There’s no shortage of speculation about the impact of regenerative AI, especially when it comes to marketing. And while there’s lots of debate about whether tools like ChatGPT can create informative, insightful content, I find it much more fascinating to consider how AI will transform the way we approach the revenue funnel.
My hypothesis? AI will force B2B companies to focus more attention on building points of credibility to support buyers in the middle of the funnel.
AI Is Answering Your Buyer’s Questions
Think about how the rise of inbound marketing has changed the way B2B companies attract buyers to their revenue funnels. Inbound marketing (the philosophy that HubSpot is built on) draws in customers by serving up content that’s relevant and tailored to their specific challenges, questions, and pain points. By using inbound marketing to provide content that buyers value at the top of the funnel (TOFU), when they’re looking for information and insight, a B2B company can become a trusted, go-to brand.
In his award-winning book, They Ask, You Answer, Marcus Sheridan describes this process as an obsessive focus on answering customer questions:
To be successful, businesses must obsess over the questions, concerns, and problems their buyers have, and address them as honestly and as thoroughly as possible. Every day, buyers turn to search engines to ask billions of questions. Having the answers they need can attract thousands of potential buyers to your company – but only if your content strategy puts your answers at the top of those search results. It’s a simple and powerful equation that produces growth and success: They Ask, You Answer.
Now, what happens when ChatGPT, Microsoft’s AI-powered Bing search engine, Google’s Bard, or other AI tools still in development start taking over this phase of the funnel? If technology tools begin serving up the answers your customers seek, you’ll find it harder and harder to rank high in their TOFU searches. Especially if these tools get better and better at customizing their answers based on what they learn about the end user (which they will).
It’s enough to make strategic marketers concerned.
Time to Give the Middle of the Funnel More Love
Adoption of AI tools is soaring, with no signs of slowing down. And that puts pressure on marketers to change their strategies in ways we couldn’t have imagined just a few years ago.
But let’s be clear: You don’t need to abandon your strategic marketing plan entirely. However, you should give careful thought to how AI will impact your ability to attract leads and pivot your strategy accordingly.
And that brings me back to the hypothesis I floated earlier.
If the top of the revenue funnel becomes dominated by AI-generated responses—which I suspect will happen—then B2B companies and brands will need to stand out more in the middle of the funnel (MOFU).
MOFU is the consideration stage: When buyers that are aware of your product/service start to consider it as a solution to their problem. To move closer to a decision, they need more detailed information and insights than you provided at the top of the funnel. Now, it’s time to support their research and evaluation by demonstrating why your company and your brand is the best solution. It’s time to prove your credibility.
Points of Credibility: Show Me the Proof
To nurture leads through that middle phase and get them closer to a “yes,” you need to provide what I call points of credibility. Just like wide receiver Rod Tidwell demanded Jerry Maguire to “Show me the money!”, buyers in the middle of the funnel are saying, “Show me the proof.”
Points of credibility are the proof points that demonstrate why your company and your product are the best choice to solve a buyer’s problem. Every B2B company’s credibility strategy will be a little different, but approaches like these are a good starting point.
Just like most consumers won’t try a new restaurant without checking the Yelp reviews, B2B buyers want to hear what their peers have to say about a provider before forging ahead. Ask your best customers to leave a positive review on Google, along with any relevant platform for your sector, like Clutch.co for business service providers and G2 for software companies.
When your business is mentioned in a marketing channel without having to pay for the space or the exposure, that’s called earned media. And while it used to be confined to traditional vehicles—like an article by your VP of Engineering in a trade publication or a quote from your CEO in a regional business magazine—now earned media encompasses much more. Examples include a customer’s tweet, a LinkedIn shout-out from a vendor-partner or a client, or a product mention by an influencer with celebrity status in your industry. Earned media mentions can be great credibility boosters, so consider adding this MOFU marketing strategy to your plan.
Association memberships, industry certifications, and other credentials tell buyers you’re a credible resource. The fact that Marketri is a HubSpot Gold Partner gives our clients confidence that when we say we can maximize their investment in marketing automation and CRM, we’ll deliver! For B2B companies that take a sector-based approach to marketing—touting that you specialize in certain industries or sectors—it’s even more important to back those claims with proof points. By investing in relevant certifications and taking an active role in the same trade groups as your buyers, you’ll demonstrate the credibility they’re looking for.
Statistics That Matter
Numbers can be powerful proof points—as long as they’re meaningful to your audience and relevant to your business.
When it comes to buying services, most leads want to know how long you’ve been in business. If you’re about to celebrate a milestone anniversary, take advantage of the opportunity to focus on this key event. Other relevant statistics will depend on your industry or service type. Maybe it’s useful to promote how many customers have adopted your service since it launched, how many implementations you’ve completed this year, or how many M&A deals you’ve closed and the total dollar figure.
If a statistic is meaningful to your ideal buyer, it probably has a place in your MOFU marketing.
Boost Your Profiles
Most LinkedIn profiles don’t tell buyers much. Of course, you should build out the Experience section with more than just dates and job titles, but that’s bare bones. The About section is a great place to demonstrate your credibility in a personalized and authentic way, giving your buyers a glimpse of what makes you unique and why you’re a trustworthy and authoritative resource. The same holds true for your website bio.
Tout ESG and Philanthropy
When you do good for the earth and for underserved communities, good things tend to happen. So if you’re engaged in environmental and social initiatives—whether it’s financial donations or more active involvement—promote those activities in your MOFU marketing. With more buyers voting with their wallets today, they’ll want to know if your values align with theirs when it comes to protecting the plant and helping those in need.
When it comes to nurturing ideal buyers through every phase of the revenue funnel, Marketri has the process and the expertise to do it right. Schedule an introductory call with CEO Deb Andrews to learn how our Momentum Marketing Model empowers B2B companies to achieve predictable, profitable growth.