From Awareness to Conversion: Mastering the B2B Marketing Funnel

October 26, 2023

Marketing funnel, sales funnel, acquisition funnel…we’ve heard all this before, right?

But are you leveraging these concepts to their fullest potential in your marketing strategy? In this article, we'll revisit the basics of the b2b marketing funnel and explore its role in helping businesses understand user interactions with their products or services. By analyzing marketing funnel data, marketers gain valuable insights into customer behavior, allowing them to optimize lead nurturing strategies and improve their products and services. 

The end result is a win-win: customers receive the most relevant and helpful offers, and businesses can boost their bottom line. We'll cover the stages of the b2b marketing funnel, its benefits, and ways to measure its success. Plus, we'll address common FAQ’s to help you become a marketing funnel expert. So let's dive in!

What is a B2B Marketing Funnel?

Also known as a sales funnel or an acquisition funnel, the B2B marketing funnel is a framework that outlines the various stages a business-to-business (B2B) customer goes through before making a purchase. It is a visual representation of the customer journey and the sales process, from initial brand awareness to final purchase and beyond.

The B2B marketing funnel is a visual representation of every step that a customer needs to take from discovering a product or service to making a purchase. This makes full funnel marketing an invaluable tool for businesses as it enables them to understand the customer's journey and devise strategies to engage with potential customers, as well as convert them into paying customers.

How the B2B Marketing Funnel Has Evolved

Over the past few years, the B2B buying journey has changed significantly. Today, B2B buyers do more research on their own, relying less on salespeople and more on the internet. In fact 89% of B2B researchers use the internet in their research process and they conduct 12 searches prior to engaging on a specific brand’s site. As a result, the traditional linear B2B marketing funnel has become less effective. Rather than moving through a linear process from awareness to consideration to decision, buyers now move through a more complex and fluid buying journey.

This means that B2B marketers need to be able to engage with buyers at every stage of the buying journey.  This is where account-based marketing (ABM) is key.  ABM is a strategy that  identifies and targets specific accounts, rather than targeting a broad audience. By aligning marketing and sales efforts around specific accounts, ABM can help create a more personalized and effective buying experience for B2B buyers.

ABM helps to join the B2B marketing funnel with the sales funnel by aligning marketing and sales efforts around specific accounts. This means that sales and marketing teams can work together to create a more personalized and effective buying experience for B2B buyers. By focusing on specific accounts, ABM allows for more targeted messaging, personalized content, and tailored outreach.

Key Stages of the B2B Marketing Funnel

In order to effectively use a marketing funnel to understand the customer journey, it is important to be aware of all the steps that a customer may go through in order to make the ultimate decision to purchase your product or service. 

Here are the key stages of the marketing funnel and what they represent plus some examples of what types of content work best for each:

  1. Awareness: The Awareness stage is when customers first become aware of your product or service. This could be through word-of-mouth, advertising campaigns, or other marketing efforts.
  2. Interest: The second stage is Interest, which is when the customer engages with the product or service in some way. This could be reading a blog post, watching a video, or signing up for a newsletter. 
  3. Decision: The Decision stage is when the customer decides whether they want to purchase the product or service. Product demos, case studies, customer testimonials, comparison guides, and free trials all work well here. 
  4. Action: The Action stage is when the customer actually makes the purchase. Content that reduces friction between the customer and the purchase is key. Examples include product landing pages, pricing, Calls to Action (CTAs), promotions, vetted reviews, and user guides. 

It is important to note that the marketing funnel is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Different businesses may have different sales funnel stages, depending on the specifics of their product or service. 

For example, you may find that a targeted approach such as account-based marketing (ABM) works best for your particular funnel. While traditional marketing focuses on creating awareness first and later filtering down to qualified leads, ABM starts with identification in order to create a custom experience for high ROI potential customers. ABM also makes it possible to leverage offline marketing which is a tactic worth considering depending on your unique needs. 

