Today’s buyers do a lot of online research before making a purchase. You need to meet your customers where they are and build trust in your brand by offering people value.  It’s also true that demand-gen content works for your whole funnel, by re-engaging lost opportunities.

This means demand generation is an inbound, customer-centric activity. It relies on data to serve people the right content at the right time and place – and at scale. It attracts and engages by educating people and helping them solve problems – and it’s never salesy. Demand gen is a long-term strategy with the goals of reaching a large audience, re-engaging a previous audience, and keeping current customers interested. How does it do this? By using behavioral data to understand what people need and where they’re looking to find it.

We’ll talk you through the demand gen funnel and how different marketing activities will help you attract people at the first stage of awareness – and help reactivate cold leads.

Demand generation educates and informs your audience about your product or service at scale, allowing them to become leads, and potentially conversions – at their own pace.

Once an audience is aware of your brand, you can work on lead generation and capture to nurture prospects and score them as MQLs. During this time, you’ll warm leads up with the content they want, before you offer them a sales conversation.

What is a demand generation funnel?

Here’s how it works.

funnels stages of TOFU demand content at the top, MOFU lead capture content in the middle and BOFU nurture and conversion content at the bottom

Why do you need a demand generation funnel?

The funnel provides a clear and visual representation of the customer’s journey, making it easier to understand the different stages of the process. This clarity helps teams stay aligned and focused on their objectives, especially when marketing and sales teams combine their goals, messaging, and insights

Without demand generation, you may be reaching the right leads but at the wrong time. By tracking a customer’s journey, marketing and sales can effectively nurture leads depending on their stage in the funnel. This avoids wasting time putting effort into nurturing and converting leads that either aren’t ready or aren’t interested. After all, lots of leads don’t necessarily mean lots of conversions.

How to create a demand generation funnel

Step 1: Understand your audience

This is an essential step in any funnel, but especially demand generation. Without properly understanding your audience you could just be throwing your efforts down the drain and wasting time, energy, and money chasing a contact that has no interest or need of your service.

Creating a lead scoring model and your ideal customer profile (ICP) by analyzing data from current and previous customers is essential to this process. Lead scoring not only helps categorize your audience but also helps inform where in a journey they may be. Similarly, developing your ICP, with the help of the lead scoring model, will show the type of customers you’re trying to garner the attention of. With both of these locked down, you’ll have a deep understanding of your ideal customer, how they typically interact with your content, and their journey from lead to converted customer.

We show you how to refine your ICP with ABM data – where we talk about using content engagement data to form more accurate customer profiles.

Step 2: Building awareness (TOFU)

At the top of the funnel (or TOFU for short) we are building awareness around your business. This can be as simple as using content marketing, social media, and SEO optimization to drive traffic to your website. Using interactive content like polls, quizzes, and videos is a great way to build and measure awareness of your business. Keeping these soft-gated, or even removing the gate altogether if you don’t need their information, is a great way to reduce any kind of demand generation friction

Most demand-gen marketers remove gates altogether to give as much value as freely as possible. And this is a great idea. If you want to produce ungated content, our content creation platform allows you to do this and still uncover audience insights. Turtl Analytics allows you to see engagement metrics at an individual reader level.

Value is key when building awareness. Without promoting your proven value, your business may fall into the back of people’s minds and hinder the ability to generate interest. Turtl allows you to give value freely without gating, yet still measure demand gen success. Find out more about Turtl for demand generation.

Step 3: Generate interest (MOFU)

Your potential customers are aware you exist, yay! It’s time to generate interest in your business. Identify the pain points your ideal customer profile has and create content showing the solutions you can provide for their problems.

This is the time for more informative content. Consider long-form blogs, guides, and ebooks on specific pain points, and more social media presence.

Step 4: Nurturing and proving value (MOFU)

You may be aware of a lead nurturing funnel, and the principle is the same with a demand generation funnel. At this point in the funnel, your leads are aware of your business and have some interest in your product or service. From here you can use content marketing to help the customer form their decision before they are nabbed by another company’s funnel.

Create offerings that directly address the pain points and offer solutions to these leads. Think about offering templates or showing case studies of how others solved their issues with your service. These offerings should be highly personalized and useful to help score leads as marketing qualified leads (MQLs). Proving your value is key.  Great value drivers at this stage include content like cost-saving calculators. A cost savings calculator allows the lead to decide for themselves whether or not they wish to continue without direct input from a sales team.

Step 5: Conversion

At this point, your MQLs should be ready to convert. They may need time in a free trial, or even a demo of your service, but you are certainly in the running to be the choice for their needs. Your value proposition is the most essential part of this final stage. You need to demonstrate your market differentiators and value above your competitors – so be sure to provide proof points like testimonials and case studies. We find that video case studies make particularly compelling social proof.

Step 6: Analyze, refine, repeat

Effective analysis is incredibly important. With a good analytics dashboard, you can see at a granular level how your audience interacts with your content. Using this data you can refine the previous steps into a well-oiled demand generation machine.

Top tips for an effective demand generation funnel

Align goals

When creating a demand generation funnel, it’s essential to know where you want it to lead. Setting specific goals, rather than loose and generic ones, allows you to refine the funnel and customer journey in the future. You’ll be able to get an accurate reading of how long your sales journey will take and help understand progress with potential leads further.

Is it the right channel?

Choosing the right channels for your marketing will be different for everyone. There’s no reason to post to Instagram if your audience is almost exclusively on LinkedIn.

Granular understanding of your audience

We’ve mentioned this as part of building the funnel in the first place, however, an effective demand generation funnel relies on a solid understanding of your audience. Without lead scoring, audience segmentation, and personalizing content at scale, you are left shooting in the dark – hoping those who need your service will see it. By properly segmenting your audience and understanding their habits by using analytics and research data, you’re demand-generated leads will be more likely to convert.

Curate highly personalizable content

Having a library of content that can be personalized at scale in your back pocket means you’ll never be caught out when a lead is searching for answers to problems. It also means you have a swathe of content ready to go at a moment’s notice for any stage of the funnel – that provides value to your leads.

Preventing churn with full-funnel demand

Sometimes things don’t work out. It happens. This is usually because a customer no longer sees value in your product or your business. Nurturing a relationship with these customers is essential even after conversion. Let your customers feel taken care of, and become a company that cares and wants their clients to get the most out of your service.

Strong connections with your customers and providing value through content even after the conversion can mean the difference between a repeat customer and a lost one…

Use valuable, educational, and useful demand-gen content to support your current customers. Ebooks, guides, toolkits, and webinars are great ways to re-engage and help them succeed. The point of demand gen activity is to provide value throughout the flywheel without selling to people. By using content that surfaces engagement data, you know whether your content is working, and who it’s working for. No gates, no forms – you can provide useful, valuable content invisibly, and without friction and be sure to keep feeding your demand generation funnel at every stage of the customer journey.