Most modern marketers are bitten by the inbound marketing bug. Once your inbound marketing engine is working well and you’re getting a high volume of new leads, you need to score those leads. Successful lead scoring aligns sales and marketing automatically.
When it comes to lead scoring, I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that only 23% of sales professionals say marketers consistently deliver sales-ready leads (source). The good news is that this doesn’t have to be the case.
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Lead scoring that delivers sales-ready leads is easier than you think, as long as you understand your buyers and build a lead scoring process around their interests and behaviors.
Understanding Your Leads
A well-oiled lead score machine can align sales and marketing efforts and do wonders for your pipeline. The most effective lead scoring captures two core aspects of a lead’s journey with your brand: demographic aspects and behavioral aspects.
Demographics – Demographic aspects identify common characteristics of your prospective buyers, especially core characteristics such as company size, revenue range and location. On an individual level, demographics include categories such as title (VP of Sales, etc.), gender, age group, income level, etc. The most important demographics for your lead scoring process will depend on your particular business.
Behavior – Behavioral aspects identify your prospective buyers’ interaction with your brand, including the way they buy, where they like to interact (social, web, email, phone), and what they find most interesting about your product or service. Web analytics are a powerful way to understand lead interests by tracking how many web pages a lead visits on your website, which pages and for how long. Are they opening emails in a particular campaign or responding particularly well to SMS messages about a new product feature? These are all aspects of lead behavior.
The sweet spot for lead scoring is where demographics and behavior intersect. Once you’ve identified that intersection, it’s time to create your lead scoring system.
5 Building Blocks of Successful Lead Scoring
Which factors you take for setting up your lead scoring system completely depends on your business model, but the building blocks are the same for all SMBs. Here are my five building blocks for setting up a robust, effective lead scoring system that can automatically align your sales and marketing efforts.
- Define your criteria – Before you even start making lead scoring rules, sit with your sales team over a cup of coffee and ask them to define an ideal customer. This is crucial. It’s the basis for building your lead scoring system. There might be several different types of ideal customers or customer personas. If so, where do those customers overlap?
- Identify your Target Audience (TA) – Once your customer criterion is decided the next building block is to identify your Target Audience. Questions relating to your TA might include: Is your target audience based in North America or they are spread across the globe? Which income group is your TA skewed toward? Is your TA composed primarily of top-level management or mid-level management? You may take your sales team’s help for this but your marketing team is best equipped to answer questions about your TA (if they haven’t already done the research to define your company’s TA, have them do that first, before moving on to Building Block 3).
- Define your brand’s unique customer journey – What are the steps in your customer journey, and how should each step be scored? Once you have the characteristics of a lead well defined, focus on lead’s behavior with your brand. List all possible touch points through which leads engage with your brand and become dedicated customers. Some behaviors are more important than others. Make a specific list and assign points to highlight each step’s importance. Particular steps might include when a lead opens an email, visits a signup page, or registers for a webinar. This point system will vary from business to business.
- Structure a system and allocate scores – After characteristics and behavioral aspects have been identified, you need to define a lead scoring structure. For instance, if your focus market is in the US, then you give leads from the US a positive score versus someone coming from Russia, whom you allocate a negative score as your company does not have operations in Russia (or it might be the other way around). Another classic example is when you allocate a negative score to any lead coming to your career page, because those leads are interested in working for your company, not buying your product. Once the system is ready you need to allocate a particular score to each touch point. This will be based on the priority you have set for each aspect. Do you want to score leads from publicly traded companies higher than private companies? Do you want to give a higher score to leads visiting your pricing page than to leads visiting your careers page? Such decisions should be incorporated into your lead scoring system. Once your system is ready, it’s time for the final building block in creating a robust lead scoring system.
- Track & Tweak – The last building block to a good lead scoring system is to have a continuous process of tracking and tweaking the structure based on the results. Don’t be surprised if you discover new aspects of lead behavior that are actually critical to defining a buy-ready lead. Such discoveries are a part of the process! For example, if you find that leads visiting your blog are converting more than leads visiting your webinars, you should increase the lead score points for your blog page and reduce the lead score points for your webinars page.
I am sure no marketer would question the importance of lead scoring. The real question is how you will set up your lead scoring process. Most marketing automation systems provide some sort of lead scoring functionality, but it is essential to choose one that syncs with your business model. Lead scoring for SMBs is very different from lead scoring for a large enterprise. After you have sorted all the steps above, it’s time to implement your new lead scoring system in your marketing automation app.
Once your lead scoring system is up and running, don’t forget to evaluate it in collaboration with other teams in your organization, especially sales teams. For me, improving our lead scoring process in collaboration with Sales has been highly rewarding and productive.