How to Build and Optimize Your First Lead Generation Funnel

How to Build and Optimize Your First Lead Generation Funnel

18 August 2021

The biggest challenge for B2B companies is finding leads. The lead funnel is their lifeblood.

So, the question is: how do B2B companies generate leads?

The answer 👉 build a lead generation funnel.

Building your first lead generation funnel can seem intimidating to any newbie (sometimes even to a seasoned marketer).

But optimizing your first lead funnel doesn’t have to be scary — or require the skill of a ninja marketing professional. It’s all about having the proper arsenal.

In this article, I’ll teach you what a lead generation funnel is and how to build one in five steps. Sound like a plan? Then let’s get started.

Note: If you are funneling people to your site? Sign up for free Leadfeeder's 14-day trial to learn who is visiting your website and generate new leads. 

What is a lead generation funnel?

A lead generation funnel also referred to as a lead funnel, is a systematic approach to generating leads (i.e., potential customers).

It’s the process of funneling your target audience through distinct stages until they ( hopefully🤞) decide to make a purchase.

A lead generation funnel can range in complexity from surprisingly simple to I-need-a-degree-in-rocket-science to understand. Your funnel should go hand-in-hand with the marketing team's growth marketing tactics so you're on the same page.

Lead funnels have three stages. Let me walk 🚶🏿you through them.

lead generation guide

B2B Lead Generation Guide

Marketers — need some fresh B2B lead generation ideas to hit your MQL targets? Download this guide and fill up your pipeline now!


Understanding lead funnel stages

Stage 1. TOFU (Top of the Funnel)

The first stage, the top of the lead funnel, is all about awareness.

The top of the funnel is your company’s first contact with a potential lead. You get the opportunity to “introduce” yourself to a future buyer.

Content during this stage consists of blog posts, videos, etc. like we do on our Leadfeeder blog.

top funnel stage

Stage 2. MOFU (Middle of the Funnel)

Once prospects reach the middle of the funnel, they begin to engage with your company.

You need to continue nurturing them.

You can offer them content such as ebooks, whitepapers, and case studies.

At Leadfeeder, we do this during our onboarding email campaigns for free trial users.

middle funnel lead stage example

Stage 3. BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel)

Lastly, there is the bottom of the lead funnel.

By now, you’ve turned random website visitors into leads and started to build a strong relationship with them.

They trust your company and need a final push to become paying customers.

Optimal BOFU content consists of trial extensions, demos, consultations, and discount offers.

Like this email, we send to our free trial users at the end of their trial.

bottom funnel marketing example

This three-stage funnel takes prospects from strangers to paying customers.

But how do you create a funnel like this? Keep scrolling to find out.

Here are the 5 steps to build a lead generation funnel

Whether you’re a newbie or a lead generating vet, ahead, I walk you through five beginner-friendly steps to building a lead generation funnel.

Step 1. Map your customer journey

The first step to creating your first lead generation is to understand your customer’s journey.

After all, if you don’t know them — what they do and don’t like, the problems they deal with, etc. — how can you ever expect to find and market to them?

The answer is, you can’t.

Using Google Analytics, begin to pull data like bounce rates, traffic reports, funnels, and conversion rates.

These reports isolate what needs to improve on your site.

But, the numbers alone aren’t enough. They fail to give you personal insights into your customers.

Get to know your customers by conducting interviews, sending surveys, and reading support tickets. You want to know their pain points.

Here is an example of LEGO’s customer journey map.

lego customer experience

LEGO’s challenge was mapping their shoppers (parents), not their consumers (kiddos).

So, LEGO created the “experience wheel” above.

Mapping your customer journey represents the flow from the first touchpoint to purchase.

Martin Lindstrom quoted in his book, Small Data: The Tiny Clues That Uncover Huge Trends, > “If you want to understand how animals live, you don’t go to the zoo, you go to the jungle.”

If you want to understand your customer’s experience truly, you have to talk to them.

Step 2. Create great content

Once you’ve mapped out your customer journey, your next mission is to create content that will surprise and delight.

We’re talking about blog posts, videos, podcasts, ebooks — content that connects with your customer.

And don’t worry, you don’t need a huge team and unlimited funds to create amazing content that your audience will love.

Take, for example, Lenovo.

Lenovo, a personal technology company, created TechRevolution.

techrevolution b2b lead generation

TechRevolution is a mobile-first, digital content resource for IT professionals and enterprise businesses.

Lenovo engages the right target audience at the right time by utilizing lead funnels. And, it worked.

TechRevolution is an innovative thought leader site that has gained $30 million in sales in 9 months.

And, your B2B company can do this too. Here’s how to craft exception content.

-Beat the competition. Take a look at your competitors and the content they’re publishing. Then create a better version. More words alone won’t beat the competition. More value will. That’s what PolicyGenius did. They outperformed an article on the same topic from their competitor, Lemonade.

example b2b content marketing

-Optimize for SEO. Make sure the content is optimized for SEO. That way, your audience will be able to discover you organically as they peruse the web for answers to their questions. This means including structured data, header tags, and internal linking on all your content hosted on the site. KoMarketing to increase their organic traffic by 93 percent year-over-year.

seo content optimization b2b

-Create content for each lead funnel stage. Create content for each stage of your lead generation funnel. Blogs, social media posts, and YouTube videos are great for the top of the funnel. Downloadable content such as ebooks, special reports, and case studies work best for the middle of the funnel. And free trials and discount offers will help folks at the bottom of the funnel leap and become customers.

