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Content through the Marketing Funnel

The tools are much more sophisticated, but the philosophy remains: marketers still begin with lead nurturing, the process of building relationships with prospects who aren’t yet ready to buy their product or service. Pre-Internet, the sales team was responsible for pursuing leads in person (maybe over martinis.)

Today, buyers live on the web. Their journey has fundamentally changed. Previously, buyers self-identified when reaching out to you to learn more. Now, prospects self-educate, visiting company and review websites and consulting their peers on social media while remaining anonymous or without providing their email address. This system benefits buyers by easing the knowledge divide.

Twenty years ago, buyers, equipped only with the sticker price of a car, loathed shopping for a vehicle. Now, the buyer has ready access to almost complete information. This ends the dealer’s asymmetrical knowledge advantage and makes car buying more of a fair fight.

Similarly, the B2B buyer’s journey has changed as their access to information has increased. Buyers only reach out to a vendor or talk to a salesperson when they believe they have virtually complete information. Forrester Research found that as much as 90 percent of a buyer’s journey may be complete before they contact a salesperson. This means that for the first 90 percent of their journey, marketing is responsible for keeping relevant messages in front of prospects.

Marketers must first reach their target audience and then nurture a relationship with them to acquire them as customers. The easiest way to understand this concept is to visualize a funnel.

The further your audience travels down the funnel, the closer they get to your business. If you can successfully cultivate a relationship with your audience, you’ll see the results in the form of new customers. Let’s break down the tactics needed at each step:


The reach step may be broad, (delivering branding and awareness messages to target leads at scale), but it is critical. You must be relevant early with both known and anonymous audiences and in their consideration set when they start searching for your service.

Define who your target leads are by working closely with your sales team. Determine the business demographics and behaviors of prospects that indicate they’re a good lead. Without a strategy, you’ll only waste time and effort.


In the second stage of the funnel, marketers need to nurture known and anonymous prospects with a variety of communications tools, including display and social advertising. Relying on email alone won’t work – LinkedIn has found that 80 percent of people who provide their email to you won’t open them.

Technology allows marketers to learn a lot about even anonymous website visitors, including their business demographic and online behavior. After a visit to your site, you can nurture leads with progressive messaging and a sequential story that aligns with where they are in the buying or research process.

Nurture and Measure Your Relevance

Cetera Financial Group, an award winning wealth management and advisory platform, wanted to drive engagement and new business. They’d relied on email nurturing, but needed to do more. To increase website visits and engagement with their target audience, Cetera used our lead accelerator tools in conjunction with their anonymous business demographic data to ensure their display ads were only seen by its most coveted audience – finance professionals working at micro-sized companies.

Known contacts received synchronized display and social ads everywhere online after receiving emails. Prospects who’d previously visited the website saw waves of different display and social ads, giving them a chance to engage with the most relevant content. If prospects indicated specific interests on Cetera’s website, the program delivered personalized ads. In three months, Cetera received 27 percent more pageviews, more than 900 new website visitors and $960,000 in new business.

No campaign will be successful without accurate data to measure relevance. So don’t settle for a campaign without rigorous data. Data will help you to optimize your current campaign, gauging which content resonates with particular audiences, and future campaigns.

Lead nurturing is like planting a seed; you care for the seeds you plant by nurturing them with water and sunlight. Nurturing provides everything required to grow your seed into a thriving plant – ideally, one that delivers a harvest of recurring revenue, quarter after quarter, year after year.

by Nellie Chan