What is the difference between a B2B funnel and a B2C funnel?
Right off the bat, you’ll probably mention long sales cycles, which is correct. But there are more distinctions between B2B and B2C funnels.
Usually 3–6 target personas for 1 deal.
Longer and more complex sales cycles due to multiple decision-makers involved, extensive research and evaluation processes, and a higher level of scrutiny.
Shorter and faster sales cycles. Usually, a single decision-maker or a small group involved.
Purchases are driven by a business need.
Purchases are driven by urgent needs and emotions.
More nurturing and personalized communication throughout the funnel.
Focuses on broader mass communication and promotions.
Thought leadership content with unique angles and real experience in every blog post.
B2C content is lighter, airy. Tailored to explore the need and entertain the reader.
Directly attributing conversions to specific marketing activities can be challenging due to lengthy sales cycles and more touchpoints involved.
Easier to track and attribute conversions due to the nature of impulsive buying (a purchase can be made in one ad click).
To sum up, a B2B funnel focuses on building long-lasting relationships with multiple decision-makers through highly customized marketing campaigns. On the other hand, a B2C funnel is more straightforward, aiming to capture individual consumers’ attention and drive immediate purchases.
Now, let’s delve into the intricacies of creating a B2B funnel, step by step.
How to create a B2B funnel
In the following sections, you’ll explore the 3 primary stages of a B2B lead generation funnel — TOFU, MOFU, and BOFU. In the end, you’ll know tactics to employ to create awareness, drive B2B opportunities, and nurture leads.
Stage 1. TOFU (top of the funnel)
Your first stage of the B2B lead funnel is TOFU. It’s all about creating awareness and getting the attention of potential leads. This means your goal is to drive organic/paid traffic and foster your brand recognition.
Numbers show the conversion rate for a TOFU metric like “lead to closed-won” is only 0.02%. In contrast, the lead generation conversion rates for later stages stand at an impressive 37% in the B2B context.
So, let’s learn step-by-step how to build the TOFU stage to create awareness and make people want to know more about your products/services.
We’ll start from the basics because if a marketer neglects them, all further marketing efforts will flop.
1. Understand your target audience — outline their needs
Having a weak understanding of your ideal customer profile and personas will end with a wasted marketing budget. So, delve into the minds of your ideal customers. Gain a deep understanding of their needs, pain points, and aspirations. Engage in customer interviews and surveys or analyze support tickets for B2B products.
This is how you’ll deeply understand their pain points and challenges and how users search for more info. After that, you can tailor marketing activities accordingly.
2. Glean insights from lead qualification data
Next, examine data from B2B lead scoring and lead qualification of your existing clients and those who are about to shake hands to paint a complete picture of your target personas. Look for patterns in specific industries, titles, locations, company sizes, and other lead-scoring criteria.
3. Map out the customer journey
The final step in laying the foundation is to map out the customer journey — a blueprint for all marketing activities for each stage of the B2B lead generation funnel.
Now that you’ve laid out the foundation, let’s move on to the tactics for the TOFU stage to drive traffic and brand exposure.
4. Craft value-packed content with unique angles to boost brand awareness and drive organic traffic
B2B content assets that produce the best results are webinars, research reports, long-form articles, white papers, and podcasts. Especially if they cite a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source.
Likewise, 62% of B2B purchase decisions are made by consuming practical content, according to a DemandGen study.
So, what should you do?
Create content for brand exposure
Invest in highly-informative blog posts and thought leadership content. Turn to product-led content if you’re SaaS. For classic B2B, create data-driven pieces with unique points of view:
Collect industry insights
Disclose your internal processes
Create content roundups
Host webinars or podcasts to capitalize on guest speakers’ brands and audiences. Get your brand seen on famous media outlets via earned mentions: Use services like HARO, HAB2BW, or Terkel to seal the quote.
If you’re not sure where to start, you can always address the demand generation agency which has experience in your niche and can help you build up a solid brand image.
📌 Belkins’ example: Our focus is providing the best possible B2B blog content to fuel our funnel. In doing so, we enrich every article with our experience, templates, cheat sheets, etc. On top of that, we aim to infuse content with other B2B companies’ examples and results.
