- 3 stages of the lead funnel
- 6 steps to building an effective lead funnel
- How to maximize your B2B lead generation funnel
A lead generation funnel is a process that takes potential leads and turns them into paying customers. It’s critical to have an effective lead generation funnel in place if you want to succeed in B2B sales. In this blog post, we will discuss the different stages of a lead generation funnel and how to create one for your business. We will also talk about the benefits of having an effective funnel, and how to optimize it for maximum results.
What is a B2B lead generation funnel?
B2B lead generation is an exercise in identifying the ideal customers for your product or service, then attracting them to buy. A lead generation funnel is a process that helps you convert website visitors into quality leads. Not all website visitors are ready to buy your product or service, but many of them may be interested in learning more about what you have to offer. That’s where the lead generation funnel comes in.
It helps you capture the contact information of those target audience members who are interested in what you have to offer, and it allows you to follow up with them at a later date. A successful B2B lead generation funnel has several different key stages. We’ll break each one down in detail and discuss how to build a strong lead generation process from the ground up.
Before we dive into too much detail, here are some commonly asked Q&As:
Which B2B industries use marketing funnels?
You may be wondering if a lead generation funnel is necessary or relevant to your business. In short, absolutely. Because the truth is, a sales funnel is simply the steps buyers go through to become customers and clients, so this is a strategy that all businesses are using to some effect. That said, each business will have its own unique funnel, based on the products and services being sold.
There are a few industries that tend to rely more heavily on lead generation funnels than others:
- IT and software companies
- BPO and call center services
- Consulting firms
- Manufacturing and industrial companies
Why is B2B lead generation important?
Because it’s the key to unlocking your full sales potential! It plays a critical role in increasing your sales pipeline and closing more deals. The goal of any lead generation strategy is to identify potential buyers and nurture them through the buying process until they become paying customers.
There are many benefits to having an effective lead generation funnel, the top two being more leads converted into customers and increased revenue.
What are B2B leads?
B2B leads are potential customers that a company identifies through its marketing and sales efforts. These leads can come from a variety of sources, such as social media, email campaigns, tradeshows, or landing page visits. The potential buyers are categorized in two ways:
- Marketing-qualified leads, or MQLs are targeted leads who have met marketing engagement criteria such as responding to email marketing, making repeat visits to the business website, or downloading a piece of content marketing.
- Sales-qualified leads, or SQLs are the qualified leads that have been contacted by a sales team member and are interested in learning more about the product or service. These companies have demonstrated intent to buy in ways such as requesting a product demo or requesting more information via a telephone conversation or email.
Now that we’ve clarified some of the common misconceptions around B2B lead generation, let’s talk more about how and why it works.
3 Phases of the Lead Funnel
All of the best B2B Lead Funnels consist of three distinct stages.
Stage 1: Top of the Funnel (TOFU)
This first stage is all about building awareness. This is when you make initial contact, introduce yourself to potential buyers, and make your first impression. Content in the TOFU stage typically consists of videos, blog posts, and email marketing campaigns.
Stage 2: Middle of Funnel (MOFU)
The MOFU stage is focused on nurturing customer engagement. Prospects in the middle of the funnel are already aware of your company, but they may not be ready to buy just yet.
At this stage, you’ll want to build interest by providing more detailed information about your products or services and how they can solve the buyer’s problem. Content in the MOFU stage includes case studies, webinars, and long-form blog posts.
Stage 3: Bottom of Funnel (BOFU)
Finally, this stage is where the action happens! You’ve built a relationship, now you make your final push to close the deal and turn leads into paying customers.
Effective BOFU content consists of trial extensions, demos, physical impressions, consultations, and discount offers.
Now that you know the different stages of a lead generation funnel, let’s take a look at how to create one for your business.
6 Steps To Building An Effective Lead Funnel
There are six essential steps to creating an effective lead funnel:
Step one: define your target audience and buyer persona
The first step in creating an effective lead generation funnel is to define your target audience and buyer persona. Who are you selling to? What are their needs and wants? What main problem are they struggling with?
This may seem like a daunting task, but it’s actually quite simple. You can start by creating buyer personas, or fictional representations of your ideal customer. To create a buyer persona, you’ll need to gather information about your target audience’s demographics, interests, and needs.
Leveraging your data analytics programs and results from your current marketing campaign is a great place to start.
Step two: map your customer journey
Once you know who your target audience is, you need to identify their buying process. Draw up your customer journey map. What are the steps they go through when deciding to buy a product or service?
Pull data like bounce rates, traffic reports, funnels, and conversion rates from Google Analytics. These key reports will help you understand how people are interacting with your website and where they’re dropping off. Identify pain points and problems that act as roadblocks to potential customers on their journey, then remove those barriers.
Step three: what’s your lead magnet?
Now that you know who your target market is and what their buying process looks like, it’s time to create content that communicates an offer that meets their needs. Optimal content at this point in the sales cycle includes blog posts, eBooks, cheat sheets, templates, or any other type of content that provides value to your audience.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to crank out tons of content. This step is all about quality over quantity. The key is to make sure the offer is relevant and interesting to your target market. Your lead magnet should be something people can’t resist clicking on or downloading!
