Optimizing Your User-Journey To Engage Demand Gen

First, here’s what we know: Marketers appear to be taking demand gen very seriously.

So seriously that 67% of the 130 respondents to the 2016 Demand Generation Benchmark Report [1] say their demand gen budgets would increase this year, with a good portion likely allocated to content marketing. Of that percentage, nearly 40% anticipate a rise of 20% or more.

So, yes, SaaS businesses understand the power of demand generation to grow revenues.

The question then becomes what platforms, strategies, and content work best to drum up demand? No enterprise wants to spend good dollars on a program that ultimately fails. Yet recent research by SiriusDecisions concluded that 60% to 70% of the content produced by B2B organizations goes unused [2]. Another study from PQ Media [3] puts the value of wasted B2B content at $50 billion per year.

This is primarily due to a lack of relevance to the potential buyer. But the other reasons? People don’t know it’s available or where to find the content.

It doesn’t have to be that way for your organization. Defy those statistics with educational content that helps prospects find you and pushes them through the buying journey.

Demand Gen Vs. Lead Gen

Though closely related, demand generation and lead generation possess subtle differences in terms of marketing strategies. Simply put, demand generation creates broad interest in your product and service. Lead gen, on the other hand, pinpoints and collects specific data on potential clients with the intention of converting them to fruitful sales leads.

Demand generation and lead generation typically adhere to a consistent buyer journey from awareness and strong interest to a closed deal and, ultimately, a long-term partnership with a client.

Drive The Demand Gen Funnel With Educational Content

What makes education such a powerful demand and lead gen tool? Well, an astonishing array of advertisements and marketing posts bombard potential clients daily. (One survey found that an individual is exposed to 5,000 ad messages per day.) [4]

So your content must stand out from that dizzying clutter. Providing relevant content that engages your prospects and that they can actually use in their daily lives [5] breaks through all the monotonous sales pitches and click bait.

Dean Ara, principal at Total Product Marketing, sums it up best in a recent blog post:

Simply pushing your features, benefits and accolades is a dead-end approach to selling your services,” he writes. “The truth is, buyers no longer have the time or interest to listen to how great you or your offerings are. Buyers don’t want to know about you; they want to know how you can help them. That is why today’s sales prospect generation best practices revolve around one key component — education.” [6]

4 Ways Educational Content Works To Drive Business Growth

1. It Kickstarts Demand Generation

Prospects have business challenges to solve, which leads them to search online for answers. Through savvy SEO tactics and in-depth knowledge of buyer personas, your product and service pop up.

At this point, offer educational content for free. Doing so shows prospects how your product erases a pain point, and it further establishes your interest in helping them, not just closing an immediate sale.

2. It Nurtures Them Through The Middle Of The Sales Funnel

Once you’ve captured prospects as a qualified lead, prime them for a sale with nurturing emails or links to courses.

As Dean Ara points out in his blog, buyers now prefer to independently and proactively search for solutions rather than depending on a salesperson to guide them. He says, “Successful sales prospect generation now depends on your ability to create high-quality educational content that speaks to your prospects’ needs first, and the importance of hiring you for your services second”.

Provide visitors with the resources they need to make a purchasing decision — on their own.

3. It Speeds Up The Onboarding Process

Once a prospect has signed on, the next step is a rapid onboarding process that can shorten the time-to-value. You want customers to realize the value of your product as quickly as possible. Here’s where product training —before, during, and after onboarding— makes a major difference, either in the form of webinars, in-person seminars or on-demand online training.

In our view, on-demand training online remains the best method for 2 reasons:

  1. Cost effective.
    Digitally automating any portion of the learning reduces the number of customer success coaches you need to hire.
  2. Enables proactive customer education.
    On-demand training enables customers to take the initiative themselves to dip into online courses to learn how your product or service works without waiting for the next online seminar or in-person class. That’s better than reactive education, which usually manifests as a costly and time-wasting support ticket.

Related reading: Six Steps to an Effective Customer Onboarding Program

4. It Promotes Retention And Fights Churn

As any SaaS expert will tell you, signing up a great number of new customers every month generates little (if any) impact to the bottom line if an equal or greater number of clients churn [7]. For that reason, SaaS profitability hinges nearly entirely on retaining new and current clients.

So increase your retention efforts with training. When you launch new features or products, be sure to send out training modules to current clients showing them how they can leverage those new features to boost their bottom line and productivity.

But don’t wait until you have a new product to push. Offer clients the latest industry buzz and other guidance from experts. Instead of always be selling, you should always be teaching.

Get Creative With Educational Content

The 2016 Demand Generation Benchmark Report also looked at how marketers are using white papers, case studies and eBooks as popular content marketing formats. The range of options is a reminder that you needn’t be locked into any one structure.

Today’s robust training software incorporates a wide variety of formats from eBooks and audio files to colorful infographics and videos.

And if you are not currently using video, you should be. Cisco [8] predicts that by 2020, IP video traffic will account for 82% of global consumer ιnternet traffic. People like to be educated and entertained at the same time, and video is the perfect vehicle for that. Think of those ubiquitous recipe videos that populate the Internet now — they are not only fun to watch, but they teach how to cook a meal. Model your training videos on that concept.

Panicked at the thought of producing a video? Don’t be. Sophisticated yet affordable video production tools and editing software abound in the marketplace.

Further, the materials to create outstanding learning programs lie right at your fingertips. You can easily repurpose previous blog posts, SlideShare presentations, eBooks, white papers, audio files, and infographics. Piece them together for an engaging lesson. Combine all your assets to create an unparalleled educational user experience, be it a course or toolkit.

In fact, according to one survey [9] from LookBook HQ, 60% of marketers reuse content to create “snackable” instruction. Repurposing your evergreen materials frees up time and resources to develop custom and original content when needed.

Education Provides Insight Into Customer Needs

A superior learning platform uncovers a wealth of data analytics into customer engagement behavior, more so than any survey. It documents what lessons attract the most activity (and which do not) and the scores customers obtain after going through the lessons.

Mine that data as well as support center tickets (which you will still receive, though there will be fewer of them thanks to training) to assess the instruction. Note where your educational materials are having the most impact, which ones resonate and which ones fall short.

Use that information to tailor your training to customers’ needs. Then watch those new courses generate more demand for your company’s product.

If you're looking to provide cutting edge education to any aspect of your business, look no further than SchoolKeep. Get started with a free 14-day trial today.

Footnotes:

  1. 2016 Demand Generation Benchmark Report
  2. At SiriusDecisions 2014: More than 60% of B2B content ends up in 'content wasteland'
  3. How to fix the $50bn problem in B2B content marketing
  4. New Research Sheds Light on Daily Ad Exposures
  5. New Research Sheds Light on Daily Ad Exposures
  6. Using Education as a Sales Prospect Generation Tool
  7. Here’s Why Your Churn is So High - And What You Can Do to Fix it
  8. Cisco Visual Networking Index: Forecast and Methodology, 2016–2021
  9. LookBook HQ - Resources
eBook Release: Northpass
Northpass
Northpass powers modern learning programs at some of the worlds fastest-growing businesses, like Lyft and Shopify. Train your people, customers, and partners with our easy-to-use software, and let our team of experts guide you to success.
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