funnel-targetThis is a guest post written by Jonathan Hosier, MarketingSherpa Marketing Manager. Use HubSpot's Promo Code 159-ST-1004 to receive $500 off your B2B Summit ticket.

The performance of B2B marketing tactics in this downtrodden economy has turned some of the best marketing plans into haphazard stabs in the dark. There is no secret about how the B2B marketing effort starts. It all begins with lead generation at the top of the funnel. The idea is, when you put more leads in, you get more customers out. Does that sound like an optimized or effective strategy to you?

That’s the thing -- due to smaller budgets, trimmed manpower, and time contraints, many marketers have just looked for a quick fix to their lackluster lead gen performance.

According to a recent market analysis performed by MarketingSherpa's Senior Research Manager Jen Doyle, 68% of organizations do not have a clearly defined marketing funnel, and only 27% of B2B inquiries are qualified before they are turned over to Sales. “The truth is, in order to get results and convert modern buyers in a struggling economy, we have to address the full spectrum of the funnel,” Doyle explains.

Defining your funnel is important. It will prove to be a trusted friend and will yield the numbers your organization has set out to attain. You must also remember that like any good friendship, there is a dynamic relationship there. You must constantly interact with the structure of the funnel, and as it is put into practice, you must continually optimize its application. According to recent marketplace research performed by MarketingSherpa, the optimization of a funnel occurs in five tiers.

The Five Tiers of Funnel Optimization

1. Target the Most Valuable Leads: The first tier of funnel optimization suggests that marketers focus on targeting the most valuable leads by examining how customers sought the information to begin with. Value propositions that resonate with select groups will facilitate the differentiation of these targets. This can be the most effective when exemplified by website design, management, and optimization. 

2. Optimize Content: Within the second layer of the funnel, optimization takes place within 3 specific content generation tactics: utilizing a multi-channel messaging strategy, improving thought leadership positioning, and segmenting the content’s delivery.

3. Qualify Leads: This is where optimization takes place in the third tier of the funnel. On average, only 27% of B2B inquiries are qualified before they are given to the sales team.This should not be the case.

4. Improve Lead Nurturing: Moving on to the fourth tier, the spotlight moves to making improvements to one’s lead nurturing process. Market analysis shows that only 56% of organizations verify valid business leads before they are handed over to Sales.

5. Measure Success: Once you have optimized to this point, on average, 20% of your leads will have converted into sales. This number is even more important when you realize only 32% of organizations have actually identified their marketing funnels. 

“There is no doubt that B2B marketing is immensely challenging right now, but for those who do break through boundaries and put in the work, there is great opportunity to become true contributors to success, recognized leaders in the industry, and champions over the competition," concludes Doyle.

For more information on optimizing your B2B marketing funnel, visit MarketingSherpa B2B Summit 2011. Use Promo Code 159-ST-1004 and receive $500 off your ticket price.

Image credit: Oliver Le Moal


Originally published Aug 31, 2011 9:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016


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