B2B Marketing Campaign Types to Power the Top of Your Funnel
May 2, 2018 | Robbie Richards
Every B2B prospect is on a journey, whether you’re optimizing for it or not.
They start their travels without knowing where they’re going, and are gradually led down the path to a solution…
With help from every single one of your competitors.
A scary thought, right?
That’s why you need to position yourself as prominently as possible, every step of the way.
Snackable content on social? Here’s a Facebook Live tour of the office by our friendly team. Wondering how to streamline accounting? Here’s an ebook of best practices. Ready to buy? Take this fact sheet that shows how we blow competitors out of the water.
But, here’s the thing. A new buyer wouldn’t be ready for a hardcore competitor comparison if they don’t even know they have a problem yet. They need to be nurtured first.
That’s why you take it slow, and divide your marketing efforts into three primary segments: Top, Middle, and Bottom of the funnel
- Top funnel: Light, widely-appealing, brand-building campaigns that appeal to an audience that has the potential to be interested in what you’re selling.
- Mid funnel: Campaigns that connect the dots between the prospect’s pain and interests and your product’s benefits.
Ready to jump to the middle of the funnel? Check out the next post in this series
- Bottom funnel: The potent, high-converting stuff. Case studies with compelling statistics and super-relevant, industry-specific scenarios.
For every stage of the funnel, there are many different campaign types to choose from.
But, where do you put your budget?
In this 3 part series we will explore B2B marketing campaign types you can use across each stage of the buyer journey.
Today we’ll cover top of the funnel campaigns.
Let’s jump in…
7 Top Funnel B2B Marketing Campaign Types (with Examples)
Top funnel campaigns aren’t about your product or service. Instead, the goal is to capture the attention of a broad pool of prospects with specific interests and needs, while building a reputation as a valuable educational resource.
But if the goal isn’t to make money, what’s the point?
Leads at the top of the funnel need nurturing before they’ll convert. This is why top funnel B2B marketing campaigns don’t use aggressive “buy now!” tactics. The goal is problem recognition and mindshare.
Top funnel marketing is less about 158-page white papers and more about engaging, snackable, and visual content. These assets reduce friction, which is important because leads are less likely to consider a solution prior to any level of engagement or interest with a brand.
Here are different top funnel B2B marketing campaign types you can try.
Brand campaigns aren’t the most high-converting content type in your toolbox, but they do net you a lot of mindshare in the market.
These campaigns are all about creating name recognition and building trust through continued exposure.
IBM on Snapchat? Definite branding play.
These campaigns are usually delivered on social media, with the goal of generating followers, engagement, and/or plain old impressions.
Maersk is the world’s largest operator of container ships and supply vessels. And, surprisingly, they’re a massive hit on social media.
In 2013, Maersk decided to send an employee from their Russian office out to capture stunning photographs of Maersk ships making their deliveries in harsh winter conditions. The campaign — centered around the hashtag #wintermaersk — was a success because it was launched in the midst of other companies having difficulties making timely arrivals in Russia due to the frozen Baltic waters.
The campaign combined shareable images with the implication Maersk is uniquely equipped to overcome conditions other companies cannot.
Spanning Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, Maersk netted 150 new leads, which is huge in an industry with average multi-million dollar contracts.
In the year the campaign was launched, Maersk’s Facebook engagement was second only to Lego, and over three times higher than brands with more widely-appealing social presences like McDonald’s, Oreo, and Red Bull.
Assessment campaigns provide tools to prospects and leads that deliver customized marketing experiences based on personal input. This helps to accurately surface a pain point positioned towards the lead’s funnel position, size, or industry.
By getting user input on data like company size, monthly spend/budget, or the kinds of tech the company uses, assessments allow you to build a detailed picture of the lead. This data helps enrich the profiles in your marketing automation platform.
Your KPIs for top funnel assessment campaigns are views (unique and repeat), clicks through to the next step (engagement), and number of lead data submissions.
Working with Runzheimer, SnapApp created an assessment campaign targeted at decision-makers in the logistics space.
Actually, it’s more like three assessment campaigns in one.
The first question segments leads into three core personas, and offers an assessment based on the answer.
As the lead moves through to the next stage in the assessment, they provide additional information that helps build a picture of their recurring costs and agitate any potential pain points (“We’re really spending that much on maintenance?!”).
At the end of the assessment, the user is presented with the amount they could save by doing business with Runzheimer.
The assessment not only delivers a memorable interactive experience, it also associates a tangible benefit (cost savings) with the Runzheimer brand.
Open Education Assets
Open education assets are the reinforced concrete foundation your top funnel strategy is built on. Unlike ephemeral social ads, open education assets have the potential to place high in search and make you the go-to resource for easily-accessible, educational information.
Types of open education assets include in-depth blog posts, ebooks, and guides — anything big enough to impress leads, and they can get it for no commitment. More brands are using this tactic to stand out in the midst of an explosion of gated content.
Open education asset KPIs to watch include shares, views, and search rankings.
Zapier is known for focusing on customer experience. Their slogan alone says it all: Zapier makes you happier.
And what better way to show you value an audience’s time and experience than by offering a 207-page ebook — written partially by the company’s expert CEO — for free, with no commitment.
The book comprised a collection of blog posts, making it a lower cost choice than writing something big and valuable from scratch.
As well as offering leads a convenient package of customer support wisdom, Zapier essentially gets to repurpose past blog posts.
The book was a success, bringing in over 200 votes on Product Hunt; that’s more than a competing book on the same topic written by Intercom, a company that focuses on support.
In addition to the initial rush of attention from the launch and Product Hunt listing, the ebook ranks for over 3,300 keywords and brings in an estimated 2,500 monthly organic visits.
