More About the B2B Marketing Funnel
The B2B marketing funnel (or B2B sales funnel) is a representation of the customer journey pertaining to the business-to-business marketing process. It maps out the various stages of the journey as a potential customer (prospect) moves through the marketing and sales process toward becoming a loyal customer.
Understanding how the B2B marketing funnel works will enable you to optimise your digital customer journey more effectively. This will allow you to tailor your messaging and content to match your prospects’ needs and wants within each stage. Relevant messaging makes for more efficient marketing and a higher ROI.
Using the B2B sales funnel as a blueprint for your marketing campaigns, you’ll also be able to pinpoint the following key elements:
Who your prospects are – knowing who your target audience is, and defining your brand’s buyer’s personas, is key to crafting relevant communication.
What to offer your prospects – the needs, behaviours and motives of your customer personas will determine the content, products or value you offer them.
Where to communicate with your prospects – which channels do they use, when? The channels you target and the media you choose (whether it’s a social media video ad, a B2B PPC ad or an informative blog post for your website) will depend on whether your prospects are in the top, middle or bottom end of the B2B sales funnel.
When to communicate with your prospects – when you’ve mapped out your customer journey for your B2B sales funnel, you’ll be able to show your prospects the right content, on the right platform, at the right time.
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There are key differences between B2B and B2C lead generation, and marketing, in general. A B2B marketing and sales funnel differs from the B2C counterpart, since the cost of B2B products or services tends to be higher. Because of this, B2B purchases are much more calculated as they are influenced by budgets and internal corporate approval processes.
This makes the B2B sales cycle significantly longer than B2C – often three to six months, or more.
Another key difference is that B2B audiences are typically much smaller than B2C audiences. Consumer brands typically sell to a mass market, whereas B2B marketing usually involves communicating with a very niche audience. This is why B2B marketing needs to be targeted with precision.
The Five Stages of the B2B Marketing Funnel
Based on which field you are in, or the B2B sales model you are using, there can be four to seven stages in the B2B marketing funnel, each with different names.
The model we are using has five main phases that need to be focused on:
The Awareness stage of the B2B digital marketing funnel is the first point of contact with your prospects.
The goal of the awareness phase is to:
• Attract potential customers through relevant information
• Increase brand awareness
During the awareness phase, most prospects need to be made aware of their problem, especially if it’s a low-awareness, low-irritation problem. This is why content for the awareness phase should be helpful and informative, while subtly introducing your company’s offering that’s relevant to the topic. It should also provide upfront value without requiring commitment or applying sales pressure.
Since most B2B purchases are not made on a whim, your awareness phase content needs to get prospects to raise their hands and say “I want more information”.
Here are seven possible actions that a prospect will take in the awareness phase:
1. Visits your website.
2. Watches a demonstration video.
3. Downloads an infographic.
4. Reads a blog post.
5. Follows your brand/business on at least one social media channel.
6. Downloads an eBook, guide, etc.
7. Subscribes to your email newsletters.
Getting your awareness stage to work properly is key to making the rest of the sales funnel to produce great results. If you’re not driving enough of the right people to the top of your marketing funnel, you will have less people becoming paying customers.
How do you know if you have any leaks in the awareness stage of your B2B marketing funnel?
Keep an eye on these B2B awareness stage KPIs:
• Number of new visitors to your website.
• Growth in followers on social media channels.
• Number of new email subscribers.
• The conversion rate for gated content such as webinars, downloadable PDFs, etc.
If you are, for example, not getting many new visitors to your website, you need to look at your SEO strategy, as well as your paid marketing channels. Getting quality leads through PPC lead generation is a great strategy for the top end of the B2B marketing funnel, while a sound SEO plan will deliver long-term results.
If you’re getting good traffic to your website, but your conversion rate for gated content marketing pieces is low, then you may need to relook your offer so that it resonates better with your visitors.
Once you have a steady flow of interested prospects, who fit your ideal customer personas, entering the top of your B2B marketing funnel, they move into the interest phase.
The interest (or consideration) phase is where the B2B buyer weighs the pros and cons of using your product or service over that of the competition.
