How To Concoct a [Effective] SaaS Demand Generation Strategy📈
Learn Which Demand Gen Strategies Drive Growth, Not Empty Performance
When it comes to getting the most bang for your buck, knowing which SaaS demand generation strategy to bet on can be a huge deciding factor.
Of course, in the complex B2B buyer’s cycle of the modern day SaaS market, knowing what exactly constitutes” demand” can be tough to pin down.
We know that we want to generate demand (or interest/need) for our software or software service. But with the extended lifecycle and consideration phase of the average end-buyer in SaaS, how can we track interest? What marketing touch-points qualify as generating demand while others simply boost vanity metrics?
In this post we’ll be walking through what exactly is included under the Demand Gen umbrella – as well as how to see if your SaaS demand generation strategies are actually driving revenue or simply blinding you with empty performance.
What Is Demand Generation?
Especially in a highly technical and equally saturated market like SaaS, not everyone knows what you’re selling. With the countless different software solutions being offered today – each for unique solutions to specific pain points – you need to make sure that your audience is aware of their need for your brand.
This is where Demand Generation strategies drive their value – creating the awareness, visibility, and need for your SaaS brand.
Simply put: Demand Generation is the focus of targeted marketing programs to drive awareness and interest in a company’s products and/or services.
History of Demand Generation
Demand Generation strategies were originally developed to help focus their more aimless predecessor: Growth Marketing. While the explosion of digital marketing in the post-digital marketing world opened up countless new Growth Marketing channels, it made attribution a nightmare.
Demand Generation as a practice was meant to help be a guiding light to originally aimless Growth Marketing strategies.
However, where Demand Gen managed to isolate certain marketing touchpoints as correlative to growth, it failed to complete the connection.
As opposed to more traditional buying cycles like the eCommerce example above, the [SaaS] buyer’s journey is a bit more complex […] With all the different touch points in the vastly complex buyer’s journey of a given SaaS campaign, there’s no wonder things can get a little muddled. [T]his is where most demand gen strategies fall short.
– Sean Martin | Directive, Marketing Manager
Now, because we mentioned demand generation’s limitations you’re probably already thinking “Well what about Lead Generation?”
Well, true, there is also the other side of the coin to consider. According to Sendoso: While demand generation and lead generation would seem interchangeable, demand generation focuses on brand awareness and product education at the top of the funnel, where lead generation is focused on converting prospects into qualified leads that can be nurtured into becoming customers.
While this is true, it doesn’t quite tell the whole story. I like to add a little bit of elaboration to paint a more complete picture of the lead-gen vs demand-gen debate:
Imagine flipping a coin for the success of your growing SaaS brand.
Heads: You manage to widen your brand’s visibility and awareness for the need for your product, but struggle to actually drive leads and revenue. Tails: You have no problem driving leads, but can’t seem to scale your exposure. Sounds like a frustrating situation, doesn’t it? Welcome to the world of Demand Generation and Lead Generation.
What Is SaaS Demand Generation Strategy?
So what exactly is the difference between SaaS demand gen and SaaS Demand Generation Strategy? Well if the word didn’t give it away the first time, it’s the strategy.
Modern-day SaaS marketing strategies need a higher level, prioritized, and financially backed modeling system on which to build their go-to-market strategies.
A truly successful SaaS demand generation strategy is more than just a timeline and a content calendar with some conversion goals set each month. LTV:CAC aligned goal setting, offline conversion tracking, and incremental inputs that can be controlled is how you can a domination strategy.
The better you can understand your target market and the resources necessary to truly move them from apathy to action, the better you can avoid the classic Demand Gen cliff that so many SaaS marketers runoff.
Demand Generation Strategy 101: What Works VS What Doesn’t?
If you’re working on generating awareness and interest in your product or service, you’re looking at Growth Marketing. However, if you’re working to capitalize off this newly generated demand, now we’re in the realm of SaaS Demand Generation strategies. Demand Generation doesn’t just want to build awareness – it wants to move your customers from apathy to awareness, and ultimately to action.
We could write a hundred different posts on opinions on what types of demand generation strategies work and which don’t (and we may one day still). But the inevitable question we’ll always end up finding ourselves is whether or not the generated significant growth for the brand. Now, how exactly do you measure this growth? Well, with LTV:CAC of course.
LTV:CAC gives you an accurate picture of what is generating actual value (in terms of revenue) and what is actually just burning budget within your marketing campaigns. It is truly the holy grail of SaaS marketing metrics – far beyond just demand generation strategies.
Winning Leads With An Effective Demand Generation Strategy
In fact, both lead generation and demand generation strategies tend to fall victim to this metric misalignment. And when you end up flipping a coin over exposure or engagement, over engagement over activation, or some other impossible choice, what are you left to do?
