What’s the one thing that keeps a brand outperforming its peers? Finding (and then converting) high-quality leads! Sheer volume is not enough, as every lead is unique, and the world’s biggest and best brands know that it’s well-qualified leads that pump up the bottom line. So how do they find these promising prospects? Let’s dig in…

Inside Info on Scoring Leads

Let’s take a look behind the scenes, and discover how they rate lead quality. Because weak leads waste time and money, absorbing valuable resources that could be directed more profitably to more likely possibilities. Whether hauling a small business into the digital world or running a sophisticated marketing campaign for an MNC, the end purpose is always to attract potential customers.

The trick is distinguishing likely buyers from casual browsers. And the easiest way to do this is through lead scoring – an effective addition to your digital marketing strategy.

Bonus: Lead scoring not only boosts conversions – it also ranks lead channels by results. While showing which lead channels are the most productive, lead scores highlight others that need closer attention.

How Do You Score Leads?

The metrics may be a little complex, but the basic principle is simple: based on your product and pricing, you decide on characteristics that indicate qualified leads, and then assign point values to each of these criteria. This gives you a final score for each lead, which helps you rank them by relevance, compared to a baseline definition.

Example: A company selling small, low-cost food preparation devices (grills, toasters, blenders etc) would probably assign high scores to students and young singles, due to their informal lifestyles, with limited incomes and smaller homes. In contrast, the manufacturer of top-of-the-line kitchen appliances would assign low scores to this same group – and for exactly the same reasons! But for scoring their leads, both of these businesses might well rate Age, Occupation, Income, Home/Family Size, and Mealtime preferences as crucial criteria.

A Money-Saving Marketing Tool

Stripped to the essentials, lead scoring is a crucial tool that helps marketers qualify leads accurately. By analyzing specific characteristics through increasingly more detailed criteria, this marketing technique measures the likelihood of a specific prospect converting into a sale.

This is where lead scoring proves its worth, as a system for calculating and then tracking lead scores. In fact, 54% of B2B marketers confirmed the effectiveness of predictive lead scoring.

Remember: Conversion odds are significantly higher for referrals, compared to cold calls.

Do Lead Scores Matter?

They sure do, if you want to squeeze the highest value out of every cent in your marketing budget. We already know that leads are not uniform, with some worth far more than others, in terms of intent to purchase. The trick is knowing how to distinguish the duds from the high-flyers.

This brings in a few more vital scoring criteria that explore lead sources: organic searches or clicking on ads? Social media post or don’t-forget email? Mobile or desktop? Visit frequency? Engagement level? Responsiveness? Different scores assigned to specific points of origin make it easy to define lead quality, together with marketing channel value.

Pro hint: Find out where leads are generated, before allocating tight marketing budget dollars to chasing after them. Time wasted on unproductive channels and unconverted leads eats away at the bottom line, with lower returns on investments.

4 Benefits of lead scoring.

There are many advantages supporting the use of lead scoring by just about any business. Here are four of them:

  1. Accurate Buyer Profiles
    Not all buying decisions are equal. Sales funnels for high-value goods and services, and most B2B transactions tend to be longer and more complex, divided into stages with stop-or-go decisions that nudge potential buyers closer to that crucial completion of the transaction or take them out of the deal completely. The “In between gray area” is the marketer’s nightmare.
    However, prospects that are more likely to close their deals can be identified by assessing their behavior as they move through the decision pipeline. This to-the-minute, real-time information is fed into your lead-scoring system, updating buyer profiles and steering the approaches adopted by marketing campaigns. The upside is that significantly time or money is wasted on reaching out to prospects rated as unlikely to convert.
  2. Saving Money, Energy and Time
    In any business, time is money, and energy is always in short supply. This is why it makes little sense to spend thousands of dollars on scattershot marketing campaigns. In the XXI century, that old Madison Avenue adage – only half your advertising budget is spent on your target market, but nobody knows which half – is no longer necessarily true.
    In today’s competitive markets with steadily tightening margins, no business can afford to squander its budget allocations. Fortunately, modern digital marketing techniques ensure that every cent is well spent, reaching out only to qualified leads.
  3. Streamlining Lead Assessment
    Efficient but impersonal, virtual ‘showrooms’ offer little room for gut feelings about potential buyers. This is where lead scoring comes into play, helping focus marketing and sales efforts on only visitors rated as likely to close deals.
    Rapidly sweeping dead ends out of the equation, a well-designed scoring system can qualify leads quickly, based on preset guidelines. In-depth familiarity with buyer characteristics paves the way for proactive marketing, responding to questions before they are asked and clearing up doubts as they start to materialize.
  4. Closer Prospect Relationships
    Viewed from the seller’s side of the e-commerce counter, it may be hard to understand why deals are not being closed. Despite impressive click-through rates for ads and a steady stream of visitors, maybe that BUY NOW isn’t getting as many hits as it should. Why not?
    Through lead scoring, a company can follow a visitor through the sales funnel, pinpointing exactly what attracts and repels them at each stage, and on which page. The better you understand the buyer’s journey, the better your chances of conversion. If buyers consistently drop out at a specific phase in the purchasing process, despite a decent click-through rate indicating at least some intent to purchase, then it’s clearly time for a change, strengthening and streamlining the sales funnel by removing hurdles.

