Why Audience Data is Vital to Your B2B Funnel

There’s a famous quote often attributed to John Wanamaker, an early American department store entrepreneur: “Half my advertising budget is wasted – the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” The phrase has become somewhat trite these days, showing up often in PowerPoint presentations given by marketers across the world.

But the saying itself speaks to a problem at the heart of many marketing departments: it’s just tough to know which of your marketing campaigns are successful and which are a waste of time and resources. 160 years after Wanamaker opened his own retail store, in our advanced digital age with AI and automation galore, his words seem to ring more true than ever before.

One of the easiest ways to minimize waste in advertising – or any other part of your marketing budget – is gaining a better understanding of your audience. Knowledge about the people you’re selling to and how you can help them solve their problems has been the holy grail of all kinds of marketing and advertising since the inception of human commerce. 

Today, audience knowledge is arguably more important because of the huge volume of noise prospects face every day in the marketplace. Below, we’re diving into more specifics about why knowing your target audience may be the key to unlocking more success – and ROI – from your marketing.

Reduces Content Costs

As we mentioned in the intro, greater audience knowledge means less money spent on the wrong thing. For marketers today, a significant chunk of their resources go towards creating content. From blog posts to social media updates to email newsletters, companies in all sectors spend lots of time and money on creating content.

But what’s actually in all that content? Is it really helpful, or is it only being produced because there’s a need? Robert Rose, a strategy executive with the Content Marketing Institute, frequently talks about the problematic concept of the content team operating as a “vending machine” – you need a piece of content for a funnel, so you push a button and the staff member, team or contractor produces it. The problem with this approach is it creates a siloed attack where different arms of your marketing campaigns function with different goals.

In an ideal situation, audience data serves as a connecting factor that ties the creators of content in your business to all other areas: including the broader goals of the company. When this happens, there is in turn less money and time wasted creating content that doesn’t resonate with your target audience. 

Improves Brand Reputation

The impact of strong audience knowledge on brand reputation might be most apparent in B2B sales. When your audience operates in a highly technical field that requires specialized knowledge, it’s easier for them to tell if you really know what you’re talking about. This can serve as something of a double-edged sword, however – it also means that if you have authentic knowledge of your audience and their goals, you’ll stand out in your marketplace.

When your audience operates in a highly technical field that requires specialized knowledge, it’s easier for them to tell if you really know what you’re talking about. Click To Tweet

The key here is to stay current by studying and immersing yourself in communities of people like your target customer. Whether it’s a sub-forum on Reddit, a Discord channel, or a social media group, it’s important to take time to understand the newest concerns and discussions among your audience. Ideally, these are communities you already are or were present in at one time. This is a big reason why many of the most successful healthcare services and product companies are created by former doctors, nurses or healthcare office employees. They have first-hand knowledge and experience in a highly specialized field where it’s easy for prospects to pick out impostors.

Guides Direction of Your Business

Great companies respond quickly and effectively to the most important requests of their prospective customers. The idea has been ingrained into the modern business community, particularly since the rise of the Lean Startup model popularized by Eric Ries and others in the startup community. 

But the best companies are able to predict what their customers want in the future. Reaching this level has the potential to put a business in rarefied air reserved for the biggest brands in history: Nike, Microsoft, IBM, etc. Steve Jobs once famously paraphrased Henry Ford, believing that he’d once said: “If I asked my customers what they wanted, they would’ve told me a faster horse.”

Over the years, this quote has been twisted into an argument against customer research. If people wouldn’t have asked for a car or an iPhone, why bother paying attention to their input on your product or service? This interpretation neglects the first part of the quote, where Jobs says “our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.”

You don’t reach that depth of audience understanding by ignoring relevant data. Just the opposite: the only way you can really predict what your customer wants before they do, like Jobs and Ford, is by so deeply understanding your audience that you begin to think the same way. This level of familiarity can only be attained with an extremely strong grasp of prospect data, and typically takes a long time to achieve.

Final Thoughts on Audience Data for Your Funnel  

The specific methods you use to collect data and learn about your audience will vary depending on the kind of product or service you offer. We’ve covered individual tactics like landing page and form optimization on many other posts here on this blog.

