B2B marketing is evolving quickly from simply generating demand to orchestrating it. Key to this transformation, yet often overlooked by all of us demand practitioners, are the terms that guide and enable measurement of our progress.
Definitions are important. They enable colleagues across departments and organizations to create common expectations. They allow uniform measurement. And they help demand marketers use their tech investments more effectively.
Consistent language improves demand marketing’s credibility with sales, customer success and the C-suite. Simply put, standardization is needed throughout the industry, and that applies to core terms as well.
SiriusDecisions has served as the standard in this process. Its “B-to-B Sales, Marketing and Product Dictionary” is the go-to resource for key definitions. Here we’ve drawn upon SiriusDecision’s dictionary to highlight and expand upon the most import terms related to demand orchestration (and added a couple more as well).
Demand generation is the marketing practice focused on discovering and engaging targeted audiences to raise both awareness and interest in a company’s products or services. This practice typically includes leveraging numerous data and media sources to deliver net-new leads and nurture them down the funnel. Demand generation largely still suffers from many manual processes, which demand orchestration software is seeking to solve.
Demand orchestration is both a practice and an emerging MarTech category. As a practice, demand orchestration is a more sophisticated version of demand gen in which a fully automated funnel, dynamic personal messaging and real-time analytics are realized. The demand orchestration technology category enables this realization. It resides atop marketing automation and CRM systems, seamlessly applying process automation, systems integration, program execution and data governance at the top of the customer acquisition funnel.
The practice of targeting unknown individuals with value-added content that drives them to self-identify on your owned websites and landing pages.
The practice of delivering account- or persona-targeted content via third-party lead acquisition channels such as content syndication, events, webinars, etc. to generate new contacts.
Account-based marketing (ABM)
A strategic approach B2B marketers use to find, engage and nurture decision-makers at pre-defined accounts. More than just an initial engagement tactic, a full-fledged ABM program also supports the post-sale customer lifecycle, using marketing’s toolkit to contribute to the overall customer experience at targeted accounts. The promise of ABM is efficiency and effectiveness. It decreases the amount of time and resources marketers spend engaging with less-valuable audiences, enabling them to target specific, proven audiences, generate higher-value leads and close a greater number of profitable deals.
If you're using or evaluating ABM, you might want to grab this ABM Program Development Workbook.
Marketing tech stack
All the technologies used to enable your marketing processes. Marketing automation and CRM systems typically form the core components acting as hubs that connect numerous auxiliary platforms and tools. Integration between marketing technologies is key to a stack’s value.
You can get Integrate’s MarTech stack blueprint workbook here.
Data partner ecosystem
The universe of data and media partners used to generate leads, supplement prospect data or provide predictive data for modeling. Developing and properly coordinating this ecosystem is becoming a fundamental step demand orchestration.
Solutions that enable organizations to use statistical models to make predictions based on current and historical behavior of buyers, customers, influencers, sales and channel partners. Data can be incorporated from internal sources such as the sales, marketing and product organizations and other internal business units.
Both a practice and a product category. The practice uses first- and third-party historical and exploratory data to anticipate outcomes and find the best ways to improve effectiveness (usually by identifying the right accounts and personas). The product category gathers the necessary data and automates the processes of analysis to generate predictive models.
An early stage of engagement with a prospective customer, whereby various marketing tactics (display, video, search, social media, etc.) put a marketer on the prospect’s radar and is often used to obtain limited, often anonymous, prospect data. It’s a starting point for ongoing engagement.
A subset of demand generation/orchestration, along with awareness, that focuses on acquiring prospect-provided information (e.g., name, job title, interest) that can be used to score and nurture prospects through the stages of the customer acquisition funnel (or demand waterfall). Awareness and lead generation should work in harmony with one another.
Alignment (specifically, sales and marketing alignment)
The coordination and integration of strategies, processes and technologies used by the sales, marketing and product functions to maximize topline growth.
An individual who responds to a marketing offer from a demand generation tactic. This usually involves a minimal level of engagement, such as submitting an email address on a web form, though that information is short of purchase plans/timing of detailed demographics. An inquiry must provide more information via progressive profiling to reach the next level, which is a…
Marketing-qualified lead (MQL)
A person who has demonstrated some level of engagement, submitting more info than an inquiry and providing more visibility into their purchase plans, buying role and so on. In so doing, marketing has gained visibility into what to do next with that prospect. A marketing-qualified lead is typically a good candidate to be entered into a nurturing campaign. There are often MQL subsets, such as organizationally defined differences between a lead and a prospect.
Sales-accepted lead (SAL)
A lead that has been formally deemed sales-ready by inside, field or channel sales.
Sales-qualified lead (SQL)
An individual who has had multiple engagements/touches and demonstrated high enough engagement – by number of actions, lead score or both – to warrant immediate follow-up by sales. There are often SQL subsets, such as the sales-defined opportunity. Sales and marketing must have firm agreement on what meets the sales-qualified standard, what steps are taken upon reaching that milestone and how outcomes are recorded.
A lead that has satisfied sales qualification requirements to be included in the sales pipeline.
A concrete representation of potential deals, with forecast dates to close deals as well as details on revenue potential, prospective deal timing, key hurdles that must be overcome, and more.
The measurement of how quickly leads move through the customer acquisition funnel/demand waterfall. Lead velocity is about speed (e.g., the time it takes for a generated contact to become sales-qualified lead), but is can also include measurement of conversions rates (the percentage of leads that convert through various points in the customer acquisition funnel). Slow velocity can negatively affect customer experience, sales-marketing alignment and revenue.
The rate at which a marketing activity is executed. Examples include pace of lead capture and delivery, pace of sales follow-up, and pace of lead conversion. Measuring pace is important because it highlights bottlenecks that may slow velocity. For example, if a media partner delivers all contracted leads during the last two days of the month, it limits how quickly subsequent marketing activities can communicate with those prospects, ultimately diminishing the value of the purchased leads, aka…
Lead/prospect data quality
Determined by the validity, accuracy, uniformity and age of lead information. Validity may refer to whether a lead contains an active email address or USPS-recognized physical address. Accuracy implies that all data points comply with selected audience criteria, such as specific job titles or company sizes. Uniformity refers to whether leads are formatted in a standardized way that allows for automated data delivery between systems. Age is tied to velocity; if roadblocks exist between data delivery, it allows prospect interest to cool and decrease data value. Accurate, standardized and fresh data result in better…
Structured efforts that aim to advance leads in the funnel with the ultimate objective of becoming a qualified opportunity. Nurturing uses a set of business rules to define what happens upon a lead’s action or inaction. Each step in a nurture process takes place in an automated fashion, driven by marketing automation software. The quicker demand orchestration efforts can produce and inject lead data into marketing nurture tracks, the better, because it will likely result in a higher….
Percent of those who could take a desired marketing action that actually do so. Examples include inquiries converted to MQLs, SQLs to customers, marketing targets that convert by responding to a call to action, and event registrants who convert to attendees. Conversion rate is a primary metric of most demand marketing campaigns; a higher percentage is always better.
Assigning points to a lead using a set of rules. In a typical scenario, a lead score is given a label that maps to pre-determined points thresholds, with the highest score being assigned to a “sales accepted” lead. Lead scoring usually works in tandem with lead nurturing.
The delivery of content (usually long-form content such as ebooks, white papers and case studies) to relevant, engaged audiences via online media partners or publishers. Often a key component of account-based marketing strategies.
These terms will continuously evolve as the industry matures. And while this is far from an exhaustive list of definitions or comprehensive explanation of terms, we hope it provides some useful clarity. When we speak a common language, we all perform better.