patience and consistency because you are targeting the whole spectrum of the buying journey. Customers are not necessarily looking for solutions, but you are positioning yourself as an authority that can provide the solution they’ll eventually need.
Unfortunately, most B2B marketers want quick results and become engrossed with simply capturing demand to produce results. This causes sales teams to fight in a red ocean where dozens of other companies exist, and the buyer is the one calling the shots by comparing multiple vendors.
Understanding the B2B Buyer
B2B buyers are anonymous researchers. They prefer to research on their own for potential solutions, discuss them with a team, and prioritise them per other business needs. B2B buyers don’t engage with a sales rep until the end of a buying journey—when they are sure of the purchase.
This gives B2B marketers enough opportunity to create a demand for the solutions they offer. According to Gartner, 77% of B2B buyers make complex purchases that involve multiple research touchpoints and decision-makers. The B2B buying journey isn’t linear and predictable—customers loop across a series of buying stages before finally making a final decision.
B2B marketers who engage with buyers early on the buying journey have a better chance of standing out once the time for decision-making arrives.
Product-Driven Growth Marketing
One way to acquire, activate, and retain customers is by using your product as the primary marketing vehicle. Product-driven growth marketing works by offering a freemium version or giving out free samples. Buyers get to try out the actual product in action before committing to an upgraded or full version.
Offering free products is a proven strategy to build market share quickly. By lowering the barrier to experiencing your solution, buyers can make a wiser decision if what you have fits their needs. The challenge is to continuously monitor how many users are utilising your product during the free trial period or as a free version and find out how you can convert them to paying customers.
Success Factors for Product-Driven Growth Marketing
Customers are more demanding than ever, and with B2B buyers, the pressure is on to find the right solutions to achieve business goals without hurting bottom lines. A product-led growth (PLG) strategy helps buyers evaluate your solution before fully committing.
To be successful in implementing one, here are three core principles you should follow.
- Design your product for the end user
Customers are looking at your solution to solve a problem that they have. You need to understand who your market is and what are the challenges they are trying to serve. Then match this with how your product solves them. Your product will be able to market itself when it can solve the real need of the actual users.
- Deliver value first before capturing value
PLG marketing helps potential buyers realise the day-to-day value of your product so that they’re convinced to purchase it. It’s not enough that you offer them a free trial and delay capturing their payment; you should be able to help customers use your product in its entirety during the trial period.
Your goal is for buyers to fully experience your solution and realise that the product addresses their needs.
- Design the product with the intent to use it as a marketing tool
In PLG marketing, your product is the primary marketing tool. As such, the product should be able to help your team gather robust user data that helps determine user behaviour.
It must be intuitive for users to invite others to try your product. It must have a built-in network effect where its value increases the more people in a company uses it, or the more services are connected to it.
PLG marketing is prevalent in the B2B SaaS industry, where buyers must be convinced that the software addresses all their needs. However, not all products can adopt this strategy. Only products that can deliver real value during a free trial and convince users of it can successfully pull off this marketing strategy.
B2B Growth Hacking Strategies
B2B marketers know the three marketing funnel layers: TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU. All these layers must be addressed simultaneously for growth hacking strategies to be effective. You can’t fuel the top and neglect the middle and bottom layers, as these could lead to an influx of leads that don’t convert to paying customers.
Growth hacking strategies can be classified into the following categories:
- Community Building
- Product Marketing
- Content Marketing
In growth hacking, advertising must be thoughtfully executed as you can’t afford to waste ad spending dollars. Evaluate channels and invest in those that work and terminate those that aren’t. Building a community is usually a free way to quickly acquire a massive and loyal audience. Using your product as a marketing tool helps buyers get a feel of your solution before making a final commitment.
Creating high-quality content is still the king of any growth hacking strategy. Provide value to your prospects by offering free resources to guide them in their buying journey. B2B buyers have a lot to consider before making a final decision. Creating content that addresses those reservations will make them more likely to purchase your solution.
The AARRR Framework
One famous marketing framework that addresses all three layers is the AARRR framework. This stands for Acquisition, Activation, Retention, Revenue, and Referral.
It has been around before growth hacking was coined, but the framework remains a top-performing strategy.
- Acquisition – This step involves getting massive website visitors from various sources. The goal is for consumers to know your brand and see your product. Some of the common strategies used in this stage are:
- Viral B2B growth – utilises emotional content to become viral on social media and the Internet. It can prove tricky for B2B marketers but is still possible depending on the B2B solution offered.
