Whether they’re building a brand, fueling revenue generation, or supporting the customer journey, marketers are constantly looking for ways to highlight their value and increase ROI.
For demand generation professionals in charge of optimizing a B2B marketing funnel, that means any friction getting in the way of alignment, efficiency, and scalability simply has to go.
“Most B2B buyers are working super hard to remain unknown to you — they tend to avoid forms at all costs,” says Calen Holbrooks, vice president of marketing at ZoomInfo. “That’s why visibility into an account’s buying signals and the ability to identify and engage decision-makers are crucial to building a seamless B2B marketing funnel.”
To build a frictionless funnel that delivers value at every stage — and avoid a disjointed system laced with manual intervention and human error — use this proven three-part framework:
- Understand priorities at each stage
- Identify clear KPIs to track success
- Invest in the right technology
Understanding the Stages of a B2B Marketing Funnel
The B2B marketing funnel is a five-step strategy that is often organized into three stages – top of funnel, middle of funnel, and bottom of funnel. There are dedicated stages to generate awareness, create engagement, and ultimately convert prospects into customers.
Although each funnel might have different naming conventions, the five steps in a buyer’s journey can be categorized as: awareness, interest, consideration, evaluation, and purchase.
Integrated marketing teams may also consider post-sale funnel stages that support a customer through onboarding, product adoption, and eventually, becoming an advocate for the brand.
A B2B marketing funnel is unique because it often involves multiple people from a single business moving through each stage of the funnel in a haphazard fashion. As accounts move further down the funnel, go-to-market teams often need to engage a growing cast of characters in order to close a deal.
You will need to identify where each lead is relative to the account’s funnel stage and how to help them progress. It comes down to targeting each individual lead with relevance, at scale.
Top of the Funnel
Remember: many B2B buyers work to remain unknown to vendors for as long as possible. They would rather do their own research and exploration at this stage.
Once you are able to engage buyers and move them into a “known” status, you’ve reached the “Awareness” stage. The prospect still may not have knowledge about your specific product or service, but they are likely beginning to explore a solution to a challenge they are experiencing.
When potential customers are doing anonymous research, they’re searching for key terms and phrases that you can track as intent topics to move accounts into the awareness stage. The prospect is not aware of the options to solve their problems, and they’re certainly not likely to be ready to purchase, so at this stage in the funnel, your focus should be on getting the first engagement.
Focus on attracting new leads from target accounts that fit your ideal customer profile and start educating them about your solution through a thought leadership content marketing strategy that positions you as a subject matter expert.
Here are some examples of top-of-funnel offers you can share with prospects in order to get them interested in your product or service:
- Blog posts
- Social media posts
Key data points: For accounts at the top of the marketing funnel, especially those showing high intent for your solution, focus on finding key data points such as direct-dial phone numbers, email addresses, and general company information so you can start engaging them as they begin their search.
Middle of the Funnel
Prospects in the middle of the funnel are in the interest and consideration stage, where they are researching solutions and assessing if your products, or those of your competitors, are best suited to meet their needs.
In the middle stage, your focus should be on highlighting your key differentiators, keeping prospects engaged, and continuing to build out the buying group to ensure you’ve identified all of the key decision-makers.
Some examples of marketing activities for prospects in the middle of the funnel:
- Email marketing
- Customer case studies
- Self-assessment tools (quizzes)
- Product or solution videos
- Analyst reports
Key data points: Review each prospect’s engagement with your email marketing, events, and content efforts, potentially putting these into an account engagement score. Another key data point to consider is the prospect’s in-market score (IMS). This can be calculated by ranking the pages on your website and measuring each prospect’s engagement with those pages.
Bottom of the Funnel
The ultimate jackpot for B2B marketers is getting prospects to the bottom of the funnel. At this point, prospects are ready to finalize their options and make a decision. You’ve caught their attention, shared the value of your business, and stayed in touch — now is the time for the sales team to focus on closing the deal.
