Inbound Marketing Drives Leads, But You Want To Make Sure They're The Right Leads
Marketing has become so scientific that we can score the inbound marketing leads we generate. There are complex scoring models and there are simple scoring models. You can use software tools to score leads, or you can create your own basic scoring model to help your salespeople prioritize their efforts and focus on the best leads first.
If that's what you want to do, start simple, with a basic Lead Scoring 101 approach. If the basic model shortens the sales cycle and helps you close more new customers, then consider moving to something more automated and potentially more complex.
Here’s how we’d suggest you get started with a basic lead-scoring model for inbound sales. Remember, this is not about qualifying leads, this is just about assigning a score to each new lead so your salespeople have an idea about its quality. You can build this simple model with five components.
Component 1 - The Offer They Download
If you’ve set up your inbound marketing properly, you have creative, educational offers for prospects at each stage of the buyer journey: awareness, consideration and decision-making. So you should be able to tell how qualified and ready to buy a prospect is based on the offer they download or register for.
People who download an awareness, or top of the funnel (TOFU), offer get 25 points; people who take advantage of a consideration, or middle of the funnel (MOFU), offer get 50 points; and people who engage with your company around a decision-making, or bottom of the funnel (BOFU), offer get 100 points.
When people download multiple offers, they earn these points for each interaction. It's safe to say the more they download, the more qualified they might be, and the more quickly they would be to close.
Component 2 – The Pages They Have Looked At On Your Site
All of the marketing automation tools allow you to track the pages your prospects view on your site. Once the prospect converts, you’ll get an entire history of their site-viewing behavior and the actions they took on your site.
There should be pages on your site for awareness, consideration and decision-making. Similar to the offers section, I’d recommend 10 points for each visit to an awareness page, 20 points for each visit to a consideration page and 50 points for each visit to a decision-making page. For example, the team page on our website usually functions as a decision-making page. Clients who are strongly considering hiring us want to get to know the backgrounds of the people they might be working with.
You’ll notice that visits to pages are worth half (or less) the number of points as form completions and download requests. When someone fills out a form and provides you with their contact information, they are signaling a greater intent to buy then simply visiting one of your website pages, so those actions are worth more points.
Component 3 – The Company Profile Match
We’ll also score the lead based on the company profile, which is more about the company and less about the individual at this company. Between the company profile and the individual persona, which we’ll talk about next, you should have a pretty solid score based on the potential opportunity to help the prospect and on your desire to work with this type of company.
Factors in the company profile include the industry, the size of the company and other demographic characteristics. Take your target company profile and break it down into its top five characteristics.
For us, we’re looking for companies that have between $5M and $500M in annual revenue, we’re looking for B2B companies and we’re looking for companies in some selected industries. Leads that match all three criteria get 100 points, companies that match two out of three get 50 points and companies that match only one get 20 points.
Component 4 – The Persona Match
You already know your target persona. You have a detailed profile with demographic, psychographic and online behavior created, right? If you don’t, you’re missing a major component of an inbound marketing program and should go back to the start, create this profile and then consider lead scoring. But if you do, you can match your leads to your target personas and score them accordingly.
Does the lead have the right title? This is probably the easiest, fastest and best way to assign points based on the persona match. In general, you want to start high within an organization; the higher you start, the faster new customers usually come on board. Let’s give 100 points for any C-suite contacts and 75 points for any executive or VP contacts that come in – many VPs are solid decision-makers.
Things drop off pretty quickly below that, based on our experience and our research with client programs. Managers and directors typically have only marginal decision-making authority despite what they say, so 25 points for anyone with titles like these. Finally, you might have people simply doing research, so let’s leave a 5-point assignment for other job titles.
In addition to the title, we’re also looking for individuals who apply entrepreneurial thinking to their business, who want to see fast growth and who want to trust us as partners and friends. It might take some finessing to apply a lead score for this element of the persona, but you could do so qualitatively. Give 75 points to someone who embodies all three of these characteristics, 50 if they embody only two of them three and 25 if only one.
Component 5 – Lead Source
Finally, we’ve seen some differences in quality depending on where the lead came from. Leads from organic search are typically, though not always, better quality than most inbound sources. Only referrals would probably be classified as a better quality lead. Email leads are usually decent, because they’ve been listening to your message and at some point signed up to get the emails. Then there are social media leads; actually, in theory, there could be leads via almost any inbound channel.
You'll need to test and adjust this component more frequently than the others, but I’d start simple with a referral lead getting 20 points, an organic lead getting 10 points and the remaining sources getting 5 points. Over time, you can adjust these score assignments based on the actual quality of your leads and the sources they come from.
So now you have these criteria and a score. What next? The opportunities are as endless as the scoring models. You can create different workflows or sales processes based on prospect scores. You can apply different content offers within the sales process based on scores. You can assign different sales reps or enhance the team assigned to the opportunity based on scores. All of these are great ideas, but since we’re in Lead Scoring 101, I’d start by simply using the score as a measure of opportunity, and follow up on every lead in the same proactive and remarkable way.
After a couple of months, you’ll have data on the score and the outcomes. The data will help you come up with a better strategy to allocate resources and adjust processes to close more leads. Connecting the lead-score data with new customer revenue data is going to be a critical next step. You should expect the higher scored leads to have closed faster, for more money and at a higher rate than the lower scored leads. Until you see that relationship, you have to keep tweaking your scoring model.
I’ll mention it again, just so I don’t get a ton of comments and emails that this is too basic: This is very basic. It’s remedial lead scoring. My recommendation is to start with something simple, then grow into a more complex model over time. If this moves the needle for you significantly, then you can look at automating it, using software to define the model more specifically and even creating workflows based on the lead’s score. But for now, just start with this and get your feet wet before you invest a ton of time and money into something that you might not even like using.
Changing the behavior of salespeople is a major challenge. Many of them are set in their ways. They feel that what they’ve done has gotten them to where they are today and they don’t need to do anything different. What they don’t know is that buyer behavior is different and everyone in sales and marketing needs to change the way they do their jobs. Starting with a basic lead-scoring model is one way to slowly start introducing some new concepts to people who love their old tricks.
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