- Sticky B2B growth – involves getting buyers to use your product and remain engaged for a long time. The end goal is to create trust and reduce churn. If you offer a freemium solution, this can be a great way to acquire customers.
- Paid B2B growth – Common path for companies without exciting products that can go viral or become sticky. This is a good growth strategy if the cost to acquire the customer is lower than the customer’s lifetime value.
- Activation – Once you’ve acquired customers, it’s time to activate them. Activation means your prospects start using your product and discovering its benefits. You can achieve this through:
- Drip Email marketing series
- Guided onboarding experience
- Gamification of the onboarding process
- Extensive documentation, including video tutorials
- Entry-level product usage designed to help users test your solutions
- Retention – Upgrading a customer to a higher package is easier and cheaper than acquiring a new customer. Use data, like Google Analytics Cohort Analysis, to understand user groups and see when they are returning and leaving your website.
The more customers you’re able to retain, the more likely that they’d use word-of-mouth advertising to promote your business.
- Revenue – Having tons of customers on your website is useless if they are not converting into paying customers. Growth hacking involves converting website visitors to paid customers and generating revenues. There are various ways to go about this:
- Offer free trials where customers can experience the full range of your product within a limited period.
- Offer a freemium version where users can enjoy limited features and need to upgrade to enjoy robust features.
- Have a transparent and tiered pricing plan that scales with the customer’s needs. This is commonly implemented by many B2B SaaS solutions to encourage even smaller businesses to use their services.
- Referral – Happy and satisfied customers will recommend your product to others. However, this is not guaranteed, so offering referral incentives and creating brand ambassador programs help expedite the process.
Remember that growth hacking is mainly experimental, and there is no one size fits all strategy. Since each business is different, as a B2B marketer, you need to discover the right approach that suits your business.
Growth marketing heavily relies on data. Growth marketers must constantly measure and analyse various data points to help them rapidly test strategies and find the winning one. With B2B customers demanding a broad omnichannel approach, B2B growth marketers must be able to measure the data points in these various platforms to identify winning strategies.
How B2B Marketers Can Stimulate Demand
Here are proven strategies to help B2B marketers stimulate demand for their products.
- Know your target audience and increase their awareness of your product
Content marketing is a big piece of demand generation marketing, but for content to be effective B2B marketers must understand their target customer persona. Start by defining who your ideal prospects are and knowing how they make buying decisions. Understand their pain points and discover the questions they ask when they start looking for answers.
When you understand your market, create high-quality content to address these problems without necessarily adding a CTA at the bottom. You want to build trust with your audience and position yourself as the go-to resource. Position your website as a buying resource that helps solve their problem rather than just as a means to showcase your product.
Creating a free tool that solves an immediate pain point is a great way to create value for your audience instantly. If a tool is not possible, you can create a free report that gives them further insights.
- Implement lead scoring to understand a prospect’s stage in the buying journey
B2B buyers go through a different buying journey than B2C consumers. The sales cycle is long and complex, involving various touchpoints. As mentioned above, B2B buyers prefer to research solutions anonymously before reaching out to a sales rep.
Lead scoring allows you to maximise your sale resources so sales reps can directly reach out to customers at the most opportune time when they’re considering your product. Look at what successful leads have in common such as their demographic data, the content they’ve downloaded, and the channel they used to find you.
Based on what you discover, you can develop a points-based qualifying system that helps you target the right audience with the most effective marketing tactics.
- Harness the power of SEO and Inbound Marketing
Utilise SEO best practices to attract high-quality leads to your website. Instead of relying on keywords, create content that answers user questions and focus on long-tail conversational keywords.
Understand the why behind buyer behaviour at every stage of their journey and create content that addresses them.
- Build user communities in social media
Social media is widely used by all age demographics. Even B2B buyers frequent social media community groups where they seek the expertise of their peers. Don’t discredit social media’s value; use it to build user communities to build awareness for your solutions and provide valuable resources to your target market.
Of course, you should know the right social media platforms where your target audience hangs out.
- Promote remarkable content
Organic marketing is not enough to get your content out there. While SEO best practices will help put your content on the first page of results, you need to invest in promoting your content to drive results quickly. Demand generation involves distributing your content on industry pages and other avenues your prospects typically visit for resources.
Targeted ads guarantee that your content will land right in front of your prospects.
B2B growth marketing and demand generation strategy is a proven method to rapidly increase market share in today’s highly competitive business landscape. The principles are the same with B2C growth marketing, but the considerations of the customer buying journey are different.
B2B buyers face different challenges in their buying journey, and for growth marketing to be effective, these challenges must be understood and addressed.