Prospects at the bottom of the funnel are often handed over to sales as a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) or marketing-qualified account (MQA). At this point, the prospect likely has a short list of top vendors and is comparing them to determine which one can deliver the most value.
Some examples of bottom-of-the-funnel content to support sales in closing the deal:
- Buyer’s guides or checklists
- Customer case studies
- Customer videos
- Pricing pages
- Competitive comparisons
- Trial offers
Key data points: Once prospects make it to the bottom of the marketing funnel, you’ll want to focus on conversion rates, trial sign-ups and executive engagement. These are all strong indicators that the account is moving toward the purchase stage.
How Do you Measure the Success of a B2B Marketing Funnel?
In order to better understand the impact of your marketing efforts, it’s important to define what success means for your business and how you’ll track performance across your entire B2B marketing funnel.
Metrics are a critical part of a successful B2B marketing funnel. Without accurate reporting, your team won’t be able to assess how your efforts are paying off or identify opportunities to test and improve.
Some key B2B marketing KPIs to measure the success of your marketing funnel:
- Cost per acquisition
- Account funnel progression
- Content downloads
- Demo requests
- Form submissions
- Total Impressions
- Advertising click-through rate
- Marketing qualified leads
- Conversion rate per channel
If your team is really looking to get granular funnel reporting, ZoomInfo’s MarketingOS includes a funnel movement report to visualize if leads are moving in the right, or wrong, direction. From this funnel movement report, you can also launch campaigns to target accounts that may have stalled or moved backward to the awareness stage.
How Can Technology Improve Your B2B Marketing Funnel?
Integrated technology tools help marketing teams generate a complete picture of their customer and eliminate friction in their funnel. Make the most of your marketing budget by consolidating your tech stack, automating tedious tasks, and integrating with other tools so your sales, marketing, and data teams can work seamlessly.
Tech stack consolidation
When it comes to your marketing tech stack, less is more. Rather than investing in multiple platforms or single-solution tools, leaning into a unified marketing platform can help your team streamline their processes and maintain data consistency across the entire marketing funnel.
Here are some of the core marketing efforts that your team might look to streamline into a single platform:
- Discover new leads
- Enrich and cleanse your database
- Create and manage audiences
- Build and manage campaigns
- Report on progress
With a consolidated tech stack, marketers get a full picture of all of their leads faster, freeing them up to launch automated nurture campaigns that move prospects through the funnel efficiently.
Let’s face it: modern B2B marketing still includes too much manual, repetitive work. By prioritizing automation, your teams can automatically launch campaigns that will support prospects at every stage of the marketing funnel, giving prospects what they need sooner and freeing up marketers to focus on more valuable strategic work.
Let’s say that a lead in your database downloads some content from your website. That lead can be automatically added to a nurture campaign based on that content topic, related topics, or their job function.
Here’s an example of an automated nurture email you might send based on a content download:
This template can be customized for every lead that downloads your content, based on parameters such as industry or job title.
Automated lead-nurture campaigns can increase the conversion rate of high-value leads and shorten the time it takes for them to convert by cultivating a stronger relationship with your brand. Rather than waiting to follow up with that lead, your teams can reach out when the topic and your company are still top of mind.
Since there are so many components of a full-funnel marketing strategy — one that considers and plans for each stage in the B2B marketing funnel – it’s imperative that your data is consistent across channels.
For example, marketing teams can use Snowflake data to produce stronger analytics, better segmentation, and more effective campaigns, including pushing new prospects or lead information from multiple sources into their CRM or MAT.
With access to accurate lists of accounts and contacts, including both first- and third-party data attributes, you can drop leads into a personalized campaign, paving the way for a better customer experience.
Optimizing your B2B marketing funnel will help you generate more leads and better conversion rates while also creating a consistent experience for every lead — a key part of building brand loyalty.
In doing so, your teams can launch coordinated campaigns that educate and delight customers at the top, middle, and bottom of the funnel.
If you’re looking to optimize your B2B marketing funnel to achieve growth, you can rely on ZoomInfo’s world-class data and advanced software to get the job done. Find out how today.