Demand Generation Channels for 2022, Compared

Successful demand generation programs begin with well thought-out strategy: which marketing channels to invest in, how to allocate budget among them, where in the funnel each channel meets prospects, and how the channels will work together complementarily.

Implementing such a strategy, however, requires an encyclopedic knowledge of demand generation channels and how they’re performing in your industry as of 2022. Your campaign is only as strong as your awareness of which channels are likely to yield the most MQLs and how to use them optimally.

In the below table, we compare the major demand generation channels used by businesses in 2022, giving relevant benchmarks such as Average CAC, Time Until Results, and ROI. Afterwards, we go deeper into each channel, explaining its advantages and disadvantages:

Channel Average CAC Time Until Results Learning Curve ROI Funnel Location
Thought Leadership SEO $647 4-6 months Medium 748% Discovery, Interest, Confirmation
Webinars $603 2-4 months Medium 430% Interest, Appraisal
Email $510 3-6 months Easy 312% Interest
Podcasts $1,472 12-18 months Medium 307% Interest
LinkedIn Organic $658 6-8 months Easy 229% Discovery, Interest
LinkedIn Advertising $983 3-4 months Easy 192% Discovery
PPC/SEM $802 1 month Medium 36% Discovery
Account Based Marketing (ABM) $4,664 4-8 months High 240% All

Sources: CAC by Channel, Digital Marketing ROI Statistics, B2B Lead Generation Methods: The 2022 Guide

These benchmarks will give you a good sense of which channels are worth investing in generally, though performance varies based on your industry. With this summary in mind, we’ll now go into each demand generation channel in more detail.

Thought Leadership SEO

Average CAC Time Until Results Learning Curve ROI Funnel Location
$647 4-6 months Medium 748% Discovery, Interest, Confirmation

Thought leadership is authoritative, top-of-funnel content designed to establish your company as an expert in your industry. By combining it with SEO, you can achieve high rankings for lead-driving keywords while simultaneously building trust with your audience. The thought leadership SEO process consists of:

While thought leadership is more labor intensive than creating boilerplate SEO content, it’s heavily rewarded by Google’s algorithm. It also captures higher visitor engagement; can be repackaged into nurture-oriented content such as social media and email campaigns; and can be utilized by your sales team for presentations.

Thought leadership SEO isn’t without its potential drawbacks, however, the first of which is that it takes time to see results. Most campaigns don’t start seeing substantive results until 4 to 6 months into the process. That said, once those results start coming in, they create a sustainable lead generation stream due to their relatively low CACs.

Webinars

Average CAC Time Until Results Learning Curve ROI Funnel Location
$603 2-4 months Medium 430% Interest, Appraisal

Online webinars provide a space where you can engage your target audience more directly than other digital channels. Most follow a standard format (live presentation followed by a short Q&A), but they can take any form that will create a connection with your potential customers. What’s more important is the topic, which you should choose based on two factors:

  • Choose a topic your team excels in: It’s not enough to just be knowledgeable about a subject—you need to be an expert. Audiences want to hear from the best in the field, and your presenter needs to be able to back up their charisma with actual insight.
  • Choose a topic that your audience cares about: Attracting an audience is one of the most difficult parts of using webinars for demand generation. Look to your other channels for ideas. If you have a blog, for example, consider using a post with high engagement as the basis for your webinar.

Remember that webinars aren’t ad spots: no one is going to sign up for an hour-long sales pitch, and the ones who did will very quickly find a reason to leave. If you provide valuable guidance, however, your new leads will place more trust in you when it comes time to close a sale.

