11 Questions to Help Evaluate Your Demand Generation Plan

Jon Miller at Marketo wrote an interesting post (“Demand Generation Quiz: How Good Are You?”) for his blog this week that featured 14 questions designed to help determine whether a company is ripe for marketing automation. There’s some great material here, particularly for marketers trying to build a business case for automated lead management, or even those companies wondering if there’s more they should be getting from their marketing automation investment.

Jon’s piece got me thinking about not just marketing automation but demand generation in general. As an agency, we get exposed to the demand generation plans of dozens of different companies every month. Some of those plans are good, some average, and some downright scary. Across the board, however, the hallmarks of effective demand generation plans are fairly consistent.

Here then, with apologies to Jon, is a list of those hallmarks, in the form of 11 questions I’d recommend asking to determine the relative strength of your overall demand generation activity:

1. Do you have specific, quantitative demand generation objectives to meet every quarter? Or are you simply given a budget and then try to accomplish as much as possible based on that budget?

2. If you do have quantitative objectives in place, are those objectives based on # of raw leads, # of qualified leads, # of opportunities, # of deals, or ROI?

3. How do you determine the mix of programs that make up your demand generation plan each quarter? Is that mix based on meeting a quantitative objective, or is it based on executive caveat? Or are programs themselves part of the objective (ex: “we need to do at least one Webinar in Q2”)?

4. How many different programs do you run per quarter, and how many vendors or media partners do those programs represent? What percentage of your budget is dedicated to the top 3 media venues?

5. What percentage of your demand gen plan is comprised of push tactics (ex: e-mail, direct mail) and what percentage is pull (ex: SEM, content syndication)? How confident do you feel that a qualified prospect could find your company, and feel compelled to respond, if he/she went looking for your type of product tomorrow?

6. How well does Google and SEM in general work for you? Are you able to measure your cost per lead from Google? Cost per qualified lead? How does that cost per lead compare to your other marketing activity or industry benchmarks?

7. What percentage of raw inquiries meet sales-ready criteria or become qualified leads? What should that percentage be?

8. How quickly does the average lead get a response from sales? What percentage of leads are contacted successfully within 3 days? 7-10 days?

9. What is your lead nurturing strategy? What determines when and how a prospect hears from your company in the future? How confident do you feel that an existing prospect would contact your company if he/she had a specific need arise in 3 or 6 months?

10. To what extent do you test consistently – particularly within campaigns such as e-mail or search? How much do you test subject line or ad copy, audience or list, offer or call to action – not simply from campaign to campaign, but head-to-head? Are you able to show a consistent increase in performance from your campaigns as a result?

11. What offers are most successful for your company? Do you have a range of offers in place – white papers, Webinars, free trials, etc. – intended to reach prospects at different stages in the selling cycle? To what extent do your current offers reflect the reality of the selling process?

What did I miss? What do you think typifies an effective demand generation plan, or conversely, a plan destined for disaster? Comments welcome. (If you’re interested in a third party evaluation of your current demand generation activity, contact us.)

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5 thoughts on “11 Questions to Help Evaluate Your Demand Generation Plan

  1. Ruth Stevens

    Great points, Howard! But what I would find helpful would be the “answers” to these questions. Well, maybe I should say “benchmarks.” So, for example, if my average lead gets to sales in 5 days, is that good or bad?

  2. Howard Sewell

    It’s a very fair request, Ruth. My objective was simply to provide people a list of criteria against which to gauge the effectiveness of their demand generation plans, and perhaps get them thinking about areas (let’s say: lead nurturing) they otherwise wouldn’t consider. But your point is well taken. Maybe in my free time (!) I’ll expand this into something – a white paper perhaps – that includes some benchmarks also. Thanks for the idea and the input.

  3. Kevin Patterson

    Hey Howard –

    I’m not certain exactly how I would state it, but I would add something here specific to event marketing since it’s a slightly different animal in the lead-gen marketing mix. Questions like: How do you determine which events to sponsor? Do you set measurable goals for exhibiting at an event, and if so, how are they defined? Do you routinely go back and attempt to tie contacts made at events to closed sales? Do you do a post-event analysis for each event and use those assessments to help you make decisions for future events? etc…

  4. Howard Sewell

    Rinku – the simple answer is: conduct individual campaigns targeted to specific product lines, however there are lead gen vehicles that enable you to promote multiple product lines more efficiently than others. I would include on that list: content syndication (multiple content items covering a variety of topics), PPC/paid search (multiple ads and landing pages), and social media (like the blog you’re reading here.) Hope that helps,

    Howard

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