How Does the B2B Marketing Funnel Work?

Published: Mar 11, 2020
Last Updated:
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So you have the perfect product or service for companies in your industry, but you can't seem to connect with them. What's the problem?

The first thing you may want to consider is your marketing funnel.

A B2B marketing funnel is a useful tool for optimizing sales pipelines, but it is often overlooked. To their detriment, 68% of B2B businesses have not identified their marketing sales funnel. That translates to lost revenue.

Stay ahead of the curve. Familiarize yourself with the B2B marketing funnel, and incorporate some of the useful techniques we will discuss here into your marketing strategy.

Why You Should Use a B2B Marketing Funnel

Selling products and services across businesses can be complicated. These days, buying decisions are rarely made by one person, but rather a buying group of 5-6 people. Marketers need to work through specific hurdles before a sale is possible. They need to:

  • Create specialized content that appeals to and addresses the needs of the buyer
  • Establish and maintain relationships with leads
  • Develop persuasive sales and marketing strategies across various platforms to entice potential buyers to do business with them

This process may take months—or even years.

By documenting the specific demands associated with the sales journey, the B2B marketing funnel can help companies evaluate their marketing strategies and reach their intended audience better.

<div class="tip">Creating content for a B2B audience isn't quite the same as writing for B2C readers. Here's how you can strengthen your B2B copywriting.</div>

Understanding the B2B Marketing Funnel

The B2B marketing funnel is evolving. To better understand where it's going, let's have a look at where it's been.

While variations on the stages of the B2B marketing funnel exist, we will focus on six generally accepted areas.

  1. Awareness: leads become aware of your company, product, or service
  2. Interest: leads seek out further information
  3. Consideration: prospective customers make contact with marketers and receive more specified information and details
  4. Intent: prospects demonstrate a clear interest in buying a product or service
  5. Evaluation: prospects determine if your company has the best solutions for their problems
  6. Purchase: sale is made

The traditional funnel is lead-based and straightforward.  Prospective buyers are streamlined through a process that ultimately ends with a purchase. Sales representatives guide and nurture potential customers from the middle of the funnel all the way through to the end.

The Evolving B2B Marketing Funnel

What the traditional model is lacking is the impact that today's digital advancements have placed on the buyer's journey.

With the advent of technology, today's consumers are doing much of the research on their own. By the time B2B buyers make their first contact with a sales representative, they have already progressed 71% of the way through the process.

Today's buyer is intelligent, savvy, and has unlimited information at their fingertips. Now, leads can come in—and out—at any point during the process. They can engage directly with marketers at any given time. Sales and marketing teams need to respond accordingly with strategies and content that appeal to potential buyers at every stage of the process.

While the traditional B2B model is still the foundation by which marketers can understand buyers and optimize conversions, newer renditions of the B2B sales funnel provide a more holistic approach. It includes all the intricacies of selling in the modern world. Take the image below as just one example of how the B2B marketing funnel is changing:

(Image credit: Get Accept)

This depiction has multiple touchpoints and intersections, showing the complexities of today's buying process. These non-linear funnels are replacing the old static models. However, they all still adhere to some of the basic B2B funnel concepts despite being altered to reflect our changing society.

Potential customers can become aware of your business through various means such as organic searches, paid advertisements, word-of-mouth, podcasts, and more. They can filter through the information available to them online and engage with specific content from the marketer.

No matter how they get there, when a prospective buyer hits the intention phase, they can decide if your products or services fit their needs better than the competition. If they’re swayed, a sale is made.

Content Marketing and the B2B Funnel

Effective content marketing, whether it's B2B or B2C (business-to-consumer), is the cornerstone of today's marketing funnel.

Since we know buyers can find all the preliminary information they need on products and services right from their desks, it's imperative to have the right kind of information in the right place. Reports indicate that before buyers even consult with a sales representative, they have reviewed up to five pieces of content about a company.

From this perspective, we can see how crucial a role B2B content marketing plays in the early stages of the funnel—and throughout the rest of the process.

