What Is Lead Scoring? How to Create a Beginner to Advanced Model

March 23, 2017 | Dan Trefethen

Lead scoring is a B2B marketer’s best friend. When I think about the major difference between the world of B2B and B2C, lead scoring is one of the big dividers. So, why do marketers lead score?  Marketers use lead scoring to differentiate leads and prioritize them for sales.

Why Lead Score?

If you have a lead funnel and have different personas and buyers for your products, you should use lead scoring. Lead scoring has become a cornerstone for B2B marketing because there is a specific audience for specific products. Unfortunately, not everyone is in need of a software that helps HR professionals or HVAC systems for industrial spaces, so lead scoring is leverage to find those people who are and prioritize them for sales.

Readers, a few questions for you: should you be using lead scoring? And are you using lead scoring effectively? Once you’ve decided lead scoring is right for you, let’s begin with a big question: how do you know if a lead is “good” or not?

Getting Started With Lead Scoring

Often, marketers feel compelled to google search “lead scoring metrics” or take a page from one of the “Definitive Guides to Lead Scoring” to determine the attributes they’ll score. Things like: clicked in email, visited, downloaded content. These are great, but they are pretty basic and generic, which can become a big trap for marketers.

When you don’t know where to start, foundational mistakes come easy. Then life gets busy and it’s hard to go back and adjust. To avoid this trap, separate out your thinking into two categories: demographics and behavior.

1. Demographic Lead Scoring

Demographic scoring is based on characteristics the lead poses.

For example: job title, country, revenue, employee size, etc. I often remember this as the part of the lead that normally doesn’t change.

As you review or begin your lead scoring, outline what’s important to your business. Start with your ideal lead. If you sell HR software, maybe that person is a VP (seniority) of HR (department) at a 500+ person (employee size) B2B company (company type).

With this exercise, you’ve just identified four demographics:

  1. Job Level/ Seniority
  2. Department
  3. Employee Size
  4. Company Type

Now using those four demographics, you can begin to build out a table for scoring based on preference. If you’re just beginning to score leads, don’t worry about numbers just yet. Focus on your framework. Remember you can have numerous scoring options for your different demographics. Get as detailed as possible.

2. Behavioral Lead Scoring

Behavioral scoring is scoring based on the actions the lead takes.

Are they showing interest in your company and your offering? Think of this as their digital body language – viewing multiple website pages, clicking in emails, downloading content, signing up for webinars, etc. You should have a lot more behavior lead indicators than demographics since you probably have a variety of marketing activities. Start with a laundry list of possible behaviors. Feeling overwhelmed with the possibilities? Start by thinking about your different marketing channels and go from there.

**Bonus: if you’re advanced, add another column and identify what buyer stage the behavior correlates to. Is the behavior showing the lead as not interested, aware, engaged, or considering purchase.

Factors To Consider

Now that you have a basic framework setup, there are a few areas to consider for lead scoring:

  1. Demographic vs. Behavioral Scoring
  2. Global and Local Scoring
  3. Adjusting Scoring
  4. Your Relationship With Sales

Demographic vs. Behavioral Scoring: Working Together for a Complete Picture

Now that you have an outline of both demographic attributes and behaviors you are scoring, it’s time to see how they work together. Most systems today recommend keeping a separate score of  each demographic and behavior, and then one combined. This is strong practice because behavioral scoring should change all the time while demographic data should be somewhat stable. You can run reports and set up triggers using the combined or separated out scores. Taking action with lead score data is the first step in creating a system that works.

So, let’s talk setting and using scores.

Why is one action 10 points and another is 5? Honestly, this is the hardest part of lead scoring –  figuring out what the scores should be. In order to anchor yourself, pick a number that will be your threshold for sales. Let’s pick something easy: 100 points. At 100 points, you’re going to say this lead is ready for sales, it’s a MQL (marketing qualified lead) or an AQL (automated qualified lead).

If 100 is your threshold, start with the demographics. Do you want your “perfect” looking lead to become a MQL/AQL without any behavior? Probably not, but you may want it to be close. Therefore, go back to your outline and give points that meet your business expectations. Same with behavioral scores, do you really want someone who opened 10 emails to become a MQL/AQL? Probably not, so run a couple of scenarios with the different scores.

Global and Local Scoring

This is an aspect of lead scoring I find many marketers overlook. When we talk about lead scoring, we generally are talking about it on a global level, meaning every single person is subject to the same criteria, every single time. But what if you’re using a tool that allows you to capture even more information? Or if you are looking deeper into the lead? For example, with a medium like interactive content where you can collect much more information than just behavioral actions, that data may not neatly correlate to something in your MAP or SFDC.

For these use cases and others, it might be helpful to have additional scoring rules at the campaign or local level. If someone gets a certain result on an assessment or quiz, score that result. Or perhaps, they answer questions about their goals or submit other relevant information, like favorite tradeshow – score it. If you can capture their information, you can use it.

Adjusting Scores: The Continuous Improvement

Lead scoring is very much an art and a science which require maintenance and tweaking. I recommend biweekly to monthly check-in’s with sales and quarterly deep dives to make sure everything is working.

If you have a long lead lifecycle or have people come in and out of the funnel frequently, you may want to consider resetting behavioral scores after a period of dormancy or inactivity. Adding in lead scoring steps that take into account recycled leads is important for keeping a very important party happy during this process: your sales team.

The Partnership with Sales

How can we talk about lead scoring without mention of how important the relationship with sales is? Sales depends on leads and so they should be involved during the process of determining and adjusting lead scores. Ask your reps what makes a good lead. You may be surprised on the insights they bring. For example, at SnapApp we underestimated what a huge impact opening emails were having on lead scoring. It was only 2 points, but they add up quick. So much so, we eliminated that lead score.

We also learned which content assets were the best indicators of discovery calls. Pretty cool, right? As you begin or refine your lead scoring journey, keep in mind your goal of prioritizing leads to sales and developing a scalable approach.

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