On Thursday February 8th the Sprout Social Demand Generation team sat down to answer questions from our All Stars community. Check out all of their responses, but lets first meet the Demand Gen Team!
Meet the Sprout Social Hosts
Jillian: As Sprout’s Manager of Demand Gen, Jillian develops strategic marketing campaigns to build buzz and fill the sales pipeline with qualified leads. Before making her marketing debut she was a Teach For America Corps Member in Milwaukee where she fought to close the achievement gap (and developed a fine appreciation for cheese curds).
Michael: Michael is Sprout’s Demand Gen Specialist. He leverages knowledge of search engine marketing to create powerful, evergreen campaigns to fill the top of the funnel. Michael started his professional career at Sprout and after a brief (super brief) departure to help scale another organization’s digital marketing he is back home where he belongs.
What is Demand Generation Marketing? I have a baseline idea but i’d love to hear from the experts.
Jillian: Short and sweet, my definition of demand gen is the marketing arm that’s responsible for building programs that generate leads to fuel the revenue engine. So we essentially sit as an intermediary between sales + marketing to be sure the groups are working together closely and sales has what it needs to hit quota.
Michael: I can speak to that in a way that contrasts it with Digital Marketing for those more familiar with that. If we think about digital marketing, at least in the realm of Sprout, it includes all of the channels you’ve come to associate with digital – SEO, PPC, Media Buying, etc… Demand takes a step back and looks at all of those in regards to the broader focus of generating awareness, leads, sales and revenue. So we coordinate with digital to fuel the broader efforts, but also work with sales, email, customer marketing, customer success, and pretty much all functional areas. It’s a balancing act.
I would love to hear your thoughts on building buzz for new companies who are still pre-product launch. Do you have experience with this? If so, what are some interesting insights that you can share (successes, failures, etc.).
Michael: Before I started back up at Sprout I was actually consulting for an organization in a fairly similar stage. They just closed their series A, and I don’t want to say it was _because_ of me, but hey… (kidding, they’re amazing with or without my help).
I just did a little creeping on Bestow and the site looks super clean! Here are a few things I would consider:
1. I think now is a great time to start building out a deep archive of relevant blog content. At Sprout, we made an early play to create evergreen blog content to drive organic traffic, and I can tell you that it has been one of the best channels for bringing qualified users to the site.
2. Create a tiered list of keywords you would like your site to rank for. From the head terms like ‘Insurance App’ to more longtail like ‘how to get started with life insurance’ and figure out what is attainable based on current competition. I love how Moz talks The Beginner’s Guide to SEO moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo — maybe something for insurance. Your product says it’s disrupting the space, so you have to re-teach people how to think about the space, and content will help.
3. Then later find a way to leverage that content once you push your product live. Potentially within text CTAs (internal linking is clutch) or by sending that content via newsletters. It’s multi-functional.
4. I also think you can start to find some comarketing partners to work with when it comes time to launch. Building solid partnerships takes a while, so by the time you have a good book of people to work with, you may have shipped your MVP (minimum viable product).
That advice would work for most org types, not just insurance!
in terms of leads, do you think Facebook lead ads are worth the money?
Jillian: I think the success of Facebook ad leads are completely dependent on the type of business you own (B2B vs. B2C) and what audience you’re trying to reach. On the Sprout side we don’t have a ton of success with Facebook but that’s largely because the audience we’re targeting is often small-mid level which is difficult to target on Facebook… for us, LinkedIn performs better because we can hyper-target companies of all sizes.
I do think though that companies CAN see success on Facebook, especially with B2C and if you get creative with audience targeting (which of course first requires that you know WHO your audience is0
How does demand gen tie into social media marketing?
Michael: Tons! I am constantly chatting with Darryl and Rachael (our fantastic social folks). Things like coordinating promotion of the new content we create, listening to what kind of content they think will work well, talking about how to nurture partner relationships via social, trends that they see with our audience, and much more. Demand touches every part of the team, and it has an especially close relationship with social.
