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    Guide to

    B2B Demand Generation

    The B2B buyer journey is changing. And businesses that are shifting towards demand generation are driving growth.

    In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about effectively creating, capturing, and converting demand.

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    What is B2B demand generation?

    B2B demand generation is a commercial strategy. It has the goal of driving awareness and interest in your offering. It covers every interaction that a potential buyer has with your business – from discovering you in the first place, developing affinity for your brand, educating themselves on your offering (on their own terms), and eventually entering your sales process as a qualified lead.

    Demand generation is based on the understanding that most of your market isn’t ready to buy yet, and they’re probably unaware they have a problem. Therefore, it’s split into two categories.

    Demand creation

    Demand creation is the method for generating awareness of a problem and solution. Then, educating the 95% of your market that isn’t actively looking for a solution. This includes creating and distributing content to a wider audience on mediums such as social media, podcasts, and communities.

    Demand capture

    Demand capture is the method for attracting and converting the 5% of your market that is actively looking for a solution. This includes ‘capturing’ buyers in channels that they use when they’re ready to buy e.g., Google search, review sites, and your own website. 

    Demand creation vs demand capture: how do they differ?

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    What are the different types of demand generation?

    Demand can be generated in lots of ways by lots of people. So, before you go ahead and get started with demand generation, it’s important to understand the different approaches available.

    Inbound demand generation

    Inbound demand generation takes the best parts of inbound marketing and combines them with an effective buying experience to generate pipeline. Inbound demand generation takes buyers on a journey from discovery to decision, whilst they remain entirely anonymous.

    Some of the tactics used in inbound demand generation include: 

    • Blogs
    • Social media content (optimised for in-feed consumption)
    • Live events
    • Podcasts 

    Outbound demand generation 

    Outbound demand generation aligns around the creation of pipeline but uses interruption-based techniques to disrupt the buyer. It pushes a message to them without explicit permission to do so. Depending on how they are used, outbound tactics include:

    • Mass email
    • Cold calling
    • Direct mail
    • Purchasing data
    • Intent data 
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    What’s the difference between lead generation and demand generation?

    Lead generation uses marketing techniques to convert visitors into ‘leads’. The aim is to use email nurturing and lead scoring to pass ‘leads’ to sales.  

    For example, a popular method to generate leads is to use gated content. Some time ago, marketers discovered that gating eBooks, whitepapers, infographics, and other types of content was an effective way to generate leads. The belief was that generating more leads for sales results in more revenue.

    However, in today’s market, buyers are aware that downloading a piece of content results in receiving unwanted communication, such as:

    • Lead nurturing emails
    • Phone calls from sales
    • LinkedIn InMail's.

    Today's buyers are less likely to see your content because they’re going to avoid downloading it. As a result, they don't extract your business’ value, and therefore are less likely to buy from you.

    Demand generation uses similar tactics to lead generation but removes the gates or makes them optional. It prioritises creating and distributing ungated, valuable content to your ideal buyer with the goal of educating and generating affinity for your brand. All without capturing contact details. Instead of focusing on generating leads, inbound demand generation focuses on generating revenue.


    How do you move from lead generation to demand generation?

    Understanding that demand generation is the best strategy for B2B marketing going forward is the first step, but if you're looking to move on from an outdated lead generation model, here's what you need to know.

    In Episode 13 of Demand Decoded, we covered practical insights about how to move from lead generation to demand generation. Watch the recording below:

    Business alignment

    The first thing you need to do is make sure that your entire business is out of the lead generation mindset. Everybody from the top down must understand that lead generation is not the optimal strategy for generating revenue and the go-to-market method. And change is good.

    One simple way to demonstrate the ineffectiveness of your lead generation efforts is to use a split funnel analysis.

    Split funnel analysis

    A split-funnel analysis separates leads that have converted on lead generation campaigns and leads that have converted on high-intent forms. This is where someone is expressing explicit interest in your product or service. From here, you can analyse how many opportunities and customers were produced by your lead-generation campaigns and high-intent forms segments separately.