Content marketing has become one of the most productive ways to reach targeted audiences. It can be used at every level of the funnel.

What are the benefits of the B2B marketing funnel?

The B2B marketing funnel, while changing, is still relevant. The tool can be used by any company. Using the B2B marketing funnel can help:

  • Convert prospects to consumers
  • Align your sales and marketing campaigns
  • Improve branding
  • Apply appropriate strategies that will better meet the needs of your buyers
  • Generate more leads and sales

6 B2B Marketing Funnel Tactics

Let's take a look at some B2B marketing tactics that you can apply to the different levels of the funnel. These include:

  1. Paid advertising
  2. Landing pages
  3. Blog posts
  4. White papers
  5. Case studies
  6. Reviews

<div class="tip">These marketing strategies are helpful for driving more relevant users to your B2B website. However, to turn more visitors into leads, check out these B2B lead generation strategies.</div>

1. Paid Advertising

The top of the funnel is where you can invest in paid advertising campaigns targeted toward prospective customers. Paid advertising helps you cast a wide net to reach buyers who are in the market for what you are selling.

Paid advertising is highly effective. Google reports that, on average, advertising boosts brand awareness by 80%. It can help you stay top-of-mind to potential leads.

Ads also have a significant ROI. Google reports that businesses can earn an average of $2 for $1 spent on Google Ads.

Reach a wide range of your target audience by creating ads on both search engines and social media platforms.

2. Landing Pages

Links in your ads will take prospective leads to your specified landing page. The sole purpose of the landing page is to convert potential leads into customers. These leads are aware of your company, but they want more information about your products or services.

Targeted landing pages present potential leads with special promotions or offers. Each landing page should have a clear CTA (call to action) and give you a way to obtain email addresses, phone numbers, company information, or a sale.

3. Blog Posts

Blog posts increase your exposure as an industry leader and an authoritative voice on topics of concern to your targeted audience.

Through your blog, you can dispense free advice that speaks directly to your base.

Blog posts are especially valuable as a top-of-funnel marketing strategy. They help to educate as well as inform potential customers about problems, insights, or new developments within your industry. Marketers who make use of blog posts can expect to see 13 times more positive ROI than those who don't.

4. White Papers

Often passed on because they appear too complicated, white papers can bring you closer to your target audience.

White papers fall in the top to middle of the funnel because they provide supporting documentation for your existing products or services. Prospective leads who have already done the preliminary work and are considering your company will be looking for detailed, research-based information to show that your company is right for them.

White papers provide buyers with the in-depth information they need. Used to shed light on a specific problem area and provide real solutions backed up by data, they allow marketers to present their companies as innovative thought leaders and solution seekers.

5. Case Studies

Case studies showcase how a specific customer has benefitted from your product or service. They are especially helpful towards the middle and final sections of the funnel, where buyers are looking for concrete evidence that supports a decision to purchase from your company.

Make case studies available on your site. Use them to examine the challenges and pain points of particular clients, followed up with innovative strategies and resolutions that your product or service has provided.

Case studies are an authentic way to demonstrate your company's efficiencies and distinctiveness within your industry.

6. Reviews

Customer reviews are just as crucial for B2B companies as they are for B2C companies. According to a recent report, 97% of B2B buyers find peer reviews and other user-generated content more credible than other types of content.

Take advantage of these numbers and provide customer testimonials and reviews on your site and social media platforms. Customer reviews validate your messaging and allow potential buyers to see how others have experienced your products or services.

Reviews are helpful in the final stage of the funnel and can differentiate you from your competitors.

B2B Marketing and You

A B2B sales funnel will help you approach your sales strategy with the specific intent of identifying, organizing, and prioritizing your marketing and sales efforts.  Adapt the sales funnel to your business and discover where you might be missing out on potential ways to reach your audience.

While the B2B marketing funnel has become more complex, it is still the most accurate depiction of the changing marketing landscape. Marketers now have a greater opportunity to impress, inform, and connect at all stages of the funnel, giving them more opportunity to increase sales.

This article was written by writer Sophia Murphy.


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