We believe, however, what’s more important than any one tactic or data collection method is adopting a broader philosophy about audience data within your company. The truth is, audience data is important to your B2B funnel and almost every other part of your marketing, from the initial creation of customer avatars right on through to the way you hire and build your team.

As your organization changes and grows, you’ll find that the particular campaigns you deploy may change. Sometimes you’ll focus on high-level content intended to make your prospects think deeply; other times you’ll just be creating a simple demonstration video that shows off one of the key features of your product or service. No matter what particular actions you are taking, they’ll always be more successful with a foundation in audience data. If you can pay close enough attention to what your ideal client wants, what’s stopping them from achieving it, and what they need to be convinced that you can help them in this pursuit, all of your marketing endeavors will flow much more easily.

And if you need a little veteran help to give you a better perspective on how to wrap your head around customer data, FunnelEnvy is here to assist. We have a wide breadth of experience helping businesses of all sizes in all different industries get a better handle on their audience. Whether you’re a brand new startup or a seasoned marketer looking to enter the next phase of growth, we can help fill in some of the natural gaps that may occur as your marketing gets more and more developed. The more things you have going on, the more difficult it is to keep your audience central to your mission.

To start the process, just click here to fill out a quick quiz that will help us learn more about ways we may be able to assist.

By |2023-04-25T09:04:40-07:00May 1st, 2023|General B2B Funnel Advice|0 Comments

Optimizing Your Funnel With Video Content

If you aren’t already taking advantage of the power of video content, you’re missing out on one of the most important channels for any type of marketing – especially B2B. Research shows that video makes for some of the most engaging content. Over 9 in 10 marketers already use video in their funnels to help capture the right audience and serve them relevant, helpful content that allows them to accomplish their business goals. Moreover, nearly the same number of consumers report that watching a brand video has convinced them to buy a product.

At this point, it’s far from groundbreaking to say that video should be a key element of any organization’s marketing funnel. Clients often experience difficulty with the specifics of video content and understanding the optimization process. How exactly should you use video in your funnel? What kinds of videos should you make? And how will you know if your videos are effective?

Clients often experience difficulty with the specifics of video content and understanding the optimization process. Click To Tweet

Though it’s tough to definitively answer these questions for any company without specific knowledge of their campaigns, we can offer some advice based on the trends we’ve seen working with clients to help them wisely incorporate video into their existing strategies. Let’s jump in.

Select the Right Kind of Videos

There are dozens of different kinds of video types and endless variations or tweaks you can put on those types to make them even more unique. Just spend a few minutes on YouTube, and you’ll see exactly how diverse video content can be! 

In a business marketing context, we can generally group videos into one of three buckets:

  • Quick snippets are meant to explain one specific concept or express a single idea. Software companies often create these using a screenshare that shows off a particular feature.
  • Medium-length videos are longer and go more in-depth on a broader area. These videos are anywhere from five to 20 minutes in length. For example, one type of feature video could be a medical research company showing off different parts of its facility.
  • Feature videos are anything longer than about 20 minutes. These are often pre-recorded speeches or conference sessions shared with the audience.

Again, these categories aren’t perfect, and you can probably come up with endless video types. Don’t get caught up in the specific traits of one type or another – instead, use them as a springboard to think about which type of video may be best for your business. As you go through the process of creating, promoting, and analyzing your video content, be sure to sort them by type so you can get more data on the effectiveness of each kind.

Let Your Prospects See Themselves

Think about some of the best movies, books, or television shows you’ve consumed over the last few years. For many people, the stories in these mediums are much more effective when they feel a connection to the characters in them. That could mean their job, geographic location, family status, etc.

The best marketers have figured out that this concept doesn’t just apply at the box office or the bookstore – it also works in a B2B marketing funnel. Whether you’re planning to create half-hour explainer videos with multiple scenes and people speaking, or you simply want to run a 45-second screenshare showing a single feature, do what you can to ensure your prospects connect with something. You could use language they recognize, name a process they frequently use in their business, or something completely different.

A case study or testimonial-style video is the best video to achieve this connection. Just be aware that many viewers are naturally skeptical of testimonial videos, so you should strive to include an authentic, balanced evaluation of your company and its offering. 

Connect Performance, Budget, and Analytics

Even after you’ve decided on a particular type of video to use, planned its production, and included it in the right channels, your job is still unfinished. The time after you’ve placed your videos into your funnel and published them on social media, your newsletter, etc., is one of the most critical periods for determining the overall success of your video efforts.

