Never heard of pipeline marketing? This conversion-focussed marketing strategy can help you focus on revenue, as opposed to lead generation.
We walk you through what pipeline marketing is, how it can impact your current marketing and sales processes and how to get started with your first campaign.
Let’s dig in.
What is Pipeline Marketing?
Pipeline marketing is a strategy used where focus is placed on converting customers as opposed to just generating more leads.
Traditionally, sales and marketing teams sit separately despite having the same overall aim of growing revenue. However, with sales and marketing using different processes, targets and metrics, it quickly becomes difficult for teams to stay aligned.
Pipeline marketing allows sales and marketing teams to converge their efforts and focus what really matters: revenue.
Moving from a Marketing Funnel to Pipeline Marketing
Let’s look at a traditional marketing funnel. Marketers strive to generate leads at the top of the funnel and push contacts to the bottom of the funnel in the hope that they convert.
Top of the funnel
At the top of the funnel, the aim is simple. Drive as many new leads as possible.
You can collect leads in a manner of ways. From generic CTAs on your website, to providing gated content in exchange for details; marketers work to drive their sales teams as many new leads as possible.
However, when leads are gained and thrown over the wall to sales, it becomes difficult for marketing to understand what they’re doing well, and what needs improvement. Lead generation quickly becomes a numbers game.
Without lead value, or true oversight of your lead progression, marketing teams struggle to optimise their marketing to bring in valuable prospects.
Middle of the funnel
At the middle of the funnel is nurturing. Now you have contact information for your lead, you send them relevant content and offer valuable insights to try and move them further down the funnel.
The aim of MOFU is to convince your lead that you’re the best solution for them. It’s at this point that sales reps will realise if new leads are good quality or not. Perhaps they have poor data. Or, perhaps they’re just not a good fit for your product or service.
Bottom of the funnel
Lastly, there’s the bottom of the funnel. Here is where leads finally become customers.
For many businesses, a huge amount of pressure is placed on the top of the funnel. And so, marketers work hard to drive large numbers of leads with little thought to their quality, and in reality, no proper way to qualify them.
While the funnel tactic works for many businesses, it’s not all that efficient. But worst of all, it gives no room for improvement.
The lack of oversight of your leads and how they turn into revenue means marketing and sales teams are left in the dark. Pipeline marketing can help to rectify that.
What is the sales pipeline?
The sales pipeline is the path your customers follow from the first touch point (when they first come in contact with your brand) to the moment of the first purchase.
It continues through subsequent purchases as your customers become more loyal to your business.
The Impact of Pipeline Marketing
The power of pipeline marketing comes from its ability to unite sales and marketing. Pipeline marketing allows you to directly connect your marketing efforts to your gained revenue.
According to Hubspot, nurturing leads can increase sales by more than 20 percent, while a massive 80 percent of marketers describe their lead-generation strategies as only somewhat effective.
So, how can marketers use pipeline marketing to increase sales and revenue?
Essentially, pipeline marketing allows teams to focus on nurturing qualified leads, as opposed to constantly outreaching for mass, and potentially low quality, leads.
Of course, this may sound counter-intuitive, but remember, a lead has no value unless it’s going to close into revenue.
Want to learn more about tracking lead value? We wrote a quick guide on what lead value is and how you can calculate it.
The Difference Between Lead Generation and Pipeline Marketing
So we know lead generation is the focus of driving new leads, while pipeline marketing is viewing your leads and sales holistically. But what advantages does this bring, we hear you cry?
We’ve rounded it down to these five top reasons.
Focus on Revenue not Vanity Metrics
One of the curses of marketing, particularly in a B2B space is the difficulty of tracking. When leads are converting offline, or on channels where you can’t link the conversion back to an actual lead, it’s hard to know what channels, campaigns and keywords are working.
But there are workarounds. And how much better would it be to report back on revenue?
Currently, marketing focuses on vanity metrics like impressions, clicks, and conversions. Yep, even conversions are vanity metrics because what do they actually mean? If a lead is low-quality, they’re worth absolutely nothing to your business.
So, instead of reporting on channels and campaigns by likes, engagements and impressions, pipeline marketing can allow you to report back on the one metric that matters: revenue.
Pivot to Customer Generation, not Lead Generation
Don’t get us wrong, lead generation is important. But when it’s done blind, it’s not effective.
With pipeline marketing and attribution, you can understand which channels and campaigns are working hard to drive new customers, not just new leads.
You’ll be able to identify your best channels, and worst channels, and optimise your outputs to drive high quality leads that are easy to convert.
Viewing the Full Funnel
We’ve mentioned it before, but lead generation concentrates on pouring leads in at the top of the funnel. Pipeline marketing means viewing the funnel as a whole. And it doesn’t cut the top of the funnel off – how else do you generate new leads?
Pipeline marketing allows your teams to work together to drive new customers, and work harder to drive better leads. Look at it this way. You’ve got five ideas for a new marketing campaign that you’ve rushed out. When you reflect on them, only two are any good. If you had taken a few minutes more at the brainstorming stage to weed out the weaker ideas, you would have been able to get started on the ideas you knew would work.
