How to Optimize for Each Level of the B2B Marketing Funnel

Matthew is a Marketing Copywriter with a B.A. in Professional and Public Writing from Auburn University. He aims to learn a little more about the SEO world each day, and share as much of that knowledge with you as he can. When he's not striving to put out some fresh web content, he's usually fueling his Tolkien obsession or working on miscellaneous creative projects.

If marketing is about one thing, it’s turning potential customers into actual customers. That’s as true for your business-to-business (B2B) business as for any other. But to get the best results from your marketing, you must understand the buyer’s journey — where potential customers start, and where you want them to end.

There’s no better tool for illustrating that than the B2B marketing funnel. Marketing funnels are excellent resources for anyone trying to run a marketing campaign, and the B2B funnel is no exception. But what exactly is the B2B sales funnel, and how can you use it?

Below, we’ll dive into a full explanation of the B2B funnel, from what it is to how you can optimize your marketing for it. Read on to learn more, and then subscribe to Revenue Weekly for more digital marketing tips from the agency with over 20 years of experience!

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What is the B2B marketing funnel?

To start off, what exactly is a business marketing funnel? Essentially, it’s an illustration of the buyer’s journey that can help you visualize how people go from prospects to customers.

Picture a basic funnel shape, wide at the top and narrow at the bottom. At the top, there will be a lot of space, making room for the most prospects. By the time those prospects reach the bottom, though, most of them have dropped off — but those that remain go through to conversion.

The water in that funnel represents your potential customers. People near the top of the funnel are only just beginning their buyer’s journey, while people at the bottom are completing it and becoming customers. Marketing is designed to bring people from top to bottom.

The reason the funnel matters is that it can help you get the best results from your marketing.

The marketing funnel helps you deliver content to people at the right time, based on where they’re at in the funnel. You should market differently to top-of-funnel users than to bottom-of-funnel ones. Whenever you create a piece of marketing content, you can visualize where that content falls in the funnel.

One other thing to note is that the B2B funnel is a bit different from other versions of the marketing funnel. Not all businesses will go straight through the funnel in order. Prospects may jump around between parts of the funnel, and it pays to be aware of that.

How to optimize for each stage of the B2B sales funnel

For your marketing to be effective, you can’t market all your potential customers at once with the same message. You must think in terms of the funnel. When you create an ad, ask: Is this ad meant for people just now hearing about us, or for people who are ready to buy — or somewhere in between?

By optimizing your marketing for individual levels of the funnel, you’ll see much greater success. But what exactly are the different levels of the B2B sales funnel? It depends on how you break it down, but we’re going to present it below in five different levels.

Here are the five levels of the business marketing funnel, along with how to optimize your marketing for each one.

1. Awareness

The first stage of the B2B marketing funnel is awareness. At this stage, users are beginning to research solutions to a problem they have. Your job here is to make that problem a high priority in their minds and present your products or services as a good solution.

How to optimize for this part of the B2B marketing funnel

You’ll want most of your content at this stage to be informational, allowing you to emphasize just how much users could benefit from fixing the problem. At this point, you can occasionally insert a mention of your product or service as a potential solution, just to plant the idea.

Here are some strategies you can use to market at the awareness stage:

  • Blog posts: Write blog posts to help inform users about the basic problem at hand and what they might want to do to fix it.
  • PPC ads: Use pay-per-click (PPC) ads to help introduce users to your business and keep your brand top of mind.
  • Email: Encourage users to sign up for your email marketing on your website, offering to send them things like newsletters and special discounts.

The idea is to make people concerned enough about the issue that they keep actively looking for a fix and to make them start considering you as a solution.

2. Consideration

At the consideration stage, users are continuing to actively look for solutions to their problems. They’re still doing research and are far from being committed to any particular brand — but they’re beginning to narrow down their options to a select few.

Your job at this stage is to convince your audience that your business has what they need. This is the stage where you can begin openly talking about your products or services. Specifically, you’re aiming to show how your products or services can fix their problem.

How to optimize for this part of the B2B marketing funnel

The goal of marketing at the consideration stage is to make it into the finalists for the users’ pick. Whatever they’re looking to buy, you want to be one of the businesses in consideration.

Some advertising formats you can use at this stage include:

  • PPC: Continue using PPC ads to advertise your products and service pages to users.
  • Videos and webinars: Continue to use informational web content at this stage as well, including materials like videos and webinars that talk about your business and services.
  • Social media ads: Similar to Google PPC, paid social media ads can help you make users aware of your products and services, reaching a new audience through social media in the process.

 

3. Comparison

The next step in B2B digital marketing is comparison. By now, your audience is narrowing down their options. They’re looking at the last few businesses, and they’re trying to decide which brand offers the best solution to their problem. Your job is to convince them that it’s you.

Just like in the previous stage, you want to use your marketing here to talk up your services and your business. But where the consideration stage involves focusing on the general benefits of your product or service, the comparison stage is about asserting yourself above the competition. Do this by explaining how you can benefit your clients.

How to optimize for this part of the B2B marketing funnel

This is the time to talk up your brand — but not in a narcissistic way. Rather, focus on how you can benefit clients. Tell users why your customer experience surpasses that of your competitors, and why your solutions are the best ones available.

  • Social media ads: Continue to use social media ads — ideally in-feed ads — to reach users where they like spending the most time online.
  • Email marketing: Use your email lists to continue sending users helpful content and encourage them to revisit your site and convert.
  • Case studies: Provide case studies of past clients you’ve worked with to demonstrate how you can bring your customers success.

By the time users leave this stage, they should view you as the best in the business.

4. Conversion

The conversion stage is the final level of the business marketing funnel, at the very bottom. By now, your audience knows they need your product or service. They know your company is one of the best options. At this point, it’s just a matter of making them convert.

How to optimize for this part of the B2B marketing funnel

At this stage, your marketing becomes most direct. If your audience hasn’t bought from you yet, they most likely need a little more convincing to know they’re making the right choice. Use your marketing materials to showcase all the benefits they’ll receive from choosing your product or service.

Some of the best ways to do this includes:

  • Free trials: Offer users a free trial or demo of your product, giving them a chance to find out for themselves what you have to offer and enticing them to convert for the full package.
  • Testimonials: Share client testimonials with your audience to prove to them how pleased your past customers have been with your products or services.
  • Email marketing: Once again you can send out emails to users, but this time, the emails should contain calls to action (CTAs) directly urging them to convert.

Try to target your ads and emails at this stage specifically to people who’ve visited conversion pages on your website before, like your “cart” page.

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