B2B Marketing Funnel: What is It and How to Build One?
In SaaS, the B2B marketing funnel forms the backbone of any successful product and marketing team.
It attracts people (who’d otherwise be strangers) to become your customers. It helps you visualize the customer journey. Best of all, it compounds its ROI as you start iterating strategies and optimizing your marketing process.
But how can you use it? First, let’s explain the basic concepts and then discover a 6-step process to build a B2B marketing funnel that feeds product growth.
- A B2B marketing funnel is a framework that helps product marketers streamline the customer journey, from their initial awareness of your product until they finally make a purchase.
- The B2B marketing funnel focuses on creating awareness, building interest, and generating qualified leads through content marketing, search engine optimization, and social media marketing. On the other hand, a B2B sales funnel concentrates on converting these qualified leads into paid customers through demos, pricing discussions, and other client-facing activities to close the deal.
- In SaaS, there are six marketing funnel stages across the top-of-the-funnel (ToFu), the middle-of-the-funnel (MoFu), and the bottom-of-the-funnel (BoFu). They include:
- Awareness stage (ToFu). Which involves attracting the attention of potential customers through content and ads.
- Interest stage (ToFu). Where a prospect becomes a lead by giving you contact info (email, connection, social follow, etc.). The goal is to engage and nurture them with relevant content that highlights your product as a viable solution.
- Consideration stage (MoFu). When users are considering your product and comparing it with other alternatives. Your job here is to provide content that positions your product as the best fit, so it stands out (e.g. case studies, alternative pages, etc.).
- Intent stage (MoFu). The stage where a lead becomes a free trial user. Here, your goal is to offer a smooth first-time user experience as they explore and realize the value of your product.
- Review stage (BoFu). When potential customers are already engaging with your product—which is an opportunity to collect data through in-app surveys and behavioral analytics.
- Purchase decision stage (BoFu). The moment a user decides about acquiring your product or not. As a marketer, your job is to deliver value through in-app communication and sales-enablement content to address specific objections.
- Now, we brought a six-step process to build a B2B marketing funnel that fits your business, and it involves:
- Set clear goals and business objectives using a tried-and-tested goal-setting framework like SMART.
- Build a comprehensive user persona by collecting data through methods such as surveys, interviews, and analytics to gather valuable customer data.
- Go through each stage of the funnel and map out the touchpoints that are involved in them. As well as the marketing channels you’re going to use and the potential tactics you can use to move prospects forward.
- Plan and execute a marketing strategy for each stage that involves the goal, the digital marketing channels, the messaging, the content formats, and the action you want your prospects to take.
- Track user behaviors to identify how prospects interact with your marketing content, and use metrics such as product usage, conversion rate, and active users to measure your success.
- Use funnel analysis to spot the drop-off points and areas of friction hindering your conversion rates. This is, so you can fix and optimize your B2B marketing funnel and ensure a smoother journey for your customers.
- With a functional marketing funnel, you’ll not only attract a stream of qualified leads but also create a growth engine for your business. So, book a Userpilot demo if you want to trigger in-app messages and fuel your marketing funnel.
What is a B2B marketing funnel?
A B2B marketing funnel is a framework that helps product marketers streamline the customer journey, from their initial awareness of your product until they finally make a purchase.
It offers marketers insights to guide their strategies at each stage and effectively attract potential customers—driving business growth in the process.
B2B marketing funnel vs. sales funnel
Although marketing and sales funnel follow different roles and activities, they are different stages of the same process.
The B2B marketing funnel focuses on creating awareness, building interest, and generating qualified leads for your product or service. This involves leveraging content marketing, SEO, social media marketing, and other demand-generation strategies to capture the attention of potential customers and nurture them until they become qualified leads (ready for the sales team to handle).
On the other hand, a B2B sales funnel concentrates on converting these qualified leads into paid customers. It can involve product demonstrations, free trials, pricing discussions, and other client-facing activities.
So, while the marketing funnel serves to feed the sales cycle with marketing-qualified leads (MQLs), the sales funnel is where the direct revenue-generating activities happen.
Why do you need a B2B marketing funnel?
In SaaS, a B2B marketing funnel isn’t just a concept to talk about in meetings, nor a task to check off your to-do list. A well-defined marketing funnel can represent a strategic advantage to quickly perform tactics that lead to business results, as it helps you to:
- Map out the customer journey to fully understand the customer experience. It allows you to identify and segment potential users based on their stage in the funnel.
