In the classic movie “Glengarry Glen Ross,” Alec Baldwin constantly reminds his tired salespeople of the sales process “ABC” — always be closing. And while this sounds great in theory, it raises an important question that real salespeople and marketers have struggled to answer: How do you keep a continual pipeline of leads to the point where they are ready to close the deal? This is where pipeline marketing comes into play.
But what is pipeline marketing, and how does it help generate revenue? Keep reading for everything you need to know about this clever strategy.
- Pipeline marketing combines marketing and sales strategies for an omnichannel approach that helps manage leads in all stages, across all channels and campaigns. Marketing and sales data is used to inform decisions to impact the bottom of the funnel (revenue) positively.
- Pipeline marketing focuses on all stages, including the top, middle, and bottom of the sales funnel in order to drive conversions.
- Lead generation focuses on capturing leads at the top of the funnel, while the marketing pipeline goes beyond this by helping businesses build relationships with their leads throughout their journey.
- There are numerous benefits associated with a sales and marketing pipeline approach, such as increasing customers and sales, taking a full-funnel approach, and improving budget efficiency.
- What Does Pipeline Marketing Mean?
- The Structure of Pipeline Marketing
- Why Is Pipeline Marketing Important?
- Benefits of Pipeline Marketing
What Does Pipeline Marketing Mean?
Pipeline marketing combines marketing and sales strategies for an omnichannel approach that helps manage leads in all stages, across all channels and campaigns. Marketing and sales data is used to inform these strategies to help generate more revenue through closing leads. This process helps you identify potential customers in your target audience and monitor them as they move through the buying process. The concept of pipeline marketing is based on the idea that each lead has its own journey from awareness to purchase, and each step along the way must be monitored in order to be successful.
Many companies focus primarily on the bottom of the sales funnel, giving the lion’s share of their resources to converting prospects into paying customers. This strategy often ends up producing mediocre results. Converting prospects at the bottom of the funnel requires strategically marketing to them at the top and middle of the funnel.
The effectiveness of pipeline marketing is because it unites both marketing and sales teams’ activities under one umbrella, allowing you to track and measure the progress of each lead from start to finish. With a marketing and sales strategy in place, you can adjust your tactics based on what works and what doesn’t at each stage of the funnel.
Pipeline Marketing vs. Lead Generation
What’s the difference between pipeline marketing and lead generation? Lead generation focuses almost exclusively on the top part of the funnel. It’s about capturing leads and making them aware of your product or service. Pipeline marketing goes beyond lead generation, focusing on building relationships with those leads throughout their journey.
While lead generation is important for driving growth, pipeline marketing helps you nurture leads through the entire buyer’s journey. By monitoring different customer interactions, you can understand how each lead engages with your brand and adjust your marketing messages accordingly.
Pipeline Marketing vs. Sales Pipeline
At its core, pipeline marketing helps businesses create consistent flows of new leads through all stages of the customer journey — from initial awareness through conversion and retention. By building a steady stream of qualified leads over time, businesses can eventually forecast sales opportunities and revenue with greater accuracy. It involves capturing data about prospective customers throughout their journey online and then using that data to develop personalized messaging and offers tailored to each individual’s needs. As a result, leads become more likely to convert into customers.
Meanwhile, the sales pipeline is all about taking those qualified leads from pipeline marketing and bringing them through the entire journey up until they make a purchase. The goal of the sales pipeline is to turn prospects into paying customers by leveraging all resources available such as email campaigns, phone calls, or meetings, as well as other touch points like webinars or social media interactions.
Throughout this process, sales teams measure lead quality in order to identify where potential buyers are in their buying cycle — this is typically done by looking at factors such as purchase intent or budget size.
The Structure of Pipeline Marketing
Now let’s look at the general structure of pipeline marketing. While each business is unique, every sales pipeline will have these three stages in one form or another.
Lead Generation (Top of Funnel)
The top of the funnel (aka “Awareness” stage) is where the majority of pipeline marketing lead generation happens. While leads can certainly come in at other stages of the funnel, most will enter at the top.
Characteristics of leads at the top of the funnel include:
- Basic awareness of their problem or need
- Little to no understanding of your product or service
- No commitment or loyalty to any particular brand
At this stage, you want to capture the attention of leads and get them interested in learning more about your solution. The top of the funnel is all about winning the war of attention. You are casting a relatively wide net to capture the attention of prospects and encourage them to move further down the funnel.