Here are nine possible actions that a prospect may take in the interest phase:
1. Starts receiving your email newsletters.
2. Opens emails to learn more about your products’ features or benefits.
3. Clicks on an email call-to-action to read more information on your website.
4. Reads a whitepaper or report.
5. Performs product comparisons.
6. Uses a cost calculator on your website.
7. Signs up for a free demo or trial.
8. Subscribes to a podcast.
9. Signs up for a webinar.
To know if you have any leaks in the interest stage of your B2B marketing funnel, you should be looking at these KPIs:
• Email open rate.
• Click-through rate in emails.
• Engagement with informative content on your website, such as clicking links in blog posts.
• The conversion rate for a demo or free trial sign up.
If, for example, your email open rate is low, you can test different subject lines. A low email click-through rate can be remedied with stronger calls-to-action and/or offers. If your prospects are opening your emails and clicking through to your site, but aren’t signing up for a free trial, then it might be that they still need more information in order to make a final decision.
The desire (or evaluation) phase of your B2B marketing and sales funnel is key as this is where you need to nurture your leads in order to convince them to choose your product or service.
During the desire B2B marketing phase, you need to communicate your competitive advantages, current sales promotions and key benefits. At this stage, the sales team will start engaging with potential customers with the aim of providing more information and guiding them towards a decision, and action.
Here are four possible actions that a prospect may take in the interest phase:
1. Installs trial software.
2. Receives emails that are more sales driven.
3. Clicks on an email call-to-actions to read more information.
4. Take part in a feedback survey about what they liked or didn’t like about the free trial or demo.
To know if your desire phase in your B2B sales funnel is working properly, you should be looking at these KPIs:
• The conversion rate for installing free trials or demos.
• The conversion rate for attending webinars.
• The conversion rate for completing setup and using software.
• Engagement with a sales representative.
If, for example, you find that a lot of leads install your trial but abandon the trial and don’t go on to use the product, you may need to look at why the customer experience is less than ideal. Here, you can work with your product team to find pain points within the product experience.
The purchase (or action) phase is where your hot leads should be converting into new customers.
Here are three key actions that should happen in the B2B purchase phase:
1. A prospect purchases a product or signs up for a service.
2. The onboarding process – welcome your new customers and provide information on how to get the most from their product or service.
3. Post social media content about new products/services, sales promotions, etc.
To know if you have any shortcomings in the purchase stage of your B2B marketing funnel, you should be looking at these KPIs:
• The conversion rate for the initial purchase.
• Customer satisfaction during onboarding.
The loyalty phase of your B2B marketing funnel has two parts:
1. Re-engaging the leads who have shown interest in your products or services before.
2. Keeping existing customers happy in order to ensure a long-term customer relationship.
Whether you leads have indicated in a survey that they didn’t have the budget or weren’t able to get stakeholder buy-in previously, or have visited your website to download a whitepaper, it’s important to keep communicating to them.
Here are key steps to take in the B2B loyalty phase:
1. Send out re-engagement emails to your leads database – this is the ideal time to include an irresistible offer.
2. Deploy B2B paid search ads to your PPC remarketing list.
3. Sales rep team calls hot leads with enticing offers.
4. Run customer satisfaction surveys for existing customers.
5. Send emails to existing customers with up-sell or cross-sell offers.
To know if you have any leaks in the loyalty stage of your B2B marketing funnel, you should be looking at these KPIs:
• Email open rate.
• Engagement with customer nurture emails, such as click-through rate.
• The conversion rate for offers.
• Engagement with nurture content such as white papers, case studies, free trials or blog posts.
• The conversion rate for upsell or cross-sell campaigns.
• The conversion rate for contract renewals.
If you are only focusing on the top and bottom of the B2B sales funnel, your marketing journey is incomplete. To enable the best customer journey and optimal conversions, you need to align your content and marketing messages to every stage. By optimising your customer journey, you’ll bring in more qualified leads at a lower Cost per Lead (CPL).
If you need professional assistance with customer journey management, we invite you to get in touch. Our team of specialists can help you attract high-value visitors, leads and customers to your business, who you’ll be more likely to retain over time.