How do you choose the best side of the coin in this situation?In a 50:50 flip where you really end up crossing your fingers that the MQLs you generate turn into revenue anyway, how do you choose the best finger-crosser?
Winning leads with an effective demand generation strategy comes down to knowing who your total addressable market is and how to best engage them in a qualified and activating manner. How can you provide the most value to the most targeted description of your end-buyer? That’s the question your SaaS demand generation strategies need to answer.
How To Craft and Implement A Demand Generation Strategy
Now we’ve already covered the bulk of what a common demand generation strategy focus on. But what about the stand outs? You know, what about the strategies that we wish we thought of ourselves? The ones that are truly considered remarkable and can back up that memorable brand experience with serious revenue generated from it.
Well, luckily, here at Directive we prioritize R&D and first party data in order to back each of our own strategic suggestions with a proof-is-in-the-pudding mentality. Through our own intensive studies and testing we’ve been able to identify 5 core principles of highly effective SaaS demand generation strategies:
1st Party Data Unlocks Scale
Mapping your Total Addressable Market (TAM), building account lists, and aggressively scaling spend using 1st party data not only future proofs your campaigns; but also gives you the confidence to grow brand advertising because every impression delivered will be a future customer.
Customer-Led > Product-Led
Financial Modeling is a Need to Have
Scale without financial modeling is a pipe dream. Make sure you identify your most impactful levers through a customer-led marketing ops agency while acquiring the tools needed to improve your capital allocation.
SQLs Beat MQLs Every Time
MQLs are like balloons. When they inevitably pop, there’s nothing inside. Great marketing makes you money. Let’s keep this one simple.
There’s No Such Thing as B2B
Your customers are people, not corporations. They hate inhumane marketing as much as you do, we promise. Let’s change the expectation of what B2B search marketing is together.
The Inherit Downfalls Of Demand Generation Strategies
The issue with most attempted demand gen and lead gen combinations is misaligned goals and metrics. Simple as that.
Because each strategy operates on different NSMs that aren’t tied back to the same singular goal, there’s no way the hand-off between demand gen and lead gen and alignment with sales can be a clean one.
No wonder these old school methods lead to so much waste compared to more customer-aligned approaches. If you want to move beyond aimless efficiency, you can’t just optimize everyone for their individual performance. You need to make sure everyone is looking at the same goal as well.
Remember that MQL cliff graphic that we went over earlier? Getting déjà vu yet, anyone?
How To Concoct an Effective SaaS Customer Generation Strategy
It’s time we all start focusing less on vanity metrics and more on what matters – generating customers. This is why Directive has crafted our very own customer-led marketing methodology: Customer Generation.
If you’re interested in learning more about Directive’s new marketing methodology and want to learn more about this new customer-led philosophy, be sure to join Society – the first exclusive #Slack Community dedicated to SaaS Marketing (now over 1300+ members!).
1,300+ Member SaaS Community
Sadly, your SaaS product is not for everyone. Somewhere along the line, however, traditional demand generation campaigns forgot about this. By leveraging first-party data, detailed segmentation, and emotion we motivate your ideal customer from apathy to action.
The Customer Generation approach drives alignment between sales, marketing, and customer success resulting in higher performance and greater confidence in your ability to allocate capital.
It’s time we start delivering on the promise demand gen forgot about.
Isn’t it time you start looking for a better way to market your software/service? Something focused on what really matters from the very beginning: Generating Customers. The better you can identify which levers to pull in order to scale consistently, the better you can grow your business with confidence and get back to doing what you set out to do – help more customers.
Think of it in terms of these plants you’ve been watching grow throughout this blog post. Once you figure out what kind of plant you want to grow and how best to grow it – isn’t the next step to set up the irrigation to skyrocket that growth rate?
The New Kid on the Block: Customer Generation
If you’ve gotten this far and you’re still digging your heals into the proverbial Demand Generation sand, let me paint you another picture. We all like to see before and after stats of our favorite SaaS marketing strategies, don’t we?
Well, let’s take a look at this quick comparison of a certain performance marketing SaaS agency *coughcough* and its growth after a customer-led alignment. You can see for yourself what kind of results you can reap by switching from a product-led to a more customer-led marketing mentality.
Sophisticated SaaS marketing strategies aren’t defined by how many tools you have in your belt or how efficient you can make your marketing funnel.
They’re about how you can effectively improve your customer’s transformative journey from apathy to action.
Implementing more customer-led marketing strategies into your SaaS demand generation campaigns will allow you to better understand the value of each customer interaction and each discrete touchpoint. It will give you the ability to identify which optimizations truly move the needle and improve your brand’s customer experience. And that’s how you start generating demand, after all.