Lead scoringLead scoring is an effective method to help identity hot leads. You begin by identifying attributes that are characteristic of decision-makers at your best existing customers, and the actions they took on their buyer’s journey. You then determine a numerical value for each factor, weighting them according to productivity. Next, you apply those scores as your leads engage, and the higher scores should be more sales-ready or sales-worthy.

Lead scoring is one of marketing automation’s great wins. What would be a very labor-intensive activity to do manually becomes relatively painless once your decisions are made. Marketing automation applies the scores for you, tracks them, and lets you know when a lead passes a score threshold. Here’s a checklist to help you get started:

1. Create and embrace your target buyer persona(s). This means identifying those attributes and actions that indicate a potential good customer. It’s a good idea to use negative scoring to help eliminate the “lead” that isn’t, such as job seekers who spend a lot of time on your website.

2. Know your customer’s buying cycle and buying signals. Certain types of customers buy certain things in cycles. If this is true for your customer base, apply that knowledge to scoring. Don’t be afraid to apply negative scores for time periods that elapse with no activity.

3. Score each step, activity or buying signal based on its relative value. As an example, don’t score all visits to a web page the same. Your “Careers” page might be a -50; your “Products” page worth 10; and your “Pricing” page worth 25.

4. Create three to five segments to start (don’t overdo it). This is truly the key to a smooth start and an effective finish. It may take some experimentation to find the correct factors to score, but having a few factors that really produce is far superior to having a great many less-important factors scored. This prevents a poor lead that generates a lot of low-level activity from scoring well – and lead scoring is as much about winnowing out the chaff as it is about finding the gold.

5. Start with anecdotal data. If you don’t have hard data to work with (and you may well not, at first), have conversations with a few of your best customers and see what common denominators you come up with. Score those to get started.

6. Get complete alignment with sales. The whole point of scoring is to deliver the best leads to your sales team at the appropriate time, so get these stakeholders involved. They have experience taking a prospect through the buying stages, so they can help you identify and score key indicators. And when your scoring system needs a tune-up (it will, sooner or later), they are your subject matter experts.

7. Build a set of specific next steps. Once it’s rolling, your scoring system may be able to help you identify which stage in the buyer’s journey a prospect is located. That can help you determine the next action. You might want to experiment with different “next actions.”

8. Track behavior, and adjust scores and tactics accordingly. Like most everything else in marketing, this is a rinse-and-repeat game. If your high-scoring prospects aren’t buying, work with your sales team to figure out the adjustments to make. Analyze your successes too, for keys to do even better.

Want more information about lead scoring? Check out the Act-On white paper “Best Practices for Setting Up a Lead Scoring Program.” Let us know how it goes.