That’s because this is when you can get honest feedback from prospects about how effective your videos are at helping you achieve business goals. This feedback comes in the form of data – views, conversions, form abandonments, meetings booked, and so on. Ideally, you can compare this data with a preexisting, deep data set. 

Once you’ve analyzed the numbers and determined which kinds of videos are performing best for you, double down on them by redirecting more of your budget toward making them. Unless you have a specific reason, there’s no point continuing to spend money on content that doesn’t maximize the return.

An easy way to think of video is a virtuous cycle with three parts: budget, analytics, and performance. The cycle starts when you invest marketing dollars into creating a video (budget), continues when you dive into the numbers and metrics behind the video (analytics), and finishes with an ultimate evaluation of the video’s effectiveness in helping you achieve business goals (performance).

From there, the cycle starts over with the budgetary phase. As each part of the cycle becomes more and more optimized, it carries over to the other parts of the video cycle, helping them improve. 

Final Thoughts on How to Optimize a Funnel With Video

In 2023, it’s essential to get beyond just “doing video” and into optimizing your video for maximum funnel success. Barriers for video have dropped so much that you should already be incorporating them into your funnels.

To reach the next level of success with video, you need to know which types of videos your prospects respond to, how to include a hook that connects them to the content of the video, and what steps are necessary to iterate on videos to attain continued success. After all – you probably already spend time analyzing other elements of your conversion rate, so why not devote some of the same attention to the specific performance of your video?

While it’s possible to handle all of these steps within your organization, many companies find it easier to get them taken care of with the help of an outside specialist. A well-qualified B2B marketing expert will be able to give you a broader, more strategic perspective on the way you incorporate video into your funnel. They’ll assist you in identifying which kinds of videos to produce and how to track their metrics so that you end up getting the most out of the investment you make into a video for your funnel.

FunnelEnvy has helped many clients in various industries attain greater efficiency with video production and a better grasp of whether or not their content is moving the needle. To learn more about our pricing and determine if we are a good match for your needs, click here to complete a short questionnaire.

By |2023-02-27T12:23:28-08:00March 6th, 2023|General B2B Funnel Advice|0 Comments

4 Best Practices for Creating Engaging B2B Content

There’s a massive amount of content on the web today. Even before the global pandemic that forced everyone to stay home, reports indicated that over two-thirds of all data on the web was created sometime in the last few years.

Unfortunately, a lot of that data isn’t practical. The same is true in the world of B2B content. Many companies are embracing the practice – more than 4 in 5 B2B marketers use content marketing as a strategy, according to HubSpot surveys from 2021.

The problem? Not enough companies are doing content well. The prevalence of content marketing strategy means that many organizations are rushing to put out content simply “to have something there,” or even worse, just as a way to game SEO algorithms to increase their page rankings.

If this sounds like your company’s strategy, it needs to make a change. Whether creating content for a specific part of your funnel or more generalized marketing content, here are four tips to give you a better chance of engaging your audience.

Remove Fluff and Filler Ruthlessly

If you’ve done any kind of search recently related to any type of marketing or digital business phrase, you’ve probably noticed a common issue. There’s a lot of useless content out there. Sure, you can still find valuable stuff on any subject, and Google has been trying its hardest to update its algorithm quickly enough to weed out low-quality search results. But the proliferation of content and search engine marketing means there are still plenty of pages designed just to help the publisher move up search engine results – not to help someone in their target audience.

There are two simple (but not always easy) methods for making your content more valuable. First, you have to cut all fluff and filler from your content. Be ruthless – if there’s a question about whether or not something is worth including, you should probably scrap it. This ruthlessness even extends to things writers love, like using outside anecdotes or drawn-out metaphors.

It’s particularly important to make your content easy to interpret and valuable when it’s being used further down your B2B funnel. Decision-makers at companies making significant purchases usually want to maximize their time considering different vendors and solutions. Sifting through unnecessarily long content doesn’t give them a positive perspective of your company or its offering.

It’s particularly important to make your content easy to interpret and valuable when it’s being used further down your B2B funnel. Click To Tweet

The second important step in removing fluff and filler is making your content more digestible so prospects can scan and read it more quickly. This method is called “scannable content.” According to Microsoft, a few essential strategies for scannable content include:

  • Put your most important content above the fold or the part of the page the user doesn’t need to scroll down to see.
  • Be brief, clear, and concise. Don’t use more words than you need.
  • Include navigation options for a long document.

