Fun fact: Most B2B buyers are already 57% of the way through the buying process before they make contact with a representative.
The takeaway: If your B2B marketing funnel isn’t set up correctly, you’ll lose a lot of would-be customers.
Get the top of the funnel wrong, and they’ll never see your marketing. Get the bottom of the funnel wrong, and they’ll hit your marketing and bounce out before you even get a chance to make contact.
But if you build a B2B marketing funnel that works well, you can send a steady stream of qualified leads to your sales team.
In this article, we’ll cover how to set up an effective B2B marketing funnel. The good news is that, at the basic level, there are only three things you need to do to make your funnel work well:
- Drive traffic.
- Convert traffic.
- Nurture contacts.
That’s it. We’ll unpack each of those pieces and provide metrics to track so you can optimize your funnel.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
1. Drive traffic to your website.
Your first job to create a B2B marketing funnel is to send people to your website. This is what’s called “filling the top of the funnel.” The bottom line is that, for a funnel to work, you have to get your marketing in front of people.
This is very simple in principle, but it can feel overwhelming fast thanks to the endless variety of traffic-building tactics that you’ll be encouraged to try.
Google “get traffic to my website” and you’ll see what I mean. The first result I found (“25 Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Website” by WordStream) suggests advertising, using social media, mixing it up (huh?), writing good headlines, paying attention to SEO, and 20 other things that are all supposed to help get people to hit your page.
Here’s my recommendation – skip everything except these four things:
You can pay to put ads at the top of Google search results. Learn how to do it well here.
Write content that appears organically in Google search results. Read our complete guide to B2B SEO in 2021 here.
Over 90% of B2B social media leads come from this network. Learn how to use it well here.
Show ads to people who have already visited your site or interacted with your content. This tends to be cheaper and you’re reaching a warmer audience. See an example of this done well here.
If you do these four things effectively, you’ll drive traffic to your website.
Traffic metrics to track:
The number users to your website. Assuming a standard conversion rate of 2%, you’ll need to drive 100 users to get two contacts.
Bounce rate. This is the percentage of users who exit your site after entry. For example, if ten people visit your site and six of them click out without going to another page, your bounce rate is 60%.
You can argue that this is a conversion-focused metric, but it’s deeply tied to awareness. Because if all of your traffic is bouncing, you’ve basically got a lid on your funnel.
Okay, on to funnel-building step two…
2. Convert traffic into contacts.
Once you have traffic coming to your site, you need a way to convert it into contacts.
Traffic is a faceless, nameless mass of people. You can’t sell your B2B product or service to traffic.
A contact is a known entity – a person with a name, who works at a certain company, who has a certain email address. You can sell your B2B product or service to a contact.
To turn traffic into contacts, you need conversion points.
Conversion points are places where people can give you their information (usually name and email) in exchange for something of value. The lowest-funnel example of this is a contact form (which is basically a person raising their hand and saying they want to work with you).
But you should absolutely have conversion points that resonate with people who aren’t quite ready to take that step. An ebook is a classic example of a high-to-mid-funnel piece, but it’s only the baseline.
Here are six other conversion points to try:
- A template.
- A case study.
- A worksheet.
- A mini-course.
- A calculator.
- Original research / A report.
And here’s a simple process to implement conversion points so that you convert more traffic to contacts:
- Identify your top 10 landing pages.
- Ask yourself, what is the logical next step that a person would be most likely to take after visiting this page?
- Provide information or a call-to-action that enables a person to take the next step. (This is your conversion point.)
For example, on HubSpot’s article “11 Tried-and-True Lead Magnet Ideas and Examples” they have a slide-in form to download a guide called “How to Get Started with Lead Generation.”
They’ve (probably correctly) determined that, if someone is visiting a page about lead magnets, the next step that visitor would like to take is to run a campaign to generate leads.
So, HubSpot created a guide to help.
Look at your top 10 pages and do the same thing.
Conversion metric to track:
Conversion rate. This is the percentage of site visitors who become contacts. For example, if 100 people visit your site and three people become contacts, your conversion rate is 3%. An average conversion rate is between 2% and 5%.
3. Nurture contacts into leads.
If somebody became a contact by filling out your contact form or scheduling a demo – well, they’re already a lead, and your sales team should follow up with them pronto.
But if someone simply signed up for your newsletter or downloaded an ebook, then the final stage of your funnel comes into play. Now, it’s time to nurture these contacts into real, bona fide leads.
The best way to do this is usually with an automated email sequence.
There are many modes of thought as to the best way to construct an effective email nurture sequence. I tend toward five-email nurture sequences that go something like this:
- Confirmation / Introduction.
- Pain point and solution
- Objection and resolution
- Final sales letter
This is a rough recapitulation of StoryBrand’s recommended email nurture framework. But honestly, you can debate the nuts and bolts all you want – at the end of the day, the best way to nurture contacts is to a) provide authentic value and b) reach them at a time when they’re actually ready to buy.
Nurture metrics to track:
Open and click-through rates. You should shoot to have more than 30% of your emails opened and more than 3% of your contacts to click a link in your email.
Average contact value. To get this stat, you need to know how deals close. For instance, if 100 contacts led to $10,000 in sales last month, your average contact is worth $10.
Want help setting up your B2B marketing funnel?
The framework above should give you a solid start. But the truth is that even though the structure we’ve discussed is simple, there’s a lot of strategy in making it run well.
At New North, we’ve been helping B2B companies to generate leads for over a decade. Schedule a free consult, and we can review your B2B marketing funnel from top to bottom to identify areas for improvement. Often, there are major clogs or places where would-be leads are falling through the cracks.
Don’t worry – your funnel can be fixed. If you’re ready to on the path toward consistent lead generation, let’s talk.