- Optimize your marketing strategies to match the actual needs and interests of your prospects throughout each stage (improving performance and conversion rates.)
- Measure the effectiveness of your marketing performance at every stage. You can find room for improvement and allocate marketing resources based on data-driven insights.
- Collaborate with the sales team to generate high-quality leads and boost revenue directly.
- Cultivate customer relationships through personalized messaging (promoting loyalty and retention).
What are the stages of a B2B marketing funnel?
Now, let’s go deep into each stage of the funnel and see how you can use them to attract customers.
Top stages of the marketing funnel
The Top-of-the-Funnel (TOFU) stages consist of building awareness and cultivating interest in your product or service offering.
During these stages, your goal is to guide prospects from a state of unawareness to a state of interest and curiosity about your offering. This is by positioning your brand as an authority through thoughtful content marketing, effective SEO strategies, and targeted social media campaigns.
Let’s look at these two stages:
At this stage, your job is to attract the attention of prospects regularly bombarded with a sea of choices and information.
How? By providing value to a broad audience via channels like blogs, social media content, ads, and online communities—just like the article you’re reading right now.
For example, your content can involve:
- Solving pressing problems that your target audience is facing.
- Giving your audience tools to do their job better.
- Educating people on what’s happening in the industry.
The more value you provide, the more you’ll create a positive perception of your brand, build trust, and ultimately lead potential customers down the marketing funnel.
The Interest stage happens once the user has developed some interest in your brand, either by signing up for a newsletter or attending a webinar.
Here, it’s your opportunity to engage and nurture potential customers with relevant content that highlights your product or service as a viable solution—and put it on their mental radar.
For instance, you could send an email sequence explaining how a business can save thousands of dollars in taxes using your automated tax compliance software. And then, host a webinar where they can directly interact with you, understand your product better, and see how it can actually work for them.
Middle stages of the marketing funnel
The middle of the marketing funnel is all about building trust and credibility with your potential customers after you’ve generated enough interest.
So, once your product is on your prospect’s radar, your objective is to convince them that your solution is the best fit for their needs. This is by providing value and building stronger relationships through product-led content and constant nurturing.
Let’s go over its two stages.
At the consideration stage, leads are weighing your product against alternatives, analyzing potential benefits, and assimilating how your solution fits into their current operational scape.
Your job here is to help them understand how your product is the best. For this, you can create MOFU content such as case studies, alternative pages, and product reviews to position your product as the best fit. You can also leverage webinars, targeted email campaigns, and retargeting ads to keep your product in their mind for longer.
For example, you can use any email marketing software to identify your most engaged leads through lead scoring. If you segment it properly, you can target high-value leads and send them a specific marketing campaign to offer demos, extended free trials, discount codes, or any deal that might motivate them to give your product a try.
The intent stage is where leads show a serious inclination towards making a purchase decision, such as taking a free trial, engaging more with your free tools, or requesting a demo.
Here, your goal is to offer a smooth first-time user experience as they explore their options, learn the core features, and realize the value of the product. You can do this with a personalized onboarding process, in-app guidance, and proactive support.
For instance, you can add an onboarding checklist for new users to aid the onboarding process. So if a user diligently follows the checklist, it means they’ll eventually experience your product’s value and stick around.
Bottom stages of the marketing funnel
The Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU) is the action phase, where your leads are already highly engaged with your product, and your goal is to convert them into paying customers and retain them.
Here, it’s all about convincing leads to make a purchase decision through key activities like detailed product demos, collecting feedback, and sales calls.
Let’s explore the two last stages:
The review stage is the point where your potential customers are already engaging with your product, and thus becoming a source of valuable data.
For example, you can collect:
- User feedback. Which can be collected through surveys and analyzed in order to learn about their experience with the product, how they feel about it, and what’s causing them friction.
- Behavioral patterns. Which can be collected using event-tracking. It helps you learn about your user’s work habits and in-app activity and find issues with your product you’d otherwise miss.
With this data, you can identify areas of friction in the customer journey you can address, as well as create more conversion opportunities to turn engaged users into paying customers.
For instance, if you find that more than half of users feel dissatisfied with your onboarding process, you could revamp it to make it more interactive and actionable.
