Demand generation is a part of any marketing team’s job, and an essential one to business. So much so, that “generating leads'' often stands out as the top priority for marketers in industry reports.
However, it also often comes up as a top challenge, and it’s no wonder why. To start, there is a lot riding on demand generation and finding the best leads for sales reps to convert into paying customers. Then, there’s the digital landscape we live in that has been shaping how marketers’ work gets done. Not only has it changed B2B consumer behavior, but it also has forced marketers to come up with innovative ways to communicate.
The good news is that digitalization and innovation offer great opportunities to connect with the businesses other businesses want to. Yet, with more and more of them occupying the digital space, how can marketers overcome the challenges that come with digitalization to cut through the noise, get to the right people, and strike up a conversation?
The Challenges of the Digital World
It’s not just the world that’s changing; B2B consumer behavior is shifting as well and, in lots of ways, it resembles that of end-consumers in terms of their expectations towards the buying process, particularly in an online context. As a consequence, marketers have seen the need to adjust how they capture their leads, which hasn’t come without its set of challenges.
Among the 7000 marketers surveyed by Salesforce for their 2020 State of Marketing report, “engaging customers in real-time” came out as the top challenge they have to deal with.
Additionally, eighty-two percent of high performers (survey respondents who are completely satisfied with their marketing performance) say B2B and B2C marketing tactics are converging. Even customers who are buying something on behalf of their employers now have certain expectations towards their customer journey. This means that, just like end-consumers, they want to buy where they are, at the time of their convenience, and, if they encounter a hurdle, they want someone to be there to help them get past it.
This is why marketers now need to focus on creating opportunities for real-time engagement with B2B customers. Just think about your own purchasing experiences. Are you more likely to purchase a product or service if your questions get cleared right away and it’s a seamless process, or when you have to wait for a reply, through whichever channel?
This report finds that eighty-three percent of customers expect to engage with someone immediately when they contact a company, while another one mentions that sixty percent of customers name long wait times as the most frustrating part of their experience.
So after you’ve captured your leads’ attention — through a blog post, event, ad, gated content, or other — how do you avoid keeping them waiting for a reply or a further contact?
Lack of or Poor-Quality Data
The key to successful demand generation marketing is taking a data-driven approach that allows you to better understand your target audience. Yet collecting and analyzing data to turn it into actionable information isn’t always an easy feat.
Customers today, no matter at which point of the customer journey they find themselves, expect at least a certain degree of personalization to it. To match that expectation, companies need to know more about them. Do they match the customer profile they want to attract? Are they looking to purchase something or merely looking for information? How and when have they interacted with the product or service in question, if at all?
The answers to these questions, and any other information about the customer, are likely to help create a tailored experience for them. And not just that, they can also contribute to qualifying leads and identifying those that are more likely to convert.
However, at a time when immediacy is expected, consumers might not always, if ever, be predisposed to answering all these questions.
Adapting to Change
Overall, marketers’ challenges in the digital space are about their adaptability capabilities. Up until very recently, SaaS companies were still resorting to the same old techniques to acquire leads for their sales team to contact and convert — putting on and participating in big network events, betting on gated content to collect contact information, among others.
But these methods no longer cut it in our ever-digitalized world.
Nowadays, it’s more about focussing on the ideal customer profile and offering personalized experiences to attract leads. However, this shift alone doesn’t and marketers have to find ways to leverage technology to be able to innovate their strategies.
Salesforce’s State of Marketing report indicates innovation as marketing leaders’ top priority, but it also comes second on their list of biggest challenges. Given the speed of change all around us, in the coming years, businesses will have to swiftly ramp up their use of technology, especially AI, to be able to better source and manage customers’ data as well as create the personalized, empathetic, and real-time experiences they expect from the companies they do business with.
The Chatbot Solution to Your Problems
When it comes to AI-innovation applied to demand generation marketing, there is no other quite like the chatbot. It offers a lot of advantages, including features that help tackle the aforementioned challenges.
The obvious advantage chatbots have to offer is their 24/7 availability, which means they’ll be able to reply to your leads at all times, no matter where they are in the world or in which time zone. But it isn’t just a matter of when, it’s also a matter of where they are available.
Chatbots can be implemented on any page of your website, but they can also be used to interact with people on social media or messaging apps like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, providing valuable touchpoint opportunities and giving users the chance to interact with them through their preferred channel.
Now, a sales cycle is long, and going from lead to paying customer can take anywhere from a week to well over a year. A chatbot is very unlikely to close a deal on the spot, but, at times, a short chat at the right moment in the customer journey can make the difference between a lead eventually converting or not.
We’ve mentioned that prospects don’t necessarily like answering all questions you might have when they’re the ones who probably have questions about your product or service. But with a chatbot, data collection is disguised in the form of a conversation. This makes it easier and more natural for people to share information, by giving them options to click through.
Using chatbots to drive demand generation enables you to not only strike up conversations that would otherwise not take place, but it also allows you to personalize said conversation while it’s happening.
Chatbots can function based on features such as conditional logic or predictive analytics, which basically give them the capability of instantly using the collected data to provide tailored answers or content, giving customers the personalization they seek. And if all goes well, this will point the lead in the right direction based on their profile or the stage they’re on in their customer journey, improving lead qualification. All the while, this data is processed into your CRM tool through an integration, which in turn helps sales reps instantly identifying the most interesting leads to follow up with.
And finally, once the conversation is over, you end up not only with better-qualified leads, but you can also keep personalizing the rest of the journey based on the insights provided.
Adapting to a changing world can be difficult, and when it comes to technology, it can be even more daunting.
Terms like “conversational flow”, “instant personalization”, “artificial intelligence”, “machine learning” or “natural language processing” may, at times, sound too complex for marketers to even try to wrap their brains around all the innovation options they have available.
However, conversational solutions don’t have to be difficult to implement and use, and our chatbot platform is the living proof of that.
No-code approach to chatbots makes them easy to set up, through simple building blocks, pre-made templates for your needs — lead generation, customer support, and many others — and codeless formatting that allows you to adapt your chatbot to your brand voice and feel, even if you have no coding knowledge.
Implementing a chatbot strategy for demand generation can truly be this uncomplicated, so there really is no reason not to.