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Custom Lead Scoring: 4 Steps for Getting Started

By Alex DunnerMar 4, 2015

custom-lead-scoringHow do you identify the contacts most likely to engage and convert on your company’s services? Custom lead scoring is a tactic that should be shared by both the marketing and sales departments and is a vital tool to include in your inbound marketing strategy.

The practice of lead scoring gives you the ability to gauge what leads are worth pursuing, which leads are unqualified and where your leads currently are within your sales/marketing funnel. Setting up custom lead scoring can empower both your marketing team and sales people with tangible data for evaluating each lead as they interact with your web assets. Creating scoring also allows you to prioritize the leads in your database, quantifying the buyer’s journey into steps with actual goals.

Sounds awesome right?  Well you might also find it interesting that even though lead scoring has been attributed to more qualified leads that, in turn, improve your sales team effectiveness, many marketers and companies are still not taking advantage. In fact, a Marketing Sherpa study showed that 79 percent of B2B marketers had not established lead scoring at all.

You know you should be doing it, but setting up lead scoring is easier said than done. In order to get an accurate picture of your leads and how engaged and interested they are in your services, you really need to dig deep and identify what actions, behaviors and demographic features determine a lead’s qualification.

Here, we determine what criteria you should consider, as well as how to use the information you obtain from your lead scoring to evaluate your leads and categorize them into specific groups that fuel your sales funnel with cleaner, more qualified leads.

Understand Explicit and Implicit Data 

When setting up custom lead scoring, you will need to identify the explicit and implicit data you can use to build your lead profiles. Lets look at these two categories:

  • Explicit Data:Information provided directly by the lead through interactions on your web assets, like the information received through a form submission.

  • Implicit Data: Information you get through observing the lead’s interactions on your website. Generally, this type of data is derived from behavioral and engagement interactions not directly given to you by the lead.

Set Up Scoring Criteria

The next step to setting up proper lead scoring is to understand the different types of data you will want to record and evaluate. Here at Kuno Creative, we look at three main categories:

1.) Engagement: How engaged is the contact when he or she visits our website? Some criteria to consider include:

  • The number of pages viewed
  • The number of website visits
  • The number of forms submitted
  • The number of emails opened and/or clicked

2.) Behavior: Data used to understand a lead’s willingness to engage with or interest in your material. Behavioral criteria should be used to identify the specific traits or interests the lead has—giving insight into why he or she has visited your website.  Behavioral scoring criteria may include:

  • Visiting subject-specific pages
  • Blog subscription preferences
  • Performing featured website actions, like watching a video on a specific subject or completing a subject-specific quiz

3.) Persona/Demographic:  This is perhaps the most important criteria you can use to identify if your lead is a good fit for your business/sales objectives. Criteria to consider here includes:

  • Job Title
  • Company Size
  • Revenue
  • Industry
  • Budget
  • Location
  • Time to purchase

Once you have identified the different criteria, you will need to identify how these items are weighted. For that, you need to understand where each interaction falls within the buyer’s journey and where that interaction is in your sales/marketing funnel. Understanding this will allow you to assign certain points to top-funnel interactions (infographic views, eBook downloads, etc.) and more points to interactions that fall at the bottom of the funnel (demo request, consultation requests, etc.).

Don’t Waste Your Time with Unqualified Leads

To ensure you are capturing the right leads and only sending qualified leads to your sales team, you need to create negative lead scoring criteria that will weed out those who are unlikely to turn into sales prospects. These may be competitors, students or other professionals who will simply never need the services you offer.

Generally, the best way to do this is by filtering information collected in the persona/demographic data. For example, you might add negative scoring to a lead that lives in a specific country or a lead that provided a personal email address rather than a company email. Like any of the suggestions here, it will be up to you to determine which criteria holds negative scoring values, as it will be based on your goals and the type of leads you are pursuing.

Set Goals and Identify Lifecycle Stages

Once you have determined your scoring criteria, you will want to create a series of goal lists to categorize your leads into different lifecycle stages. Most importantly, the two lists you will want to look at are your Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL) and your Sales Qualified Leads (SQL). This is where your scoring criteria will come into play.

People who can be categorized as a MQL might be highly engaged in your content and have the ideal demographics, but have not taken that extra step (requesting a demo?) to bring them to an SQL lead score level. These leads are the ones you will want to continue to nurture with content, developing their profiles and interacting with them to see what type of prospect they are. The goal is to develop these leads so that they might become SQLs though further nurturing.

Not too bad right? Setting up custom lead scoring sounds like a daunting task but, in reality, it’s actually pretty simple. Remember, the goal here is to gain a better picture of the people visiting your website—this will not only allow you to better market to your audience, but it will also provide your sales team with hot leads!

The Author

Alex Dunner

Alex has a background in marketing and five years of eCommerce management experience. As an marketing technologist, Alex works within HubSpot developing and managing inbound marketing automation systems. He also works to develop empirical measurements to evaluate customer behavior trends and applies them to client strategies.
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