I’ve been asked by enterprises and B2B clients about how to incorporate AI into demand generation and lead generation in their marketing efforts.

Here is my approach to how you should go about it.

First off, are there the differences between demand generation and lead generation matter?

Simply put, demand generation is top of the funnel outreach to increase brand awareness and generate interest in your business.

Many articles define lead generation as the bottom of the funnel that captures contact information from qualified leads.

I beg to differ—on the marketing front, lead generation is still at the top of the funnel, but it’s one level down from demand generation.

For many marketers, lead generation can mean developing marketing qualified leads (MQLs) or further vetting MQLs using intent-based tools.

Not to split hairs, many of us use these terms interchangeably in the world of digital marketing.

Plus many demand generation tactics are very similar to that of lead generation, except for messaging, content placement, and calls-to-action.

For the sake of this blog post, I’ll use these terms interchangeably.

Seven steps to scale AI (artificial intelligence) into your demand generation or lead generation efforts:

  • Understand your channels for demand or lead generation
  • Document processes and workflows
  • Determine where AI tools would fit in
  • Evaluate which tools to use
  • Test and modify
  • Track AI results against human results
  • Retest, remodify to scale

Understand Your Channels for Demand or Lead Generation

If you are a vice president or director of marketing, you may be tasked to scale and implement AI marketing program at the organizational level; the best way to do that is:

  • Take inventory of your current marketing channels
  • Understand workflows and processes

If you are an individual contributor who specializes in specific marketing disciplines such as SEO, email marketing, event marketing, or content marketing, focus on understanding how each channel is used for the different stages of purchase funnels – from the top of the funnel (TOFU) down to the bottom of the funnel (BOFU).

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Document Processes & Workflows

Then, diagram your process on Canva, Miro, Lucidchart, or any other flowchart tools that you may use.

It sounds tedious, but the biggest benefit of doing this is identifying steps and areas you can either automate or benefit from incorporating AI’s assistance.

You can only scale and understand where AI fits in once you have a holistic view.

Let’s use webinar as an example:

Here is a typical webinar workflow, but no leads are passed to sales if you treat this as only a demand generation effort to build awareness and drive demand.

AI Marketing Program

In many cases, sales do their own vetting on SQLs. It feels that sales and marketing may be disjointed.

To bridge the gap, you can turn your monthly “demand generation” efforts to “lead generation” by finding “more purchase intent” clues for your sales reps.

For example, one clue can be the frequency of your webinars. If prospects have attended three consecutive webinars, do you think they may express interest in talking to sales?

We don’t know for sure, but maybe we can send them personalized emails with a strong call-to-action to contact sales to find out.

If they reply, that’s a strong sign of purchase intent. If they don’t, you know there is no interest at this time. You just move on.

Determine Where AI Can Fit In

Based on the flow chart above, you’ll not only merge “demand generation” and “lead generation” into one workflow, you’ll also determine where and how you would use AI to automate or merge steps in your workflow.

In the following slide, I show 4 ways to incorporate AI marketing program into your workflow:

  1. Use AI writing assistants to generate copy
  2. Use AI features that exist within 3rd party tools to automatically route leads and assist sales in AI-written email follow-up
  3. Use AI to clean up your customer database
  4. Build internal prediction models to forecast deal win rates

AI Marketing Program

Evaluate the Tools You Want to Use

Once you have identified the areas where you want to incorporate AI, the next step is determining which tools to use.

In this stage, you have 3 options:

  • Leverage AI features in existing tools
  • Purchase new 3rd party tools
  • Build your own AI tools in-house

I always tell my clients to check AI features within their existing tools.

For example, suppose you are interested in using AI to write your social media posts. In that case, you might want to look into your current social media tools to see if they have features that are already capable of helping with that before purchasing a full-blown writing assistant tool.

SaaS-based platforms are continually adding new features.  Always check with existing software vendors to find out about any new features they might have added or plan to add soon.

Building your own tools tends to be expensive and involves a long lead time. Unless it’s related to a predictive analytics model to analyze big datasets or optimizing your own training algorithms, I don’t recommend building in-house AI platforms.

With so many AI tools popping up every day, you can always find something that fits your needs. It may require 2-3 tools initially, but you’re guaranteed to be able to find something that works for you.

In some cases, you may be able to merge or automate 2-3 steps and delegate that to a new AI tool.

The workflow allows you to discuss the tool options with your team and vendors.

Test, Train, & Modify

Once you identify the tools, you need to incorporate them into your workflows from two perspectives:

  • Front-end: Revise your workflows to show how AI marketing program will be used so your team can see the addition of new tools. You also need to train your team members to use everything. Training is as critical as implementing new tools and modifying workflows.
  • Back-end: You need to work with IT and Marketing Ops teams to ensure that the back-end is set up correctly to allow data to flow from one stage to another.

Track AI Results Against Human Results

When you add AI as part of your processes, it’s important to track whether or not it saves your team members time, saves company money, or generates more revenue.

Have 2-3 success metrics in mind.

For the sake of lead generation initiatives, you need to check if AI actually helps increase the number of leads.

If it’s hard to quantify that, at the minimal level, you need to know if AI helps secondary metrics such as email clicks or content downloads, or even the number of MQLs.

While implementing new AI tools, you should also interview team members who use them extensively to understand if the tools make their lives easier or save them time.

Qualitative data can provide insights into overall AI usage to determine the next optimization phase.

Remodify & Scale

Once you ramp up the AI tools within your workflow, you can check whether AI helps or hinders your demand generation efforts.

In Summary

Scaling AI within a company differs from an individual selecting one AI tool for a specific task.

At the individual level, you only have to consider how you’ll personally use that tool. At the department or organizational level, you need to consider how AI plays a role in holistic processes and workflows.

Implementing AI at scale also requires resources, budget, and time. You may not get it right the first time, but it’s a journey that you can’t avoid.

Embrace it and start having conversations as a team.

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Need more AI Marketing Program support? Book a call with Pam Didner,

What can Pam Didner do for you?

Being in the corporate world for 20+ years and having held various positions from accounting and supply chain management, and marketing to sales enablement, she knows how corporations work. She can make you and your team a rock star by identifying areas to shine and do better. She does that through private coaching, keynote speaking, workshop training, and hands-on consulting. Contact her or find her on LinkedIn and Twitter. A quick note: Check out her new 90-Day Revenue Reboot, if you are struggling with marketing.