Altogether, this helps us rank high in the SERPs, engage our target audience, offer industry expertise, and establish credibility. For example, we wrote an article demonstrating our winning templates for generating leads through outreach.
Optimize content for search engines
71% of B2B researchers start with a generic search instead of branded search, said Google. That’s why 46% of marketers said that search engine optimization (SEO) leads to success in content marketing, according to a SEMrush study.
So, conduct keyword research and distribute relevant KWs across your content to enhance your online visibility and attract organic traffic to your website.
Thus, LinkedIn plays a key role in outreach channels and boosting brand awareness. Share authentic content, spark conversations, and foster a sense of community. Cultivate relationships that will nurture business leads and drive them toward the next stages of the funnel.
And speaking of Twitter lead generation for B2B, we found a great case study worth sharing.
MuleSoft implemented a Twitter strategy at the Dreamforce convention, resulting in over 4,000 leads, a 5.18% engagement rate, 553 new followers, and 111 direct mentions from their Hoodie Hunt campaign. Their cost per engagement was under $2, showcasing the effectiveness of their Twitter efforts in driving success at the event.
Stage 2. MOFU (middle of the funnel)
In the MOFU stage, you’ll move beyond initial awareness and focus on nurturing the leads you’ve attracted. At this stage, prospects assess your company’s credibility, whether you’re capable of addressing their needs, etc. In short, it’s a stage of exploring your services further and evaluating them with other players on the market.
Companies with a finely tuned MOFU engagement and lead-management strategy can generate a mind-blowing 4 to 10 times higher response rate compared to those relying on generic email blasts and outreach.
To effectively navigate the MOFU stage, follow these steps:
1. Educate and inform
Offer in-depth guides, case studies, webinars, and white papers that showcase your expertise and demonstrate how your products or services can address their specific needs. Use them in your content marketing strategy, distribute them on social media and in newsletters, and consider running a paid ABM campaign.
📌 Belkins’ example: Our case studies offer a deep dive into the real-world challenges faced by our clients and how we helped them overcome obstacles and achieve remarkable results.
From skyrocketing lead generation to driving unprecedented revenue growth, these case studies highlight our strategic approach, innovative solutions, and unwavering commitment to our clients’ successes. Moreover, we openly discussed the challenges we faced while working on projects.
2. Segment and personalize
Tailor your messaging to different customer journey stages and personas to increase their engagement and move them closer to the bottom of the funnel.
Use marketing automation tools to deliver personalized content and offers that resonate with each group. We recommend using HubSpot Marketing Automation Software fueled by CRM data to effortlessly set your marketing campaigns on autopilot.
Furthermore, triggered (aka personalized) emails have been found to achieve 67.9% higher open rates and 241.3% higher click rates compared to standard emails. This means that by sending relevant messages based on specific actions, such as downloading content or showing buyer intent signals, you can significantly improve performance.
So, implement targeted lead nurturing campaigns that include a series of automated emails, personalized recommendations, and relevant content. Or hire an experienced lead nurturing agency to help you with that.
💡 Case in point: For Mindstrong, we devised cold outreach campaigns to target mental health brokers and payers in the low holiday season before Christmas. Understanding precisely that people were not ready to explore new solutions right before last year’s resort, we invited prospects to explore potential opportunities later on with no pressure.
We concluded campaigns by letting prospects know no one would bother them with follow-ups until January. The result? An impressive 63% for open rates, a 26% reply rate, and 34 meetings were booked!
4. Put together social proof and testimonials
Highlight social proof in the form of customer testimonials, case studies, and reviews. Share success stories that demonstrate the value and impact of your offerings. This helps build trust and confidence in your brand, assuring leads that they are making the right choice by considering your solution.
📌 Belkins’ example: At Belkins, we let our video testimonials speak for themselves. This feedback from our satisfied clients provides concrete evidence of the quality and value we deliver.
