Demand generation in the far future

Making predictions more than 10 years away is tricky, but as with developments over the previous decade, demand gen will look radically different to how it does now 

The end of demand generation as we know it 

In its current high-volume, mass-marketing form, demand generation is simply not sustainable for the next 10 years. The shrinking audience, lack of engagement and tighter privacy restrictions will render it untenable. 

The rapid rise in the popularity of account-based marketing over the past few years is a direct reaction to this as marketers search for a fresh alternative that will allow them to steal a march on their competitors. While the excitement and hype around ABM will undoubtedly die down, the method itself is here to stay.

 A characteristic of successful account-based marketing is a full commitment to the strategy, and for organizations with limited marketing resources this might mean dialing back on demand gen activity. This is what happened at Fujistu when the company went all-in on ABM a few years ago. As head of ABM, Andrea Clatworthy told the B2B Marketing ABM Conference in 2017: “We had to stop doing some stuff to give people the space to do ABM. So we stopped demand gen, we stopped lead gen – the business didn’t notice for a year.” 

Most companies won’t have the luxury of just switching demand gen off; it’s likely companies will operate some form of hybrid model with a combination of one-to-one/ one-to-few ABM, and one-to-many (or programmatic) ABM replacing the demand gen of today.

Programmatic ABM is powered by technology, its popularity is also likely to grow as the martech behind it becomes more powerful. Advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning will support smarter prospecting, better lead qualification, and much stronger personalisation through content, products and support.

No silver bullet, but multi-touch attribution will get easier 

Attribution modelling in the complex customer journey remains a headache, and unfortunately there is no foreseeable silver bullet to deliver a 100% accurate map of how marketing has influenced a sale. It should at least get easier. 

Collating data from a variety of systems that aren’t integrated can be a slow and laborious process. Consolidation among martech vendors, such as Adobe’s acquisition of Marketo (which owns Bizible) should mean systems can trade data with each other more easily, giving a more complete picture of the customer journey. 

Other technology improvements will support the collection of touchpoint data. One reason brands currently invest in airport ads, is that they’re worried what might happen if they don’t. Soon they will have clear metrics for why. “It won’t be long before a brand can link up the fact that I’ve walked through Heathrow, seen their adverts, and become a customer,” says Peter Morgan. “Even if we’re getting a bit more data about why an organisation is increasing its spending, that’ll put us in a much better place than we are now.”