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Lead scoring, pluck the ripe fruit

If you apply a successful inbound marketing strategy to your website, you will quickly notice that the number of visitors to the website increases. Interested visitors will also register their contact details. Often, it is impossible for sales to follow up all of these prospects and, in any case, most of them will not be ‘hot leads’ and sales people will regularly be met with a ‘no thanks’. The benefits of Marketing Automation, i.e. improved cooperation between marketing and sales, mean that marketing is able to deliver the ‘ripe fruit’ to sales, which they can then ‘pluck’.

What is lead scoring?

How do you know if a lead really is interested and ready to do business? You could call the lead and try to sell your product or service without being sure whether the encounter will be successful. Or you could apply lead scoring.

Most marketing automation software packages allow this alternative to be applied. But what exactly is lead scoring? It is a way of rewarding website visitors’ desirable behaviour, enabling the ideal lead to be identified on the basis of a score.

You could, for example, allocate points to leads for every page that they visit, or each form that they complete. It is important to allocate points if a lead completes a form, but also if he views an important page. If a lead, for example, visits an important page, such as the contact page, but does not leave his details, this means that he is not interested. You can therefore allocate extra points if a lead visits an important page, downloads a white paper or watches a video.

It is also possible to allocate scores on the basis of what a lead enters on a form. If the lead fulfils the requirements, you can allocate more points than you would to a lead that doesn’t make up the full picture.

Leads can be categorised as follows:

  • Cold leads with a low score (Prospect)
  • Warm leads with an average score (Marketing Qualified Lead)
  • Hot leads with a high score (Sales qualified lead)

The most interesting aspect of lead scoring and marketing automation is that everything can run automatically. Some examples:

  • Create a list of leads with a high score.
  • Send notifications to sales people if a lead reaches a specific score.
  • Show dynamic content to leads that are warmer than other visitors.
  • Enter into a personalised, 1 to 1 conversation, with the right lead, 24/7. The marketing automation system is always switched on, so it is always possible to send the right message to the right person at the right time.

Lead scoring is the ideal way to pick up leads that are ready to do business. The leads that are not yet sales qualified, can be helped over the threshold by keeping them within a nurturing flow. Leads that are not relevant also become clearer earlier, with lead scoring. It is therefore possible to save the sales team a great deal of time and costs.

Reducing lead scoring

You may also wish to reduce scores, instead of increasing them. This is ideal, for example, if the lead has become a customer and is returning for repeat purchases; this customer does not then remain a hot lead in the system. You may also ask whether a lead that has visited the vacancy page on numerous occasions is, in fact, a hot lead. The ultimate aim is to deliver leads that are ready to buy, to the sales team.

But it can also be useful to reduce lead scores over time. A hot lead does not stay hot forever; after a few weeks or months of inactivity, it is useful to reduce the score. This gives sales an ongoing overview of leads that are genuinely interested and leads that may have cooled down.

The lead score can also be reduced if somebody has become a customer. Once that has occurred, the sales department is not really interested in the high score so you may wish to stipulate that the score is reduced once someone has been converted.

Getting to work with lead grading

Alongside lead scoring, it is also possible to apply lead grading, i.e. allocating a score to specific conditions. This could work on the basis of branch, number of employees, location, history or sector. If you focus, for example, on obtaining large customers with at least 1,000 employees, you can adjust the points accordingly. Facts such as whether the DMU (decision making unit) is known, or if company details are complete can also play a role in lead grading.

Ask yourself the following questions when looking at the leads that come in:

  • Are they the right parties?
  • Who is my ideal customer and what characteristics must this ideal customer fulfil?
  • Which type of leads would I rather not have?

Once these answers are clear, it is wise to determine the value or points that you wish to allocate the leads that fulfil the requirements.

Creating the ideal customer and finding the perfect fit for your company is a great challenge. You may also assess leads on the completeness of information and the actions they carry out. For example: has the lead provided an email address? Give them 10 points! Do you know the phone number? That’s 20 points. Did the lead download a white paper? Decision-maker? Yes or no? Bonus points!

Part of this process is the creation of buyer personas. A buyer persona is part of your target group, but is a specific element that you allocate a face and a name.

Example of buyer persona and lead scoring:

The company XYZ sells software to both resellers and end users of the software.

This means that they encounter multiple buyer personas.

  • Persona A could be Mike Marketing.

Mike is a marketer for an advertising agency and uses the software from XYZ.

Mike is also a potential reseller and is searching on XYZ’s website.

  • Persona B is Nicky End User.

Nicky is the end user and is also looking for the same software as Mike Marketing, but not as a reseller.

These are two different types who can use their own scoring model in your marketing automation system. Sales journeys with end users are often shorter and more lucrative for XYZ. That is why it is important for XYZ to quickly establish whether a website visitor is persona A or persona B. This can be resolved by asking the right questions within a form. Once it is clear which persona you have, it is possible to allocate extra points to persona B. Persona B is the favourite lead for sales in this case so these have to be rewarded quickly and followed up. The point allocation system is then harmonised accordingly.

Alongside these types of handy feature, there are many further opportunities with marketing automation, such as creating lists of ideal prospects or personas that you can mail automatically. Or sending notifications to sales people if a lead reaches a specific score.

 

More information

This blog is written by Ruud. If you have any questons, Ruud’d be happy to help!

Ruud Hansen, Expert accountmanager
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