    What you’re likely to see is that leads who submit your high-intent form convert into opportunities and customers at a much higher rate. Even if there are fewer leads overall. On the other hand, whilst you can generate lots of leads through lead generation campaigns, they don’t convert effectively into opportunities and customers.

    This data alone should let you to make a case for demand generation, which focuses on creating more high-intent form submissions.

    Here’s a tutorial on how to do a split-funnel analysis:

    Metric alignment

    Once you’ve got buy-in from the business, the next step is to align on the demand generation metrics that you will be tracking. This means no longer reporting on leads to measure the success of your marketing, but reporting on metrics that are closer to revenue, such as:

    • High-intent form submissions
    • Opportunities
    • Pipeline
    • Closed-won revenue

    Be sure that you have complete clarity on your data so that you can have confidence in what you're tracking.

    Planning and execution

    Now you know what the end goal of your marketing is, it’s time to start planning and executing your demand generation strategy. We recommend breaking it down into three parts:

    Identify your goal.

    Select a high-level goal that can be used in all your marketing, for example – make your ideal buyer aware of a problem they might have.

    Create tactics

    How are you going to achieve your goal? For example, create value-driven content, optimise your content for in-feed social media, or create zero-click content.

    Choose your channels

    Decide which channels you'll use to reach your buyer. For example, utilise LinkedIn ads to distribute in-feed content.

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    5 components of an effective B2B demand generation strategy

    1. Understand your business' positioning

    Firstly, you need to have a good understanding of what your business' value proposition is and how your solution compares to others in the market. Knowing the value of your solution enables you to understand who needs it.

    2. Decipher your audience

    The next step is to understand who your ideal customer is and the personas within the businesses that you want to communicate with. This allows you to tailor your content strategy to the things that matter most to your audience, rather than what matters to your business.

    Further reading: How many buyer personas do you need for inbound marketing?

    3. Content strategy

    Content is a crucial part of inbound demand generation. Without it, potential buyers can't self-discover, self-educate, or self-select potential suppliers. To create content that resonates with your potential buyers, you need to plan, structure, and craft your content carefully. 

    How to create a content marketing plan for B2B inbound demand generation.

    4. Channel strategy

    When you have a strategy in place for creating content, you need to plan how you distribute it and which channels to use. For example:

    • We’re going to use LinkedIn to distribute in-feed content.
    • We’re going to use PPC to bid on buyer-intent keywords.
    • We’re going to use blogging to target educational keywords.
    • We’re going to distribute our live events to YouTube. 

    5. Conversion optimisation

    Conversion optimisation is about ensuring buyers can effectively evaluate your solution, answer critical purchase questions, compare it against competitors, and encourage high-intent conversions. In most B2B scenarios, this starts with your website.

    • Your website needs to be discoverable so buyers can find you.
    • You need to have a clear user experience, so your buyer knows where to find information on your website and how to contact you.
    • You need to have a fast and smooth sales process that reflects the needs of your buyer.

    Further reading: The best B2B demand generation strategies

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    The best demand generation software


    HubSpot has numerous uses for demand generation, the platform covers CRM, websites, marketing, sales and service. All the tools in HubSpot can be used individually or combined to improve your demand generation efforts.

    HubSpot CRM

    It's vital that you have a clear, single view of your contacts so that your entire commercial functions can align on a single source of truth. Not only does this make your revenue operations more efficient, it enables all commercial teams to use the same data for reporting success. HubSpot CRM has been named the #1 CRM by G2, and for good reason.

    HubSpot Content Hub (websites)

    For most B2Bs, your website is the main source of opportunities – serving to generate, validate, and convert the interest in your company's offering. As such, it’s crucial that your website is reliable, secure, easy to update, and provides an excellent user experience. HubSpot Content Hub is the perfect choice for demand generation.

