If you’re a B2B marketer, you are more than likely familiar with the buyer funnel. In its simplest form, there is the top of the funnel (TOFU), middle of the funnel (MOFU), and the bottom of the funnel (BOFU). The exact definitions of these stages are fluid, but for the most part, the top is problem awareness, the middle is solution consideration, and the bottom is the product decision.
While marketers know that the three stages exist, all too often B2B marketers don’t fully plan and execute their marketing to impact each of the stages. And as a result, their marketing suffers.
Marketers are most successful and organizations get the best results when the marketing team does full-funnel marketing.
There used to be a clear distinction between the marketing team and the sales team, and which interacts with the prospect at what stage. Marketing would focus on creating awareness and building the brand. If a prospect wanted to learn more, they would contact the sales team and marketing was done.
Today, though, this isn’t the case. Prospects are going through a lot more of the buying process online and on their own, which is expanding the potential impact of marketing to the entire funnel. According to research from SiriusDecisions, two-thirds of the buyer journey is now done digitally, rather than in-person or over the phone.
To capitalize on this potential, marketing organizations must develop full-funnel strategies. That means paid media targeted at prospects for their specific funnel stage, content that addresses the questions at every stage, email tracks for multiple segments depending on their funnel stage, and more.
Full-Funnel Paid Media
Paid media is one of the most effective ways B2B organizations can get in front of qualified audiences. However, many marketers still see a key component of paid media, Social, as only a TOFU channel. As social ad networks continue to develop, there are more and more ways to segment audiences and deliver content to them at multiple stages in the funnel.
One of the more simple methods is to create retargeting segments based on the pages that people have visited. Anyone who has only visited your homepage or a blog post is part of the the top of the funnel segment. If they’ve visited your product page, you can move them to the middle of the funnel segment. And if they’ve visited your pricing page, you can move them to the bottom of the funnel segment.
One of the problems with this is that retargeting based on web pages is a really simple proxy for identifying true intent. Therefore, it will still include a ton of unqualified people in campaigns who may have just been casually browsing and clicking around your website.
A more advanced method to identify funnel stages for paid media audience segmentation is to use stages that you’ve identified through your attribution solution. Because you’re using attribution, you can use any of the granular lead and opportunity stages (e.g. marketing qualified lead, opportunity stalled). When leads first come in, you can offer top and middle of the funnel content. As they move to more down-funnel stages, you can match content to where they are in their buyer journey.
Full-Funnel Content Marketing
According to Matt Heinz, president of Heinz Marketing, too many content marketers focus on the middle and bottom of the funnel. After all, it’s human nature to want to talk about your product. Furthermore, it feels like BOFU content has a higher and more direct impact on ROI.
Heinz says that true TOFU content, however, should “relate to their customers’ experiences and their issues — even if those topics are only marginally related to what you sell — start to build trust, credibility, and attention with prospects.”
There is long-term, compounding value to content marketing. TOFU content may not have returns right away, but over the long run, it will build trust which contributes to lower acquisition costs.
With content targeted at every stage of the funnel, prospects can find answers to whatever question they have for the stage that they are in. In an age of self-service research making up the bulk of the buyer journey, full-funnel content marketing is critical.
Full-Funnel Email Marketing
A marketing email will rarely be a prospect’s first interaction with your company. Nevertheless, that does not mean email marketing cannot or should not be a part of your TOFU tactics.
Our email marketing strategy, for example, includes approximately bi-weekly emails to our leads who aren’t immediately qualified based on things like firmographics, depth of engagement, etc. The content of these emails is closely connected to our content marketing strategy. Most often, these are education-first pieces of content, with little mention of our product.
But in addition to these TOFU emails, we have multiple nurturing tracks based on what mid-funnel content prospects have engaged with. We understand that prospects are going to go through the funnel at different paces and in different ways. Having multiple segments allows us to account for this and still reach people at whatever stage they may be in. We can meet prospects wherever they are in their journey.
Finally, we also work closely with the sales team to ensure that all of our emails have the same voice -- come from the same brand. At Bizible, we think of the marketing and sales funnel as the same funnel (called the pipeline funnel). But if your organization doesn’t, working with the sales team ensures that your messaging is aligned throughout the entire funnel.
All told, we’re using email at every stage of the funnel.
Aligning Metrics and Goals
As you may have noticed, full-funnel marketing requires, at the very least, some alignment between the marketing and the sales team. As you get closer to the bottom of the funnel, the line between marketing and sales blurs. So how do you make sure that both teams are happy? You have the same goals.
When the marketing team is responsible for hitting lead goals and the sales team is responsible for trials, pipeline, and revenue, the two teams are not aligned. When business goals aren’t met, each department points fingers at the other. Marketing didn’t drive quality leads; Sales didn’t close them.
Full-funnel marketing means that marketers care about the entire funnel. Since the funnel ends at revenue generation, not lead generation, both the marketing team and the sales team should have the goal of generating revenue.
The next question, then, is how do you track and give revenue credit to marketing at each stage of the funnel? Goals are only valuable when they are provable, after all.
Full-Funnel Marketing Measurement
Through a multi-touch attribution solution, marketing activities can receive revenue credit no matter where it impacts the funnel. Because multi-touch attribution spreads partial credit to marketing touchpoint throughout the buyer journey, rather than just choosing a single touchpoint, the entire funnel can receive the credit that it is due.
In a W-shaped attribution model, for example, the marketing touchpoint that sparked the first website visit (awareness) is given just as much revenue credit as the touchpoint that converted the visitor into a lead or an opportunity. The full funnel is represented.
Through full-funnel marketing measurement, marketers can see how their efforts are paying off in terms of revenue and ROI, no matter where in the funnel they hit. Seeing the revenue payoff for all marketing, even TOFU efforts, reinforces the ideals of full-funnel marketing and demonstrates why it is so critical.