5. Retargeting and remarketing
If you have middle and long sales cycles, use retargeting and remarketing strategies to stay connected with leads who have shown interest but haven’t converted yet. Offer exclusive promotions, provide additional resources, or display paid ads.
According to SEMrush research, the Fortune 100 companies accounted for approximately $3.05 billion of the total $60 billion spent on paid search in 2020. Among them is Microsoft, which spent $160.2 million!
So don’t be against this type of advertising. Even the biggest players in the industry sometimes need a “paid-ad” boost.
At the bottom of the lead generation funnel, your focus is convincing users to take the desired action and improve conversions if they’re yet to happen. How? By getting sales and marketing teams to work together and utilizing sales enablement content. The latter serves to tackle decision-makers’ concerns during the sales process.
G2 statistics on sales enablement show its effectiveness and direct impact on conversions:
Sales enablement is associated with a 31% improvement in supporting changes in sales messaging.
Organizations with sales enablement achieve a 49% win rate on forecasted deals, compared to 42.5% for those without.
77.1% of companies with a sales force exceeding 500 people have dedicated sales enablement in place.
76% of organizations see an increase in sales between 6% and 20% due to sales enablement.
To close more deals, focus on specific types of sales enablement content:
Educational, social media content
Sales or service page content
For instance, when targeting the manufacturing industry, wow them with in-depth e-books and industry reports that unveil the transformative potential of your solution. Highlight cost savings and operational efficiency.
By fine-tuning each stage of the funnel, you can create more high-quality B2B leads. How do you do it? Start with comparing your numbers against benchmarks. But if you’re doing well, try to beat your own success.
Let’s go through each stage of a B2B lead generation funnel again and learn how to optimize it. Discover key issues and tactics to receive more opportunities.
Stage 1. TOFU optimization
Metrics to look at
Identify common issues/metrics. Start by understanding the challenges or metrics that may hinder your TOFU performance. This could include:
Low website/page traffic
High bounce rates
Low conversion rates from visitors to leads on landing or blog pages
Tips to optimize your metrics
1. Look for underperforming parts of your website UI/UX
Dig deeper into visitors’ behaviors on your site with the right tools to uncover valuable insights. For example, install heatmaps and session recordings by Hotjar to see how people perceive your website and CTAs and locate where drop-offs occur.
2. Learn your leads’ demographics and firmographics
Open up the Demographics report in Google Analytics to study the countries your traffic comes from. For more detailed information on firmographics, use Adobe Marketo. Also, search for insights in your CRM, as you can receive traffic from relevant countries but irrelevant target personas.
Likewise, explore channels that have attracted relevant leads and scale up.
3. A/B test your messaging
It’s hard to craft high-performing CTAs from the get-go. Your silver bullet? Test, measure, and test again.
Apply A/B testing to your text placement on landing pages. Compare which messaging brings in the most conversions. Or even test your blog titles to discover those with the highest click-through rates in the SERPs.
📌 Example: Instead of a generic blog post titled “How to reduce operational costs with cloud computing,” write a compelling article titled “5 ways to reduce operational costs by 30% with cloud computing.”
Stage 2. MOFU optimization
Metrics to look at
Email open rates, click-through rates, and content downloads.
Gauge lead engagement on your site and with lead-nurturing campaigns.
Assess blog content effectiveness: views, time spent, social shares, and scroll depth.
Evaluate the success of mid-funnel activities in moving prospects closer to sales opportunities.
Tips to optimize your metrics
1. Run experiments
To improve blog content and email conversions, apply tips from the TOFU stage. Implement heatmaps or session replays to understand how readers navigate your blog posts. What parts hook them? Delve into email marketing insights and run experiments with call-to-actions, layouts, etc.
2. Conduct customer interviews
You create content assets to educate and attract your ICP. So, ask them directly what type of content they want to consume, what they find valuable, and more.
What irritates them more than getting cut off on the freeway?
What beliefs do they hold that make no sense to anybody else?
Which seasonal changes affect their business?
What does a successful day look like for them?
What current trends are affecting their business?
How have they been burnt in the past?
Who do they aspire to be?
What exact language and words do they use to describe all the questions above?