Jillian: Ditto to what Michael said! In Demand Gen we create a variety of content/programs to build buzz and generate leads and these content and programs are only as good as your distribution. Since social is a fantastic distribution channel (along with paid, email, etc.) we have to be lock-step with these teams along the way.
Do all have some examples of demand gen. campaign done well?
Jillian: one that comes to mind is a digital conference a (now) Sprout colleague put together while she was at Unbounce. It was called Digital Agency Day. This was great because there were 20+ presentations from a wide variety of conferences. And KILLED IT on the distribution front… because 20+ partners meant 20+ different teams promoting. I like that it was a live event they then turned into on-demand, so you can generate leads both before and after the fact. evergreen is critical to get programs to scale
Michael: So this campaign isn’t actually ‘live’ yet, but I am really excited about this upcoming content push we’re working on. We found a really relevant Google keyword with tons of search volume that we’re going to start targeting, lets say for this example it was ‘social media marketing’. If we can rank on the first page for this we’ll get tons of qualified traffic.
The tough thing is, it’s a really competitive term to rank in search engines for. So we created a content map including all of our existing content around the topic and the content we want to create. All of this content will then internally link to a massive blog post like “The Complete Guide to Social Media Marketing”. By giving that complete guide all the authority with internal links from the new/existing content, we’re telling Google that this guide is VERY relevant for the topic, and it will likely start to climb the search engine results.
That blog post will then funnel people into leads with in-text links to trials and demo requests. We’ll then work with our sales team and teach them how specifically to speak to this new audience.
Are there any lead gen opportunities through things like FB Live? We’re trying to think outside the webinar box for video these days. Any thoughts?
Michael: I really like how John Mueller of Google leverage Hangouts on Air to run ‘office hours’ where people come and ask questions. I think if done right that would be a great way to create an interactive experience (and something I think could be replicated on FB Live).
We’re actually thinking of starting some office hours so our customers can come ask questions. So if you have a particularly difficult topic to cover or product to explain, this could be a great way to do it!
I love the idea of a demand generation dept or team. Just to clarify do you work with sales and marketing and adjust their current campaigns to make sure they have demand generation components or do you launch your own campaigns specifically designed for demand generation?
Jillian: AH, good question @rdavemacdonald! We generally do a mix of both.
We’re a small team (just the 2 of us right now) so we can’t do a ton of our own fresh campaigns. A lot of it is piggybacking on what our content, communications and seo teams are doing to be sure new resources/programs are optimized for demand gen.
As our team continues growing we’ll be able to do more/bigger campaigns!
I’m doing some marketing consulting for a new emu oil product here in the US. Not many people know about using emu oil for pain reduction, it seems, as I’m seeing pretty low search volumes on google. Search volumes for related content are only marginally higher for things like “how do I reduce inflammation” (which the product is for). Is it worth it to pursue a blog/web article strategy for lead generation or should I be looking at something else and tie in those informative articles? Maybe what I’m trying to ask is: how do you know when it’s not worth it to leverage blog/article content for lead generation strategies?
Michael: I’d definitely say it’s worth it to create blog content. I think there will be pockets of keywords you can do really well on, but I would approach it as doing a few topics _really well_ instead of constantly finding and creating new content around different topics.
Take the Backlinko blog for example. https://backlinko.com/blog
This blog only has ~40 pieces of content, but the blog generates hundreds of thousands of visits a month from those. This is because they find insanely high volume pockets and create a long piece of content to satiate user queries, then continually refresh that content to get it to rank well and stay relevant.
I can foresee you doing something like that for keywords like ‘alternative medicines’ which has around 30k volume/mo.
However, those posts will take a while to gain traction in the SERPs, so in the meantime I would think about more immediate lead gen stuff you can do to tide you over. Do you have a chatbot on your website? Since your audience will have a ton of information seeking questions I think that may convert well and hold you over until some of the bigger posts can rank well and push users to learn more.
I really love Drift for website chatbots, and obviously love Sprout for social media chatbots.