The B2B buying process has become increasingly complex, with prospects doing more research on their own and waiting longer to engage with a sales rep. It has become more critical than ever for marketers to reach target prospects early in the buying process and to continue to nurture them as they pass through the sales and marketing “funnel.”
As described in Demystifying The Marketing Funnel, the idea of the “marketing funnel” provides a framework for B2B marketers to understand the various stages B2B prospects go through (such as awareness, education, evaluation and purchase) and be able to design programs that keep their brands, messages, and content in front of prospects at every stage.
With a full-funnel approach, marketers must first understand the key objectives they need to hit at each stage of the funnel (top, mid-, and bottom-funnel) and then deploy the right programs to achieve them while pinning down the right metrics to measure progress against those objectives.
Wondering how you measure up as a full-funnel marketer? Here are three questions that will help you identify opportunities to improve your full-funnel game.
1. What percentage of your marketing budget is geared toward awareness-building programs that help fill the funnel?
Marketers need a balanced mix of programs beyond email and search to effectively reach prospects. It’s only when your target audience is educated and primed to engage with your sales team that lower-funnel tactics such as search and email marketing perform at their best. Smart B2B marketers invest in top-of-the-funnel branding initiatives such as demographic-targeted display ads that build awareness and tee up mid-funnel nurturing tactics such as social ads.
2. Are you overinvesting in lower-funnel tactics (search, email) at the expense of diversifying your efforts across the funnel?
Because it's easier to attribute success in lead generation to the marketing campaign that ultimately got a prospect to click through and convert, bottom-funnel tactics such as paid search and SEO programs tend to be overvalued. Full-funnel marketers know they must resist the urge to give all the credit to the “last click” and arbitrarily increase spending on these tactics at the expense of top and mid-funnel programs.
3. Are you measuring the effectiveness of your top-funnel programs with lower-funnel metrics (clicks, leads, CPL)?
Given the length of today’s B2B buying process, relying on click-through rates or employing “last-click” attribution is not a productive way to measure the impact of top-funnel tactics.
Successful full-funnel marketers measure programs based on what they’re trying to achieve at each stage. For example, if you’re trying to build awareness among a target audience higher up in the funnel, you should be looking for a lift in brand recall, an increase in branded search and targeted traffic to your Web site, and higher quality from conversions.
As the B2B buyer’s journey has become more complex, marketers must employ a diverse set of programs that impact and influence prospects throughout the buying process -- and be able to measure their efforts. The “Full-Funnel Marketing” framework can help marketers map programs to every stage of the buyer’s journey through the funnel. Indeed, the success of any B2B-centric organization is increasingly a direct function of how well marketing does exactly that.