Table of Contents

    Download resource

    A guide to

    Inbound demand generation

    Drive more high-intent leads, pipeline, and revenue by putting buyer preferences at the forefront of your marketing.

    This guide covers everything you need to know about inbound demand generation.

    Inbound-demand-gen-reversed (1)
    decorative icon teal

    What is inbound demand generation?

    Inbound demand generation is a marketing methodology that aligns with modern buyer behaviour. It focuses on driving high-intent leads, pipeline, and revenue by putting buyer preferences at the forefront. It allows buyers to consume information whilst remaining anonymous until they declare explicit interest in your offering.

    decorative icon gold

    Inbound demand generation methodology breakdown

    The inbound demand generation methodology is broken down into four key pillars that combine everything you need for successful marketing.

    BLD-1460 Inbound Demand Gen Graphic - (Internal, design)_white (1)

    1. Marketing fundamentals

    Getting your marketing fundamentals right is the first step for any business to achieve success in today's digital landscape.

    There are three core elements to this:

    a) A compelling and unique brand

    Your brand is the heart of your business and defines how your customers perceive you. It should encapsulate the vision and values of your business and appeal to your audience.

    b) A well-defined strategy

    A strong strategy lays the foundation for successful marketing, defining how you'll drive pipeline and revenue through your marketing efforts. Without a sound strategy, marketing lacks clear direction and can be ineffective.

    c) The right technology

    The right tools are essential for making your marketing efforts measurable, scalable, and repeatable. With the right tech, you can enhance your marketing efforts and achieve better results.

    2. The inbound philosophy

    The inbound philosophy was established by HubSpot. It’s an organisational belief that combines marketing, sales, and service to attract, engage, and delight buyers. The philosophy is largely based on the premise of giving value, knowledge, and information freely, in order to educate and benefit your buyers before seeking to extract value.

    Within inbound demand generation, the inbound philosophy is made up of four key stages:

    a) Create content buyers need

    The first touch you have with a buyer will likely be through content. Inbound demand generation focuses on creating useful content for buyers at the different stages of the buying process. This includes the unaware stage – when buyers aren’t even aware they have a problem and aren’t researching a solution.

    b) Distribute content where your buyers are

    It's important to distribute your content to the right channels. This includes channels your audience use to casually consume content (like social media) and channels they use when researching and diagnosing a problem (like search).

    c) Design a seamless website user experience

    When your content begins to resonate and bring buyers to your website, you must create a seamless experience that lets them find the information they need and provides a clear path to conversion.

    d) Implement a frictionless sales process

    Once has a buyer has expressed interest in your offering, it's essential to create a frictionless process that connects them with sales in the easiest, fastest and most effective way possible.

    3. Demand generation funnel

    The demand generation funnel covers the core stages that every buyer will go through on their journey. By covering all stages, you'll be able to address your entire market.

    Demand Generation Funnel (3)

    a) Create demand

    Demand creation is the stage when you generate awareness of a problem and solution. It lets you create demand by distributing content to a wider audience. This might be across social media, podcasts, and other communities. Considering 95% of your market might not be actively looking for a solution, demand creation is a great way to reach them.

    b) Capture demand

    Demand capture is the stage when you attract and engage 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. 

    c) Convert demand

    Demand conversion is the stage when you take high-intent leads that have expressed an interest in your offering and progress them through your sales cycle and pipeline.

    4. Output

    The success of inbound demand generation should be measured on business outcomes such as pipeline growth and revenue generation. Focusing on value over volume is essential in this approach, which means optimising for best-fit prospects over a mass volume of poor-fit leads that are unlikely to convert. By prioritising value, businesses can ensure that their activities are aligned with their overall revenue goals.

    decorative icon gold

    Why adopt inbound demand generation?

    Buyer preferences have changed and you need a marketing strategy that leans into these changes. Buyers today have a strong preference for frictionless purchasing experiences that align with their desire to remain anonymous. They want to be in control of the entire buying process.

