How to Create a B2B Lead Generation Funnel That Is Effective
- An effective B2B lead generation funnel consists of three stages: awareness (TOFU), consideration (MOFU), and action (BOFU).
- In the awareness stage, social media, YouTube, SEO, referrals, and paid advertising are effective channels to attract and educate potential customers.
- In the consideration stage, email marketing becomes important in providing extra information, nurturing leads, and bridging the gap between awareness and interest.
Business to business lead generation can frequently feel like an endless maze. In the middle of a storm; when you’re at sea; with no one else beside you.
One minute you’re working on something broad, the next minute you’re down in the nitty-gritty of your product or service details, and by the end of the day you’re back to square one. Week after week, month after month, you may feel like your B2B lead gen efforts turn into dust—and your excitement turn into a sad, fizzled-out circus tune.
Here’s the thing: it is possible to generate leads (both inbound and outbound). The most likely reason you’re not getting the results you want is actually easy (and very fixable): you’re not building everything according to a clear B2B lead generation funnel.
Here’s a quick, no-fuss guide on how to create your lead generation strategy for B2B companies.
The stages of the lead generation funnel
An effective lead generation funnel strategy is based on a visual representation of the customer journey (or sales funnel), from awareness to conversion. It’s a powerful tool for mapping out customer touchpoints and understanding how to build an effective path for your customers to walk on: from the moment they start being interested in the type of products you offer to the moment they buy (and beyond).
The most traditional marketing funnel (also called the buyer’s journey or customer journey) consists of three elements.
Awareness (top of the funnel, also known as TOFU)
At this first stage of the funnel, potential customers become aware of the existence of your product or service. The goal is to create content that will reach out to them and draw their attention, so they can learn more about what you offer.
Consideration (middle of the funnel, also known as MOFU)
In this stage, your leads are already aware of the product or service you offer and they start considering it. They are looking for more information about it, so they can make an educated decision and eventually buy.
Action (bottom of the funnel, also known as BOFU)
At this stage, your leads have done their research and are ready to convert. In order for them to do so, they need a clear call-to-action (CTA) and a smooth buying process.
In some schools of thought, the marketing funnel also includes:
Retention: when someone’s already your customer and you need to keep them loyal and engaged
Advocacy: when a customer is so happy with your product, they start talking about it on social media and review sites
Furthermore, some marketers and salespeople also consider what happens if someone drops out of the funnel—and how they can bring them back (e.g., by retargeting them with ads).
Let’s take a closer look at each stage and what type of efforts work best for them.
Awareness stage (TOFU)
At the awareness stage, people are either aware of your product category or aware of a problem. Sometimes, they know that they have a problem, but cannot pinpoint the exact cause—and thus, have no idea where to start looking for solutions.
At this stage, your main goal is to attract, entice, entertain, and educate your target audience. For example, if you sell SEO services, you can create marketing assets and campaigns around good, human-oriented SEO.
Some of the most well-known (and efficient) channels for building awareness around your product (or the issue it addresses) include the following.
Social media is a power house in today’s world of marketing and communications. It allows you to reach out to potential customers, engage with them in real time, and increase brand awareness—all in an environment that enables double-way conversations.
Some of the most popular social media channels include Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and TikTok.
Of all these, TikTok is the most recent addition and continues to register impressive growth rates—largely due to an algorithm that rewards creators for spending their time and energy on the platform.
Circling back to SEO, examples of social media TOFU assets include:
videos about running SEO audits
threads and stories featuring SEO data from successful campaigns
trending hashtag challenges, adapted to SEO-related topics
using TikTok trends to get on your target audience’s radar
YouTube video marketing can also be an extremely powerful tool for spreading the word—particularly if you’re also willing to invest in advertising on the platform. Although not mandatory for success, YouTube ads can put your business in front of more people likely to buy. Moreover, it can help you create an emotional connection with them, as videos are more engaging than plain text.
Grow your industry knowledge
Examples of YouTube videos you can create for an SEO agency include:
educational videos about the importance of SEO
videos showcasing customers’ stories in relation to your agency’s services
animated tutorials about how to run keyword research
a broader guide on SEO
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
SEO is one of the least expensive and most effective TOFU channels, as it focuses on organic search. This type of marketing is all about improving your website’s visibility in Google and other search engines—so people can find you when they look for a product like yours.
Key SEO activities are:
researching and using relevant keywords on all pages
making sure you provide helpful and comprehensive content to users
optimizing website navigation, page titles, meta descriptions
ensuring your website is mobile-friendly and fast-loading
building backlinks from authoritative websites
For example, if you’re running an SEO agency, you could find keywords and create content around:
how to use various types of SEO tools
the latest trends and news on SEO
Word-of-mouth advertising is the oldest trick in the book—the cheapest and most effective one too. One of the main reason anyone buys anything is that someone else has bought it already. So the more referrals you gather, the more chances you have to convert potential customers.
