Quicken: The Agency

Cracking the Code of the Dark Funnel: Mastering B2B Marketing Success

Even as a seasoned marketer can you Track, Control or Analyse something you can’t see? 

It may seem like a task suited for superheroes, but in the field of SaaS or Account-Based Marketing (ABM), we as marketers are not showered with superhuman powers. We’re simply dedicated professionals.

Round-the-clock, each of us are solely dedicated to creating concept-based campaigns and optimizing it far and wide.Yet, there’s a nagging doubt – we can’t truly monitor the profound impact of our efforts.

Tracking the buying journey of your B2B buyer is way beyond impressions, clicks, views, and more across platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, TikTok, and Facebook. 

The reality you see ‘above the surface’ is way more different that what is going on ‘under the surface’.

In the world of B2B sales, there’s a significant aspect that often slips through the cracks of our regular tracking tools. 

Think about it – online communities where you, as a potential buyer, seek advice, recommendations from colleagues, podcasts you tune into, social media (both the regular posts and paid ads), the elusive sphere of earned PR, and the buzz around third-party events you attend. 

These elements collectively make up what we refer to as the “Dark Funnel”.

It’s common for many companies to lean towards what’s easily measurable, often sidelining the Dark Funnel. They opt to stick with the tried-and-true channels in marketing and sales that provide clear data on what’s effective. 

However, here’s where the risk sets in: this approach can potentially jeopardize your leadership position in the market. As buying behaviors continually shift and evolve, this oversight becomes increasingly costly over time.

Your Funnel vs. Their Journey

When we say mapping a  B2B buyer’s journey , we’re not talking about a sing

le individual’s journey. Instead, it’s a team effort, where you, the buying team, collaborate to meet your business needs. These “buyer journeys” essentially serve as snapshots of our collective progress as we move closer to making a purchase.

Here’s the breakdown: 

– As a buyer, you begin with awareness, where you identify the business need and explore potential solutions. 

– From there, your transition into the consideration phase, where you evaluate different solutions and providers. 

– Next comes the decision-making stage, where you collectively choose the provider(s) that best align with your business needs. 

– Finally, you reach the purchase stage, where negotiations are finalized, and the deal is sealed.

Sounds familiar right? But here is a catch!

As Buyer your  journey mostly exist independently of your seller funnels. 

It’s entirely possible for a buying organization to progress from awareness right up to the purchase stage without ever entering a structured funnel of a selling organization.

Talking about the other side,

A funnel is like the playbook for a provider organization. 

It outlines your journey in recognizing, engaging, and ultimately converting potential buying teams like you. 

Confronting the Dark Funnel: For aligning Buyers’ Journey & Funnel

To sync funnels with buyer journeys, we tap into the might of modern data science, unveiling the “Dark Funnel” in all its facets.

Think of it this way!

Unless you’re the sole provider in your niche, and your digital spaces are the sole platforms where discussions on your solutions unfold— chances are a good portion of your potential buyers kickstart their journeys on influencer sites, product review platforms, competitors’ domains, social media hubs, or a other corners of the digital world. 

All these places where your buyers look for info? That’s your Dark Funnel.

Whether you’re a smaller brand or a market giant, shining a light on the Dark Funnel becomes a game-changer. 

By tapping into evidence of buyer research activities, commonly known as “intent data,” we can intercept and understand nearly all relevant buyer journeys as they begin.

What’s fascinating is that a substantial part of this Dark Funnel is right under our noses. 

Startlingly, 90-98% of traffic on B2B websites remains anonymous. These are the very journeys we’ve already invested in through our marketing efforts. 

To capitalize on this, we as marketers can work with a provider to unveil the identities behind this traffic, unlocking a treasure trove right in our own digital backyard. 

So, rather than seeing anonymous data as missed opportunities, with Quicken: The Agency transforms it into a goldmine of actionable insights.

Decoding the Dark Funnel:  Influence on Buyer Journeys

In the digital era, the elusive dark funnel exerts considerable influence over me and you as buyers, especially in the complex world of B2B.

As marketers, comprehending this dark funnel becomes important for each organization to tap and optimize on their potential buyers. It grants valuable insights into our behaviors, allowing for enhanced personalization and targeting, ultimately elevating the efficiency of campaigns designed to cater to the target audience.

To understand it better, imagine yourself a buyer:

  1. You first hear about a B2B software company through a trusted colleague’s recommendation.
  2. Intrigued, you pay an anonymous visit to the company’s website and explore a demo video.
  3. You dive into customer reviews on third-party platforms.
  4. At a trade show, you engage in face-to-face conversations with company representatives.
  5. Following a personalized email, you gain access to a gated whitepaper.
  6. Ultimately, after thorough research and contemplation, you decide to reach out directly to the company’s sales team to make a purchase.

