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The B2B SaaS Marketing Funnel: A Roadmap to Success

At its core, the marketing funnel is a way to visualize the path a potential customer takes from initial awareness of your product to becoming a paying customer.

Think of the marketing funnel as an internal roadmap, providing a framework for building effective and efficient marketing and sales strategies.

Understanding the basic structure, categories, and key terms used to describe the stages of the marketing funnel can help you plan your overall strategy. Each stage of the funnel consists of unique challenges and opportunities. There are several different simplifications and terminologies used to describe various stages that prospects go through on their way to becoming a customer. We will cover many of these terms here. Keep in mind that different organizations use different terminology to describe their customers’ buying experiences, depending on the need and complexity of their product, service, buying cycle, or specific program.

The key to using these terms is to create a single lexicon for your organization – from executive leadership to marketing to sales – so everyone is speaking the same language and working with the same definitions.

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  • ​TOFU (top of the funnel): At the top of the funnel is the awareness stage, where your goal is to attract potential customers and generate awareness of your product or service. This can be achieved through content marketing, digital advertising, social media, events, and public relations. This content should address your personas' pain points and talk about solutions to those challenges, with a light touch on your product features. This is a good place for thought leadership content.

  • MOFU (middle of the funnel): represents the consideration stage and is where the bulk of lead generation and lead nurturing occurs. Many organizations will further break down this stage into marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). The goal of this stage is to capture contact information from interested parties and provide them with the information they need to make an informed decision about your product. During the first phase (or MQL stage), it is essential to create content that addresses the prospect's identified pain points. This can include downloadable e-books, white papers, case studies, or webinars. As prospects continue to move through their journey (or the SQL stage), it becomes more important to build relationships and understand their specific needs to provide targeted information and resources that can help them make an informed decision. This could include additional content, product demos, or free trials.

  • BOFU (bottom of the funnel): represents the decision stage. Now is the time to prove you have the solutions to your prospects' challenges and the ability to be a long-term partner with them even after the sale. The goal of this stage is to convert those leads into paying customers, and then retain them by providing exceptional service and support. Ensuring a smooth and easy onboarding experience by delivering to customers everything they need to quickly and efficiently get up and running with your product or service is crucial.

Having a well-defined funnel with associated S.M.A.R.T. goals becomes important for addressing leaky funnel syndrome, where potential customers slip away between stages. Not every lead or person who gets captured in the awareness stage is going to become a customer (this why the funnel shape — wide at the top and narrow at the bottom — is commonly used). There are many reasons for this. Some leads simply are not the right target audience or the right fit for your product or service. Others get busy with other projects, distracted by the day-to-day responsibilities of their job, or lose interest. Understanding where and why people fall out of the funnel will help your teams adjust and optimize their strategies.


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