Common methods of capturing leads at this stage include:
- Social media advertising
- SEO blog posts
- Lead magnets
- Video marketing
Because prospects at this stage have no loyalty to a particular brand, your marketing content should be attention-grabbing, to the point, and full of value.
Prospect Nurturing (Middle Funnel)
The middle of the funnel (aka “Consideration” stage) is where prospects are nurtured and educated about your product or service. At this stage, you want to move leads further down the funnel by educating them on why your solution is the best fit for their needs.
Characteristics of leads at the middle of the funnel include:
- Awareness of their problem or need
- A basic understanding of your product or service
- Open to making a purchase, but still researching other options
At this stage, you want to give prospects the information they need to make an informed decision. The content used should be focused on teaching leads about your solution and communicating why it’s the best choice for them.
At this point, you’re still not pushing for the sale. Rather, you are helping prospects see that what you offer can solve their problem.
Common methods of nurturing prospects at this stage include:
- Ebooks or white papers
- Email nurture campaigns
- Educational videos
- Blog posts
- Retargeting ads
Converting Leads to Sales (Bottom of Funnel)
The bottom of the funnel (aka “Decision” stage) is where you make a concerted effort to convert leads into customers. You’re pushing for the sale. You’re focused on revenue generation. If your marketing has effectively nurtured the leads up to this point, making the sale should be relatively easy.
After all, you’ve made the customer keenly aware of the problem they are facing. You’ve thoroughly educated them on why your product or service is the best fit for them. You’ve demonstrated that what you offer has value. You’re passing qualified leads to your sales team. At this point, customers are actively comparing the solutions available to them. They clearly see their problem and are now trying to determine which option will best help them. You want to further educate and convince them why they should choose you.
Common methods of converting leads at this stage include:
- Sales emails
- Case studies or customer stories
- Live demos
- Product webinars
- Personalized sales outreach
- Paid search ads
Why Is Pipeline Marketing Important?
Pipeline marketing is important for several reasons.
- Brings sales and marketing efforts together in pursuit of the same goal: The ultimate objective for both teams is the same: convert prospects into customers. The marketing team works hard to capture leads and nurture them, while the sales team works hard to convert those same leads into customers.
- Gives you a system for measuring and tracking success: You can track each lead’s progress as they move through your funnel, gaining valuable insight into what is working and what could be improved. Without a pipeline marketing strategy, you won’t be able to identify places where leads are falling out of the funnel.
- Allows you to create personalized experiences for each lead: By understanding where leads are in the funnel, you can tailor your marketing content to their needs. This makes it easier for them to move down the funnel and become customers.
Benefits of Pipeline Marketing
There are a number of key benefits associated with pipeline marketing.
Takes a Full-Funnel Approach
Pipeline marketing allows you to take a holistic approach to sales and marketing. It helps you avoid the common mistake of focusing primarily on the bottom of the funnel. Instead, it helps you track the full journey of each lead. Nothing slips through the cracks. You can identify key areas for improvement to strengthen your sales funnel.
Without this approach, your marketing and sales can become disjointed and out of step. Potential customers are lost, and the ones that do make it to the bottom of the funnel don’t have enough information to purchase from you.
Increases Customers and Sales
The result of an effective pipeline marketing strategy is more customers and revenue generation. Once leads are better educated and understand why your product or service is the best fit for them, it’s easier for sales teams to close those deals.
At the same time, you’re not just focusing on closing a sale but also ensuring that customers have an enjoyable experience with your brand. This creates loyal customers who are more likely to stick with you and purchase from you in the future.
Focuses on Budget Efficiency
Finally, pipeline marketing allows you to focus on budget efficiency. Instead of constantly spending to acquire new leads, you can focus on nurturing the leads you already have.
This helps you avoid the costly mistake of focusing your marketing efforts on people who are not likely to purchase or invest in a pipeline marketing campaign that doesn’t generate any ROI. By tracking lead progress, you can ensure that your budget is being used efficiently and effectively.
So what is pipeline marketing? It’s an effective way to ensure your inbound marketing efforts are well-targeted, organized, and result in conversions. It helps marketers create a marketing funnel that nurtures leads through the sales cycle and maximizes their ROI.
Pipeline marketing works by boosting your company’s customer relationships by focusing on personalized content, lead segmentation, and timely follow-ups. Moreover, it provides valuable insights into how customers interact with a brand’s messaging, allowing marketers to optimize their efforts for better engagement.
By understanding the value of the marketing pipeline and using it correctly, organizations can create more successful campaigns that reach further down the sales funnel.