3. Host webinars or training sessions to reengage or push leads down the funnel
We suggest infusing such activities with insightful information based on data and your experience. Or join forces with niche-relevant companies and conduct a joint webinar to foster even more trust.
These sessions can also cover industry trends, best practices, or specific topics related to your product or service.
💡 Case in point: OrbitMedia developed a list of top-tier prospects and invited them to a webinar to discuss fresh findings and solutions. The returns? The revenue impact made up $169,000 (2 projects won) and 8 qualified leads with the investment of 30 hours and $1,000 for paid ads.
4. Employ sales enablement platforms
Utilize a targeted and interactive approach when delivering content by incorporating sales enablement platforms like Seismic.
💡 Case in point: OfficeMax, a New Zealand major retailer of office supplies, incorporated Seismic to improve the sellers’ ability to find the right information to share with customers. A survey of a group of OfficeMax sellers was conducted pre-Seismic, and post-Seismic implementation showed a 31% increase in seller confidence in finding accurate content, with 86% of sellers finding content easily.
5. Create an interactive resource hub to educate your audience about your product/services at scale
Develop a dedicated online resource hub that offers valuable content, such as e-books, guides, templates, and industry reports. This allows prospects to access relevant information and positions your brand as a trusted source of expertise.
For instance, Shopify has the B2B Series Resource Hub designed to empower e-commerce professionals with the knowledge and tools they need to thrive.
Stage 3. BOFU optimization
Metrics to look at
Finally, here are the key metrics to consider in the BOFU stage:
Customer acquisition cost (CAC)
Return on investment (ROI)
Tips to optimize your metrics
1. Optimize landing pages, emails, and ads to lower CPA
As usual, A/B test and optimize your landing pages, emails, and ads to determine which ones perform best and bring in prolific results.
Write clear value propositions and compelling CTAs. Use different ad formats like interactive ads and video ads, or showcase studies to leads who are likely to convert. How do you know who’s ready to convert? Read on further.
2. Use marketing automation workflow
Implement lead scoring systems and trigger specific content for those with high scores but who need a little nudge.
Also, set up triggers and automation workflows that respond to specific user actions, such as downloading a white paper or attending a webinar. Personalize follow-up communications based on these intent signals to nurture leads and drive conversions.
3. Use marketing attribution models to improve ROI
Employ multi-touch, custom attribution models (e.g., first touch, last touch, and weighted attributions in between) to understand the contribution of each marketing touchpoint in driving conversions and ROI. This helps optimize marketing spending by focusing on high-ROI channels.
Try combining different attribution models in one dashboard to study metrics from different angles. Here’s an example of the AgencyAnalytics reporting tool.
The answers vary, but here’s what the Databox survey uncovered:
30% of respondents find a B2B funnel conversion rate of 3.1% to 5% favorable.
18% believe conversion rates between 5.1% and 8% or between 1.1% and 3% indicate good performance. Belkins’ close rate, by the way, is exactly 8%.
Some respondents are satisfied with conversion rates ranging from 11% to 20%.
How do I create a B2B customer journey map?
Here’s a 5-step process to follow:
Define your customer personas.
Outline the stages of the customer journey.
Gather data on customer behavior and touchpoints.
Identify customer pain points and opportunities for improvement.
Fine-tune the ideal customer journey based on research and analysis.
To end this article on a high note, we’ve reserved two invaluable insider tips to share with you.
Seal the deal: 2 extra tips to boost your B2B funnel
Leverage micro-influencers: Look for niche industry experts or thought leaders who have a smaller but highly engaged following. Collaborate with them to promote your B2B lead magnets or participate in co-created content. Their authenticity and targeted audience can generate high-quality leads.
Collaborate with complementary businesses: Identify non-competitive businesses that cater to a similar target audience to explore partnerships. This can expand your reach and generate mutually beneficial leads.
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Michael is the Co-founder of Belkins, serial entrepreneur, and investor. With a decade of experience in B2B Sales and Marketing, he has a passion for building world-class teams and implementing efficient processes to drive the success of his ventures and clients.