Now, all of these touch points, especially those anonymous website visits and reviews, fall under the dark funnel. They’re influencing your decision-making process significantly, but they can be tricky to trace.

Why does this matter?

If we don’t acknowledge and understand the dark funnel, we might miss out on opportunities and our marketing strategies may not be as effective as they could be. It’s like trying to navigate a maze without all the clues.

Leveraging the Dark Funnel: 5 Smart Strategies

Although the buyer’s journey within the dark funnel unfolds beneath the surface, you still possess various tools to leverage its impact. Explore these five tactics crafted to optimize this less-visible facet of marketing attribution.

  1. Begin by incorporating a “How did you hear about us” survey for new users. While you can’t always track external sources beyond your marketing funnel, this survey provides insights into where your users are discovering you. It enables you to optimize and capitalize on those sources to attract more traffic.
  1. Make the most of your welcome flow by using a micro survey. The welcome screen in your SaaS product is a valuable opportunity to collect crucial data about your new customers. Encourage users to answer a few questions through a microsurvey, helping you understand their background, referral source, and product goals.
  1. Boost engagement in the dark funnel by offering conference swag items. Conferences provide an ideal platform to promote your brand. Consider providing attendees with branded conference swag such as caps, coffee mugs, pens, and t-shirts. This not only enhances your visibility but also encourages positive word-of-mouth marketing.
  1. Invest in employer branding to stimulate word-of-mouth promotion. Employer branding extends beyond mere buzzwords, offering substantial benefits. It can attract top talent and turn employees into enthusiastic advocates for your company. Favorable employee discussions about your business can enhance your brand’s reputation and drive word-of-mouth marketing.
  1. Ensure alignment across teams to prevent falling into the dark funnel. Sometimes, misalignment or inefficient data sharing among teams can inadvertently leave you in the dark. 

Ensuring that all your teams, from marketing to sales and customer success, are aligned and well-informed allows you to harness data sources effectively.

Implement these strategies and harness the hidden potential of the dark funnel. Thus, improving your marketing attribution and driving more effective campaigns.

Creating a Dark Funnel-Inspired Marketing Plan

To sync up the above mentioned strategies into your marketing endeavors with the hidden channels of the dark funnel, you as a business need to put into action plan like:

Leveraging Technology and Analytics:

To unravel the mysteries of the dark funnel, businesses need to bring in some top-notch technology and analytics.  These advanced tracking and attribution software, they’re like our magnifying glass, but way cooler. They can do things that regular analytics can’t. They reveal things we wouldn’t normally see—like those hidden touchpoints, people visiting our website without leaving a trace, or interactions happening offline. Now, when we put these tools to work, we can connect the dots between what customers do and how it affects their journey to buy from us.

Initiate Referral Programs: 

Encourage customers to recommend your brand or products to their network by offering enticing incentives and rewards. Referral programs incentivize word-of-mouth sharing that can be tracked through referral links or codes. By monitoring and analyzing these referrals, businesses can unveil dark funnel insights and understand the influence of word-of-mouth marketing on conversion rates.

Use UTM Links in Offline Campaigns: 

For offline marketing efforts, incorporate unique URLs with specific UTM parameters. These parameters help track traffic and engagement generated from offline touchpoints once they enter the online sphere. Analyzing this data can reveal untrackable actions, such as visits to specific landing pages from print ads or direct mail.

Embed Tracking Pixels: 

Deploy tracking pixels across various digital touchpoints, including websites, landing pages, and email campaigns. These pixels collect data on user behavior, such as page visits, clicks, and conversions. Analyzing this data provides insights into untraceable actions within the dark funnel, identifying impactful touch points along the buyer’s journey.

Consider Predictive Analytics Tools: 

Explore predictive analytics tools, often referred to as intent data tools or dark social tools, to predict leads originating from “dark” sources. However, note that these tools can be costly.

Additional steps to track dark funnel actions include utilizing social listening to detect brand conversations and possibly identify untraceable traffic sources. Additionally, adding tracking codes to shared content and utilizing link shorteners can help conceal tracking parameters when content is shared. Finally, closely monitoring “direct” traffic in analytics can uncover dark sharing sources.

The dark funnel, though it may appear daunting, is teeming with unexplored potential. While standard analytics may falter here, recognizing its existence is our golden opportunity to shape and enhance what unfolds within. So, if you’re looking to uncover and optimize the origins of your dark funnel and actions of your users, seize this moment. 

Schedule your strategy call today, and together, we’ll make it happen for you!

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