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Funnel Cloud or Tornado: Understanding Your Marketing Funnel

It’s Tornado Season. Long, towering tornado clouds dot the landscape. Though scary, these forceful clouds represent an important marketing lesson: the power of the marketing funnel in its entirety.

We see this frequently: companies focusing heavily on acquiring leads & customers at the top of the funnel, but not making any effort to continue the relationship afterwards. Some skip the middle half & go straight to bottom-funnel sales push tactics without evaluating the lead quality. We could talk your ear off about SEO, PPC and social media as many blogs do; but the difference between a funnel cloud and tornado is the bottom half – and your marketing funnel is not complete without lead nurturing & other tactics to bring customers to the ground floor (conversion).

We’ve found there are two factors to consider in optimizing for the bottom of the funnel: tactics & metrics.


You worked hard to bring someone to your site, no matter the channel, but what do you do once they leave? The average conversion rate for B2B companies is .3% and e-commerce 2%. The likelihood of a visitor leaving without taking a desired action is high. You’ve put so much effort into starting the relationship, but what can you do to keep the spark alive?

Middle Funnel – Mid-funnel marketing is designed to further educate and engage prospects while also being top-of-mind, and there are creative ways to go about this. The overarching goal being to push content (whitepapers, eBooks, blog posts, etc.) to users already familiar with your brand, thus driving them back to your site.

Take Bronto, an email marketing platform, for example. After talking to a potential customer, whether by phone or email, they send an information packet that includes an inflatable logo (a dinosaur). The person receives the packet, inflates the dinosaur and leaves it in the office – thereby making the dinosaur a constant reminder of the company, allowing them to be top-of-mind.

Bottom-Funnel – At this point you should be able to identify the lead quality based on the information they’ve provided. Instead of engaging the customer, you are aiming to convert and retain them.  A common tactic for converting & retaining customers is email marketing through which you can offer demos, free-trials, coupons, etc.

A unique approach: While email is a very popular & effective strategy, many companies forget the power of direct mail despite the rise of digital marketing.  We assisted Fridge Filter’s, Inc., an e-commerce company that sells refrigerator water filters, in deploying a direct mail campaign. The campaign featured a dirty, water-stained envelope and pristine letter that reminded past customers to replace expired filters. The letter contained a code, which automatically pulled up their previous order when plugged in on Fridge Filter’s website. The result? Over a 500% lift in revenue.


The Journey Through the Entire Funnel  

Aside from the tactics just discussed, another important element is mapping your content strategy to the buyer’s decision-making process to guide them through the funnel. CrazyEgg explains types of content that should exist at each part of the funnel: industry trends, problem solution & credentials/decision support.

To give a specific example of mapping a content strategy, take a look at what we produced for a client in that operates in the medical research space. Notice the bell-shaped curve:


As you can see, the majority of the content happens in the middle, because this is when a person becomes a marketing qualified lead. This stage then becomes dedicated to educating your potential customers, and they likely have many questions that need answered which requires more in-depth content.


Employing the aforementioned tactics at the mid & bottom-funnel level is one thing, but understanding what to measure is another. There are a number of metrics that can help quantify certain points throughout the funnel. One tip: don’t focus on Click-through-Rate.

Traditionally, there are 2 important metrics:

  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) – what are the characteristics, information, actions that make a lead marketing qualified?
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) – at what point do MQLs become Sales Qualified? What actions indicate this? How engaged do they have to be?

Once you have an understanding of an MQL & SQL for your business, you can focus on other full-funnel metrics:

  • Cost of MQL vs. SQL
  • Cost per Opportunity
  • Cost Per Conversion  – How much does it cost to convert a customer?
  • Lifetime Value of a Customer
  • Revenue per Customer
  • Lead Score – assigning a rank to a prospect based on the demographic information & behavioral data. This only works once marketing & sales have agreed upon what defines a qualified lead. The score recalculates as the prospect moves further down the funnel.
  • Sales Ready Lead – at which lead score should a lead be sent to the sales team?
  • Time to Close – on average, how long does it take to move a lead throughout the funnel? Can you accelerate this process?

What does your current marketing funnel look like? A funnel cloud or tornado? Nurture leads to conversion by utilizing the funnel in its entirety, not just parts. And keep in mind that there are creative takes on assets like whitepapers & webinars that will also help you accomplish your goals. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box.

If you need help optimizing your company’s marketing funnel, shoot us an email at Glad to recommend the right tactics and strategies to help achieve your business goals.

Posted in Marketing, Sales Tagged with: ,
  • Shana,

    Bravo. You caught my attention and held it completely with that catchy title — Funnel Cloud or Tornado — excellent content, very helpful, will be sharing this with my marketing exec.