Step 3. Drive traffic

Now that you’ve created a few pieces of stellar content, it’s time to drive traffic to it. Driving traffic can be done in a bunch of different ways:

-Organic search

A strong SEO strategy is an effective way to drive traffic to your content.

If this topic makes your head spin, Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to SEO will simplify it for you.

SEO is, in a nutshell, the practice of understanding your target audience’s search intent crafting experiences around those searches. That way, they’ll be able to find it when they hit the internet for answers to their burning questions.

And, that’s why Digital Third Coast saw an 11,324 percent ROI on its SEO campaign for Shorr Packaging.

-Email marketing

59 percent of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI. It’s an effective way to promote your company’s content.

If your organization has an email list, then you can use it to inform subscribers of your new content and entice them to check it out.

If your business doesn’t have an email list, I suggest starting one now. According to Wordstream, email marketing produces an average ROI of 4,400 percent in the United States.

That’s too good to pass up!

-Social media

Social media has exploded in popularity over the past 15 years.

It’s not a fad but a viable way for businesses to reach their target audience.

So don’t forget to inform your social followings whenever you publish new blog posts, videos, or podcast episodes.

If you’ve been using your social networks correctly, you’ll be amazed at how much traffic a single tweet can drive.

Tami Brehse, freelance marketing consultant, drove 50 percent more traffic to her site using Twitter.

And, MuleSoft, a B2B software company, gained 4,000 leads marketing on Twitter.

It’s clear that social media is worth the time and investment.

-Paid advertising

Lastly, you can pay to advertise your content. Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and Facebook Ads are three popular channels for B2Bs.

But other search engines and social networks have advertising options as well.

The trick is finding the right ones for your unique audience. Once you do, you can start using them to target your market with your valuable pieces of content.

Step 4. Collect prospect information

Let’s recap: at this point in our lead funnel process. You’ve taken the time to learn about your audience, crafted content, and driven traffic to it. What’s next?

All the traffic in the world won’t benefit your company if you don’t have a way to collect visitor information from the dark funnel. For example, Leadfeeder client, Reachdesk, found new leads by having access to website visitor information through our platform.

The traditional way to do this is to create a lead magnet that you give away for free in exchange for an email address.

Your lead magnet could be anything as long as it’s of interest to your target audience and relates to your business.

For example, you could offer a library of free guides to download as Hootsuite does:

hootsuite resource library

Notice how each guide has been created specifically for Hootsuite’s target audience: social media users. Make sure the free content you offer is valuable to your unique audience.

Or, you could use lead magnets to retarget users on your site like Digital Marketer.

lead magnet b2b example

Digital Marketer generated 2,689 leads in 14 days with this tactic.

When your lead magnet is ready to go, make it available via a landing page. After website visitors fill out the form on your page, they’ll gain access to the gated content.

Step 5. Close the sale

Now that you have the contact information of a website visitor, they classify as a lead. The only thing that’s left to do is sell them your products.

For example, at Leadfeeder, when a new trial user signs-up, depending on a few parameters, our Inbound Sales team will reach out to schedule a demo from day one.

leadfeeder saas onboarding

Alicia Murphy, our U.S. Sales Manager, says, “The number one thing you can do to close more sales is to let your potential customers know that you value their time and business from the start.“

Our Inbound Sales team spends about an hour or so investigating each website and brand to make sure we’re both a good fit.

However, closing the sale is different for every company.

For some, it will start with your marketing team nurturing your leads to sign-up.

But, for others, it will begin with sending qualified leads to a sales team member to ignite the conversation and close the deal.

Find out what works best for you and start turning those leads into customers.

Leadfeeder for marketing

Leadfeeder for Marketing

Track site visitors, measure campaign success, and find more qualified leads.


How to optimize your lead generation funnel

Congratulations, you’ve built your first lead funnel! But you’re not quite done yet. If you want to score more leads, you need to commit to optimization. Here’s how.

1. Use the right tools

There are plenty of software tools that will generate more leads.

You’ll be able to learn what company they work for, how long they spend on each of your web pages and get detailed content information for employees at that company.

Armed with this data, you can then adjust your entire lead funnel strategy appropriately.

If your business has the budget, look for tools that will make lead generation more effective. Remember to pair said tools with the five-step process outlined above.

2. Qualify your leads

Not all leads are created equal. It’s in your best interest to qualify leads and spend your time on the ones that are the most likely to make a purchase.

To qualify a lead, first, look at how they have interacted with your content.

Those that download something that directly relates to your business, i.e. a case study, are probably a higher quality lead than someone who reads your careers page.

You can also qualify leads based on their interactions with your company after they’ve given you their contact info.

Do they regularly open your emails? Are they willing to take surveys? Do they respond to sales calls?

The answers to these questions will tell you how qualified each lead is.

3. Never stop experimenting

Finally, never stop experimenting! There’s always a way to improve your lead generation funnel. And what worked last year might not work today.

Your audience is changing, and your lead funnel needs to change with them.

So try creating different kinds of content to see what your ideal customers connect with best. Also, adjust your advertising efforts, landing pages, and sales efforts as needed.

Boost your business with an effective lead generation funnel

There you have it: a complete guide to building and optimizing your first lead generation funnel!

If you follow our simple, five-step process and optimize your funnel correctly, you’ll put yourself on the road to building a sustainable lead generation pipeline.

lead generation guide

B2B Lead Generation Guide

Marketers — need some fresh B2B lead generation ideas to hit your MQL targets? Download this guide and fill up your pipeline now!


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