Lead image for Breaking Down the Marketing Funnel in B2B

Breaking Down the Marketing Funnel in B2B

In 1898, businessman and psychologist E. St. Elmo had an idea: what if customers moved toward a purchase decision in a funnel rather than a straight line? 

This is where the concept of the marketing funnel was born — a foundation marketers would follow for more than 100 years

But the marketing funnel isn’t so cut and dry for B2B businesses. Since decision makers and internal experts are the ultimate targets of B2B marketing, treating all visitors like the same type of user could negatively impact your brand.

To make matters worse, most B2B companies completely overlook the importance of the marketing funnel. Nearly three in four businesses (or 68%) have never tried to identify one or implement the stages into their marketing processes.

The good news is, repositioning your marketing funnel doesn’t have to be complicated. By equipping your B2B with a few general guidelines, you can easily scale your marketing efforts to address top, middle, and bottom funnel customers.

Understanding The B2C Marketing Funnel

The concept of a marketing funnel is simple at first glance – it’s about putting labels on customer relationships and understanding how they change.

Just think about how real-life funnels work – in weather, cooking, or mathematics. These tubes are wider at the top and smaller at the bottom to direct a large amount of something into a smaller place.

Funnels also root out qualified B2B leads and encourage them to move through each stage of awareness. The closer they get to the bottom of the funnel, the closer they get to making a purchase.

When used correctly:

So what does the B2C funnel look like?

There are typically four funnel stages:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Desire
  4. Action

Most visitors begin at the Awareness stage — they’re just beginning their relationship with your brand. This is followed by prospects or visitors who are genuinely interested in the products you provide (the Interest stage). If they engage with your brand on social media platforms, they may be at the Desire stage. This could be followed by a purchase decision in the Action stage (so long as everything goes well).

Keep in mind this is a B2C model — the B2B model is much more complicated than this.

With this foundation now in place, let’s take a closer look.

The Typical B2B Marketing Funnel

B2B marketing funnels must adapt the B2C approach to technical decision makers and C-suite executives. They usually operate under specific use cases and take much longer to close a deal (up to 84 days on average).

There are typically six B2B funnel stages:

  1. Interest
  2. Consideration
  3. Intent
  4. Evaluation
  5. Purchase
  6. Ambassadors

Quick side note: there are many (many) opinions about what to call each stage of the B2B sales funnel. For the purposes of this guide, we’re focusing on their purpose, not their jargon.

Now, let’s break down each stage of the B2B funnel:


B2B clients are typically aware of their pain points well before discovering your company. During the Interest stage, they may investigate your brand and its offerings from a bird’s eye view.

They’re usually interested in content related to your product, what it does, and how it can solve problems.


Users who believe your brand may be a good fit for them have entered the Consideration stage. They may take more time to pursue your middle funnel content, including case studies, technical tutorials, and blogs and articles. More on this later.


In the Intent stage, the user is expressly considering you as a future business partner. This is where your bottom funnel content becomes even more relevant, including use cases, product comparisons, and video courses.


The evaluation stage is the final step before the purchase decision. Depending on the size or scope of your business, it may also be the longest as well. 

Here, customers discuss your brand with their internal stakeholders, teams, and leadership groups. They may request additional information or demos from your team.


Exactly as it sounds, the Purchase stage is where customers buy into your product. This is also the stage where onboarding becomes important, especially if you’re a SaaS or service-oriented brand.


Customers who are happy and satisfied with your products may enter the Ambassador stage. Not only are they more likely to purchase additional products in the future, but their outspoken loyalty makes your brand more attractive to new B2B leads.

Keep in mind the Ambassador stage holds the fewest of all customers. However, this small-but-mighty group is instrumental in creating a renewable sales cycle. 

Great customers become great referrers, which builds your reputation both on and offline. This turns the marketing funnel into a self-sufficient flywheel using ambassador momentum to reach new clients, customers, and leads.

The Biggest Differences Between B2B and B2C Marketing Funnels 

There are three major differences between B2B and B2C funnels. 

First, B2C funnels are typically much wider than B2Bs. There are more people in the world interested in buying coffee makers than SaaS platforms, for example. 

