The role of marketing has evolved in the last couple decades, and we’ve been ushered into the age of Pipeline Marketing. More and more marketers, especially in the B2B space, are now focused on impacting the business’ bottom line. These marketers are all about new, creative ways to get in front of busy people living fast-paced lives behind various-sized LED screens.
In the past, achieving marketing goals was all about volume. It required the sales team to trudge through a very long list of NO’s before coming across that YES that made it all worth it.
Building A Lead Generation Pipeline Where No Leads Become Customers
But in the B2B marketing space where we pay big bucks for much of what we do, that long list of NO’s becomes very expensive. And more often than not, even the YES’s we find aren’t ready to buy.
What should this mean for us as B2B marketers? Our marketing should no longer focus on lead volume. It should concentrate on tracking our efforts, judging them based on revenue-impact and the quality of pipeline generated. The question we should be asking is, “Which leads are the right leads to pour into our pipeline, and how do we pare down the volume while keeping lead quality high?”
Take a look at this following infographic where we compare lead generation to a Pipeline Marketing strategy:
Top-of-Funnel Focus VS Full-Funnel Focus
Lead generation focuses on pouring as many leads as possible into the top of the funnel. It generates interest, brings visitors, increases web traffic, and prompts these viewers to fill out contact forms or call a phone number. But that’s as far as it goes.
Pipeline marketing sees the entire funnel holistically. It sees lead generation as only one small piece of a larger puzzle. Rather than aiming for volume, Pipeline Marketing aims for quality and readiness-to-buy. Also, these leads are tracked through the entire funnel, which allows pipeline marketers to see which channels, ads, content, and other marketing touchpoints, contributed to the bottom line.
Slower Sales VS Faster Sales
Because lead generation tactics flood the CRM with loads of contacts, sales spends exorbitant amounts of time contacting tons of unqualified leads. This causes the sales team’s efforts to be less efficient and more tiresome. As a result, the sales team’s progress is slower.
Sales are vastly accelerated in a Pipeline Marketing model. Because marketers focus on the entire buyer’s journey, they can capitalize on qualified channels and better nurture their leads. Only the qualified leads who are ready to be contacted are sent to sales. This culminates in a far more efficient sales team because marketing has done their due diligence.
Contacts Creation VS Customer Creation
This concept comes down to the classic difference between aiming for quantity vs. quality. It’s not about having lots of leads in the CRM, it’s about having the right leads in the CRM. A poor quality lead generation pipeline creates lots of contacts, but Pipeline Marketing creates the right ones - the ones who are qualified and will eventually become customers.
Excludes / Includes Conversion Marketing
Conversion marketing refers to the nurturing process, where unqualified leads are warmed up to be sales-ready. This can be done by serving up different types of content to the lead via email marketing, remarketing ads, blog content, and other offers. As the lead engages with these offers, their lead score is recorded so the sales team knows which leads are ready to contact.
A Pipeline Marketing approach, where the entire funnel is taken into account, will be focused on this type of nurturing and qualifying process. Lead generation tactics tend to ignore nurturing because the qualification process is perceived to be the responsibility of the sales team.
Vanity Metrics VS Revenue Metrics
Lead generation focuses on top-of-funnel metrics such as page views, time spent on site, unique visits, bounce rates, social shares, etc. While these metrics can be valuable, they don’t inform the lead-qualification process or prove the value of the marketing spend.
On the other hand, a Pipeline Marketing approach will track leads through the entire funnel. It’ll track which sources generate the best leads, how many opportunities were generated from a specific paid campaign, or how much revenue was generated by a particular marketing channel. Using this data, marketers can iterate on their marketing strategy, cut any wasted marketing spend and build a quality lead generation pipeline.
Less / More Efficient Budget
The ability to prove marketing value is dependent upon a marketer’s ability to correctly attribute the ROI of their marketing spend. By taking a full-funnel approach and evaluating a marketing strategy based on relevant metrics, a marketer is able to prove value and show progress. The end result is a more efficient budget because wasted spends are cut and effective spends are increased.
Gone are the days when a marketer pours a bucketful of ‘leads’ into a funnel, expecting a consistent percentage of deals stream out the other end. Instead, we should start with the right leads and weed out any and all channels, keywords, ads, and content that don’t do a fantastic job generating revenue. That’s Pipeline Marketing.
The only way to define which channels bring in the qualified leads for your B2B company is to track all funnel activities. From the first click of an ad, to the signature on the contract, the marketer should be dying to look into every step of that lead’s journey. A lead generation approach will never provide that kind of visibility, but Pipeline Marketing sure can.