Referral marketing strategies for an SEO firm can include:
Creating an incentive program that rewards customers for referring other buyers
Encouraging user-generated content on social media platforms to generate buzz
Leveraging influencers to create content and share your product
Giving away discounts or free samples in exchange for referrals
Generally, paid advertising is not seen as an awareness-stage activity. However, it can definitely act as one. For instance, brand ads on the Google Display Network or programmatic channels can target potential customers in the TOFU stage of the buying process.
Paid advertising campaigns for an SEO agency could involve:
ads targeting people who are searching for SEO-related keywords
retargeting campaigns to bring back visitors who already visited your website
display campaigns focused on SEO for different industries
dynamic ads automatically tailored to individual users’ interests and preferences
Consideration stage (MOFU)
When your customers are at this stage, they are already aware of their problem, the type of solutions available, and, likely, the specific companies offering these solutions too. This means they’re considering whether to invest in a product (like yours) or comparing different options.
At this stage, your marketing activities should focus on providing extra information that reinforces your credentials, social proof, and the benefits your product offers. This is all about educating your users—and making it easy for them to take the next step (from the awareness stage to the interest one).
The channels you can use for middle of the funnel activities are largely the same as the ones for the awareness stage. However, a new channel you can add into the mix is a lead generation email.
Despite popular belief, email marketing remains one of the single most effective digital marketing channels out there. For MOFU and BOFU marketing, email can create the bridge between “Ah, I know I have a problem” and “Oh, maybe this will solve it.”
The idea here is to take your ideal customer by the hand and walk them towards action. You can do this by either leading your audience to a different landing page or by capturing their contact details so you can send them automated nurture emails later on. Plus, email marketing can be easily automated.
Some ways to do this include:
sidebar blog post suggestions
CTA buttons inviting readers to download a case study or report
providing informative videos and webinars upsells/cross-sells related to your product
search engine optimization (SEO) with a focus on long-tail keywords
social media lead generation campaigns focused on engagement and education
email nurturing campaigns which assign users to different campaigns based on their interests
webinar invitations, lead magnets, and other offers that capture your customers’ contact information
For instance, if your SEO agency’s audience is at the consideration stage, assets/campaigns you could create include:
in-depth blog posts about the benefits of investing in SEO
building detailed comparisons of the different types of SEO agencies
explaining why your services is superior to others
creating an email series that provides additional information about SEO services, including FAQ
Action stage (BOFU)
The last official stage of the lead funnel is all about lead capture (conversion). This is frequently one of the most challenging parts of the process but also the most rewarding.
At this point, your potential customers are already informed and ready to take action. Your goal is to make them take action in your favor, as opposed to your competition (or their own objections).
The strategies you can use to convert BOFU leads are similar to the ones you’d use for MOFU, but with a different emphasis. In this case, you may want to focus more on direct conversions and calls-to-action.
Here are some ways you can do that:
ensure website elements like CTA buttons are optimized for conversion
promote offers like discounts, free trials, and demos in your emails and social media
use retargeting to remind users of their interest in your product
send automated sales follow-up emails to leads who meet certain criteria
provide live chat support for visitors with specific questions
creating multi-channel campaigns that offer users different points of contact
create content that speaks to the exact problem your product solves
If you run an SEO agency, some examples of BOFU content include:
testimonials and reviews for your agency
promotional emails (e.g., Black Friday emails)
case studies showcasing the impact of your work
Retention and advocacy stage
Although not part of the stages of a lead generation funnel per se, retention is an important part of the overall customer journey. Retaining customers is just as important (if not more) than acquiring them in the first place.
In fact, retention is so important it can be exactly what you need when you have to do more with less. There’s a 60 to 70% chance you’ll sell to an existing customer—and that makes sense. They already know you, are satisfied with what you offer, and they don’t have any real reasons to make a switch to a different service provider.
When it comes to agency client retention, it’s all about providing an exceptional customer experience, so they not only come back for more but also become evangelists for your brand. Furthermore, you can also retain customers by providing them with continued educational resources, discounts to maintain their loyalty, rewards for recommending you to friends, and more.
There are many lead generation challenges, but the B2B lead generation funnel doesn’t have to feel like a daunting task. With the right strategies and a systematic approach, you can easily find ways to attract and convert B2B leads throughout all its stages. The key is to focus on creating a clear buyer journey—and to measure everything you can measure, every step of the way.
For instance, you can measure how many people land on your website from Google, what keyword(s) brought them there, how many move to the next stage, and how many end up converting. This way, you’ll have a solid understanding of what works and what doesn’t, and you’ll be able to adjust your strategies accordingly.
By following the tips outlined in this article, you can create a lead generation funnel that helps you attract more qualified leads and convert them into customers. Stay focused, maintain a bird’s eye view, and always make sure to provide your customers with a stepping stone to their next stage in the buying journey.