Additionally, the funnel should be constantly monitored and adjusted to ensure that it is effective in converting customers. By understanding the customer journey map and optimizing the marketing funnel, businesses can ensure that they are engaging with potential customers in the most effective way possible based on their immediate needs as determined by their funnel stage.

The Building Blocks of the B2B Marketing Funnel

As you can see from this marketing funnel graphic, there are three main building blocks of marketing funnels:

  1. Top of the Funnel (ToFu)

  2. Middle of the Funnel (MoFu)

  3. Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu)

Each stage of the marketing funnel requires a different approach to marketing. 

In nutshell: At the top of the funnel, the focus is on creating brand awareness and attracting potential customers. In the middle of the funnel, the focus shifts to educating and nurturing leads, building trust and establishing a relationship with them. Finally, at the bottom of the funnel, the focus is on converting leads into customers and retaining them through post-purchase engagement.

Top of the Funnel (ToFu)

The top of the funnel, also known as the awareness stage, is the first stage of the marketing funnel. It is the stage where the potential customer becomes aware of the brand's existence, products, and services. The primary goal of ToFu is to maximize the reach of the brand and attract more leads into the funnel.

It is essential to attract the right audience for this funnel stage because the point is to reach people who are more likely to be interested in and need your offerings. Attracting the right audience also ensures that the leads you get are qualified and have a higher chance of being converted into customers. If the majority of your leads don’t lead to sales, you may be wasting precious resources on strategies that aren’t paying off. 

The best strategies for reaching potential customers at the top of the funnel include: 

  • Creating engaging content (more on that in a second)

  • Offering free trials and discounts

  • Providing educational materials

  • Hosting events 

While a mix of these strategies are recommended, brands typically lean heavily into content. 

The following examples of ToFu content are some of the most effective strategies for reaching potential customers at this funnel stage. Depending on your goals, you may choose to engage in a mix of these all at once or start by building one after the other over time. 

  • Blog posts

  • Social media posts

  • Infographics

  • Videos

  • Podcasts

  • Webinars

ToFU metrics to measure

  • Website Traffic: The number of visitors to your website is a key metric to track. It helps you understand the reach of your marketing efforts and how effectively you're driving traffic to your site. You can also use this metric to identify which channels are driving the most traffic.

  • Page views: The number of page views on your website is another important metric to track. It helps you understand which pages on your site are most engaging to potential customers and which pages may need improvement. You can use this metric to optimize your website for better user experience and to increase the time potential customers spend on your site.

  • Bounce Rate: The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate can indicate that potential customers are not finding what they're looking for on your site or that your site is not optimized for user experience. You can use this metric to identify areas of your site that may need improvement.

  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): CTR is the percentage of people who click on a link in your email, social media post, or ad. This metric helps you understand how well your messaging is resonating with potential customers and how effectively you're driving traffic to your site.

  • Leads Generated: The number of leads generated is a key metric to track at the top of the funnel. It helps you understand the effectiveness of your lead generation efforts and how well you're capturing the attention and interest of potential customers.

Big picture: Brands need to make sure that they are providing value for their customers at this stage and establishing a relationship with them. Think of it like a first impression where generosity is key. 

Middle of the Funnel (MoFu)

MoFu is the second stage of the marketing funnel, also known as the evaluation stage. At this stage, potential customers have already shown interest in the brand, and their consideration set is being reduced. The main goal of MoFu is to provide valuable and insightful content that would result in them justifying their decision to choose the brand.

Nurturing leads in the middle of the funnel is crucial because customers need to be educated about the brand, understand the products and services offered, and build trust with the company. It is also essential to communicate with customers and provide them with personalized content that addresses their specific needs.

Offering personalized content, providing case studies, sending regular email newsletters, and offering free demos and trials are some of the most effective strategies for nurturing leads in the MoFu stage. Brands need to provide the necessary information that would help customers solve their problems and facilitate an informed decision.

