What Is a ‘Dark Funnel’ in B2B? (Tracking the Untrackable)

Marketers loooove performance channels like email or paid advertising for good reason: it’s easier to track and prove ROI.

However, as CXL points out, buyers—especially B2B buyers—often engage and make decisions outside of these “attributable channels.”

For example, many customers do their own research, ask their friends about your product offline, listen to podcasts to understand where it fits in, and so on.

Unfortunately for you, that means no trackable data. Your marketing team is left in the dark, hence the name dark funnel.

By the time you finally see intent data, the buying process is done.

So first, let’s talk about where the dark funnel happens

B2B buyers are researching and evaluating products in traceless channels like:

  • Communities and groups. Slack, Facebook, Discord, and Reddit.
  • Social media platforms. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.
  • Content platforms. Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube.
  • Word-of-mouth interactions. Text messages, DMs, video calls.
  • Events. Industry conferences, marketing meetups, VC groups.

Now, you should start thinking about attribution

In this case, that means focusing less on how buyers click, and more on how they actually find your product.

The best way to do that? Communicate with your audience, of course!

For example, surveying existing customers to find out how they discovered your product and adding those surveys to your demo request form or landing page will give you significant insight on your dark funnel.

Asking the right questions during sales calls can also provide valuable qualitative data.

For example, you can learn how buyers self-identify, and what problem they’re solving.

And you can implement all that previously invisible data in your visible campaigns.

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