Purchase decision stage
The purchase decision stage, as the name suggests, is where a potential customer decides about acquiring your product.
Here, your sales team is trying to close a deal in an effort to convert free trial users into paid users. As a marketer, you can keep delivering value through in-app communication and sales-enablement content such as customer stories, comparison posts, or video tutorials to address specific objections.
For instance, you can complement new feature announcements with an educational webinar. This way, you won’t only help regular users adopt the new feature, but will also compel leads who are at this stage to purchase a plan in order to get full access to it.
How to build your B2B marketing funnel?
Now that you understand how a funnel works, let’s go over six steps to build a B2B marketing funnel that fits your business:
1. Set clear goals and objectives
You can’t lead prospects anywhere without a clear goal. That’s why the first step is to determine exactly what you want to achieve—so every step you take afterward can align with your business success.
For this, you can use a tried-and-tested goal-setting framework like SMART.
SMART goals stand for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound (explained in the image below). Its systematic framework ensures your goals are clear, reachable, and directly tied to the success of your marketing strategy.
For example, “generating 300 leads by the end of the first month of the email campaign” meets all five criteria for lead generation. Plus, it can be directly tied to the MOFU stages of your B2B marketing funnel.
2. Gather data to understand your target audience
An essential aspect of every marketing strategy is to understand the target audience.
That’s why it’s necessary to build a comprehensive user persona, as it will help you know who you’re speaking to and what drives them to take action.
For this, you need to use multiple data collection methods such as surveys, interviews, and analytics to gather valuable customer data, such as:
- Jobs-to-be-done (JTBDs)
- Pain points
- Goals and desires
You can get started with the signup process. Users need to give some info anyway when signing up, so this is a great opportunity to ask them to provide simple information about themselves. For example, you can ask about their industry, job role, company size, and how they’re going to use your product (use case), so you can later provide a product experience that matches their JTBDs and needs.
3. Map out customer journey touchpoints and marketing channels
With the right information, you can start identifying key business activities and build a B2B marketing funnel that fits your business.
For this, go through each funnel stage and map out the touchpoints that are involved in them. What do they need to do to reach the next stage? What channels are the most effective for them? And how can you help prospects move forward?
For example, this is what you can map for the intent stage:
- Touchpoint: Sign up for a free trial.
- Communication channel: In-app messages.
- Tactic: Triggering onboarding tooltips to add contextual help and encourage engagement.
- Goal: Help the prospect experience the value of your product, engage with it, and reach the review stage.
4. Plan and implement your marketing strategies
Once you have a good visualization of the marketing funnel in your business, you can ideate and execute strategies for each stage. This can include:
- Marketing channels.
- Content formats.
- Actions you want prospects to make.
For example, at the consideration stage, you can optimize your landing page to try to convert more leads into trial users. Think about adding a clear call-to-action (CTA), effective microcopy, and social proof (like testimonials or case studies)—just like this Userpilot signup page:
5. Track and analyze your marketing efforts
Now, it’s essential to tell which parts of your marketing funnel are performing well and which require tweaking.
Start by tracking user behaviors to identify how prospects interact with your marketing content. What types of content are your users engaging with? Is there a particular drop-off point in your marketing flow? What trends are happening right now?
The goal: To create a comprehensive picture of the effectiveness of your sales and marketing efforts.
6. Reiterate and optimize your marketing funnels
Funnel analysis helps you spot the drop-off points and areas of friction hindering your conversion rates. This is done by looking at each stage of your marketing funnel and meticulously examining your user’s progress.
At which stage are people exiting the most? Is it during the sales process? What’s slowing down your customer’s decision-making process? Is your pricing page facing a drop in conversion rates?
Once you understand what’s causing friction, you can then optimize your B2B marketing funnel and ensure a smoother journey for your customers.
Understanding the B2B marketing funnel is critical for maximizing your marketing efforts and achieving measurable business growth.
It can turn potential prospects into loyal customers by steering them through various stages in their buying journey. With the right tools, you can understand your audience, monitor the performance of your strategies, and continuously optimize your process for better results.
With these strategies, you’ll not only attract a stream of qualified leads but also create a growth engine for your business. So, book a Userpilot demo if you want to trigger in-app messages and fuel your marketing funnel.