The marketing funnel is an extremely useful tool for visualizing your marketing strategies and your customers’ journey.
It’s a bit different depending on the context of your business, though, and understanding the B2B marketing funnel is an important step towards successful campaigns of all types.
Let’s take a look at the funnel and how email lead generation fits in.
Understanding the B2B Marketing Funnel for Email Lead Generation
Here’s what the B2B marketing funnel looks like:
The funnel can be broken into three phases.
Phase 1: Lead Generation
You start off with your target audience – all the potential leads out there in the wild. Lead generation is the phase where someone becomes a lead, going from “they’ve never heard of you” to knowing you exist and possibly becoming interested.
This phase encompasses any type of marketing that makes people aware of you. That means content marketing, referrals, trade shows, online ads, social media, and – of course – email lead generation.
The purpose of email lead generation is reach out to cold contacts and bring them into the top of your funnel – the awareness stage. Your campaigns should be aimed at convincing them to opt in to receive your campaigns, for example through gated content.
If your campaigns are well-targeted and well-written, you can push contacts right through to the interest stage, which places them in the second phase.
Phase 2: Nurturing
Just because someone has opted in to your messages doesn’t mean that they’re ready to purchase. There’s still a ways to go before that happens.
Once your leads are aware that you exist, your job is to make them more interested in what you offer. You’ll do this by demonstrating authority and expertise using inbound marketing content, email nurturing campaigns, and various other marketing channels.
The goal here is to get your leads considering your offer a solution to their problem, not just being aware that it’s out there.
Once you’ve nurtured your leads to the point where they begin looking seriously at your product, they’ve moved from interest to evaluation.
At this point, your messaging should be more specifically focused on the product they’re evaluating.
That’s because you know that they’re seriously considering your product as an option, so you want to underscore how awesome it would be for them. You can do this by providing whitepapers and, particularly, case studies about how well your product has worked for similar companies.
You can also target them with invites to webinars and more informative content.
Once they’ve demonstrated sufficient interest and engagement, push for them to do a demo or a free trial.
Phase 3: Sales
Once they’ve started a free trial, they’re more of a sales prospect than a marketing lead, and you’ve done your job! Go get a cup of tea to celebrate.
At this point, it’s up to your sales team to bring them to the stage of purchasing the product. If they aren’t ready to purchase yet, they might end up getting tossed back into your court for more nurturing.
If that happens, don’t worry. Just bump them back up to the appropriate funnel stage and keep working on them there.
How Email Lead Generation Fits In
As we mentioned earlier, ELG sits up at the top of the funnel. It forms a bridge between “they’ve never heard of you” and “they’re aware and interested enough to opt in”.
It’s important to remember that when sending email lead generation campaigns, your messaging should be very top-of-funnel. It’s tempting to push a hard sell for a quick deal, but that can really backfire on you.
A cold email that’s all about the hard sell feels spammy, and people will instinctively tend to unsubscribe, or even file a spam complaint. And you really don’t want that to happen.
The best way to get results with your ELG campaigns is to encourage your contacts to opt in at a very top-of-funnel level, and then coax them down the funnel using traditional marketing methods.
When done right, it’s a powerful augmentation to your marketing strategy and a great way to make your inbound content work even more effectively for you.