Having worked with and for several agencies over the past six years, I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern: a lot of them have not invested enough (or sometimes any) effort into figuring out the B2B marketing funnel.
The agency world is rife with folks selling à-la-carte marketing services that sound nice in theory, but perform in disjointed silos that are totally divorced from the customer journey. Hapless clients would expect a lovely funnel that captures, nurtures, and converts leads, and would instead find themselves with a handful of mismatched cookie cutters.
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably seen it yourself—and you’re ready to do it the right way. Here’s what you need to know to build and maintain a B2B marketing funnel that really works.
What is the B2B Marketing Funnel?
The B2B marketing funnel is a systemic approach to selling that traces a potential customer's path from their first interaction with your brand to the point where they decide to buy. It's a key part of your marketing plan and, particularly in the B2B world, is more of a long-distance race than a quick dash. It involves decision-makers, long sales processes, and big commitments.
However, a strong funnel can help connect your potential customers' problems with the solutions your business offers, creating a smooth journey for your B2B customers.
6 Advantages of Implementing a B2B Marketing Funnel
I’m not going to lie to you, building a B2B marketing funnel is a slog. It’s expensive in both time and money. But I’m also not going to lie about this: it’s worth it. Building an effective funnel is truly the best thing you can do to set up your sales team indefinitely. Here’s why:
- Better Lead Segmentation: A refined B2B marketing funnel aids in classifying leads based on their interactions with your content. This way, your marketing team can serve up a perfectly brewed cup of personalized messaging for your target audience.
- Improved Customer Journey: Through mapping each stage of the funnel, you can ensure a streamlined customer journey. It's like having a GPS system navigating through the complex terrain of B2B sales.
- Predictable Revenue: A well-tuned funnel provides accurate sales forecasts, a feature that will make your CFO smile.
- Optimized Resource Allocation: With a transparent view of the sales funnel, your sales team can deploy resources strategically, akin to placing chess pieces in the right positions.
- Increased Conversion Rates: Like a well-nurtured plant, leads cultivated through the funnel yield higher conversion rates.
- Enhanced Customer Retention: A meticulously managed funnel improves customer loyalty, transforming one-time buyers into regular patrons.
The 3 Stages of a Traditional B2B Marketing Funnel
The traditional B2B funnel, much like a theatrical play, unfolds in three acts—the Awareness (top of funnel) stage, Consideration (middle of funnel) stage, and Decision (bottom of funnel) stage. Each stage signifies a phase in the customer's journey and requires a unique marketing approach.
Top of the Funnel (TOFU)
“The Awareness Stage.” The top of the funnel is like the overture to an opera, setting the tone for potential customers to become aware of your brand through targeted content marketing and SEO practices.
Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)
“The Consideration Stage.” The middle of the funnel is the crescendo, where prospects compare your value proposition with others in the market.
Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)
“The Decision Stage.” The bottom of the funnel is the finale, where prospects make their purchasing decision.
How to Build a Marketing Funnel for the B2B Customer Journey
Now that we've covered what a B2B marketing funnel is and why it's a must-have in your marketing strategy, it's time to roll up our sleeves and build one. Like everything in marketing, building a funnel is an involved process that will require choreographing many different players at different times—and we all know how chaotic that can be. So, let's break it down into five manageable steps.
- Identify Your Target Audience: Use personas to pinpoint your ideal customers (ICP), their pain points, and their potential solutions.
- Create Tailored Funnel Content: Develop content for each stage of the marketing funnel. In the awareness stage, you might use whitepapers and webinars. In the MOFU, utilize case studies or product comparison guides. For BOFU content, consider testimonials and detailed pricing information.
- Set Up a Lead Scoring System: Implement a system that assigns value to leads based on their interactions with your brand. This will help your sales team to identify and prioritize qualified leads.
- Nurture Your Leads: Use targeted email marketing campaigns, retargeting ads, and LinkedIn connections to keep your brand top of mind as your leads progress to the next stage.