    HubSpot Marketing Hub

    This is your all-in-one marketing engine that includes tools for marketing automation, email marketing, social media marketing, blogging, ad management, SEO, reporting, and more!

    HubSpot Sales Hub

    Your demand generation efforts are nulled if you’re unable to effectively manage contacts from discovery to customer. HubSpot Sales Hub provides you with the tools to manage contacts, companies, and opportunities effectively.

    HubSpot Service Hub

    Your customers are your best assets to generate more demand for your business and one way to get more referrals is to provide exceptional customer service. Service Hub includes all of the tools you need to serve your customers as effectively as possible and report on your success.


    With 70% of the buyer's journey taking place in the dark funnel, 6sense Revnue AI helps you to capture anonymous buying signals, target the right accounts at precisely the right time, and boost revenue performance with recommendations for the channels and messages most likely to convert.

    The video below provides a short overview of the 6sense platform.


    Messaging is an element of marketing that’s almost impossible to measure quantitatively, it’s usually an educated guess. Wynter allows you to test and measure the effectiveness of your messaging and preferences.

    To do this, Wynter has proprietary B2B audiences made up of engaged professionals from various industries and roles who provide insightful responses to the questions you ask about your messaging. All are hand-validated so you can target by title, seniority, industry, and company size.

    Wynter has a YouTube series called ‘Do you even resonate’, where they show Wynter in action – here's the episode where they review Chilli Piper’s messaging.

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    How to measure demand generation

    Demand generation doesn’t eliminate the use of traditional marketing metrics such as traffic, keyword rankings, impressions, and clicks. These are all relevant indicative metrics that identify early-stage success. However, demand generation success isn’t measured on indicative metrics, it’s measured on metrics that translate to commercial success.

    Here are the metrics you can use to measure demand generation success:

    Marketing qualified leads (MQL)

    A demand generation marketing qualified lead tracks high-intent conversion. This could be a free trial, demo request, consultation request, or simply a contact form submission. Unlike a ‘typical’ marketing qualified lead, which uses lead scoring to predict when a lead is ready to buy.

    Self-reported attribution

    Self-reported attribution simply involves asking a lead ‘how did you hear about us’ on a high-intent conversion form. This qualitative data point makes it easier to identify what attracts people in the first place. You can even group and quantify this data to use in reports manually or using marketing automation.

    self-reported attribution form

    Marketing generated opportunities

    The actual definition of an opportunity varies between businesses, but for us, it’s when a deal is created in the pipeline. Measuring how many marketing-qualified leads became opportunities shows you if you’re attracting the right buyer.

    Marketing generated revenue

    Revenue is the end goal for most B2Bs, but for a long time, marketers have believed that they shouldn’t report on revenue because it’s the sales job to close opportunities to customers.

    Whilst this can be true, the purpose of measuring marketing generated revenue is to identify if your demand generation efforts are attracting buyers that are going to buy from your business. Combining this with self-reported attribution identifies the areas that are most successful in generating revenue. This provides more insight to invest in those areas.

    8 demand generation metrics every marketer should know

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    The demand generation funnel

    The demand generation funnel is a visual representation of the stages that a typical B2B buyer will go through during a buying process. Since demand generation aims to create demand for a product or service rather than pushing for contact details, it looks slightly different to the traditional inbound marketing funnel.

    demand generation funnel

    Stage 1: Create demand

    The first stage of the demand generation funnel is to create awareness. 95% of your market isn’t yet looking for a solution, so, it's important that you're creating demand so that you can market to your entire addressable market, not just those searching for a solution.

    Demand creation focuses on two elements that ensure you’re addressing your whole market.

    Create awareness of a problem.  

    The main goal at this stage is to create and distribute educational, value-driven, content to your ideal customer that makes them aware of a better way of doing something. At this stage, you’ll typically be focusing on distributing that content in non-intent channels. This is where your ideal customer hangs out but doesn't necessarily go to look for a solution, such as social media.

