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11th April 2024

The B2B marketing funnel is talked about all the time. It's one of the best-known phrases in marketing – but does that mean everyone knows what it is, or how to build one? 

It's not just marketing jargon.The B2B marketing funnel is extremely useful for understanding your prospects as individuals, and targeting your lead generation and content marketing to maximize conversions.

Here's our guide to the B2B marketing funnel, including: 

  • How the B2B marketing funnel works. 
  • What is top of funnel, middle of funnel and bottom of funnel in marketing.
  • Why the marketing funnel is important. 

What Is the B2B Marketing Funnel? 

The B2B marketing funnel is the process by which prospects become leads for your business, and are then nurtured into customers. 

If we visualize it literally, you'll first catch a higher volume of new leads at the top of the funnel. The best ones – the leads who are a good fit for our business and/or have a need for your solution – swirl down towards the bottom over a period of time.

As the funnel narrows, you'll target your leads with different types of content to engage them with your brand, messaging, and finally, your products and services. 

That means that at each stage of the marketing funnel, the type of content and messaging the leads are most likely to respond to changes. So knowing what stage of the funnel each lead is in helps you target your email lead nurturing strategy and other communications much more effectively. 

Professional working with lamps on

TOFU MOFU BOFU: The Stages of the B2B Marketing Funnel 

Broadly speaking, the B2B marketing funnel can be split into the three stages: TOFU MOFU BOFU, also known as top of funnel, middle of funnel and bottom of funnel.


The kind of content you push out to leads should depend on what stage of the marketing funnel they're in. 

TOFU: Top of funnel is the awareness stage. This is when you're capturing the most leads, but most of these will eventually drop out of the marketing funnel because they don't need your product or service. 

MOFU: In the middle of the funnel are the interest and consideration phases. These are when leads have an awareness of your brand coinciding with a growing need for a product or service like yours. 

BOFU: The bottom of the funnel is concerned with the purchase and retention stages. This is where your nurtured leads are ready to be passed to your sales team. 

Variations of the B2B Marketing Funnel 

There are some variations on the marketing funnel.

For example, the AAARRR funnel, affectionately known as the 'Pirate Funnel' (say 'AAARRR' out loud and you'll understand why!) is used by growth marketers and adds an extra stage at the bottom for customer referrals.

Some marketers also include the terms acquisition and activation in their B2B marketing funnel.

Some businesses talk about the sales funnel rather than the marketing funnel, but this is more or less the same thing with the same stages. 

And don't confuse it with the sales pipeline. Generally, the marketing funnel focuses on the journey your lead follows towards a purchase, while the sales pipeline is used by the sales team to track their own actions, including contact, proposal, closing and follow-up – more on sales funnels in this article from Lusha

The AAARRR marketing funnel

How to Do Top of Funnel Marketing 

As we've explored, the top of funnel marketing stage is for high-volume lead generation and demand generation

Marketing top of funnel is largely about brand awareness: putting your business's messaging in front of as many relevant people as possible. 

Demand generation strategies, including ungated content marketing and display advertising, are great for this. With top of funnel demand generation you can also publish blog content and your brand's messaging on social media to be seen by a wide audience. The downside is that, without a form of lead capture, such as a content download form, you won't know who these leads are. 

Even better for TOFU marketing is to invest in B2B lead generation campaigns.

Content syndication lead generation, for example, is a cost-effective and measurable way of getting a lot of valuable named leads in a short timeframe. 

(More info on the differences between lead generation and demand generation in this blog!) 

Headley Media Account Director smiling

B2B Content Syndication for Top of Funnel Marketing

A good lead generation supplier can target a much bigger audience for your content. A Single Touch or Double Touch content syndication campaign will help you gain thousands of valuable, relevant leads. 

It works like this: your lead generation agency publishes your most valuable, useful, gated content on their own content library websites, used worldwide by decision makers in your chosen sector.

To access your juicy content, these professionals give their business contact details on a content download form and consents to become a lead. The full list of leads is then delivered back to you. 

A study by Semrush found that the five most effective types of top-of-funnel content are: 

  • How-to guides 
  • Landing pages 
  • Infographics 
  • Checklists 
  • eBooks

How-to guides and eBooks lend themselves really well to being gated for content syndication and other lead capture methods, while checklists and infographics are great content for demand generation. 

And it's not just about content marketing. Face-to-face events such as trade shows are fantastic for TOFU lead generation. 

Headley Media Account Manager on the phone

The Best Strategies for Middle of Funnel Marketing 

The middle of the funnel is where things get more focused. These are the interest and consideration phases, when leads start to identify how your product or service can help them solve a problem. 

This is where you want to nurture leads towards an eventual purchase.

The key is to find out more about each lead. Whether that's by asking them directly through profiling questions, or through using intent data, you'll want to gain a better understanding of your prospects' needs. This will help you ensure they are seeing relevant content that presents your brand as a suitable solution to their problems.

These are our favorite middle of funnel marketing strategies: 

Nurture Track Lead Generation

Nurture track lead generation involves educating your leads on your products and services as part of your lead generation campaign.

At Headley Media, this means when we send your leads to you they have already seen at least two pieces of your content and explicitly consented to hear from you. 

Audience Intelligence Enhancements

The best way to find out what people want is to ask them directly.

With an audience intelligence enhancement on your lead generation campaign, you can add more questions to your content download form – such as size of the prospect's business, or whether they are using a particular type of software. 

Intent Data Targeting 

We love intent data – there is so much (privacy law-compliant!) information about your leads online, if you know where to find it.

At Headley Media our intent data targeting involves collecting information on the content viewed by each of our readers, so we can progressively profile their behavior and feed these insights back to our clients. 

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) 

Account based marketing (ABM) is all about choosing the businesses you want as clients, and then targeting them in a hyper-personalized way.

ABM works at all stages of the marketing funnel, but is especially effective in the interest and consideration stages when you can decide exactly what content and messaging will appeal to a particular lead. 

Headley Media colleague working on laptop

Optimizing Your Bottom of the Funnel Marketing 

At the bottom of the funnel is where you get sales-ready leads. 

BOFU opportunities are much harder to buy. You have to create them yourself by nurturing your leads through the upper parts of the funnel. 

However, there are some good strategies you can use for marketing during the purchase and retention stages, which include: 

  • Retargeting ads 
  • Personalized offers 
  • Free trials 
  • Customer success stories 
  • Urgency and scarcity. 

(More great bottom of funnel ideas in this article from MailChimp).  

Headley Media sign on a white wall

 Why Is the Funnel Important in B2B Technology Marketing? 

Modern B2B technology buying is done increasingly by committee, and buying committees are growing: up to 25 individuals might be involved with one purchase. 

These individuals are doing most of their research online. So being able to track each lead's journey through the marketing funnel, and pull them further down via relevant marketing, is a major bonus for technology companies. 

The B2B marketing funnel works best if you follow each lead through it, and know what stage they're at all along their journey. Lead scoring is so important here. You can use a spreadsheet to keep assign numerical values to every interaction a lead has with your brand, such as: 

  • When they like a social media post 
  • When they visit certain website pages 
  • When they read a blog. 

This score lets you see how warm your leads are and allows you to segment them accordingly, so you can target warmer leads with more brand-focused content as part of your MOFU marketing. 

We love this free lead scoring template from HubSpot. 

Want to start building your B2B marketing funnel and filling it with leads? Read our Ultimate Guide to Lead Generation or our ungated eBook on how to enhance your lead generation using the buyer’s journey!