Jen Doyle

B2B Funnel Optimization: What happens after you capture the lead?

I’m hoping that one thing you have learned from reading the MarketingExperiments blog is that there isn’t much in the marketing world that can’t, or shouldn’t be, tested and optimized. We are used to looking at the top of the funnel – optimizing landing pages, website headline copy, email campaigns, etc., but what happens after you capture that lead? Can’t the buying process be tested and optimized as well?

The short answer is, yes, the funnel can be optimized – and it should be! Before you can optimize lead progression through the funnel, you must first identify what that process looks like.

At MarketingSherpa, we have just launched our annual B2B Marketing Benchmark Survey to identify key tactics B2B marketers can use for funnel optimization, and to ensure success in an increasingly challenging environment.

As we embark on this new study, I’d like to look at a key chart that was included in MarketingSherpa’s 2011 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report. We asked 935 B2B marketers what funnel stages they have identified for their organization. The results are presented in the following chart:

b2b funnel chart

Marketing-Sales funnels will vary in complexity from one organization to the next, and the above stages were provided to study participants as a sample guideline. What’s surprising is that nearly a quarter of participants indicated that they have not yet defined a funnel. Of the remaining participants, nearly all of them indicated that they tracked the first stage of a registered lead, but that’s really a gimme. Everyone tracks that.

After registered lead, participation levels drop to fewer than 50% for all remaining funnel stages. We’re looking forward to seeing how these levels of participation may change in this year’s survey.

Once you have identified your Marketing-Sales funnel, you can start to develop lead nurturing strategies that will optimize lead progression from one stage to the next, ultimately accelerating sales pipeline performance.

You’ll want to deliver content to your audience that they want or need to receive, when they want or need to receive it. Once you develop your lead nurturing campaigns, think of all the opportunities you have to optimize them. Here are some ideas of tests you can run:

  • Subject matter
  • Headlines
  • Subject lines
  • Value proposition
  • Design
  • Timing / frequency of delivery
  • Content format (whitepapers, videos, articles, etc.)
  • Length of content
  • Style of content
  • Point of contact (online or offline communications)

Hopefully this brief list will get your creativity going.

At the end of the day, we must define our buying processes, and then use any tools at our disposal to optimize a lead’s progression through the funnel in order to protect our marketing investments, accelerate sales pipeline performance and fuel overall success.

Related Resources:

Marketing Sherpa’sB2B Marketing Benchmark Survey
The B2B Summit: MarketingSherpa’s only summit exclusively for B2B marketers
Lead Generation: How your peers optimize the lead
B2B Marketing: Marketing automation helps with lead nurturing and management

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Categories: Lead Generation Tags: , , ,



  1. June 21st, 2011 at 16:13 | #1

    Good thought provoking article. Too often in sales we focus on the top of the funnel or the very bottom without looking at what can we do to move things through the funnel.

    I also tell people in my workshops to rethink what goes in the funnel.

    I also think we need to revisit our funnel process periodically

  2. August 29th, 2011 at 18:02 | #2

    Thanks for the post. We work so hard at generating leads, it is important to have a thought out plan of what to do when we get them. At GRM we make sure each lead gets into our CRM so they are included in our regular lead nurturing program. Additionally, we have a series of 5 emails that is automated to go out a regular intervals to help the lead understand who we are and which of our offerings might be the best fit. Prior to automating the process, we weren’t as consistent. grmwebsite.com

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