Let’s talk about leads. If you’ve been in sales or marketing long enough, you’re well aware that not all of them are created equal.
Cold leads are those who haven’t ever expressed any interest in your content. Maybe someone in your network referred them to you, but they haven’t really reached out to you. Warm leads are familiar with what you do and have maybe even commented on a blog or social media post.
Then there are information qualified leads (IQL), who have done some research into what you do and may be comparing you with competitors. They keep coming to your site, but still haven’t requested anything from you.
Higher on the totem pole are marketing qualified leads (MQL). They have actually taken some desired action by engaging with your content. Examples include watching your video tutorials, downloading a lead magnet, enrolled in a webinar, or attending one of your events.
The cream of the crop are sales qualified leads (SQL). These are the people who are ready to schedule that call with one of your sales reps. Maybe it’s to inquire further about a product or service — or maybe they’re ready to buy. Time is of the essence when it comes to reaching out to them.
Since there are so many types of leads, it’s a good idea to implement a good lead scoring system, so that the appropriate team members are notified to strike while the iron’s hot.
What is Lead Scoring?
Lead scoring is a term that refers to assigning a point value to a contact in your database. These points are based on their specific attributes that, when taken in their totality, can help you forecast the likelihood that the lead will turn into a customer. There are two types of attributes: positive and negative.
Positive attributes refers to those used when a lead takes a desired action. For example, engaging with your emails. Opening an email, clicking through to your website, filling out a form on a landing page, subscribing to your blog, or requesting a demo, to name a few.
On the other side of the coin, there are negative attributes. These refer to characteristics that should lead you to exclude them from your metrics. For example, if you know that you got a bump in page views yesterday afternoon, but everyone in your company was checking out your website redesign. Or if you got spam email through a landing page.
Benefits of Lead Scoring
There are several advantages to assigning scores to your leads; and all of them are designed to help your teams work more effectively.
Gauges a Lead’s Interest
Lead scoring lets you know who’s a hot, warm, or cold lead. As a result, your marketing team knows on whom to focus their targeted efforts; and your sales team knows when it’s the perfect time to reach out to a prospect. And if they aren’t sales qualified leads yet, it’s ok. You don’t have to reach out exclusively to the highest scores. You can still nourish those leads with information that’s relevant to their stage on their buyer’s journey.
Weeds Out People Who Aren’t In Your Target Market
Every time you design a drip campaign or lead nurturing efforts, it behooves you to send those communications to people who fit your buyer persona profile. This can include specific job titles, industry, company size, pain points, and demographics. The lower the lead score, the easier it becomes to prevent wasting your energy on efforts that will lead nowhere.
Optimizes Marketing Efforts
Leads with a higher score are likely to be most receptive to bottom of the funnel marketing content. They are also more likely to engage with your marketing emails — not because this inherently occurs with MQLs and SQLs, but because these communications are specifically tailored to fit their needs. Marketing can personalize them and craft content that is highly relevant to them.
Optimizes Sales Processes
Lead scoring is crucial to align your sales and marketing teams. As a result, your sales department will have a much higher probability of reaching out to people who are ready to buy. No more time wasted making calls to people who don’t need or want what you’re selling.
Factors To Consider When Scoring Leads
There are many things you can take into account when scoring leads. This will vary from business to business, but generally, you want to pay attention to the following:
A lead’s contact history with your company tells you so much information. How often have they opened your marketing emails? How often do they visit your website? Which pages do they view the most? Have they filled out any forms or downloaded any content? The more they engage with your communications and your website, the higher their score should be.
A startup may not be able to afford you yet — or maybe they don’t even really need your services. On the flip side, a global company may need much larger resources than what you can offer. You know what’s the type of company that would most benefit from your services. Use this metric to weed out the ones you can’t serve well.
What’s their job role? Knowing this will give you insights as to whether (a) doing business with a company like yours is part of their responsibilities, and (b) whether they have a say in the decision-making process.
Return traffic that delivers multiple visits from a single user is a huge sign you are on the right track with someone. It means they are looking forward to your updates or they’re getting more information — for example, from a colleague — then returning to evaluate your claims.
Page views are a vital early metric in judging interest. When someone is intrigued by what you have to offer, they’ll usually view more pages and have longer, deeper sessions. But don’t just rely on views alone. Your site should also be set up to drive conversions with lead capture and live chat.
Type of Content Viewed
The content types that someone views is one of the best indicators of what buyer journey stage they’re in and what their next move might be. As visitors progress toward bottom of the funnel content — whitepapers and case studies — their lead score should increase.
How Recent Are Their Actions
The sooner you get leads to take action, the better. Recency helps you understand just how motivated someone might be. Ideally, they’ll move smoothly from one step to the next and jump on that purchase. If they fall idle, then their lead score should go down. But don’t just let them float away from your shore. Try reengaging them before discarding them.
