Demand Generation

Back to Basics: Tips and Tricks for Demand Generation Success


If you’re a B2B marketer, you’re probably familiar with demand generation in one way or another. Maybe you’ve been working in demand generation for several years or you collaborate with the team on cross-channels campaigns. Whatever your situation is, one thing’s for sure: trying to figure out how demand generation really works and where marketing ends and sales begins can be downright tricky as a novice.

Even seasoned veterans who were once beginners being ambushed by acronyms (TOFU? Is that what’s for lunch?) may need a refresher from time to time. Though the vernacular becomes second-nature pretty quickly, entering into the world of demand generation can be a little overwhelming at first. As someone who recently switched from an events-specific role to a broad-based demand generation role, I know this firsthand.

Throughout my transition into a demand generation role, I’ve come to understand a few essential tips and tricks that I wish someone would have told me when I first got started, and I’m going to share a few of those with you today!

Understanding How to Match Audiences to Programs

TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU can sound like nonsense to those unfamiliar with the terms, but in reality, they provide a pretty easy way to begin thinking about how to sets up your programs and promotions calendar. TOFU means top-of-the-funnel, MOFU is middle-of-the-funnel, and BOFU is bottom-of-the-funnel. What is this funnel I speak of? Your revenue model, which has defined stages with business rules (agreed upon by marketing and sales) that determine where each prospect is in the sales cycle.

Revenue Model

Top-of-the-Funnel (TOFU)

Top-of-the-funnel programs are intended to pull in large audiences who may know very little about what your company actually does. For example, Marketo’s new Definitive Guide to Social Media Marketing would be a TOFU, or early-stage, content asset. It’s a topic that should be applicable to every marketer, regardless of their interest in buying Marketo. We often promote these sorts of assets to a wide range of audience personas and in channels where we can attract the attention of new names (i.e. people who we don’t already have in our database), such as tradeshows or digital ads.

Middle-of-the-Funnel (MOFU)

MOFU, or mid-stage, programs are for prospects who are already in your database and are somewhat familiar with your company, as a brand or maybe even as a product/service. As leads move down the funnel and you know more about them, you should target them with more personalized programs and content to nurture their interest. Based on their demographics and behaviors, you can score them in your marketing automation platform to determine which leads are marketing qualified leads (MQLs), which are prospects who have a good chance of becoming customers.

Once a lead becomes an MQL, sales evaluates whether the lead is qualified through a phone call or email based on interest in your product or service and whether they’re a good fit. If they are, then the lead becomes a sales qualified lead (SQL). But if a salesperson decides to reject, or recycle, an MQL, it goes back to marketing for further nurturing.

Bottom-of-the-Funnel (BOFU)

Finally, as leads reach the bottom-of-the-funnel, they are getting close to becoming customers. While sales will be responsible for creating new opportunities and closing deals, you may want to send them an accelerator email with late-stage, product-focused content or invite them to an upcoming field event to continue to build their interest. Keep in mind that as your audience becomes more familiar with your company and moves down the funnel, the audience size of your programs should diminish and the personalization of the interactions should increase.

Once you’ve developed a general understanding of what marketing programs and content will best serve your audiences at different stages of the funnel, you’re off to a great start! The next step is to make sure that you’re running an array of all of these types of programs at any one time and coordinating them across channels. If you neglect this, your pipeline goals may suffer. Speaking of pipeline…

Understanding What Metrics Matter for What Programs

In marketing, we’re taught that metrics should be the ultimate decision-makers for what types of programs we create, at what frequency, and for what end goal. While we know this theoretically, newbies to the demand generation world might not have a clear understanding of how metrics differ by programs (and trust me, they do).

Program types are virtually endless, but based on the type of program (early-stage/TOFU, mid-stage/MOFU, or late-stage/BOFU), you know what you’re ultimately trying to achieve with your audiences–be it general knowledge of your company as a thought leader, familiarity with your product, or interest in speaking with sales and making a purchase. Once you understand the behavioral goals associated with your programs, you can begin to determine the metrics that matter for those programs.

Early-Stage and Late-Stage Metrics

So, let’s break it down. At a high level, there are both early-stage and late-stage metrics. Early metrics are those that you can determine in real-time, such as immediately after you send an email or an event or webinar has ended. For emails, these metrics would be the number of opens, number of clicks, click to open rate, etc. For events (physical or virtual), these metrics are going to be the number of registrants, number of attendees, attendance rate, new names, and so on. These metrics demonstrate the effectiveness of the program at face value, but they do not indicate the long-term outcome of the program.

On the other hand, late-stage metrics focus on the long-term value and indicate the return on investment (ROI) from your programs–for example, the number of sales opportunities created, pipeline generated from open opportunities, and revenue won. These metrics are ultimately what we care about because they are indicators of quality and audience reception.

First-Touch and Multi-Touch Metrics

The overall scope of these metrics can be broken down into either first-touch (FT) metrics or multi-touch (MT) metrics. First-touch metrics result from the activity generated by a lead or account that was acquired by your program. Multi-touch metrics, on the other hand, are associated with every program that had a successful marketing interaction with a lead. These leads may have already been in your database when they interacted with your program. Multi-touch metrics are attributed to your program as a fraction of their total worth based on how many other programs the lead engaged with during their buyer’s journey. If a program is being created to fulfill TOFU goals and is a new name generator, you’re probably going to want to focus on generating strong FT metrics, whereas if a program is targeted at prospects in later stages and meant for people already in your database, you will probably focus on MT metrics.

As you’re evaluating the success of your programs, it’s also important to know that all types of programs take different amounts of time to become fruitful. For example, it can take a year or longer for TOFU events, like sponsored webinars or tradeshows, to really show strong pipeline. On the other hand, a late-stage accelerator email or field event may turn around pipeline within the same month! It’s all dependent on who’s engaging with your programs and where they are in their buyer’s journey when that interaction occurs. As long as you understand the varying turn-around time for these types of programs and what kind of metrics indicate long-term success, you will be able to effectively evaluate and move forward with the programs that work for your goals and improve your ROI as a result!

Whew! Now that you understand the basics of how to segment audiences for your programs and measure your success, it’s time to get to work! Build programs, test and optimize, and make sure you remember to match your results against your goals and objectives. Even if you only work on one specific category of programs–be it live events, webinars, PPC, or social–if you understand what types of programs fall at what stage of the funnel and the goals for each type of program, you can more effectively create multi-channel programs and cohesive cross-channel experiences for your customers and prospects.

Demand generation may seem daunting at first, but if you can wrap your head around these jumping off points, you’ll be up to speed in no time! Good luck, and remember these wise words from the other Mary Kate…

Mary Kate

Do you have any other tips for demand generation novices or seasoned experts looking to refresh their skills? Share them in the comments below!