That’s exactly what pipeline marketing is.
Opting for Fast Sales
Sometimes a lead comes in and a sales rep will pursue them for three to six months. They might never convert. They could convert one year later.
Pipeline marketing generally means much quicker turnarounds as you’re investing into content in the middle and bottom stages of the funnel. Instead of hounding leads with generic sales messages, you’re sending meaningful content and communication that shows you both, understand their problems and needs, and that you know you’re a good fit.
Optimising Your Marketing Budget
Marketing budget is a precious commodity. Optimising your budget can make or break your bottom line.
Now the difficult part is that lack of visibility we already mentioned. Leads come in and marketing can’t understand where they came from. Was it that PPC advert that you set up? Or perhaps it was via the new email campaign?
Without attribution and pipeline marketing, you’ll never know what’s working, and what isn’t. And that means you can’t pool your budget into channels that are already working well.
Pipeline marketing and proper connection of your leads and revenue means you bump up the campaigns, channels and keywords that are working hardest for you.
Not sure how to connect your leads to your revenue? Read our quick blog on connecting the dots between your lead and sales data.
Getting Started with Pipeline Marketing
Pipeline marketing, like any good campaign, starts with clearly defined goals. Once you know what you want to achieve, you set out how you will achieve it.
Of course, you’re going to concentrate on the middle and bottom of the funnel. Lead generation still needs to happen, but it requires much less focus. By reducing your cost per opportunity, you’re growing your revenue. Monitor your most important metrics that lead to sales, and refine your technique until you’ve mastered pipeline marketing.
Let’s break it down a little for anyone new to this strategy.
Define Your Goals
What do you want to achieve with your marketing? “Making more money” isn’t a goal. Create measurable and actionable goals that are ambitious but still achievable.
If you’re not sure where to start, then look backwards.
How many sales have you generated in the last six months? How many new leads were created in that time? You might see you’ve only converted 15% of your new leads, which leaves a huge opportunity to convert later down the funnel. That’s exactly how pipeline marketing can help.
Determine how Best to Achieve Goals
Ok, so now you know what you want to achieve, how are you going to do it? In pipeline marketing, you’re not going to worry too much about top of the funnel marketing. Continue with your current initiatives, but focus your efforts on bottom of the funnel content and conversions.
Look at your current leads and start sifting through them. Have they interacted with your business or your content? Based on your knowledge of your leads, qualify them. And be ruthless!
Weed out leads that are unlikely to garner any response, and most importantly, any sale.
Focus on Cost per Opportunity
Pipeline marketing is an outcome-based marketing system. It’s designed to help you achieve specific goals that generate revenue.
Cost per opportunity is a far more effective metric than cost per lead. It establishes a connection between your marketing (not sales) efforts and the end result.
Not sure how to connect your leads and to revenue? We wrote a quick and easy guide to get you started.
In most pipeline marketing campaigns, each marketing effort is given a certain weighting depending on its role converting a customer. Let’s use an example.
Ella finds your website via an organic search and browses your site. Three days later, she is targeted by a PPC campaign but doesn’t convert.
Another three days later, she returns via a direct search and signs up for your newsletter. From there, she receives an email and clicks back onto your site, where she then calls your business.
In this example, several marketing channels and campaigns impacted Ella:
- The organic ranked content
- Your PPC campaign
- The landing page she converts on via her direct search
- Your email campaign
- The landing page where she decides to call your business
We could write a whole extra blog on how you would assign credit to these marketing efforts. In fact, we did! Attribution modelling allows you to monitor each and every touchpoint a lead has with your content and assign credit to those that caused action.
Find out more about the various attribution model types to see which one would best suit your business.
In pipeline marketing, there are a few key metrics that really matter:
– Marketing ROI
– Lead volume
– Customer close rate
– Revenue by lead source
Now you might be thinking, these aren’t marketing metrics. But they should be, right?
While there is a huge disconnect in your marketing lead data to your sales data, which makes metrics like those listed above difficult to track, there are workarounds.
Marketing attribution tools like Ruler Analytics allow you to track each and every lead, as well as every touchpoint they have with your content. You’ll be able to track their full customer journey and view marketing and revenue data, where you need it.
Even if customers are converting offline, you’ll be able to log into Google Analytics and see your revenue generation placed against the channels that influenced it.
Want to find out more about Ruler and how it can support you to make light work of pipeline marketing metrics? Book a short demo or find out more about offline conversion tracking with our FREE eBook.
Adjust and Improve
As with any marketing initiative, you want to work smarter, not harder. Regularly review your campaign to understand how pipeline marketing is impacting your revenue generation. By concentrating your efforts on the middle and bottom of the funnel, you should be able to focus converting customers.
And while you improve that, you can use tools like Ruler to understand which channels and campaigns drive leads that are likely to convert into revenue.
Data-driven marketing is a big trend for 2021. Pipeline marketing goes hand in hand with marketing attribution and allows you to take control of your lead data.
Get full oversight of your leads, where they’re coming from and use that knowledge to convert high quality leads, instead of driving endless, but useless, low quality leads via lead generation campaigns.