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Lead scoring is one of the most popular — and valuable — marketing automation features. Despite being a little time-consuming and difficult to setup, the potential it has to improve your business is virtually limitless.
If you’ve never heard of lead scoring before, here’s the basic idea:
Once you recruit a new lead, it enters a system that basically ranks the prospect based on its likelihood to perform a specific conversion. The score the system gives each lead is usually founded on a set of guidelines drawn up by you, which are based off of the characteristics of your highest-performing leads from past conversions.
The scores given by the system, if you draw up the guidelines correctly, are often very accurate reflectors of whether or not a lead will convert. These scores are therefore incredibly useful to your sales team, and can be used to accomplish several other things in your business (as we’ll cover later on in the post).
It’s a neat marketing tool that’s pretty much indispensable to any small business with a significant inflow of leads. Thankfully, it’s also a rather common feature that’s available in nearly all marketing automation tools, like Marketo, Ontraport, Infusionsoft, and most others.
If you want a detailed guide to setting up and using lead scoring, Marketo has produced an excellent one here. This post, however, is focused mainly on the different ways scoring leads can improve a business, and the many benefits it brings to the table.
Let’s get into it.
1. Find the Right Leads to Focus On
Image credit: Mark Hunter
Once you’ve setup lead scoring, every new lead that enters your system will now be scored based on the qualifications you have set. After your lead has interacted a bit with your website, the system will be able to gauge how likely they are to convert into the next stage of your sales process.
This allows you to instantly see which leads, based on their scores, are actually worth your time. Then, you can concentrate your marketing efforts and follow-ups on those particular leads, rather on cold, uninterested leads that are unlikely to convert.
Another thing you can do is setup automation flows specific to your highest-scoring leads.
For instance, if your best leads normally exhibit serious intent towards becoming a customer, you could setup an automation flow for your highest-rated leads that cut out a couple of the lead nurturing steps that are reserved for more lukewarm prospects. This could bring your hot leads much closer to the first sale in much less time.
By focusing your time and effort on the leads that are most likely to become an actual customers, you’ll skyrocket your team’s productivity and ROI.
2. Identify the Origins of Your Hottest Leads
Once a decent amount of new prospects has passed through your lead scoring system, you’ll begin to notice trends and patterns peculiar to your highest scoring leads.
One important trend to consider is the origin of the leads. By comparing the scores of leads recruited from various sources, you’ll determine the traffic channels through which your most valuable leads find your site.
Lead scoring will allow you to determine things like the following:
- quality of leads from Google Adwords vs. Yahoo! ads
- quality of leads from your blog vs. referral content sources
- quality of leads from Pinterest vs. Facebook
Let’s take a look at another example.
Suppose that leads generated from links to your website on high-traffic blogs in your industry receive much higher scores relative to ones that come through your own blog content. This tells you that you should focus on building relationships with those high-traffic blogs, so that you’re able to channel their targeted, high-conversion audience to your own site.
The result: more leads of high quality, and fewer of low quality.
3. Decrease Campaign Costs
Since you can use lead scoring to determine the traffic channels that are sending you the most qualified prospects with high conversion rates, by the same token you can also use it identify the channels that send you low quality leads with low conversion rates.
You can sift away the “bad” traffic channels and limit or even completely cut off the amount of money and time you invest in them.
Plus, when you cut spending on less productive traffic sources, you’ll find yourself with more funds to infuse into the channels that do produce high scoring leads. Soon enough, you’ll be maintaining your desired level of quality lead generation or even surpassing it, with just a fraction of the initial cost.
4. Find out How to Best Nurture Your Leads
Image credit: D Sharon Pruitt
Another benefit lead scoring can bring to your business is showing you how your high quality leads interact with your site.
Once you recognize your most valuable leads, you can track how they move around and engage with your site. You can answer questions like:
- do quality leads interact with my business more on social media, or on your blog?
- are they more likely to use email, chat, or phone to get in touch with us?
- on which social networks do they connect with my business the most?
This information will tell you what works for your marketing and what doesn’t. You’ll be able to determine what content types, support channels, social networks, etc. your target audience is most keen on.
You can then use that knowledge to restrict your focus and funds into the content formats and networks that your best-performing leads actually want to engage with.
5. Align Marketing & Sales
Marketing and sales departments are notorious for constantly being at odds with one another. Quite often, you’ll find that your marketing folk will advise you one way of a lead’s quality, while your sales personnel will have a completely opposite opinion.
Cara Hogan from Insight Squared words it perfectly in a succinct quote:
“Without lead scoring, a rep will decide a lead is garbage and refuse to work it, but marketing will argue that the lead is perfectly good and the rep should keep working it.”
Such squabbles between marketing and sales are rather silly when you think about it. After all, the two departments both have a singular goal: increase revenue. So why the quarreling?
In short, it’s usually because marketing has one opinion of what makes up a quality lead, and sales has a completely different opinion.
So when marketing recruits on a high quality lead (scored according to their own standards) and passes it on to sales, there’s a strong chance that sales won’t be as enthusiastic about the probability of the conversion because they have their own grading system to evaluate leads.
The solution is, once again, lead scoring.
Bring your marketing and sales departments together and get them to put forth their ideas as to what a quality lead does and doesn’t look like. Then, combine the ideas to produce a set of well-defined parameters for lead quality that both parties are happy with. Use the criteria to setup your lead scoring system, and voila. No more arguing. Marketing & sales are now happily working in tandem, focused on the right leads.
There’s no doubting that lead scoring systems are often time-consuming to setup. Not only do you have to first come up with and implement scoring guidelines that both your marketing and sales departments are happy with (as we covered above), but you also need to already have a database of quality leads to look at so you have a basic idea of what makes up a quality lead for your business.
But once you do get a system in place, there’s no end to the improvements it can bring. Any one of the five benefits of lead scoring I’ve outlined above will significantly improve your business efficiency and work to bring you better, higher quality customers that are worth more in the long run.
So, how do you use lead scoring to improve your business? What kinds of boosts have you experienced as a result? Share in the comments below!
Featured image credit: Stuart Miles