Custom Lead Scoring and How it Works

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lead scoringLead scoring is a powerful sales feature offered in just about every marketing automation platform. Companies with a solid lead scoring methodology in place are better equipped to not only evaluate VOLUMES of customer prospects, but more importantly, they can zero-in on “sales-ready” leads, and turn them into opportunities!

So what exactly is lead scoring? Marketo defines lead scoring as “a shared sales and marketing methodology for ranking leads in order to determine their sales-readiness”. Essentially, leads receive a score (i.e., a points system or ranking: A/B/C/D, or perhaps “hot”, “warm”, or “cold”), based on the interest customers express in a company’s products or services, etc.

Working together, marketing and sales teams rely on these scores to determine where potential customers fit into the buying cycle.

Remember, a customer’s lead score is dynamic, requiring re-evaluation from time to time, based on a predetermined set of criteria. When marketing and sales teams operate from the same set of lead scoring rubrics, they position themselves to drive more efficient and effective marketing campaigns.

Setting Up for Success

But what if you’re new to marketing automation? How will you go about setting up a sustainable lead scoring strategy? How will you be integrating the information from your data into a viable scoring system? How will you measure lead successes or failures? There are many factors to consider, but before you jump right in, you’ll need to do your homework and get clear about your company’s unique marketing goals.

You can start by answering this question: Who is your target audience and what rules will you put in place to define your ideal buyer profile?

To help create your lead scoring model we recommend that you start with a lead-scoring rules checklist that aligns with your needs, such as the one created by Marketo. When it comes time to evaluate your data, it’s very important that you consider a combination of explicit and implicit-based information: explicit scoring comes from what your prospects tell you directly about themselves and implicit scoring is derived from your observations or inferences from their behaviors.

With over 250 lead scoring rules, Marketo’s checklist does an excellent job of helping to identify:

  • Key demographics that pertain to your company’s individual goals (company info)
  • Behavior-based scores to consider (online behavior, email & social engagement)
  • Bad behaviors that warrant low or negative scores (unsubscribes, incorrect or erroneous information, spam detection)

Okay, so how do these rules work to determine lead scores? The rules can be as sophisticated and/or as complicated as you’d like, providing you the ability to create your own custom rules as well. Let’s walk through a couple examples.

Perhaps a strong lead score is assigned to someone who has: visited a specific product page, downloaded a white paper, engaged in a live chat session, AND then visited the pricing page. Conversely, you may give a low lead score to a lead who only visited a non-product page, like the Careers page. Leads with low scores might be sent back to nurturing or you might decide that they are not worth your time at all.

Once you’re up and running, measuring successes and identifying opportunities should come from a combination of sources. Marketers can make well-rounded, future decisions based on feedback from their sales teams, their customers, and from company analytics. The goal is to pinpoint the content and actions that are successful in converting leads into customers.

Identify, Validate, and Clean it up!

So what’s the common denominator in this lead scoring equation? Without a doubt, it’s that you cannot do any of this without contact record data. Above all else, the contact data entering your lead scoring system must be genuine, accurate, and up to date.

As the number of data entry points increases, so does the propensity for erroneous data to corrupt your system. In other words, you need to know, in all stages of the buying cycle, that you are working with “real” people! Following the “garbage in, garbage out principle”, if mistakes are made and not caught at the point of entry, then your pipeline will be peppered with dead end leads, wasting time and resources.

Unfortunately, marketing automation platforms do a poor job of ensuring the contact records captured are genuine, accurate and up-to-date. This is where Service Objects comes in. Our Lead Validation tools perform real-time checks to verify the contact data entered is real. We also offer a free Data Quality Scan, which gives you a detailed report on the quality of your existing contact data and areas where it can be improved