The Sales Funnel is a way of defining the process Prospects will go through when getting educated enough to want to meet with Sales. In the following sections, we’ll be breaking down the three stages of the Sales Funnel that make up the buyer’s journey. Additionally, we’ll highlight which Prospect Education content will be the most helpful to Prospects at each stage. Content is becoming increasingly important in the B2B Marketing world today. Studies have shown that the use of Prospect Education content is now one of the top strategies for 77% of B2B marketers.
Because these stages relate to different levels of engagement and awareness, the content that should be sent out to buyers will differ depending on what is the most relevant to their interest level. What’s important to note here, too, is that actively searching and fully engaged prospects will enter the funnel from the top like everyone else一 but will then progress through the stages very quickly, hence why it’s so helpful for Marketing to nurture Educated Prospects to meet with Sales.
Prospect Education is the best way to drive the Funnel; attracting more prospects to the Top and helping others advance to the Bottom and eventually on to meet with Sales.
Top of Funnel (TOFU)
The Top of Funnel (TOFU) is where your prospects begin their buyer’s journey. Depending on what level of Buyer Readiness each individual prospect is at, the speed at which they progress through the funnel will vary.
Before prospects can reach the TOFU stage, they must first get acquainted in some way with your company. Demand Generation content is broad, less targeted content that’s meant to attract new prospects to your funnel. This type of content should be created to attract the most people possible and to be broadcasted easily to a large population. The emerging strategies Marketers use today are mainly SEO (optimizing access to blogs, podcasts, or other content) and online ads (perhaps on Google, Facebook, or YouTube), which can all attract attention to, or at least spark awareness of, new products.
In engaging with this material, the Prospect is sent to a landing page that describes the asset and if they are interested, they’ll fill out their contact information (typically start with just first name, last name, email, and title). Then, they’ll get added to the top of funnel.
For these unaware Prospects, having online content readily available is the only way for them to find their way into your funnel. Additionally, for Prospects who are already aware of their problem and are close to purchase-ready, letting them find your content is the best way to escalate them quickly through to the Sales level.
Once a prospect is added to the top of funnel, they’ll therefore need quite a bit of education and nurturing before they may graduate to later funnels, and they often repeat the cycle in TOFU a couple of times before progressing.
What prospects need at this stage is lead generation content, which is generally shared with them through email nurturing. This will still be very broad and educational in nature一 no need to give them the hard sell just yet. Instead, it will build up trust over time as they slowly start to recognize their problem and realize the power of your solution. Light, easily digestible content like relevant blogs, short quizzes, or engaging infographics can all educate buyers at this level.
Middle of the Funnel (MOFU)
As TOFU prospects engage with the content you send them in their targeted nurture emails (clicking, downloading, etc.), they’ll eventually work their way down the funnel to the middle, at which point the marketing content to be sent to them will become a little more specific and targeted.
MOFU prospects make up about 20-30% of your target market and have generally already begun to have conversations with Sales to assess their options. At this point, Marketing’s job is to give them all the information they need to see why your company is their best option. This content will be more specific to your solution in particular and can take on a more aggressive sales approach. Content like buyer guides, case studies, white papers, third-party analyses of your product, and competitor comparisons are all good options for prospects in this range.
Bottom of the Funnel (BOFU)
Once the prospect has narrowed down their options to a select shortlist and has started looking at pricing, they can be moved to the more Sales-oriented level at the bottom of the funnel. Clicking on the demo/meeting request button will also instigate this. BOFU prospects represent around 3-5% of your target market and are already fully aware of their problem and of their options in resolving it一 they just need to find which product is the best fit.
Actively searching prospects will advance to this level quickly if Marketing educates them effectively when they initially reach the TOFU. Otherwise, prospects can reach this level through extensive prospect education during their buyer’s journey.
BOFU engagement will lean more towards the Sales side of Marketing, with the ultimate goal being to book a chat with a Sales rep and sign a deal. Chats about pricing, appointments, and deliverables, and customer testimonials will all be relevant to BOFU prospects at this point.
Having the right content in Prospect Education available to Prospects during their buyer’s journeys will help them advance down the Funnel and encourage them to eventually meet with Sales. It’s important to have content available that will meet them where they are in their buyer’s journeys. To read more about this type of Prospect Education, and why it’s so important post-Pandemic, click here.