Marketing Automation for the Inbound Challenged – Part 1: Lead Scoring

I came to MLT Creative with a degree in Communications and a minor in Sports Management. Needless to say, my head was spinning when right away I started hearing a whole new language around the office. One term that kept popping up was “marketing automation,” which was almost always followed by a discussion of leads and CRMs. Since I was the new girl without a marketing-specific background, I assumed I was alone in my confusion. Turns out just about everyone at the office was uncertain about what marketing automation really is.

Craig Lindberg assigned me the task of researching every aspect of marketing automation. For once, I have the opportunity to write a research paper that will be put to use! I looked into various sources for the answer: Twitter, LinkedIn, B2B marketing professionals and some of the top marketing automation providers. One great source I was able to get my hands on was Ardath Albee’s The Essential Marketing Automation Handbook. Albee says that marketing automation is your lead toolbox, because it wouldn’t exist without leads, and vice versa. So, in order to understand marketing automation, we have to understand leads.

Marketing Automation supports B2B marketingOver the course of the next few blogs, I will look into different aspects of marketing automation, including lead scoring and lead nurturing, as well as top providers like Eloqua, Genius and Silverpop. For this first entry, I’ll stick to the basics of lead scoring.

A lead is a sales opportunity, but in order for you to take advantage of all the information they can offer you, marketing and sales must agree on a definition. It’s hard to score a quality lead if sales and marketing don’t have the same perception of “quality.” Once you have the definition down, you can start the lead scoring process.

According to Barbra Gago, lead scoring is a way to rank prospective customers numerically based on their level of interest. This way, your sales department can identify when leads are sales ready. Scoring is made up of two equally important parts: implicit and explicit information. Implicit data is more telling of your prospects’ digital body language, and explicit information illustrates whether your product is right for the prospect.

Leads don’t score themselves; it’s up to you to figure out what scoring method will tell you the most. Each part of the score should reflect at which level of engagement a lead is, so that your sales team can walk into the relationship knowing what to discuss with the prospect, instead of being redundant. Be sure and audit your leads so you don’t waste time trying to discover information that you may already know. Leads should be scored based on every move they make, whether it is clicking through your website, signing up for a webinar or commenting on a blog.

It’s important to remember that everything should have a different scoring process, and each action a lead makes will change their score. For example: they will be scored differently if they visit one page rather than multiple pages, they will be scored higher if they visit your product page rather than your employment page, and the highest score a lead can obtain is if they participate in a phone call with sales.

Don’t forget that leads can and should be scored negatively when appropriate. Reasons for a reduction in score include inactivity (of at least a month), titles such as “student” or “assistant,” and if a lead returns to the nurturing stage after being in sales. Remember, you must continually assess and refine your lead scoring approach to keep up with your constantly changing leads. Once you can track every move your lead is making, you can better understand their needs and decide whether or not they are right for you and your product.

Next week, I’ll discuss the process of lead nurturing, but until then be sure to comment and critique!