Mid-funnel performance can triple as marketing tactics are automated, despite the fact less than 20 percent of marketers are using technology to do so, according to research from Demand Metric and GetResponse on Wednesday.
The two firms held a live webinar to discus the results of the research, dubbed the 2019 Funnel Friction Benchmark Study, which was based on a survey of 284 marketers. While some B2B experts have suggested it has become obsolete, the funnel refers to the way firms use marketing tactics to educate a wide audience about products and services in the “awareness” phase,, which then becomes narrower as buyers enter into the “consideration” and “purchase” phases.
Referral marketing, events marketing and content marketing were cited as the best-performing tactics in the awareness or “top of funnel” stage, although e-mail and owned media were the most used. In the mid-funnel stage, meanwhile, e-mail was mentioned across the board as one of the most effective, easiest to execute and most-used tactics. Referral marketing was most effective at the purchase stage but again, e-mail was used most often.
“The low-hanging fruit might not be the best tactics to use if you want to get results,” Demand Metric Co-founder John Follett noted in the webinar. “If you don’t know what works, you’ve got to experiment.”
It’s not surprising that automation is least used in the bottom of the funnel, Follett admitted, where manual processes are often involved in closing a deal. However in the consideration stage, 75 per cent said their marketing funnel meets expectations if it is mostly or fully automated.
Lead qualification tends to be one of the biggest areas of fiction in the mid-funnel, Follett said.
The two firm’s top recommendations is to reduce friction within the marketing funnel by using automation to understand all the pieces of technology customers might touch during a buyer journey. Otherwise they’ll miss the bottlenecks or problems that are getting in the way of leads moving into the bottom of the funnel and making a purchase.
“That journey is happening 24/7. Not many of us have the luxury of starting a new journey from the ground up,” he said.
Of course, GetResponse has a vested interest in the research because it offers tools to assist with marketing automation, but Follett argued the data is proof that applying technology to the marketing funnel could be “key to the puzzle of attribution,” where CMOs are struggling to demonstrate how the work of their team is directly leading to sales.
Courtenay Worcester, director of U.S. marketing at GetResponse, said marketers should be wary of abandoning the funnel concept given its ability to provide insight into lead-to-revenue processes and measuring conversion between sales stages. “As marketers we’re still struggling to execute this flawlessly.”
Worcester referred to GetResponse’s Autofunnel, for example, which offers marketers templates for e-mail marketing that have been optimized to boost conversions and accelerate the ability to launch and run multiple campaigns at once.