    Create demand for a solution.

    At this stage, your buyer knows that they have a problem and they’re aware of your brand. What they still don’t know is the finer details of how to solve their problem. So, your role is to create free, educational content to help your buyer.

    The trap that lots of businesses fall into at this stage is leading with their own product or service. Whilst it’s important to describe how your business fits the solution, at this stage your buyer isn’t interested in specifications and features, they’re looking for non-biased consultative advice about how to solve their problem.

    The best way to create demand is to give free advice, in the form of content marketing (without a hidden agenda). The goal at this stage is to become the go-to place for advice on your topic. This builds affinity between the buyer and your brand so that when the buying trigger occurs, your brand is top of mind.

    It’s important to note that all buyers consume content differently, so be sure to understand the content that resonates best with them. Content that often works well at this stage includes webinars, videos, podcasts, and ungated written content. 

    Stage 2: Capture demand

    Demand capture focuses on marketing to the 5% of your market that is currently in the market for a solution.

    Once your buyer has figured out that they have a problem and that there are solutions available, the next step is for them to explore and purchase a solution. This exploration happens in high-intent channels where they will be analysing pricing breakdowns, solution comparisons, case studies, specifications, and features.

    Capture demand channels

    There are several key channels that buyers turn to when they’re looking for a new solution, these typically include:

    It’s your job to ensure that your business is visible within these channels to drive as much high-intent demand as possible to your website.

    Capture demand process

    Demand generation doesn’t just stop when somebody clicks on your website. The capture demand stage includes effectively converting your buyer on a high-intent form such as a consultation request, demo request, or contact form. Effectively capturing demand requires you to have a high-performance website with an effective design.

    Read the complete guide to effective B2B website design.

    Read the complete guide to the factors that affect website performance. 

    Stage 3: Convert demand

    The convert demand stage is often forgotten in demand generation but is arguably the most important – this is the stage that converts demand into pipeline. Your buyer has explicitly asked to talk to somebody about your product or service and as the marketing team, it’s your job to make this hand-off as smooth as possible.

    Here are 5 ways to optimise your demand conversion process.

    • Establish a single view of the customer so there’s an easy hand-off process between marketing and sales – this might mean integrating your marketing software with your CRM.
    • Differentiate these high-intent leads from your other leads so it’s clear to sales that they're more likely to become customers.
    • Optimise the speed and simplicity of marketing to sales handoff. Consider implementing a meeting scheduling tool or automating some of the follow-up processes to increase efficiency.
    • Ensure your sales process is repeatable – having a clear set of steps and stages ensures that critical actions are never missed.
    • Create measurable feedback loops so that marketing can measure the effectiveness of campaigns or channels. 

    Read The B2B Sales & Marketing Alignment Handbook.

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    The dark funnel

    B2B companies are devoted to traditional marketing attribution models because they give a clear indication of what’s working.

    But the truth is that your buyers engage and make most decisions in places that you can’t attribute. The dark funnel refers to the hidden activity that a buyer undertakes when researching and purchasing a new product or service.

    Research shows that B2B buyers are only spending 17% of their buying journey with potential suppliers, most of their time is spent researching independently and meeting with their buying group. This means that most of their buying journey is totally hidden from attribution software. What we’re able to track and attribute is limited to just a handful of channels, the dark iceberg model demonstrates this.

    the dark iceberg model in demand generation

    The dark funnel will always exist. This means marketers need to change their tactics to create demand in places that aren't measurable, and they need to change the way that they measure marketing success. The inbound demand generation methodology naturally applies to the dark funnel as the focus is on leading with value-driven content that doesn’t need to be measured by attribution software and measures success further down the buying journey. 


    How to structure a demand generation team

    The best demand generation teams have three core qualities.

    Leadership – the people who can motivate, make tough decisions, and manage stakeholders.