    Key changes in buyer preferences:


    • Only 17% of buying groups' time is spent meeting with potential suppliers (source)
    • The buying journey is not linear, there are lots of complexities (source)
    • 75% of buyers expect a consistent experience across every channel they choose to engage with (source)
    • 82% of buyers expect an immediate response to sales or marketing questions (source)

    Buyers research independently

    In the past, sales and marketing teams would rely on nurturing and selling tactics to convince potential buyers to make a purchase. However, modern buyers are more likely to research independently, relying on online resources and peer reviews to inform their decision-making process.

    People value their privacy

    Modern buyers also prefer anonymity until they are ready to engage with a business directly. This is because buyers know the result of submitting forms, they'll get lead nurturing emails and sales outreach. Since these actions are undesirable, buyers choose to remain anonymous as long as possible and consume ungated content until they're ready to purchase, only then will they submit a form and hand over their details.

    Helpful content builds trust

    Inbound demand generation aligns with the changes in buyer preferences. Instead of relying on traditional lead generation tactics like gated content, lead nurturing, and lead scoring, inbound demand gen focuses on sharing genuinely helpful, ungated content and resources that attract potential buyers to a business organically. This approach builds trust and brand affinity with potential buyers, and positions the business as a valuable resource throughout the buyer's journey.

    decorative icon green

    Traditional demand generation vs inbound demand generation

    All types of demand generation are focused on the same goal to drive awareness and desire for a product or solution. But the methods of doing this do vary.

    Traditional demand generation

    Traditional demand relies on interruption-based tactics to distribute a message. These tactics disrupt the buyer without their explicit permission. This typically involves mass emailing, cold calling, direct mail, and purchasing data to reach potential customers, often employing heavy disruption-based advertising to push the message.

    Inbound demand generation

    Inbound demand generation utilises modern digital channels, such as social media, podcasting, webinars, and SEO to distribute content and engage potential customers, taking them on a journey from discovery to decision while respecting their privacy. It draws buyers to your business organically, as opposed to reaching out to them directly.

    In inbound demand generation, advertising isn't always needed or advocated for, but when used, it's employed to distribute content and capture demand in a non-intrusive manner.


    Inbound marketing vs inbound demand generation

    Inbound demand generation and inbound marketing are related concepts, but they have some differences.

    Inbound marketing

    Inbound marketing is a concept that was coined by HubSpot and has become a leading B2B marketing strategy. It is a privacy-centric approach to marketing that focuses on solving problems and answering questions that buyers have. By educating buyers about how your solution can solve their challenges, inbound marketing aims to showcase expertise and establish a strong relationship with potential customers.

    Inbound marketing is heavily focused on capturing demand. This means being present in the places where buyers are researching and evaluating solutions to their pain points.

    Lead generation is also a central focus of inbound marketing, but it is done in a lawful, permission-based way. The goal is to create content that buyers want and gate it behind a form. When a buyer submits the form, they will then be nurtured with emails that try to take them further down the purchase funnel while scoring them along the way. When they reach a particular score that indicates they are interested in buying, they will be assigned to sales to reach out.

    Inbound demand generation

    Inbound demand generation is an approach that combines the inbound philosophy with the goal of driving demand through all stages of the buying journey.

    The focus is on both creating and capturing demand using content that resonates with potential customers. Unlike inbound marketing, inbound demand generation recognises that only a small percentage of your buyers will be actively seeking a solution at any given time. This approach aims to create demand for the remaining 95% of your market that isn't actively looking for a solution.

    As opposed to optimising for the creation of leads, inbound demand generation focuses on creating high-intent leads that have declared their interest in your product or service.

    Read the full comparison: Inbound demand generation vs. inbound marketing

    decorative icon orange

    How to get started with inbound demand generation

    Get alignment across your business

    Before you pivot to inbound demand generation, it is crucial to shift away from a lead generation mindset throughout your entire business. This means that everyone from leadership down understands that lead generation alone may not be the most effective way to generate revenue, and be open to change.