Email

Average CAC Time Until Results Learning Curve ROI Funnel Location
$510 3-6 months Easy 312% Interest

Email campaigns remain surprisingly effective as long as they target visitors that already know your brand and contain genuinely inspired content. Because people pay a lot of attention to their e-mail but dislike spam, email is useful solely for lead nurturing as opposed to lead generation. Here are the 3 principles that every email campaign should follow:

  • Optimize frequency to your audience’s interests: If you were to ask a few members of your target audience how frequently they’d like to receive original commentary about your industry, what would they say? In marketing, for instance, once every few weeks is best; in fashion, a daily frequency could work. Getting this wrong will erode your base of prospects quickly, so it requires careful thinking.
  • Segment your emails: Segment your email list by industry, position, or even company so make your messages are specifically relevant to each recipient.
  • Include clear next steps: Whether it’s letting somebody know about your new podcast or article, be sure that your emails include a clear CTA letting them know where they can seek out more information

Overall, email is a core element of every demand generation campaign. It’s low-cost, high ROI, and takes a relatively short time to get the campaign up to speed.

Podcasts

Average CAC Time Until Results Learning Curve ROI Funnel Location
$1,472 12-18 months Medium 307% Interest

Whereas every other channel requires your audience’s active attention, the main strength of a demand generation podcast is that your audience can listen while engaged in other activities. This gives your content more opportunities to catch an audiences attention. It also means that you face little competition from other channels—though a great deal of competition from other podcasts.

The process of setting up a podcast is remarkably involved, requiring a high monthly cost to perform well. This results in relatively high CACs, and results don’t come for a long time.  As a result, while a podcast can be a valuable addition to the lead nurturing aspects of your demand generation program, it should comprise a relatively small part of your efforts.

LinkedIn Organic

Average CAC Time Until Results Learning Curve ROI Funnel Location
$658 6-8 months Easy 229% Discovery, Interest

LinkedIn is a unique social media platform. As it is entirely professionally-oriented, you can be assured that a LinkedIn user is already thinking of business, and is more receptive to learning about B2B services or products.

The content for LinkedIn can be easily adapted from thought leadership or other content-producing campaigns, so long as it’s tailored to the new medium. Because of this, its resource requirements are relatively light and it serves well as a supplemental demand generation channel.

LinkedIn Advertising

Average CAC Time Until Results Learning Curve ROI Funnel Location
$983 3-4 months Easy 192% Discovery

Sharing many qualities with LinkedIn organic, the primary benefit of LinkedIn advertising lies in its ability to target users by industry, company, job title, or a whole host of other demographic criteria. The downside is that it has significantly higher costs than using the platform organically, leading to higher CACs in turn. As with many paid channels, its best application lies in short-term campaigns to measure the appeal of your product in previously untapped industries.

PPC/SEM

Average CAC Time Until Results Learning Curve ROI Funnel Location
$802 Immediate Medium 36% Discovery

For demand campaigns looking for immediate results (especially those run by B2B SaaS companies), PPC/SEM marketing has become the default channel to turn to. Not only is it the fastest of all channels, PPC spend is flexible and easy to track, making it easy to evaluate the success or failure of a campaign.

It has an important drawback, however, in the area of long-term profitability. Although it achieves results quickly, you must pay for every searcher that clicks on your Google Ad. This results in high CACs and low long-term ROI for companies that overuse PPC in their demand generation.

Account Based Marketing (ABM)

Average CAC Time Until Results Learning Curve ROI Funnel Location
$4,664 4-8 months High 240% All

Whereas most demand generation channels target many potential audience members, ABM is the exact opposite. It focuses on singling out high-value customers and targeting their content directly to those audiences. As with thought leadership SEO, it requires intensive research into specific audience personas, but that is where the similarity stops. ABM accounts are typically more sales focused, trying to generate leads and conversions instead of providing readers with valuable insights.

Successfully executing on an ABM campaign can result in an exceptionally high ROI, as its target will result in a much larger sale than average. This is counterbalanced by its extremely high CAC and learning curve, and because of its small scale, ABM campaigns can be inconsistent. In other words, it’s a high risk, high reward channel.

Evaluating Demand Generation Channels

Choosing the correct demand generation channels requires significant experience. Even for companies with seasoned marketers, you won’t typically have a person who has a lot of industry-specific experience, both positive and negative, with every demand generation channel.

For this reason, many companies choose to outsource demand generation strategy creation, and even execution, to an experienced demand generation agency. If you’d like to learn more about doing so, you can reach out to us here.

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