How To Narrow Down Lead Scoring Criteria
If you're not sure where to start when it comes to lead scoring, there are a few things you can do:
Ask Your Sales Team
You should get as much information as possible as your front-line team members. Your sales team speaks with prospects on a daily basis. As such, they know common challenges, apprehensions, and leads’ wishful thinking like the back of their hands. You can do all the market research in the world (and by all means, conduct it); but your sales reps put everything into context and can tell you exactly what can make a person go from lukewarm to enthusiastic to do business with you.
Asking for customer feedback is another effective way to identify insights that may otherwise not be on your radar. Is there anything you could’ve done better? What would have made your marketing more effective? Do they wish you could improve on a service or process? Take what they say seriously, and if there are recurring common denominators, pay attention and do something about it.
Look at Analytics
Metrics speak loudly. So pay attention to everything that reflects a lead is moving into MQL or SQL territory. Look at how they found out about you, their engagement with your site, and their purchase history. On a macro level, look at how many leads a particular source is generating, and how many of them have converted in the past. What has worked historically and what hasn’t?
How To Calculate Lead Scores
There are a variety of ways to go about lead scoring. Here's the four basic steps of doing so:
1. Calculate Your Lead-to-Customer Conversion Rate
Your conversion rate is equal to the number of new customers you earn divided by the number of leads you generate. This rate should be used as your benchmark.
2. Select Which Attributes Will Indicate Higher Quality Leads
These attributes could be anything a customer does, from downloading a tipsheet to working in a B2B company. It's up to sales reps to decide which attributes qualify for a certain amount of points, but it's important that they're basing their judgements off of the right data.
3. Calculate the Close Rates of the Selected Attributes
When you calculate the close rate of every action, you can build a proper strategy or response to those actions. Determine how many leads actually convert to customers based on certain behaviors and how close they are to your ideal customer. You'll be able to reference those close rates when scoring other leads who display similar activity.
4. Assign Points Based on Close Rates of Attributes with Your Overall Close Rate
As you examine the behavioral attributes of a lead, look at the close rates for each attribute respectfully. Identify which ones are significantly higher than your overall close rates or benchmark.
From there, choose which attributes will be assigned points and how many points they'll warrant. It's important to be consistent in your scoring so that all leads are sent through a standardized qualification process.
Lead Scoring Best Practices
Lead scoring is a pretty flexible practice that you can adjust to your team's standards and who your customers are. There are some best practices to keep in mind, though, in an effort to keep yourself organized and productive.
Keep Score Ranges Small
No one attribute should be worth an excessive amount of points. A window of one to 10 may be too broad and can lead to a misinterpretation of a lead's qualification. Work in smaller scales, like one to five, when scoring a lead. That way, interpreting lower, middle, and upper scores is easier.
Generalize Scoring Attributes
Regardless of which smaller actions are taken in what order, your lead should be able to reach certain milestones in their scoring. If you learn that the conversion rate for someone who has opened 15 emails is the same as someone who has downloaded a free demo, then prioritize them equally.
Leads should be able to accumulate points based on iterations of the same behaviors, which will lead to better conversations between them and your sales reps.
Add All the Scores Together for a Maximum Score
As your leads accumulate different scores for different attributes, adding the points together for a total score will help your sales reps organize and prioritize their contacts.
There isn't a specific formula for a lead to qualify as a prospect. The criteria should be mixed, with leads being able to accumulate points through actions that fit their needs and process.
Don't look for the same patterns in every contact when qualifying and scoring a lead. Simply look at what their actions are adding up to, which in turn allows your team to stay accurate.
How To Set Up Lead Scoring on HubSpot
As a HubSpot Elite Partner Agency, we’re obviously going to tell you about how great the platform is for lead scoring. But how to set it all up in your account, you ask? Follow these steps:
- First, you'll need to create a lead scoring rule. To do this, click on the Settings icon, then click on Properties.
- On the search bar, type in HubSpot Score, and click on the HubSpot Score property that appears on screen.
- You will see two side-by-side sections, one titled Positive and one titled Negative. Underneath each of them, you’ll see +Add Criteria.
- Click on +Add Criteria, then check the box for Contact Properties, and type in whatever criteria you want to include (e.g. blog subscription, recent sales email open date, first marketing email reply date, etc…)
- Click on Apply Filter. A small box will appear, where you can designate the point value for that attribute. Enter the number and click on Set, and then on Save.
- Follow the same steps for each numeric value you want to include in your positive attributes list.
- Follow the same steps for any actions that should decrease a lead’s score, but under the Negative section.
That's it! You've now set up lead scoring on HubSpot.
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Alejandra Zilak is a content writer, ghostwriter, blogger, and editor. She has a bachelor's degree in journalism and a Juris Doctor. She's licensed to practice law in four jurisdictions and worked as an attorney for almost a decade before switching careers to write full time. She loves being part of the Bluleadz team and implementing SEO best practices with her content. When not working, she loves to read, write fiction, and long distance running.