    A useful method to illustrate the limitations of lead generation is to conduct a split funnel analysis, which can highlight the areas where your efforts are less effective.

    Agree on new measureable metrics

    After gaining the support of your organisation, the next crucial step is to agree on the demand generation metrics that you'll be measured on. This involves moving beyond the outdated approach of tracking leads as a measurement of marketing success, and instead focusing on metrics that are more closely tied to revenue, such as high-intent form submissions, opportunities, pipeline, and closed-won revenue.

    Blend reccomends: We suggest utilising marketing qualified leads as a measurement, but use MQL as a way to label high-intent leads that have declared explicit interest in your offering.

    It's important to have a clear understanding of your data and metrics to ensure that you can trust the information you are tracking. By aligning your metrics with revenue outcomes, you can better understand the effectiveness of your demand generation efforts and make data-driven decisions to improve your business performance.

    Implement your strategy

    Now you know what the end goal of your marketing is, it’s time to start planning and executing your demand generation strategy.

    This is comprised of two stages:


    To achieve success, a well-defined demand generation strategy is essential. This strategy should include key elements such as your business's unique selling proposition and core messaging, a deep understanding of your target audience and ideal customer profile, and a comprehensive plan of action for executing your inbound demand generation activities.

    By establishing a solid strategy that encompasses these critical components, you can ensure that your inbound demand generation efforts are effective in driving pipeline and revenue for your business.


    Once you have formulated a plan, it's time to activate it. This involves ongoing implementation and carrying out the necessary activities in line with the strategy.

    Within the activation phase, it's vital to continually report and assess the outcomes, as this enables you to steer the direction of the strategy if needed. And by reviewing the results, you can determine what is working well and then focus additional resources on those areas.


    The role of your website in inbound demand generation

    Your website is a critical component of your inbound demand generation efforts, so create it with precision. Statistics show that B2B buyers prefer engaging with businesses through their websites, making it the ultimate destination for all your marketing efforts.

    Your website must cover essential buying stages, including research, evaluation, and decision-making, leading buyers to the right content at the right time.

    The user experience, design, messaging, performance, and organisation of your site are all critical factors that must be taken into account. For arriving buyers who are further along in the decision-making journey, they'll want to quickly and intuitively locate the information that is critical to their purchase.

    To achieve this, make your user journey and call-to-action paths clear, specific, honest, and aligned with how your buyers want to do business with you.

    Build a B2B website that attracts, engages and converts visitors - read our  complete guide here.

    If you're searching for ways to capture more demand through your website, watch this discussion between Dan Stillgoe and Phil Vallender on 'The Secrets of High-Performing, Demand Generation Websites'.

    decorative icon green

    The role of sales in inbound demand generation

    The free availability of information means that buyers now spend much less time talking to sales to learn about their solutions and engage with them much later in their purchasing journey.

    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).


    Sales, in one form or another, still play an important role though, since many B2B opportunities can't close themselves. But the focus should be on:

    • Connecting with inbound buyers who have declared an interest in your offering.
    • Provide consultative advice using information that buyers can't find anywhere else.
    • Explaining the drawbacks of your solution just as much as explaining the positives.
    • Understanding when a buyer might not be a good fit for your solution.

    In the many B2B settings where sales are complex, long, or high value, demand generation has to be well aligned with and supported by sales, so that qualified leads and opportunities are followed up effectively and revenue is realised. Although for SaaS product-led growth businesses, inbound demand generation can drive the initial purchase, meaning the traditional role of personal selling may be skipped and customers handed to onboarding or success teams instead.


    Learn more about inbound demand generation

    If you're looking to continue learning about inbound demand generation, tune into Demand Decoded.

    This 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:

    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.

    icon representing demand generation