- Analyze and Optimize: Like a fine blend of coffee, your marketing funnel needs constant evaluation and refinement. Use metrics and KPIs to gauge performance and make necessary tweaks.
5 Strategies for Building Your B2B Marketing Funnel
Remember this: “top of funnel = top of mind.” Different stages require different strategic moves in order to pull new leads in and through your funnel, but the common thread that runs through all of them is brand presence—remember, your target audience has many more decisions to juggle than the ones you’re asking them to make. So, how do you ensure your brand stays top of mind for potential customers as they navigate the sales cycle? Here are a few B2B marketing strategies to help you make an impact.
- Engage with Content Marketing: Keep your brand at the forefront of your target audience's mind by regularly publishing high-quality, informative, and SEO-optimized content like blog posts, whitepapers, webinars, and social media posts. (Don’t make the mistake of ignoring the “SEO-optimized” part—if your audience can’t find it, it might as well not exist.)
- Utilize Remarketing Campaigns: Leverage digital marketing tools like retargeting to ensure that your brand stays visible to your potential customers, even after they leave your landing pages. I make this recommendation with a caveat, which is to make sure whomever is manning your retargeting campaign has a proven track record. Don’t be like the companies that re-target users for products they’ve already purchased. People notice…in a bad way.
- Stay Active on Social Media: Platforms like LinkedIn are crucial touchpoints in the B2B buyer's journey—after all, this is where your potential buyers hang out! Use them to engage with your target audience and build brand awareness. And for the love of crikey, don’t just post for the sake of posting. Lean into your value prop, showcase your in-house expertise, and look alive! Over-sanitized posts are where engagement goes to die.
- Personalize Your Messaging: Tailored messaging can increase conversion rates and build trust, improving customer experience and moving leads through your sales funnel. This is where your buyer personas really come into play. Personalization in B2B is about speaking relatably to your ideal customer’s pain points, you want them to see themselves in your brand messaging.
- Build Solid Relationships: Don't underestimate the power of CRM. A simple message can go a long way in nurturing leads, improving retention, and ultimately, increasing the number of paying customers.
5 Tips for Building Your B2B Marketing Funnel
Before we bid adieu, let's cap this thing off with some actionable tips to craft a B2B marketing funnel that not only resonates with your target audience but also converts them into paying customers. Cheers, to better leads, more conversions, and a whole lot of business growth!
- You Can’t Do Too Much Research on Your Audience's Pain Points: As I mentioned, your content strategy should center around addressing your target audience's pain points—take the time to learn and understand them. Knowing what keeps your ideal customer awake at night helps you to create content that hits home.
- Design High-Converting Landing Pages: A well-designed landing page can dramatically boost your conversion rate. Ensure your pages are visually appealing, have a compelling value proposition, and feature a clear call to action.
- Measure Your Success As You Go: Use metrics and KPIs to track the performance of your marketing strategy with tools like Hubspot and CRM software. You’d be shocked to know how many businesses report these numbers and do nothing with the data—in my agency days, I saw it happen all the time. To get real value out of your metrics, teams should be tracking, documenting, and analyzing these metrics at least weekly in conjunction with campaign tweaks, optimizations, and experiments.
- Consider the Sales Cycle: B2B sales cycles are typically longer than B2C, sometimes up to a year or more. Be patient, persistent (but not too persistent), and remember that building relationships is key.
- Create Case Studies and Testimonials: These serve as social proof, reassuring potential customers that others have had a positive experience with your product or service. This can be a crucial factor in the purchasing decision at the BOFU stage.
It’s Not Just a Funnel, It’s a Cycle
Now you have it—your comprehensive guide on how to build a B2B Marketing Funnel, fit for both new SaaS startups and seasoned B2B companies. But remember, the customer experience is key, and the process is iterative. Keep analyzing, tweaking, and optimizing for the best results. As you refine your TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU processes, they’ll become easier to manage, standardize, and scale—and with a solid funnel, you’ll be doing a lot of that.
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