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These criteria (and many others) are scored differently by each company. Almost all forms include fields for first name, last name and an email address. However, local contractors (like plumbers and landscapers) should also assign high lead scores to phone numbers and street addresses within their territories, while this personal data is worth little to dotcoms offering software through downloads.

Lead Scoring Metrics

Although this part of Lead Scoring might sound dauntingly technical, it’s really based on common sense, with technology handling the tricky bits far more efficiently than the human brain. Basically, this system focuses on Demographics (WHO); Origin (WHERE); Conduct (HOW); and Engagement (WHAT).

  • Demographics (WHO) defines your ideal customer by age, gender, occupation, education, income, budget ceiling, marital status, family and home ownership, plus other factors related more specifically to your business, like hobbies and sports;
  • Origin (WHERE) explores the sources of your leads: organic searches, PPC ads, social media etc.) and devices (mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop);
  • Conduct (HOW) lists interactions with your business: visit frequency and repeat visits (how many? how often? to which pages?), sign-ups (responding to which CTAs?), forms completed, responses (to what questions?), spontaneous questions asked (through email? a chatroom), reviews both positive and negative (company responses for upselling?), and last but certainly not least, complaints, as a fast and effective response can turn an unhappy buyer into tomorrow’s customer;
  • Engagement (WHAT) checks content consumed by visitors and how long they spend on your website, with longer consumption correlated to higher purchase probability: emails read and clicked, pages eyeballed, posts and blogs liked, shared and commented, webinars watched, events attended, demos, e-books and checklists downloaded, links clicked, videos viewed etc.

Don’t Ignore Negative Lead Scores!

Low-scoring leads are also incredibly useful. By indicating content, ads and channels outside target market boundaries, they can save thousands of marketing budget dollars by eliminating unproductive placements. They can also avoid time wasted on unlikely buyers, leaving salespeople free to focus on high-scoring prospects that are more likely to convert.

On the other hand, companies prospecting for new markets can use negative lead scores as guides for expansion. If a food manufacturer decides to rebrand its kindergarten snack-pack as a high-energy nibble for teens, low scores in the under-twenties age bracket can indicate areas of focus for intensive marketing efforts.

The Buyer’s Journey

The value assigned to each lead reflects how far each buyer has progressed along the sales funnel. This is why a lead completing a form to download a simple tip sheet scores lower than somebody signing up for a free trial, who is obviously much closer to pressing that vital BUY NOW button.

With leads flowing in from so many places, often with defined intents to purchase, it makes good sense to adjust lead scores by place of origin, ranging from organic Google searches to PPC ads. The best way to do this is through closed-loop reporting, identifying sources with higher conversion rates and assigning higher scores to better-qualified leads.

Choosing your Metrics

Setting up a lead scoring baseline means breaking down the buyer’s journey, picking only those variables and metrics that are significant for your business. High-conversion metrics are obviously important – but low-conversion variables are also vital tools for zooming in on points for improvement or areas for elimination.

Metric values are usually calculated as Conversion Rates (dividing conversion by leads and multiplying by 100); or Lead Yield (dividing revenue by generated leads). Although both systems are valid, B2B SaaS companies with lifetime-value customers might do well with Conversion Rate metrics. In turn, B2C operations and businesses with fixed prices could benefit more from the Lead Yield method.

Regardless of the specific metrics selected by each business, handling this complex structure is a job for digital marketing experts. With low value leads removed from the listings, brand managers can focus their time and energy on more promising prospects.

Bottom Line

Every business needs qualified leads, generated faster, cheaper, and with less effort. This is where Lead Scoring is worth its weight in gold. As a lead generation optimization tool, it can be implemented immediately by businesses ranging from major corporations to even the smallest family firm. Regardless of size, they all share a common goal: enhancing customer experiences and building their brands.

Lead scoring ensures faster and more accurate responses to the concerns of prospective buyers, reassuring them that they are making a smart choice. By underpinning their confidence that they are dealing with a responsible business, this approach burnishes any company’s reputation through outstanding customer experiences.

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About the Author: Jeremy Mays

Is the Founder and CEO of Transmyt Marketing. He's an accomplished, award winning marketer, responsible for guiding companies though the complex challenges of navigating and succeeding in today's digital economy. To get in touch, you can email him at jeremy@transmyt.com

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