When your marketing department hands off leads that aren’t ready for your sales team, it likely causes tension within your company. By passing off leads that aren't ready to buy, you're essentially wasting your sales team's time. After all, generating and then acting on good leads are the main drivers of your marketing and sales teams.
But how do you know which of your prospects are genuinely ready to have a discussion with a sales representative and which are still in the beginning stages of the buyer’s journey? Lead scoring.
What is Lead Scoring?
Lead scoring is the automated process of qualifying your company’s leads as either SQLs or MQLs based on who they are and how they interact with your company’s website, marketing campaigns, and other content.
To do this, the process of lead scoring includes creating a system through which you assign point values to crucial pieces of criteria, properties, and behavioral actions that contacts within your CRM take when interacting with your company. You can assign positive and negative points to specific actions, and as your prospects accrue points over time, they reach a certain lead score you define.
These lead scores will either tell your teams these leads are prepared for sales, or ready for more marketing, as mentioned.
Ultimately, this helps your marketing team prioritize leads for sales and how and when to respond to them appropriately – and keeps both teams aligned, and happy!
But, How Do I Know What Information to Score?
Before diving in, it’s important to note you can assign negative or positive points to various pieces of lead information. Here are some examples of ways you can score your leads.
Without forms, it’d be nearly impossible to generate any lead, making the information you ask a user to fill out on your forms an integral piece of lead scoring. Consider what’s included on your form. Do you ask for a first name, last name, address, email, job title, a phone number? Perhaps something more or maybe less?
You can use the amount of information a user provides as a clear indicator of their interest in your product or services. For instance, most forms require name and email fields, but some make phone number and other contact information optional. A visitor who fills out all the information, including that which is optional, should be scored accordingly. You can also allot negative points to users who skip vital “optional” portions of a form too if you feel it’s necessary.
In the B2B world, most marketers and sales executives target certain job functions and seniority levels – on top of individual organizations and industries. Depending on how you approach sales, you could assign greater points to someone who is a decision maker within a business, like a director or president.
If you sell in limited regions of the country, you could use lead scoring to weed out geographical outliers. If they fall outside of your given state or city, you can assign them negative points. Additionally, if someone fills out a form and is located where you directly target, you can assign higher positive points.
Website Pages Visited
The pages your leads visit on your website – and how frequently – can tell you a lot about their level of interest. They can also point you in the direction of what particular product, feature, or service they’re exploring. And if they’re visiting your pricing page or demo consultation page regularly, they can alert you to how serious they are about signing a deal with your business. So, consider all these factors when determining point values. Someone who looks at the pricing page of a specific product 30 times a week should receive high points. A person who looks at your overall solutions page twice a week should also earn points, but maybe not as high as others.
Premium lead generation content is typically gated – and for a good reason. When someone downloads it, it signifies their willingness to provide their information for your content. These leads need positive points, but the amount depends on the value of the material. For instance, if someone is downloading a generalized checklist, you would give them positive points but perhaps not as many as someone who’s downloaded a free trial. If that sounds murky, remember the stages of the buyers’ journey when assigning points to your downloads!
Your contacts who have opted into your email campaigns have already signified some level of interest in your business. By observing their email activity, you should be able to know who’s closer to talking to sales than others. If one of your contacts opens and clicks on every email in a lead nurturing campaign you’ve placed them in, it’s a clear sign they may be getting close to making a purchase. On the other hand, if someone opts in a campaign then never opens a single email, you can assign them negative points and steer your sales representatives away from them.
Now, How Do I Determine the Most Important Information?
Trying to score everything a contact does across your forms, emails, gated content, website while also deciding what person in what region matters most may seem like a daunting task. But, here are some tips to help guide you:
- Don’t do it alone. Have your entire marketing team and some representatives from your sales team sit down to and set a baseline of criteria. Ask your sales team what customers say or mention when they’re speaking with them. Together, you can choose what actions are positive, what are negative, and other critical information.
- Ask your customers. If you go straight to the source, you can know for sure what action had the most influence in their decision to purchase. If they tell you it was your product page on your website, you can then know to score that action high.
- Look at your analytics. By doing a contacts report in HubSpot, you can see what downloads, email campaign, or other relevant marketing activities generated the most revenue. Afterward, you can assign points to the pieces within the campaigns accordingly.
What Are Some Lead Scoring Best Practices?
Sometimes, marketers overthink lead scoring and don’t glean the full benefits. However, there are methods to use to create a strategy that makes lead scoring easy to manage.
- Keep your score ranges small. With so many elements to consider, having a vast range of points could muddle the entire process. If your range goes up to 20, would your team immediately know if an action scored at 13 is more positive or more negative? If you choose a scale of 1-5, you can break it down quickly. A point value of 1-2 would not be good, 3 would be okay, and 4-5 would be great.
- Let your contacts accumulate points based on iterations of the same action. That may sound like a mouthful, but in reality, it is easy to maintain. Your strategy should let your contacts reach certain milestones no matter what combination of smaller actions they take, especially taking into account the frequency or quantity of these actions. For example, you should prioritize someone who’s opened 12 emails and visited your product pages 12 times just as much as someone who’s downloaded two eBooks.
- Set up different lists. Make sure to segment your leads and the status they receive from lead scoring. You’ll likely want to separate your SQLs and MQLs and may even want to create a list for people who directly qualified as an MQL.
- Decide if you’ll do traditional or predictive lead scoring. Traditional lead scoring is what we’ve been discussing this entire blog, but HubSpot also offers a predictive lead scoring tool. Predictive lead scoring uses an algorithm to predict who in your database is qualified or not qualified for you – without you and your team deciding what information to score and how to score it. Picking between these two ultimately comes down to how hands on you want to be – and if you have HubSpot or not!
- Revisit your strategy. Like everything in the marketing world, it’s best not to create it then forget it. When it comes to your lead scoring model, it’s best to review your strategy every three to six months. That way you can address any abnormalities like leads consistently reaching SQL status who aren’t ready to talk to sales.
Lead scoring is a labor of love that takes a lot of research and collaboration. But if done correctly, it’s well worth it. Your marketing team will become heroes as they deliver more and more leads ready for sales, and your sales team will meet their goals. Hopefully, with our suggestions, it will be a breeze for your organization. If you are facing difficulties with your lead scoring model, or want help getting started, contact us today.
By: Corie Stark
After spending many years as a sports journalist, Corie switched to marketing in 2013. Her love of writing, talking to people, and keeping up with the industry enables her to use her skills for anything from social media to long-form blogging. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking with her dogs and making her cats chase the ever elusive red dot.
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