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In today's landscape of digital buying and selling, enterprises often have an upper hand in marketing because they have dedicated teams supporting digital, remote, and omnichannel selling.

Those large companies have the resources and technologies to attract and retain new customers, convert them into opportunities, and drive revenue.

Small and midsize businesses (SMBs), on the other hand, often require a level of creativity to boost revenue in the same way. For those organizations, the key to success is employing a full-funnel marketing approach.

That means approaching marketing and sales efforts through a lens of complete unification.

Unifying the sales and marketing functions is a good start. But, beyond that, a unified, full-funnel approach requires thinking of all the activities to nurture a prospect and then determining who's responsible for those activities in the organization. From there, a full-funnel approach requires aligning those activities and responsibilities to the appropriate funnel phase rather than assigning them to Marketing vs. Sales.

Here are three steps to get started.

1. Identify current marketing efforts

The first step in crafting a full-funnel strategy is identifying current marketing efforts. SMBs don't often have separate teams aligned to Marketing, let alone dedicated to each product and practice area. Those employees and teams must wear multiple "hats" to cater to customer needs.

However, even if an SMB doesn't have a formal marketing team, it's likely using marketing tactics and just not calling it marketing.

If your sales reps, customer management teams, or account managers are identifying prospects and executing actions to get in front of those buyers, they're marketing in some way. That is also true of both cross-selling—stimulating a current customer to buy something new—and new-lead acquisition.

It's important to collectively—as an organization—identify such efforts. If your company hasn't had a formalized marketing function, determine whether there's enough effort or opportunity to warrant a dedicated person or team to head up marketing efforts and strategy. If there isn't enough demand or activity, take it a step further and consider which marketing tools could help sales reps scale and automate their top- and middle-funnel activities.

2. Set your approach for each funnel phase

Once you have a complete picture of your marketing activities, it's time to think about how they track to the various phases of the funnel and address prospects' needs during each stage of the buying process.

The top of the funnel is where you attract buyer interest. In that phase, your content approach should focus on educating, helping, and answering common questions and pain points rather than trying to sell your audience on a product or service.

By offering free and appealing content, such as demos or thought leadership content such as e-books and whitepapers, SMBs can effectively fill up the top of the funnel with high-quality leads. They can also regenerate demand and influence the front of the buyer's journey with a high-quality website and by cross-selling to current customers.

The middle of the funnel is for converting interest into opportunities. That is where you establish a trust-based relationship with your customers and support their desire for research and evaluation. It's where prospects often compare competitors in the same space, so it's important to offer content that helps answer questions before prospective buyers have a call with sales reps.

For the middle-funnel phase, think of informative blog posts, personalized emails, and webinars as helpful content types. The middle of the funnel is also where the lead handoff between Sales and Marketing needs to be seamless.

At the bottom of the funnel, you convert opportunities into won business or recycle them back into the top or middle of the funnel for future nurture. When prospects reach the bottom of the funnel, they require highly personalized, one-to-one interactions. That's why this stage is less automated via the use of marketing and sales tools—because the communication is unique per prospect.

For the bottom-funnel phase, SMBs need to think about the final stages of the opportunity and focus on setting up a successful customer onboarding process. Set expectations for the customer experience and create the smoothest process possible between the contract signing and the delivery of the product or service. Content in this phase should be centered on preparing for success with your company. Checklists, change management guides, and tips and tricks for user adoption are highly effective.

Identifying the customer expectations for each funnel stage is important, but noting the importance of internal unification is also essential. Prospects experience your business in a holistic way; they don't rate their experience on each siloed interaction with a sales rep or marketing team member.

Once you have clear funnel phases mapped out with specific content and activities, turn your focus to lead management and the technologies that can make it seamless.

3. Determine what tools and technology you need

The last major consideration in a full-funnel marketing approach is technology. Whether you are making a new investment in tools to support the marketing and sales teams or reallocating tech to work more efficiently, focus on the following three technologies that can make a big difference.

Email Marketing Automation

Fully 75% of marketers surveyed said email marketing was very important to their overall marketing success, according to a recent benchmarking report. Email automation technologies send triggered correspondence to prospects based on their actions. Email automation can result in valuable (and cost-effective) communication.

Sales Automation

Consider sales automation technology's role in your strategy. Sales automation platforms help automate manual tasks to make it easier for the sales team to focus on important revenue-driving tasks, such as building relationships and nurturing leads.

The technology is invaluable in ensuring that leads aren't lost in the Marketing and Sales handoff and that salespeople are equipped with personalized data based on previous conversations with prospects.

Landing Page Creation

Consider investing in technology that enables easy landing page creation. Landing pages can be helpful tools in capturing form-fills and populating lists that can be segmented for specific communication.

Whether they capture leads from an asset download or accept registration forms for an upcoming webinar, landing pages are a quick and easy way to scale communication efforts and tailor responses based on actions taken by prospects.

* * *

SMBs still unconvinced of the power and value of a full-funnel marketing approach risk missing both the customer's perspective and the opportunity to understand the total cost of customer acquisition; they also risk creating internal inefficiencies and duplicating effort, along with missing out on revenue attribution capabilities.

Beyond filling the funnel with high-quality prospects, the shift in thinking toward a full-funnel approach will position SMBs stronger in the industry, equip them to compete in a crowded digital marketplace, and support revenue operations well into the future.

More Resources on Full-Funnel Marketing

Embrace Revenue Responsibility With 'Full-Funnel Marketing': Author Matt Heinz on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Three Account-Based Tools That B2B Companies Need Now to Lift Revenues

How to Use Video for Every Stage of the Sales Funnel

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Your SMB Needs a Full-Funnel Marketing Approach. Here's Where to Start.

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image of Margaret Wise

Margaret Wise is chief growth officer at ClickDimensions, a marketing automation software company.

LinkedIn: Margaret Wise