Because of this, MoFu content tends to be a bit more detailed as well as tailored to niche interests or needs. Your strategy will likely include: 

  • Product comparison guides

  • Case studies

  • Whitepapers

  • Webinars

  • Video demonstrations and ideas for how to use products

MoFu Metrics to measure:

  • Lead Engagement: Tracking lead engagement metrics such as email open rates, click-through rates, and time spent on your website can help you understand how interested and engaged potential customers are with your brand. This information can be used to tailor your messaging and improve lead nurturing.

  • Lead Quality: It's important to track the quality of your leads in the middle of the funnel to ensure you're focusing your resources on the right prospects. Metrics such as lead source, job title, and company size can help you understand the quality of your leads and prioritize those that are most likely to convert.

  • Conversion Rate: The conversion rate is the percentage of leads that convert into customers. Tracking this metric in the middle of the funnel can help you identify areas where your lead nurturing efforts may need improvement and make data-driven decisions to optimize your strategy.

  • Sales Cycle Length: Tracking the length of your sales cycle can help you identify areas of inefficiency in your sales process and make data-driven decisions to optimize the customer journey. This metric can also help you forecast revenue and plan resources more effectively.

  • Pipeline Velocity: Pipeline velocity is a metric that measures the speed at which leads move through the funnel. Tracking this metric can help you identify areas where the sales process may be stalled and make data-driven decisions to improve efficiency.

Regardless of what type of work you produce, MoFu content should aim to educate and inform the customers about the brand's products and services. It should also establish credibility and provide value at the same time. This is also where the logos and testimonials of industry-leading work their magic on your landing pages. 

Bottom of the Funnel (BoFu)

The bottom of the funnel refers to the final stage of the customer journey where leads are close to making a purchase decision. At this stage, leads are typically qualified and have shown a high level of interest in the product or service. They may have already engaged with the brand through various channels, such as email campaigns, social media marketing, or search engine optimization.

Converting leads at the bottom of the funnel is crucial for any business to generate revenue and achieve its marketing objectives. Focusing on BoFu helps identify and nurture qualified leads, maximize conversion rates, and increase the return on investment (ROI) of marketing efforts. Companies that fail to engage with leads at this stage risk losing significant business opportunities and revenue.

There are several strategies that businesses can use to convert leads at the bottom of the funnel:

  • Create targeted content. At this stage, potential customers are looking for specific information about the product or service. Creating targeted content that addresses their specific needs and concerns can help establish trust and credibility.

  • Provide social proof. Testimonials, case studies, and customer reviews can help reinforce the value proposition and encourage leads to take action.

  • Offer incentives. Providing limited-time offers, discounts, or free trials can persuade leads to take action and finalize a purchase.

  • Personalize the experience. Personalized offers, messaging, and customer service can help build a stronger connection with leads and increase the chances of conversion.

  • Implement retargeting. Retargeting strategies can help reach leads who have visited the site before but have not yet made a purchase. This approach can increase brand awareness and keep the product or service top of mind for potential customers.

Examples of content that converts really well at this funnel stage include: 

  • Product demonstrations

  • User tips and guides

  • Feature comparison charts

  • Client testimonials

  • Case studies

  • Data from success stories

BoFu Metrics to Measure:

  • Sales Revenue: Sales revenue is the most important metric to track at the bottom of the funnel because it directly measures the success of your sales efforts. Tracking this metric can help you understand which marketing and sales tactics are most effective at driving revenue.

  • Conversion Rate: The conversion rate is the percentage of leads that convert into paying customers. Tracking this metric at the bottom of the funnel can help you identify areas where your sales and marketing efforts may need improvement and make data-driven decisions to optimize your strategy.

  • Average Order Value (AOV): AOV measures the average amount of revenue generated per customer. Tracking this metric can help you understand the purchasing behavior of your customers and identify opportunities to increase revenue through upselling and cross-selling.

  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): CLV is the estimated amount of revenue that a customer will generate over their lifetime. Tracking this metric can help you understand the long-term value of your customers and identify opportunities to improve customer retention.

