The series of digital adaptations marketers were forced to take throughout 2020 have bled over to shape 2021 demand gen strategies. As businesses scrambled to find sustainable ways to conduct business as usual in a year that was anything but, the new tactics and practices proved to show potential for the long haul.
The remote work environments fueled an explosion of digital marketing that encouraged (read: forced) marketers to identify innovate ways to connect with prospects. To accomplish that, data reigned supreme as it enabled companies to identify prospects’ intent signals and produce targeted advertisements that buyers were looking for.
“The beauty of digital marketing is you can track all the different elements and data points behind it, and then understand how to respond based on the behaviors you were seeing,” said Lauren Eubanks, Sr. Demand Gen Manager of Technology Advice, in an interview with Demand Gen Report.
Additionally, virtual and hybrid events secured their place in marketers’ portfolios, demonstrating they have what it takes to enhance or even replace in-person events. Without further ado, here are five of the biggest trends shaping demand gen marketing throughout the rest of the year.
Live Events, Right From Your Home
Live events, such as webinars, have proven incredibly successful — in fact, 53% of marketers indicated that it generated the most revenue and identified the most qualified leads. While webinars require a lot of thought, planning and tapping into certain professionals to produce a polished piece, there’s an opportunity to make them more relatable and personal.
“I’m a huge believer in LinkedIn live,” said Brian Giese, CEO of True Influence, in an interview with Demand Gen Report. “The closer we can connect people to the conversation, the better we are. We’ve hired a whole production staff internally to be able to do that — it’s huge. I mean, it speaks, right? It doesn’t speak quietly, like a podcast, it speaks to you like we’re on Zoom, on video.”
As these less formal live sessions max out at an hour or two, time is of the essence. However, there are opportunities for longer events, so marketing teams can take things a step further by…
As most in-person events are on pause for the foreseeable future, organizations can scale smaller live videos into full-blown events that feature a series of industry speakers. Giese explained that the virtual alternatives are seeing just as much, if not more, success than their in-person counterparts.
“We held our True Influence Virtual Summit 2021 on Jan. 21 with Howie Mandel as our host, and we had over 3000 attendees,” said Giese. “If the event were live, we wouldn’t have that many people attend. The virtual nature condenses all the information into salient, well-said information.”
One of the biggest drivers of the success of virtual events is the load it takes off companies in terms of budgeting, booking and hosting. After all, attending in-person events isn’t cheap and planning for entire teams travel and lodging is a stressful, time- (and money-) consuming feat.
“Virtual events are a lot more cost effective and typically generate more attendees,” said Eubanks. “Companies have figured out that this is a strategy they should do long term, not just once a pandemic is over.”
To generate interest in these live events to take them to their full potential, marketing teams should…
Personalize Advertising Strategies
Tailor advertisements to specific customers through programmatic displays to identify what a buyer’s desires are. These advertisements directly address the problems prospects are trying to fix or the solutions they’re seeking.
“Programmatic display is growing like crazy,” said Giese. “It used to be that we’d drive our cars to the store and see a billboard; that’s meaningless now. We can associate the digital banner ad to the specific person looking at it and identify what company they’re from. With eyes on the specific person, we can send them better messaging.”
Of course, this messaging isn’t available without the proper tools. To that end…
Read The Data
Intent data and signals are a huge aspect of identifying what prospects are looking for and identifying where they are in the buying cycle. This slightly intrusive marketing strategy relies on third- and first-party intent data to track prospects’ internet activity and identify what they’re looking for, as well provide insights into their likelihood to act.
“Most of our customers use intent data, which shows what a person is interested in by topic,” said Giese. “It enables us to make offers based on what a prospect is actually interested in, as opposed to what we think they’re interested in. The infusion of intent is sustainable, factual and predictable.”
Despite the reliability of intent data, it’s not always foolproof. If companies don’t immediately see the results they’re looking for, it’s nothing to worry about because…
If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try Again
A series of trial and error is only to be expected when something new is being tested or put into practice. While it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for these strategies to see immediate success, it’s also important to take a realistic approach and not be afraid of failure.
“Not everything works; no one concept works the same for every company,” said Eubanks. “Companies have to keep testing and trying out different ways of generating leads or demand. When they start to see success, focus on that and continue to scale it while bringing in new ideas and letting it snowball.”
Demand generation will continue to be a staple of B2B, so it’s important that companies embrace the changes that come along with it. For additional insights into how the pivot to digital impacted traditional demand gen strategies, be sure to check out What’s Working In Demand Generation.
This story premiered on our sister site, DemandGen Report.