Leveraging Automation & Lead Scoring to Drive Your Organization’s Marketing and Sales ROI

  • Posted: 6th February 2018
  • Written by:

    Colin McEvily, Campaign Services Consultant

Lead Scoring_Celerity

Automating a Lead Scoring Model

What can a CRM connection, a sound lead management process and a lead scoring model do for your sales ROI?

Lead Scoring is a formula-based methodology that, when empowered by a marketing automation platform (MAP), allows organizations to measure and track an individual’s disposition in a moment of time to a particular product, service or brand.

Traditionally, lead scoring is used to inform sales and marketing teams of the priorities and tactics for contacting and qualifying leads throughout the various stages of the customer journey. This, in turn, informs marketing and sales communications platforms which campaigns to include an individual in and what content is sent to that individual, making the experience more personalized and more relevant.

Organizations using lead scoring enable their sales teams to prioritize which marketing qualified leads are worth calling and spending their time on at any given moment.  A Marketing Sherpa study showed that those using lead scoring had a 77% boost in lead generation ROI over those not using scoring. Utilizing a scoring model will also reduce the risk of offending leads that aren’t truly ready to speak to sales yet, allowing the marketing team to nurture them until sales interaction is appropriate.

How to come up with a lead scoring formula

There are generally two different lead scoring philosophies that you’ll see being used: Single Number scores and Co-Dynamic scores.

Single number scores combine all scoring criteria into 1 single score, such as ‘137 out of 200.’  The maximum score and the amount of points that certain criteria add to the overall score is determined by the business.

Co-Dynamic scores aggregate Demographic from Engagement criteria, and create scores like ‘A1’ or ‘C3,’ where the letter score represents the demographic fit, typically using A – D as the possible scores, and the numerical score is usually a 1 – 4 that indicates the lead’s level of engagement or interest in the product, service or brand.

While single number scores are quick to get setup initially, they can create false high scores. For instance, if the lead clicks on a lot of marketing emails and attends a lot of events, their engagement score is boosted based on the interaction with the content, but they may not be the right sales target based on demographic criteria.

Co-Dynamic scores, which take a bit more planning and consideration to implement, provide a clearer view into the specific components of what a good lead is based on the business and selling process.  For example, an ‘A4’ co-dynamic score means you’ve got the right person from a demographic perspective (hence the ‘A’ score for demographics), but the ‘4’ engagement score (the lowest of the engagement scores) indicates that they haven’t engaged enough with your brand to show true buying behavior or intention.  This would tell us that this lead should be included in additional nurture campaigns, but he/she isn’t yet ready to be sent to the sales team for an opportunity to be created.

Lead scoring can be challenging to organize; getting the time from your required resources (marketing managers, sales directors and others who steward the sales and marketing process in your organization need to come together to plan and discuss) is difficult, and getting all of these parties to agree on a scoring criteria that best serves the unique business needs from all perspectives can be even more challenging and sometimes requires third party expertise to uncover all of the key cross-departmental considerations.

Demographic Lead Scoring Model_Celerity

Engagement Lead Scoring Model_Celerity

How to implement a Lead Scoring Model:

Align Sales and Marketing Teams

Implementing a lead scoring model and layering it into your sales and marketing process requires tight alignment between your sales and marketing departments.  Ensuring that both teams are able to add input to which criteria is to be evaluated in a scoring formula is crucial to creating a scoring formula that works effectively for your organization.  Your teams will need to consider whether you require just one global scoring model or multiple models to support different products/brands, and how the lead score should inform the rest of the process (what subsequent tasks should happen if a lead score is ‘X’?  what should happen if it is ‘Y’?  etc.).

Having regularly scheduled meetings between sales and marketing teams is crucial in order to communicate results and potential opportunity areas. For example, how are the quality of the leads being passed from marketing to sales? How is the quantity of leads effecting the sales team? No matter what the case may be, the lead scoring model needs to be consistently evaluated to ensure business is running as efficiently as possible and leading to a greater ROI.

Formula Components

The teams should decide on an initial formula for Lead Scoring using no more than 5 scoring categories (10 total if you’re using the Co-Dynamic model: 5 for demographic and 5 for engagement).  This will keep your scores focused, and your formula will be easier to modify later.  It will NOT serve you to try and make your formula too complex or to consider too many scoring attributes in the same scoring model.

When to Implement Lead Scoring:

While a lead scoring formula can be configured whenever time is available to discuss criteria, it’s important to organize your scoring model(s) in the context of how you’ll use these scores within your overall sales and marketing process.  Otherwise, you may be wasting time in creating and implementing a scoring model before you’re able to get much value from it.

Lead scoring becomes valuable when it has been aligned to your actual buyer’s journey and optimized to give a meaningful indication to both sales and marketing teams regarding how hot or cold that lead is for a certain opportunity, product or brand.

If your organization doesn’t have a sophisticated buyer journey mapped out with lead stages defined throughout your sales and marketing funnel and a clear understanding of when a lead is marketing qualified and sales qualified, it may be too early to implement a lead scoring engine.

So you have a lead scoring model; now what?

Lead scoring is NOT a ‘set it and forget it’ process.  Especially in the initial launch phase of the scoring process, there should be at least a quarterly, if not monthly review in the first six months to ensure that the scores being calculated are accurate in terms of how it will inform the subsequent steps in the sales and marketing process.  If there are too many leads of a certain score coming out of the scoring engine, you may need to take a look at the formula criteria and adjust it to ensure that an ‘A1’ lead is, in fact, the hottest lead that sales could get from marketing.

Conclusion

Lead Scoring is an important enhancement to your overall lead management and MQL process and can elevate the power of your marketing automation systems when it comes to lead generation.  However, before taking on a lead scoring model, it is critical to ensure that your organization fully understands and is aligned around the strategy behind the lead management process. It is important your organization also understands the key qualifications that transition a warm lead to a hot lead and when it’s an ideal time for the sales team to engage with prospects and customers. Without this foundational understanding, the lead scoring engine could be an obsolete investment.

With a firm understand of your lead management process conceptually and within your marketing automation platform, lead scoring can increase your ROI as well as the efficiency with which your sales reps operate. However, it isn’t to be taken lightly and will take some strategic planning, team alignment and analysis over time before it becomes fully valuable to your process.

 

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