    Strategy – the people who can craft your go-to-market approach and maximise ROI.

    Delivery – the people who execute your strategy.

    An ideal team structure could look like this:

    Demand generation leader

    Your demand generation leader will be an experienced marketer with experience in demand generation.  Their first step is to bring together the best team possible and motivate them to do their best work. While they will have expert strategists and exclusionists, your demand generation leader should still be highly skilled in the planning and delivery of demand generation. Aside from their own team, your leader needs to be able to manage stakeholders and communicate effectively with other C-level executives. 

    Demand generation strategist

    Your demand generation strategist will be at the forefront of your demand creation, capture, and conversion strategies. Your strategist will know:

    • Who your ideal customer is
    • What kind of content resonates with your audience
    • Which channels to distribute content on
    • How to optimise conversions

    Demand generation executive

    Your demand generation executive will be responsible for executing the demand generation strategy. Not only are they responsible for getting your programs off the ground, but they’re also responsible for monitoring success, updating and iterating where required.

    Content marketing executive

    Content is a critical part of a demand generation strategy. In a demand generation model, your content marketer will need to produce and repurpose content in lots of different formats.

    Bonus team member: Subject matter expert

    For businesses that provide complex solutions, creating content can be difficult because the knowledge to create content sits with experts outside of the demand generation team. That’s why some demand generation teams now hire a subject matter expert to join their own team, this person allows them to understand the market better and provides the knowledge for content.


    What is the role of sales in demand generation?

    The B2B buyer journey has evolved, buyers spend much less time with sales reps and more time researching independently.

    When buyers are comparing multiple suppliers‚ the amount of time spent with any one sales rep may be only 5% or 6% [out of 100% of the buying journey]. 


    The changes in buyer preferences mean that sales teams need to transform their strategy to serve their buyers effectively. Selling in a demand generation strategy largely follows the inbound sales methodology (with a few exceptions). This approach focuses on a consultative process to truly understand the buyers' challenges and explain how your solution can solve them.  

    Here are the key differences between a traditional sales approach and a demand generation sales approach.

    Traditional sales approach

    • Use outbound methods such as email blasting and LinkedIn InMail's to pitch to buyers unaware of your brand.
    • Send sequences to try and pitch to buyers that have downloaded gated content.
    • Use messaging tailored around product features and specifications.
    • Lead with brochures containing the same information that buyers can find online.
    • Trying to sell at all costs, even if the buyer is a bad fit.

    Demand generation sales approach

    • Has limited outbound activity and prioritises talking to buyers that have explicitly expressed interest.
    • The only outbound messaging is consultative advice. Presentations and collateral contains tailored information that the buyer can’t find anywhere else.
    • Explaining how your solution doesn’t fit the buyers needs as much as explaining how it does. 

    Best places to learn about demand generation


    When you follow the right accounts, LinkedIn can become a hub of demand generation information, just be sure to take advice from credible sources. 

    Dan Stillgoe

    Dan has experience in driving a lead generation to demand generation motion. As well as posts on how to create and capture new demand, Dan puts a lot of focus on how to ensure your revenue operations are set up to convert and measure success.

    Sarah Breathnach

    An experienced, 3x early-stage startup demand generation leader. You can expect posts on how to ditch old-school marketing tactics in favour of demand generation tactics that focus on generating revenue.

    Myles Madden

    Myles is a demand generation expert, working for both agencies and in SaaS, he provides actionable advice that marketers can use right away.

    Adam Holmgren

    As well as being a demand generation leader at a SaaS company, Adam hosts the Driving Demand Podcast, giving him insight into what other marketers are doing to drive success.

    Obaid Durrani

    Obaid is a content expert. He knows how to create unique content that will resonate with your audience. After successfully growing his own content marketing agency, he now advises B2B technology creator teams.

