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Huffington Post: The Bottom-of-the-Funnel Challenge for Marketers

As marketers, it can be easy to spend so much time trying to generate new leads, that we can forget how many of those leads actually turn into revenue. The latest technologies and platforms help us become more and more targeted and deliver endless data on prospects. But marketers shouldn’t lose sight of the bottom of the funnel and a most important question that affects all businesses: how do we close more deals?

The bottom-of-the-funnel challenge remains a bit of mystery to most marketers, and is too often left for sales teams to figure out on their own. Sure, we create some collateral and a few demo tools, but the rest we usually leave up to the sales team.
But marketers do so at their own peril. Why? Let me give you an example. Ten years ago, if you were buying a television, you’d probably go to an electronics store and ask the salesperson what would be the best. Nowadays, it’s a completely different sales cycle: you would research an array of televisions and brands online, check which stores stocked which items, and by the time you went into a store you’d be ready to make your purchase before the salesperson could even open his mouth.
The same thing is happening in the B2B world. Key decision makers are also self-educating themselves and conducting extensive research, just like those of us who are hunting for televisions. Marketers are therefore playing a larger role throughout the entire funnel, including the bottom of the funnel. And it’s up to marketers to take a more active role in accelerating the buyer’s journey and getting them to sign on the dotted line — it’s no longer just up to the sales team.
But how can marketers play this bigger role when it comes to the sales cycle? One way is through data. So many times, sales teams are barking up the proverbial wrong tree because they lack data and intelligence from the marketing team. Of course, not all data is created equal. It’s vital marketers collect data derived from deeper levels of engagement such as the data derived from webinars. Marketers can discover richer, more engaged prospect by going beyond surface level data like white paper or case study views. It’s this deeper level of investigation that serves as the best signal for understanding the mind’s of a potential customer, their needs, and how far along they are in the sales cycle.
In my experience at ON24, I have seen a lot of savvy companies build bottom-of-the-funnel webinars, for example, where they are demonstrating their products or services, presenting multiple content types (videos, downloadable case studies, guides, etc.), and interacting directly with their audience members to answer any questions they have. All of this interactivity helps the prospect and also helps us further gauge their interest when sales reaches out to them.
While there will continue to be a lot of hype around the latest technology to target prospects, we as marketers should all take notice of this greater trend towards self-educating. As more and more key decision makers conduct their own research on technology solutions, it’s vital to collect relevant data so we can approach them in a helpful and productive manner. Armed with the right insights, these prospects can be quickly converted to customers — and that’s something that will truly impact the bottom of your funnel, and your bottom line.