You might also think about using progress bars or page numbers so users know how much more they have left in the content. Some more modern publications will even estimate how long it will take to read a piece of written content.

Use the Right Hook

By its nature, B2B content has to be highly customized. Buyers in this sector have specific and dynamic needs regarding what they’re looking for out of a business solution. These discerning needs are part of the reason tactics like content and account-based marketing are so popular with B2B marketers in the first place.

And while the personalized requirements of B2B content marketing might make the process more difficult in some ways, in another sense, it makes creating engaging content easier. Knowing a lot about your prospect’s specific needs and challenges means you can present more relevant information.

In content marketing parlance, a “hook” immediately grabs users’ attention and makes them want to continue consuming the content. Whether it’s a headline, the first sentence of a blog article or social media post, or the initial words of a video, a good hook can be the difference between someone consuming an entire piece of content or bouncing out of it quickly. In any B2B content setting, you want to make your hook as personalized as possible. In the best-case scenario, a prospect should feel like you’re speaking directly to them.

Be Interactive

This tip isn’t always fully applicable, depending on the channel you use for your content. But if you’re using a platform where interaction is a big component – such as social media – it’s important to include an avenue for users to engage with the content. In the B2B setting, it’s common to see posts on social media that ask users to share their own experiences, for example.

If you can’t make your content directly interactive for users, try to help them imagine themselves in the same situation. Visualization is one of the most powerful psychological tools available to us as humans. Putting your content’s audience in a position to visualize themselves using your product or service is one of the best ways to help nurture them closer to converting into customers. Whether you achieve this by including a few poignant questions at the end of an article, or some interesting visuals in an infographic or video, it’s critical to draw the user into becoming more than just a passive consumer of your content.

Measure and Analyze the Right Metrics

These steps are fantastic, but some may work better for you than others. Some may not work at all! How will you know if this is the case and which tactics may or may not apply? There’s only one way: measuring and analyzing how well it performs.

The big challenge many companies face is not necessarily analyzing metrics – it’s choosing the right metrics to follow. We see numerous prospects encountering the same problem: their high-level metrics like views, click-through rates, and session time numbers are good, but they aren’t leading to conversions or sales. 

That’s why it’s so important to track the correct numbers. In the hugely broad, dynamic world of business data, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by fancy metrics or numbers that seem important but don’t tell you much about your content. To overcome this challenge, think intentionally about a few of the most critical numbers that matter to your business and its content efforts, then make sure you stick to tracking just those numbers. It’s okay to revisit your core metrics from time to time to ensure they are still working the way you need, but don’t be swayed from measuring the KPIs you initially decided were most important.

And if you need any help figuring out which metrics to track or how to keep your content engaging, our expert team at FunnelEnvy is ready to help. We have several years of experience working with B2B companies to optimize their funnel content and ensure they can stand out in today’s noisy content marketing sector. Click here to fill out a short questionnaire and learn more about our pricing structure.

By |2022-11-17T03:29:55-08:00November 28th, 2022|General B2B Funnel Advice|0 Comments

How to Map Content Creation to Your B2B Funnel

Anyone working in marketing today is probably aware of the importance of creating content. Thanks to the growth of content marketing over the last decade or so companies in every field are rushing to produce content they believe will drive revenue and improve their brand awareness among their target audience.

Unfortunately, many content marketers don’t get it right. They direct an internal resource or outside contractor to churn out a set number of content pieces about pre-arranged topics on a monthly or quarterly basis. Robert Rose, chief strategy officer at the Content Marketing Institute’s Content Advisory consultancy, has spoken about this issue before, calling it the “vending machine” approach to content creation. 

As Rose points out, not only does this approach not scale, it positions content as nothing more than a to-do list for the marketing department. A better approach is to first understand the goals and objectives behind each piece of content pertaining to different stages of your sales funnel. From there, you can create content in a way that aligns smoothly with your funnel and provides tangible value for your audience. 

How do you go about doing that? It’ll be slightly different for everyone depending on your specific target audience and the funnel for which you’re creating content. Below, we dive into a few tips that any marketer can apply to B2B content creation.