Step four: drive traffic
The next step is to drive traffic to your lead magnet. This is where paid advertising comes into play. Paid advertising can be used to target potential customers who are already interested in what you have to offer. This can be done through social media, email marketing, PPC ads, or any other online marketing channel you prefer.
- Scope out your competition’s content and outperform them
- Use social media platforms to tease your lead magnet and drive traffic to your landing page
- Prioritize SEO keywords and optimize all content
- Be sure to create great content for every stage of the lead funnel
- Invest in a strong email marketing campaign
- Run tests to find out which paid advertising channels are most effective
Step five: gather prospect Information
Once you’ve got new customers on your landing page, it’s time to start gathering information. This can be done through lead capture forms, surveys, or quizzes. The more information marketing teams can gather at this stage, the better.
Follow these tips for generating an effective lead capture form:
- Keep your lead capture form as short and simple as possible
- Include multiple fields to gather key information such as name, company, email, phone number, etc.
- Make sure your lead capture form works on mobile devices
- Offer a freebie in exchange for contact information
- There are a variety of lead capture form tools available, both free and pay for service. Choose the tool that best fits your needs.
As you create your lead capture form start by creating a draft and include all the information you want to gather from potential leads. Revise your form until you are satisfied with the amount of information you are capturing.
Next, you’ll need to test your lead capture form. Make sure to internally test drive your lead capture form before going live. This will help ensure that it works properly and gathers the valuable information you need.
Finally, it’s time to start promoting it! Place a link to your form on your website, in your email signature, and promote it through social media. The more people who fill out your lead capture form, the more leads you will generate for your business.
Step six: make the sale
You’ve successfully captured the contact information of your website visitors, they are confirmed leads and now the only thing left to do is sell them your service or product!
Work smarter not hard and use the information you gathered in step one to create a sales process that is tailored specifically for your leads. Closing the sale will look different depending on the company. For example, it would be clenching the deal with a free trial and confirmed sign-up, a face-to-face sit down with a member of the sales team, or even a simple phone call.
Gauge what works best and start converting those new leads into paying customers!
No matter what the process looks like, make sure you have a system in place to track your progress and measure your success.
How to maximize your B2B lead generation funnel
You’ve got your lead generation funnel up and running, now follow these 3 tips for optimizing it to keep you at the top of your sales game.
Invest in helpful tools
The most effective ways to improve any process, including your lead generation funnel, is by tracking results and making small changes along the way. There are several different tools for this, here are a few:
- Google AdWords: Tracks where your traffic is coming from, how many leads are generated as a result of your campaigns, and the conversion rate of those leads.
- CrazyEgg: Shows you what parts of your website are being clicked on and how users are navigating through your pages.
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator: LinkedIn Sales Navigator enables you to target specific people and companies, track leads, and engage with prospects. It allows you to build a custom lead and account lists and offers alerts and data insights.
Consider your small business budget for lead generation and invest in a tool that is the best match for your goals. These are some of the recommended criteria to look for in a premier lead generation software:
- Usability: How simple is it to get your campaign up and running?
- Integration: Does it integrate with the marketing tools you already have?
- Pricing: Do you get everything you need while staying within your budget? How do the rates compare to competitors?
Equipped with quality up-to-date data from lead gen software tools, you can make informed decisions and adjust your lead funnel strategy in real-time.
Optimize your lead generation forms
Your landing page’s lead gen forms are one of your most important critical assets. In fact, nearly 50 percent of marketers report that their web forms are their most effective lead generation tool.
That’s why it’s so important to spend time A/B testing your forms and finding the sweet spot between user-friendly and data-friendly. The best lead generation forms follow these design principles:
- They’re short and simple
- They have a strong headline and description
- They ask for only the most essential information
- They limit the number of form fields and the need for manual input
- They include social proof (e.g., testimonials, logos of well-known brands, etc.)
- They’re easy and quick to complete
Develop strong SEO content
Content marketing is king and SEO content is the court jester. If you want your lead generation funnel to be effective, you need to have high-quality content on your website that will rank in search engines.
Your SEO keywords should focus on terms that address your target audience’s pain points and should be seamlessly integrated into short and long-form content. Don’t forget to check out the competition! What terms are they targeting that you’re not?
Equally important is developing a negative keywords list. Don’t throw away money on PPC ads using words that don’t resonate with your potential buyers. Create a banned words list and make sure those stay out of all content.
Once your SEO content is optimized, you need to promote it! Share it on social media and target relevant groups and forums. Make sure you’re using the right keywords in your social media posts so that potential buyers will find you.
Get your B2B lead generation funnel up and running
The template for creating an effective B2B lead generation funnel is clear. Putting it all into practice can take time and will inevitably involve a learning curve. There’s no one right way to do it, so take this guide and use it to help you forge your own path. It will likely end up being a multifaceted approach based on your company’s unique needs and goals.
As you map out your funnel, don’t overlook the importance of direct mail marketing to assist you and your staff in generating high-quality leads. Teams that use Sendoso’s direct mail marketing services may expect to see results upwards of an 84 percent response rate!
Request a demo today and find out how your team can maximize their lead generation efforts.