Second, B2B funnels require extremely accurate targeting. The B2B marketer must know their target audience inside and out, while the B2C marketer can get away with non-specificity.

Finally, B2B funnels are much slower to complete. The B2C customer can make a purchase decision in minutes, but B2B clients with a wide chain of command can take weeks, months, or sometimes years to move forward.

What About the B2B Content Marketing Funnel?

B2B marketing funnels and B2B content marketing funnels are similar, but not the same.

Marketing funnels focus on active leads who may be interested in purchasing your product or service. Content marketing funnels may capture audience members who don’t even know what your product is. 

The latter is necessary to create awareness, growth, and impact around your goods and services. But cutting through the advertising clutter isn’t easy. In order to remain competitive, you need to pivot your content and messaging into an organized marketing strategy.

There are three major stages in the B2B content marketing funnel:

1. ToFU (Top of Funnel)

ToFU content includes any topics or subjects designed for the widest reaches of your audience. They may or may not be familiar with your company, but they’re probably familiar with (or at least exploring) the solutions you’re offering.

As a B2B company, this may include:

  • Ultimate guides on specific topics
  • Short introductory videos on a broad topic
  • Social media posts revealing industry information

Remember: this is content for audience members who know little if anything about your brand. The goal is to guide them through the pain points you solve and provide a general overview of your overall market.

2. MoFU (Middle of Funnel)

This is for audiences who are familiar with your market and know at least a little about your brand. They’re not necessarily ready to buy your product, but they’re much more comfortable with the jargon or technicalities of your industry.

A few examples of MoFU content include:

Anything encompassing your offer (and convincing customers why it’s the best one) can draw your leads to the final stage of conversion.

3. BoFU (Bottom of Funnel)

Conversion content, otherwise known as BoFU content, is strictly for audiences that are ready to buy. Users may be willing to purchase a product or switch from one solution to the other.

Common BoFU content types include:

  • Blog content discussing comparisons and alternatives
  • Customized demos and walkthroughs
  • Case studies

Some B2Bs combine their BoFU content with RoFU content, which is retention-focused content marketing for customers who have converted. However, RoFU content is much more effective when separated from BoFU. Try writing guides, publishing product updates, or discussing industry news.

As you can see, B2B content marketing funnels are a sustainable mechanism of value able to cut through the chaos of online marketing clutter. Building enough content for every stage of the funnel creates a sustainable system that runs while you sleep.

Practical Applications Of The B2B Marketing Funnel

Using the marketing funnel correctly within your B2B is more than just a nebulous ‘good practice.’ Instead, properly constructing marketing content that reflects different marketing stages can dramatically boost customer traffic, product interest, and of course, your profit margin.

Let’s look at some practical applications:

  • Streamlined budgets: A good use of the marketing funnel allows you to make the most of your marketing budget. Today, most B2Bs spend around 10% of their budgets on marketing efforts. A more efficient funnel allocates money more effectively and protects against wasted ROI. 
  • Improved processes: B2B marketing funnels help to identify critical points of improvement, as well as any content that isn’t working as well. For example, 55% of companies find blog posts work better than anything else at moving customers through the funnel. You should cut back on less efficient content and spend your dollars on demonstrated value.
  • Nurtured leads: Properly implemented B2B funnels help companies avoid becoming top-heavy with their marketing. Too much content at any level of awareness can unbalance the funnel and limit inbound B2B customers. Be sure to do your homework and identify best-performing content so you can identify gaps and spot opportunities for improvement.

P.S., working with a marketing agency can help you achieve all these benefits at once.

Refining Your B2B Marketing Funnel

The B2B marketing funnel can impact all areas of your business. With it, content teams create more efficient value, head marketers nurture more targeted campaigns, and B2B customers at all levels of engagement are encouraged to interact with your brand. 

But understanding the B2B buyer’s journey is just the first step in refining your marketing process. If you’re an early-stage startup or scaling business, starting off on the right foot is paramount to your success.

Curious to learn more about other elements of B2B marketing? Check out our most recent marketing resources here.