What is Pipeline Marketing?
Pipeline Marketing is a strategy to help you convert your leads into customers. It combines sales and marketing data to help in converting leads into customers rather than generating leads. Pipeline marketing helps entrepreneurs design a cost-effective and efficient sales process. It is more accurately defined as redirecting your marketing and sales efforts to focus exactly where they matter. You focus solely on the narrower end of the funnel rather than the top. This is, however, not similar to smarketing because smarketing involves lead generation, nurturing, and conversion into a customer. Pipeline marketing, on the other hand, is focused only on converting leads and prospects into customers.
How is Pipeline Marketing different from Lead Generation?
Lead generation is focused only on the top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) while Sales Pipeline Marketing deals with bottom-of-the-funnel (BOFU). However, the difference here is, lead generation has nothing to do with the rest of the funnel. Pipeline marketing, on the other hand, takes into consideration the entire process from TOFU to BOFU in order to catalyze customer conversion. In other words, Pipeline marketing takes a full-funnel approach.
Pipeline Marketing and Buyer's Journey
We have established that Pipeline Marketing is different from lead generation. However, we have also mentioned how sales pipeline management involves the entire marketing-sales funnel. This means pipeline marketing stages are directly related to the buyer’s journey as well. Let’s see how.
The buyer’s journey comprises of three essential stages:
The fourth step comes after pipeline marketing is over i.e. after a lead is converted into a customer. It is the retention stage.
If you think as a customer, go back to the time when you made a decision to purchase something and what made you take that decision. You will see, the buying process began right at the moment when you realized you have a problem and you need a solution for it. You were in the Awareness Stage.
Once you recognized this, you started looking for different options to resolve your problem. You tried looking through various products and judged their performances. Here you entered the consideration stage.
After comprehensive research, you narrowed down your search options and almost listed out two or three most suitable solutions. You now start comparing which is better than the others and which one will suit your needs as well as your budget. Here you entered the decision stage. The decision phase continues as you go on evaluating the solutions and finally decide on one. This puts an end to the decision phase.
You are now a customer. While all the three stages played a pivotal role in making you a customer, it was the decision phase that was the most crucial one. It is only in this stage where you made the final call and it is exactly at this stage where a brand puts all its efforts into showing its value to you. This is why the decision stage is so important to pipeline marketing.
The decision phase requires the sales team to create content that shows value explicitly to the prospective customer so that he/she decides to invest in your product only. Some useful content assets that can earn trust for your brand at this stage include:
- Comparative guides
- Case studies
- Testimonials and customer reviews
All these assets instill a sense of trust making your prospective customer want to rely on your brand. A great testimonial or a customer review can help you verify your skills as a brand and match what you had promised during the sales process.
Pipeline Marketing vs. Traditional Marketing
The buyer’s stages are actually the marketing pipeline stages which culminates into sales. However, this brings up steep comparison between Pipeline Marketing and Traditional Marketing.
- Pipeline marketing is more of an individualized approach.
- Pipeline marketing is focused on the bottom part of the funnel. Although the entire funnel movement plays an important role in pushing the interested contacts down to the BOFU level, pipeline marketing stages stay focused on this level only. It is tailored to convert the interested leads into customers. In most cases, automated workflows are not much required.
- Pipeline marketing is selling to a specific company or a person.
- Traditional marketing works on a larger scale.
- When prospects or leads enter the marketing-sales funnel and are at the top part of the funnel, the focus is to move them down automatically. This includes creating awareness, and helping them make an informed decision. Since there are more contacts in the top, traditional marketers work at a larger scale and rely on marketing automation to help them move the prospects down the funnel.
- Traditional marketing is selling to a lot of people at once.
Pipeline Marketing - Best practices to implement
Generating leads is a tedious task, and more challenges come in when these leads need to be measured and pushed down the funnel for the sales team to take lead. In the modern marketing funnel, sales people come in at the end, all informed about the buyer’s intent. Hence, the actual challenge is to move from lead generation to pipeline marketing. Below are the four important practices to effective pipeline marketing.
Follow up with your prospects
Make sure to follow up with your prospects automatically. Set reminders and alerts so that you do not miss out. Build effective sales pipeline templates.
Work with 'Best' leads
Take a closer look at your sales prospects and work only with those leads that have the highest chance of converting. This is because each deal takes same amount of time to get closed.
Monitor key metrics
Ensure you monitor your sales pipeline metrics regularly. Monitor key sales metrics like the number of deals in your pipeline, the average size of deals, the average percentage of deals that you closed, and, the average lifetime of a deal before the deal gets closed.
Review and improve your pipeline
It is imperative that a sales technique may not always give you the desired results. Make sure you review your sales process regularly and work around to improve your sales techniques. This keeps your pipeline strategy up to the mark, and highly optimized.
Why Pipeline Marketing cannot survive without CONTENT?
If anyone told you content is king when it comes to marketing and sales can survive without it, then brush that off. CONTENT is king even it comes to building effective sales pipeline stages. A sales pipeline template also relies heavily on good content, because it is your strongest weapon in helping your prospects in making an informed decision (and also in TAKING A DECISION). Starting from the awareness stage to the conversion stage, good content assets guide and nurture your prospects and influence their buying decisions. Your pipeline marketing strategy will fail if your contents are out-of-place. Establish the types of contents you need for your prospects, design the contents so as to resonate your buyers, and see if you have relevant content assets.
Help in informing your prospects about various important uses cases and how your product can be used
Help your prospects in seeing the benefits you’ve added as a brand to others
Help prospects analyze the perks of being your customer and make a decision