A fatal mistake many businesses make is thinking they’re playing by the rules when it comes to marketing their brand. They could have an active presence on all the relevant social media platforms, spend their resources on paid advertising and even publish blog posts on their webpage-in a nutshell they’re doing “all the right things” and yet not have a good return.
A properly crafted B2B marketing funnel will sync smoothly with your organization’s sales team by generating traffic that transforms into leads. These leads are then in turn labeled as sales prospects, and targeted by your sales team. The leads will be of high-quality and will convert at a high rate.
On the other hand, if the marketing funnel is underperforming, then your sales team won’t have anything to work with. A failing funnel will not generate enough leads, or the types of leads generated are low-quality.
A successful marketing strategy must have a common thematic thread running through all the various channels of communication between the brand and consumers. That means that people need to understand just how your blog post will help them increase their conversion rate by at least 50%, for e.g.,.
This is where marketing funnels come into play. The reason marketers rely on funnels is because there needs to be a process by which a business is first introduced to a brand and then is gradually converted into a client.
A systematized approach to marketing will see you publish high quality content on your webpage, which will organically attract prospects. Then, the visitors will be asked to sign up to your e-mail list in order to establish a closer relationship with the brand. Finally, when they’re ready to convert, they’ll be able to simply start their trial period.
A marketing funnel provides a more natural way for people to go through the customer journey, which explains why they it’s so successful. The funnel model has been around for decades and has different variations; there funnels that have 3 or more phases and there isn’t one-size-fits-all design.
There have been significant changes to B2B funnels over the last few years-today the client is in control and not your sales team. Modern clients do their own research and with no input from the sales team. Therefore, any successful B2B funnel needs to provide a seamless transition between all the outlined stages that ultimately lead to your business increasing its bottom line.
While funnels differ according to industry, there are nevertheless several aspects that every successful B2B model should include.
We will take an in-depth look at how a robust B2B marketing funnel should be structured, which will help you grasp all the necessary steps needed to convert a complete stranger into your loyal client.
A marketing funnel and a sales funnel must be perfectly in sync: a marketing funnel that only emphasizes lead quality and disregards volume will make it almost impossible for sales reps to be productive.
Let’s take a look at the key elements of any successful B2B marketing funnel.
Raise Awareness Through Lead Generation
At the top of funnel, you have the stranger who’s completely unfamiliar with your business. Since they might not even be aware of the pain point they’re experiencing, the main goal at this stage is to grab the attention of as many high-quality leads as possible while building legitimacy.
Do not just compile a huge list of leads, which will include many unqualified leads. Instead make your lead generation focused. A qualified lead is one that has expressed interest in your product or service, needs what you’re selling and has the budget for your offer.
While this may sound obvious, this stage can be a little tricky. While social media platforms have made it easier to attract qualified leads, many B2B marketing teams underperform at this stage of the funnel.
In order to attract high-quality leads that will convert, you’ll need to have a firm understanding of your target business.
Focus on the audience that forms the foundation of your market. By researching them, you’ll know where and what type of content they consume and what their major pain points are which will help you produce the right type of lead magnets to reel them in.
For instance, many marketing tools including eBooks tend to underperform on social media even if they are consumed by the right audience.
Therefore, use “nurturing” content which zeros in on your target audience and is relevant to your product/service but doesn’t outright advertise it. This type of content has a better track record on social media, which results in a wider reach and at a much lower cost.
Marketers use various ways to introduce their brand to potential customers-things ranging from advertising on social media to organizing speaking engagements.
There are a handful of useful tools that will help you generate brand awareness at the very top of the funnel:
- You should use an email list that will have the emails of all your potential clients, which you will use introduce them to your brand. You get emails from leads at the top of the funnel.
- Send emails in bulk by using an email service provider, which is either a company or a program that collects your entire emails in one place. This saves you time from having to email people individually.
- To entice your leads to give a closer look at your brand, use a lead magnet which is high-quality content you offer in exchange for their emails.
- Once people have clicked on your ad or promotion, they’re taken to a landing page which is a single page that offers a lead magnet in the form of tutorial, guide or a free tool.
Qualify Leads Before They Get To The Sales Team
If your organization deals with a large volume of leads, then you want to have a way to qualify leads so that your sales reps can focus on conversion.
Opt-in forms provide additional form fields that will give your marketing more data without increasing the bounce rate. Adding more fields to your form is especially recommended with a low-pressure offer.
A robust B2B marketing funnel has to be closely aligned with the sales department. This means that the marketing team is generating a larger amount of qualified leads.
