The B2B Lead Generation Funnel: How to Drive Conversion at Each Stage
Prospects may know your brand, but awareness alone doesn’t create new customers. Expert B2B marketers create content for each possible stage of interest a prospect may be in, from a brief first visit to your website to a deep dive into whether it makes sense to engage with your company.
The B2B lead generation funnel (visualized below) illustrates how B2B audiences find, research, and evaluate content that impacts what they buy. Understanding this funnel and how visitors travel through it before making the decision to convert or not, is key to B2B lead generation.
This guide explains the five stages of the lead generation funnel and offers practical advice on improving conversion rate at each stage. We’ve spent extra time on strategies for driving customers to the initial, or Discovery, stage, since it can be the most difficult stage of the lead generation funnel.
Google search is a primary way leads enter the discovery phase.
The Discovery stage is where a consumer comes across your company’s name for the first time, typically while searching for a solution to a problem, or a way to alleviate a pain point in their business. This is the most common focus of B2B marketing for two reasons:
(1) increasing your funnel’s input naturally leads to a greater output of sales
(2) most of the lead generation sources available to marketers deliver Discovery stage (i.e. early stage) visitors.
Here are the five most popular channels B2B marketers use to fill the top of their funnel:
|Channels||ROI*||Time to Break Even||How to Optimize|
|SEM (PPC)||36%||6 months||
|Trade Shows||85%||8 months||
|LinkedIn Ads||229%||10 months||
|Public Speaking||856%||6 months||
The best approach is to combine multiple channels, using faster channels like PPC to supplement lower ROI long-term lead generation from organic channels like SEO. But Discovery is only the first step in a long process; next comes Interest.
After clicking through, visitors seek to learn more about your products or services.
Many people will reach the interest stage of the funnel, but only a tiny percentage will continue further down the funnel. Driving more visitors through this stage requires that your website delivers pertinent information and vital insights, and does so with minimal friction.
Identify the pages visitors land on when they first visit your site (most often done with the help of Hubspot, Salesforce, or another visitor tracking tool). Identifying what prompted them to explore your company allows you to focus on the pages that your customers see first, ensuring that each is fully conversion optimized.
In the Interest stage, this means avoiding any hyperbole or similarly salesy language and instead offering clear, concise writing that teaches visitors something of actual value. Your goal here is to establish credibility; attempting to force a pitch to make a quick sale can cause visitors to lose interest.
The following content types are most effective for driving visitors through the Interest stage of your funnel:
- Blogs that offer unique perspectives on your potential customers’ businesses and create authority.
- Landing pages with skimmable facts, high-quality photos, or even professionally created movies that distinguish your product or service.
- Webinars and slideshows
- Original research pieces that establish you as an industry leader
You’ll draw the broadest spectrum of readers near the top of the funnel. Some will arrive on the verge of making a purchase, but most will be in the early stages of gathering information and making decisions.
Interested visitors will conduct independent research on third party websites in the Appraisal stage.
You’ll have very little control over the Appraisal stage because this is the point when a semi-interested lead conducts independent research on your organization. You’ll be evaluated and compared to competitors, and the user will ultimately decide how much they want to engage with your business.
Consumer research makes your industry reputation—particularly as perceived on Google, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor—crucial to pushing consumers past this stage of the funnel. Ask satisfied employees and customers to leave positive remarks on review websites and ensure that your social profiles are up to date.
Returning with their decision mostly made, the visitor looks to case studies and examines trust elements for a final push.
At the Confirmation stage, you have your potential customer’s attention, they’ve done their homework on you, and now they’re just looking for the last piece of information before they commit. This is the stage at which more sales-oriented material is appropriate, along with case studies that demonstrate how your products perform in real world applications.
The most important factors in this stage are transparency and honesty in setting customer expectations. This is where you can capitalize on the trust you’ve built throughout the rest of the funnel.
Their decision made, the visitor signs up for a free trial, converting into a new lead for your sales team.
The potential customer has reached the finish line and is at the bottom of the B2B lead generation funnel. The most important aspect of this stage is ensuring that the conversion is quick and straightforward. Your contact page should be easily accessible from your website’s top level menu, along with sidebar contact forms that allow a visitor to convert without moving to another page.
Your reader will likely still read your content regularly if they’ve reached this stage, meaning your work with this customer is not finished. Don’t let up on regularly producing high-quality content. To maintain client confidence and build interest in your other products, consider the following post-conversion strategies:
- Continue posting high-quality material
- Provide excellent customer service
- Gather and respond thoughtfully to customer feedback
Executing on B2B Lead Generation
If your team has a great deal of experience in creating content for B2B lead generation, and you may be able to implement the strategies above in-house. Alternatively, you might think about hiring a partner who knows how to generate content at each stage of the funnel, connect them all into ideal click paths, and measure the results.
First Page Sage has over a decade of experience helping B2B clients generate leads in specialized industries. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help you convert prospects into active customers, contact us here.
Evan Bailyn is a bestselling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership. Contact Evan here.