    Dave Gerhardt

    One of the most well-known names on this list, Dave Gerhardt, is an experienced C-level marketing executive with a wealth of knowledge on generating demand. Previously VP of Marketing and Drift and CMO at Privy, Dave is now the founder of Exit Five, a paid-for community for B2B marketers.


    Listen to in-depth conversations and advice and industry leading experts.

    Demand Decoded - by Blend

    Our show focuses on breaking the mold of traditional B2B marketing tactics, providing actionable insights that you can use to transform your marketing into a revenue generating machine. With a team of experts from Blend as our main hosts, we delve into the latest trends and strategies in B2B marketing.

    Listen to the latest episode:

    Demand Gen U Podcast – by

    Hosted by the marketing leaders at, Demand Gen U goes deep on one topic to bring you actionable, no fluff B2B marketing lessons that they’ve learned along the way. In each episode, the Metadata team shares their successes (and failures) and teaches you what they’re doing to drive results. Get practical frameworks, tactics, and ideas you can immediately apply in your role. 

    Fullfunnel Podcast – by

    Every week founders Andrei Zinkevich and Vladimir Blagojevic sit down with B2B marketing and sales leaders to discuss all things related to B2B marketing: from developing and executing account-based marketing programs to deal expansions.

    Stacking Growth – by Refine Labs

    Stacking Growth is a live event series, hosted by Refine Labs, which is released afterwards as a podcast. Each episode is hosted by different members of the Refine Labs team, from content executives, creative designers, advertising specialists and demand generation leaders, giving you a broad range of advice to generate demand.

    Exit Five – by Dave Gerhardt

    As well as appearing on our LinkedIn list, Dave Gerhardt also hosts his own podcast - Exit Five. In this podcast, Dave and guests their marketing knowledge to help you drive revenue at your company and grow your career as a marketing pro. The podcast mostly covers B2B demand generation marketing, but there's something for anyone working in a marketing role today.


    A more conventional way to gather expert advice and solve problems.


    Our blog is full of tips and insights to help B2B marketers overcome their challenges. Our blog is written exclusively from an inbound demand generation perspective by experts within the agency. Our content provides insight into marketing strategy, website design, content marketing, paid search ads, paid social media ads, marketing operations... and more!

    Demand Gen Report

    The Demand Gen Report blog is a great place to find a balanced source of demand generation insights, news and thought leadership from leading B2B marketers. The wide range of authors contributing to the blog provides access to an array of diversified opinions and actionable tactics.


    Whilst HubSpot is synonymous with lead generation, their blog still offers a stream of content that’s relevant to B2B demand marketers. It’s split into five main categories: marketing, sales, service, website, and tech news – giving you a broad range of content to support your marketing.


    Go in-depth on a topic and let your mind wander.

    Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less

    Author Joe Puluzzi is one of the world’s leading experts on content marketing. In this book he explains how to effectively use content to attract prospects and generate revenue by creating information that buyers want to engage with. The days of interrupting customers with mediocre content and sales messages are over.  

    Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) That Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business

    This book identifies ways to create the stories, videos and blog posts that drive demand for your solutions and grow your business. This book combines actionable takeaways with successful case studies to show you how content can drive demand for real.

    Perennial Seller: The Art of Making and Marketing Work that Lasts

    Ryan Holiday’s ‘Perennial Seller’ concept underpins the creation of something that’s built to last. This book is all about how to create things that can and should last in a world where short-term gain and ‘hacks’ are so prominent, it features interviews with some of the world's greatest entrepreneurs and creatives.

    The Storytelling Edge: How to Transform Your Business, Stop Screaming into the Void, and Make People Love You

    Smart businesses today understand the need to use stories to better connect with their audience. In this book, content strategists Joe Lazauskas and Shane Snow offer an insider's guide to transforming your business—and all the relationships that matter to it—through the art and science of telling great stories. 

    Get help with demand generation

    We help B2Bs generate inbound demand and grow pipeline. Let us help you get started on the road to demand generation success with a consultation.

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