Revisit Personas and Funnel Steps

Before you start churning out content assets, it’s essential to take a step back and go over the fundamentals of your funnel. Begin the process by going over your buyer persona, which according to HubSpot best practices, should include information like:

  • Demographics including age, income, location, etc.
  • Communication preferences that indicate how they like to receive information and engage with potential vendors
  • Goals for both their personal and professional lives
  • Biggest challenges particularly as it relates to the product or service being marketed

As you (ideally, along with your primary content creators) review this information, remember to spend time considering whether or not anything is outdated or inaccurate. This is a great time to update your personas and make your marketing efforts more effective.

Beyond that, you should also look at each step in your funnel to see how people inside it go from a stranger unaware of your brand’s existence to the conversion action you desire. This process will also unlock a vital source of ideas for content and make it much easier to align each piece with your funnel. 

Here’s an example: let’s say visiting a landing page is an important step in the funnel for which you want to create effective content. By drawing on the existing content, language, and media on the landing page, you’ll have a starting point for content you want to map to that funnel segment. 

Experiment With Different Channels

One of the double-edged swords of modern digital marketing is the array of different kinds of media we can use to reach an audience. The most common formats are e-mail, social media, blog posts, and videos. Clever marketers can develop an endless variety of themes and formats within just these four channels.

If you haven’t already, you need to work on aligning your different marketing channels with each stage of your funnel. These insights will be key for understanding what type of content to produce for different segments of your audience.

Here’s another concrete example: you typically use video advertisements on social media networks to attract people to your brand and make them aware of your offering. This is a standard way marketers use video content for the top of their funnels.

If you haven’t already, you need to work on aligning your different marketing channels with each stage of your funnel Click To Tweet

But what if, instead of only using video for social media ads, you also incorporated video at the later stages of your funnel? Maybe you publish a video interview with a satisfied client in which they discuss some of the most significant benefits of your offering and why it worked. In this case, you’d use video for your funnel’s middle segment.

It’s impossible to definitively say which combination will work best for your funnel and audience. Remember to measure and track the data so you can compare how each channel works for each segment of your funnel. 

Add a Personal Touch

It’s wonderful to understand your sales funnel as a progression of different steps and know what kind of content will work best for prospects at each one. But to maximize your content’s effectiveness, you must find a way to express an understanding of what your target audience is going through.

Take a look at this excerpt from a landing page for Drift, a conversational marketing tool focused on interactions via chatbot and messenger platforms:

Content for funnel

From the very first word of the copy, they ask the reader to envision how their work situation could be made better by using Drift. Sure, the message may not be as effective for people who don’t manage a sales team daily. But because the team responsible for marketing Drift has a deep understanding of their target audience, they can add this personal touch that speaks directly to the goals or challenges of their ideal prospect.

It’s vital to incorporate these kinds of highly-specific messages in your content, no matter what stage of the funnel you intend. If you don’t feel confident enough in your audience’s understanding to add these personal touches, revisit the first step in this post to deepen your knowledge.

Solicit Real Feedback

Our final piece of advice for mapping content to different funnel stages is straightforward but not always easy: ask a real person! One of the most common mistakes we see in the prospects and clients we work with is the “bubble effect.” A team of marketers gathers (virtually or in-person) to figure out the needs and challenges of an audience without any input from real people in that audience.

This approach is okay in the earliest stages of your marketing or when resources like time and money are drastically limited. However, you shouldn’t run a content marketing campaign for an extended period without getting input from the target audience. Whether you receive that input from a formal survey, a casual in-person meeting, or a quick video call, it’s critical to integrate it into your content creation efforts as soon as possible.  

Final Thoughts on Mapping Content Creation to Your Funnel

Content creation as a strategy for digital marketers probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. However, the format of that content and how you create it will change. The best-performing content marketers will be the ones who can closely match their content with the specific challenges of their audience – in a time-sensitive fashion, presented via a format that fits their lifestyle.

Are you looking to get some expert insights into how you can do a better job of matching content to different parts of your sales funnel? Click here to fill out a quick questionnaire and see if you might be a fit to work with our team at FunnelEnvy.

By |2022-08-24T07:12:51-07:00September 5th, 2022|General B2B Funnel Advice|0 Comments
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