  • Win/Loss Ratio: The win/loss ratio measures the number of deals won compared to the number of deals lost. Tracking this metric can help you understand the effectiveness of your sales team and identify areas where sales training or process improvements may be needed.

Another effective BoFu content strategy is offering free trials or demos of the product or service. This allows potential customers to experience the benefits and features firsthand, increasing the likelihood of conversion. 

The Importance of Tracking and Measuring the Funnel

Like with any tool, the marketing funnel only works if you use it correctly. And to do that you’ll have to understand what you’re supposed to get out of it, what information is required to track progress, and how you can use your results to get better every time. That way even if you experience a setback, you can actually use your marketing funnel to rebound revenue later. Let’s dive in!

Analyzing metrics for long term success 

Analytics allows businesses to track the performance of each stage of the funnel and measure how effectively they are moving potential customers through the stages towards the end goal. This information is crucial for businesses to make data-driven decisions and optimize their marketing and sales strategies.

Here are some ways analytics can help in tracking and measuring the funnel.

  1. Tracking website traffic: Analytics can provide insight into the number of visitors to a website, how long they stay, and what pages they visit. This information helps businesses understand how effective their marketing efforts are in generating traffic and which pages are most engaging to visitors.

  2. Measuring conversion rates: Analytics can help measure the conversion rate at each stage of the funnel, from initial awareness to final purchase. This information can be used to identify areas of the funnel that need improvement and optimize the customer journey.

  3. Monitoring customer behavior: Analytics can track customer behavior across multiple touchpoints, such as email, social media, and website interactions. This data can be used to understand how customers interact with the brand and identify opportunities for engagement.

  4. Identifying trends: Analytics can help businesses identify trends in customer behavior and preferences over time. This information can be used to make informed decisions about marketing strategies, product development, and customer engagement.

Forever optimizing 

One of the most critical aspects of the marketing funnel is continuous optimization and testing. The goal is to enhance conversion rates and maximize the potential customer's journey through the funnel so that the sales department has plenty of marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to work with. 

The process involves—you guessed it—testing and tweaking every stage of the marketing funnel continuously. For instance, analyzing landing pages or ad campaigns to determine the most effective ways to capture potential customers' attention.

Moreover, continuous optimization and testing help businesses stay ahead of the competition. By constantly improving their marketing strategies, businesses can attract and retain more customers, increase revenue, and gain a competitive advantage. Additionally, it allows businesses to adapt to changing market trends and customer preferences, ensuring that their marketing efforts remain relevant and effective.

B2B Marketing funnel frequently asked questions: 

Asked and answered: the following must-know info on marketing funnels is essential for understanding their purpose and fully optimizing their potential. 

What’s the difference between a marketing and sales funnel? 
  • The marketing funnel and sales funnel are interrelated concepts that play a crucial role in the success of any business. The marketing funnel is a series of marketing touchpoints designed to guide potential customers towards making a purchase. In contrast, the sales funnel focuses on the actual steps taken to win over a purchase when a customer has shown intent to buy.
Which marketing funnel metrics should I track? 
  • The metrics you track will depend on the stage of the funnel and the specific goals you're trying to achieve. For example, some essential metrics to track at the awareness stage include website traffic, unique visitors, and social media engagement metrics. Metrics to track towards the end of the funnel include conversion rates, the number of purchases made, and post-purchase metrics such as customer reviews and testimonials.
What is an example of a marketing funnel?
  • Awareness: The potential customer becomes aware of your brand, product, or service through various marketing channels such as social media, advertising, or referrals.

  • Interest: The potential customer shows interest in your product or service and begins to research and gather more information about it.

  • Consideration: The potential customer evaluates your product or service against competitors and considers its benefits, features, and pricing.

  • Intent: The potential customer decides to purchase your product or service and takes action towards making the purchase, such as requesting a quote or contacting a sales representative.

  • Purchase: The potential customer makes the final decision to purchase your product or service.

  • Retention: The customer becomes a repeat customer and continues to do business with your company, leading to future upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

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