Use High-Quality and Low-Pressure Content
This is essential for building legitimacy and trust with your potential clients. This type of content is great for nurturing qualified leads who will enter your business’s sales funnel. Prospects will develop a positive relationship with your brand which will significantly make life easier for your sales team.
Content marketing that uses eBooks, whitepapers and helpful blog posts will target the right potential clients.
Convert Cold Traffic into Warm Traffic
This strategy is also referred to as the 1-2 punch and is very effective on social media platforms. The idea is to use high-quality un-gated content in order to target cold traffic. Once they’ve consumed your content, this newly- warmed traffic will then be sent to a gated piece of content.
The power of this approach lies in its simplicity. Many B2B marketers advertise on social media by using gated content, like lead magnets. This very often stirs negative emotions in social media users including targeted leads.
This marketing strategy can be very costly because platforms will diminish your reach and increasing your cost per thousand (CPM). Marketers that rely on ad creative that receive low positive response are punished. This will ultimately destroy your campaign.
However, the 1-2 punch marketing funnel sidesteps this problem by offering extremely useful and attractive content that will most likely generate a positive response from leads on social media. Therefore, this form of content is best suited to target cold traffic.
Let’s take a look at an example from HubSpot.
HubSpot attracts cold traffic with their un-gated blog post entitled 10 Examples of Effective Re-Engagement Emails. This type of content is great because potential clients that haven’t been introduced to the brand will find it useful and will most probably have a positive response. As a result, the content’s reach will increase and the CPM will decrease.
All the traffic that reads the free blog post can be pixeled, and labeled as warm leads. Then, this newly minted warm audience can be targeted with more exclusive gated content.
For instance, the warm leads could be directed to a page with gated content. However, since only the leads that had already seen un-gated content will be targeted, which will give the business a stronger probability of leads converting.
Content Upgrade Funnel
This strategy is closely related to the 1-2 funnel. The most important thing is to have a social media friendly un-gated content that is relevant to your industry.
Again, you have the same benefits as with the previous funnel including wider reach and lower CPMs. Where this type of funnel differs from the 1-2 funnel is that the gated content is offered within the un-gated content.
For instance, the most common example of this method is asking for the reader’s email address in exchange for a PDF version of content that corresponds closely to the un-gated content while they’re reading. Or you could also offer the PDF version of the un-gated content that they’re reading and you’ll be able to get a lot of email addresses.
Let’s take a look at a real example that illustrates the mechanism of this type of funnel.
Backlinko posted an un-gated blog post entitled Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List. The readers are given an option to download a PDF checklist that underscores top 10 things that influence ranking.
While the gated offer is an entirely different piece of content, it is nevertheless closely related to the un-gated offer. As we mentioned before, another option was to give visitors a chance to download a PDF version of the entire post.
This is a cost-effective way of generating qualified leads because you only really need one piece of highly engaging content. This also allows you to test out various un-gated pieces of content and including the PDF versions as the upgraded content.
A quick tip before we proceed. You’ll need to decide if the leads that opted in are qualified leads or need to be qualified. If they aren’t qualified, then qualify them with emails offering whitepapers, webinars, free trials that suggest strong buyer intent. Only then can your marketing team send them over to sales.
Online Funnel Tool
One of the best performing funnels uses online tools to generate and qualify leads. By offering a sleek and value-added online tool that addresses an issue or issues in your niche, you’ll undoubtedly receive an immense amount of positive feedback. This strategy is very effective on social media.
Consumers typically react better to online tools than blog posts or articles probably because there are fewer tools than written content. And that more resources are needed to produce a functional tool as opposed to publish an article.
Much like in other cases, you should request that users give their email address in exchange for viewing the results of the tool.
Using a tool is probably the best way to qualify leads since users typically won’t mind sharing additional bits of information for the ability to use a useful tool.
HubSpot has a great Marketing Plan Generator tool that is closely related to their products/services.
Final Thoughts On B2B Marketing Funnel
Marketing funnels are engineered to create awareness, draw in a large stream of targeted visitors and finally generate leads from that traffic. After that, the lead is passed on to the sales funnel which further nurtures the lead and finally closes as a new account.
All these 3 funnel types can be implemented in most B2B industries. However, the best marketing funnels are those that have undergone rigorous testing by marketers.
Don’t worry, testing and optimizing funnels isn’t an arduous task. Using one funnel a month and testing it against previous funnels is usually enough to improve your B2B marketing funnel’s performance.