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What is lead scoring?

Lead scoring is a methodology used by business to business (B2B) marketers to identify which leads are most likely to buy within a marketing automation platform. Leads that get a higher score are rubber-stamped as qualified leads and identified to be a good fit – at which point the marketing team will flag them to either a telemarketing team or a business development team in order to follow up the potential interest.

In a nutshell: lead scoring helps determine lead quality so the client team can prioritise leads and drive marketing and sales productivity (and increase revenue more quickly).

According to Sirius Decisions, 68% of B2B companies have some form of lead scoring, but only 40% of sales teams cite getting value from them, which means that two out of three scoring models are failing at what they are meant to do (identify quality leads likeliest to make a purchase). (Source)

Most marketers will have invested time and effort building models and scoring rules and seen little return for their efforts – this is a common challenge with most software. The culprit isn’t the model, and it isn’t the software, either: it’s the strategy (and its application within the marketing mix) that’s at fault.

Effective scoring takes time to build and requires a B2B lead scoring software. Most marketers will have access to this if they’re using any of the leading marketing automation platforms and, while platforms offer varyingly complex ways to build scoring models, it’s important to think about scoring levels as well as blunt scores.

Most marketing automation tools and lead scoring software tend to focus on two types of scoring:

Behavioural scoring

The second (and most used) model is behavioural: it looks at what prospective clients do on a website, how are they engaging with content, and whether they are interacting in the way that the marketing team is expecting them to interact. Points are allocated based on the actions that they take and the interest level that these actions indicate. Here’s an example:

Lead scoring levels

An effective lead scoring model should have points based on the value of the content that leads interact with, (and the content’s placement in the customer buying journey). For example, a generic infographic (in research stage) would be a low score; an ebook on the benefits of scoring (in consideration stage) would be medium; a webinar or case study (in conversion stage) would be high.

In order to develop a model, consideration should be given to all the options for field values (and/or content) and each value’s effectiveness needs to be graded and evaluated continually to deliver results.The table below shows an example of the mapping required per field:

Scaling Marketo across 40+ countries takes a lot of time, and expert knowledge on how to centralise a number of global initiatives. Working with JTF Marketing, we’re able to leverage their experience of complex implementations of Marketo Engage to our advantage. Their passionate team is always focused on best practice and how to squeeze more ROI

Florian Afeli

Global Head of Marketing Automation & Analytics, Euler Hermes

Florian Afeli Euler Hermes

Negative scoring

Negative scoring sounds odd, but it’s probably the secret to deploying an effective lead scoring model. Negative scoring takes into account prospects who do not fit your target criteria and behaviour that identifies them as non-prospective accounts (i.e. contacts visiting your website from career sites, PR pages, etc). In addition, adding some attrition into the scoring campaign will ensure that you don’t end up with a lead score in the thousands.

Scoring in statistics

5 tips for launching an effective lead scoring model

  1. Involve your sales team in developing your scoring model. Involving sales in the planning stages of the process will not only help with sales and marketing alignment, but it’ll also allow the sales team time to change processes throughout the buying cycle, pose questions and provide feedback on what they consider good leads.
  2. Build your scoring model over time. They say “Rome wasn’t built in a day”… and the most effective lead scoring models weren’t built in a day, either. Build in layers of different scoring models in order to deliver incremental improvements to lead quality and readiness.
  3. Know your ideal client. Successful scoring models have a clear customer journey map and a clear definition of what each stage means (in terms of both data points and behaviour).
  4. Consider scalability from day one. Some lead scoring software allows you to build tokenised scoring models. Using a token will help you scale: not only will you be able to reference those scores in day-to-day campaigns, but you’ll also be able to easily update values in just one place if you change your mind on a value!
  5. Ask for help from the experts. They’ve done it before, so they know all the pitfalls and can help you get your scoring model up and running in no time. (Plus they’re often quite helpful on doing the grunt work!)

Different lead scoring models

As we know, most B2B lead scoring software focuses on two types of scores (behavioural and demographic). But this shouldn’t limit your possibilities – here are just a few ideas on how we at JTF Marketing believe you can use scoring.

Notice how the layered approach can help you build up layers of complexity? Each layer will help you get closer and closer to an effective model that can help you identify your next customer. In fact, if we go beyond the kinds of scoring we already know (firmographic, demographic and behavioural), we can begin to explore other kinds of scoring too:

Proposition: building individual scores based on the product(s) or service(s) your prospective customers are engaging with through your marketing materials.

Sentiment: with advanced B2B lead scoring software, you will be able to develop sentiment scores to help your sales and support teams engage with the client at the right time.

Profit: focusing on the business metric all CEOs and CFOs care about (identifying the profitability of a customer based on the number of engagements required, the support costs, the cost per conversion, etc).

Launch your lead scoring with JTF Marketing

Scoring is a minefield – it can become a very long and complex project. JTF Marketing’s certified marketing automation professionals have built numerous scoring models using tried and tested scoring models. We’ll help you ensure sales and marketing alignment and (just as importantly) optimise and refine your scoring over time. Get in touch to find out more.

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