When you run a co-marketing campaign, you take advantage of the audience of another business that is aligned with the goals of your customer base.
For example, if you sell user testing software you could partner with a usability research firm and release content to reach their customer base. And the motivation for the research firm would be to establish themselves as thought leaders in the eyes of key industry players.
Think about how bees and flowers help each other.
The bee gets the nectar it needs to survive, and the flower leverages the bees ability to spread its pollen. Both parties benefit from the relationship. The same idea applies to co-marketing. It needs to be a win-win.
According to Yurbi, the KPIs to focus on for co-marketing partnerships include lead participation in sales and marketing campaigns, deals won through partner channels, and partner-attributed attendance at events, whether that’s online webinars or in person.
Example: Apptive, Shopify and BigCommerce
Mobile app creation software company Apptive partnered with Shopify in 2014 to launch an integration between Apptive’s platform and Shopify’s API. This meant it was easy for Shopify customers to turn their online stores into native iOS and Android apps, all while retaining the power of Shopify’s inventory management infrastructure and back end.
“It has become clear that native mobile commerce apps will continue to grow in importance for our merchants. Apptive offers a compelling option for store owners looking for a convenient, affordable solution that is directly integrated with Shopify”, says Blair Beckwith, Head of Shopify App Store.
This partnership was more than just a co-marketing campaign. It empowered Apptive’s customers to use Shopify’s functionality, while Shopify customers could create the native mobile app their store needs to stand out.
Another example of a successful top-funnel co-marketing campaign is the partnership between Taco Bell and Doritos:
Together, they launched the Doritos-shell taco that became a popular menu item at Taco Bell.
Both brands were able to tap into the massive audience of the other, and drive millions of brand impressions.
Lookalike and Similar Audiences
Lookalike audiences (known as similar audiences in AdWords) are created by taking an existing audienc – homepage visitors, facebook fans, blog readers, product page visitors etc. – and finding new leads with the same interests/traits.
You can get as broad or targeted as you like:
For example, if you know you’re a hit with 35-year-old C-suite operations staff in the UK, there’s a great chance you can use those same attributes to find a fresh and high-converting market in Germany or Norway.
According to AdEspresso, KPIs to manage while refining your lookalike audiences include lifetime value, transaction value, total order size and brand loyalty.
Noah Kagan spent $2,000,000 marketing AppSumo offers on Facebook, and found that the most cost-effective option is to use lookalike audiences based on your own fans and fans of your competition.
Systematically, Noah reduced costs and niched down into a very specific segment, ultimately optimizing his cost per lead to $3, and cost per click to $0.75.
Noah leveraged top funnel content (growth hacking tips) to reach exponentially more people with similar interests to his existing fans.
AppSumo was created in a weekend for $50, and just two years later it was worth over $1,000,000 and had 500,000 subscribers.
And the growth has continued:
Starting out, Sumo’s #1 goal was top funnel awareness. It stayed laser-focused on getting visits, and lookalike audiences were a core part of doing this in a cost-effective way.
Content upgrade campaign
Get more value from top-funnel organic searches and capture leads for your email list with content upgrades. There’s no shortage of evidence that content upgrades work. From Brian Dean’s eye-opening blog post boasting 785% more leads to LeadPages’ 180 new subscribers for one hour’s work, there’s every reason offer bonus content.
You can leverage top-funnel content that ranks for good keywords by creating simple bonuses like PDF checklists, extra tips, or a video version of the post.
After that’s set up, it’ll build your list on autopilot.
Here’s an example in action:
Wispond followed the 3-pillar content upgrade formula for this campaign.
It must be: contextual, relevant, and valuable. This means placing an irresistible offer at the right moment in a post, and making the offer directly related to the content.
Wishpond’s 5-step checklist — offered in a top-funnel guide to conversion rate optimization — was indeed an irresistible offer.
“Brian Dean improved his blog article conversion rates by 785%. We improved ours by 1,650%.”
To replicate this, go grab a list of your top 10 top-funnel blog posts by organic traffic and think of one simple content upgrade per post you could offer.
Tools like Sumo make it easy to display content upgrades on specific posts and devices with zero coding required.
Strapped for time? Here is a simple strategy I used to increase my monthly email subscriptions by 353%.
1) Go to the Behavior >> Site Content >> All Pages report and filter by organic traffic:
2) Turn a top-performing post into a PDF using the free Print Friendly PDF chrome extension:
3) Gate the content inside a popup or behind an in-content CTA.
Native ad branding campaigns
Targeting the publications industry decision-makers read with native ads is a reliable way to improve brand recognition in an age where ads are much more likely to be ignored than read.
According to The Mission:
“The key is grabbing the attention of today’s consumer and driving real engagement through content. Branded content can entertain people or teach them something, resulting in better brand engagement returns than standard pre roll content.”
The KPIs measured in the study in the table above — and the ones you should take notice of, too — include ad recall, brand awareness and purchase intent.
Example: H&R Block
It’s important to remember that even enterprise-level decision makers are human, too. While there’s a lot of potential within niche industry publications, making a viral play with a hilarious article on The Onion helped humanize the brand and improve brand recognition:
Despite being of little interest to those outside the enterprise space, H&R Block has a history of a strong brand and good recognition outside its industry. According to FranchiseHelp, H&R Block is “the best known tax franchise in the world”.
Did you spot them in The Office, too?
Spot the brand
By planning to incorporate some of these top of the funnel B2B marketing campaign ideas into broader marketing strategy you can help generate demand and fill the rest of your funnel with engaged, quality leads who can be nurtured into customers.
But the top is just the beginning! Jump to the middle of the funnel with our next post in this series: 6 B2B Marketing Campaign Ideas to Power the Middle of Your Funnel