In an industry almost built on buzzwords, “optimization” stands out at the top of the list for marketers. It’s not a bad term. It’s certainly something marketers are striving for on a regular basis. The problem is, optimizing isn’t really the goal. What are you optimizing towards? That’s the goal.
Often we’re optimizing for lower CPCs, higher volume of leads, or some other metrics we can easily point at in a dashboard. But what’s missing from many optimization efforts is quality. Not just increasing the quality of campaigns, but the quality of leads, the quality of Sales & Marketing collaboration, and the quality of customer experience. How do we start optimizing for quality, rather than traditional metrics? The answer: Scoring.
In this post, we’ll explore what lead and conversion scoring is and how you can start using it for your business to drive quality over quantity.
Break it down: what is scoring?
Scoring, at its core, is taking qualitative attributes and transforming them into something tangible and quantitative in order to make better decisions about the data set. As marketers get their hands on more and more data, it can get harder to find the opportunities and patterns in the flood of information. Scoring is a way to segment audiences based on firm numbers—built from fuzzy characteristics—so you can get more granular and systematic about your decisions.
Traditionally, scoring refers to “lead scoring,” meaning assigning values to prospect characteristics and activities in order to facilitate the passing of a lead from Marketing to Sales. It’s designed to answer the question, “Is this lead ready to talk to Sales?” and might analyze poignant steps for your customers that differentiates who is qualified and considered ready to buy—or at least considering it—versus someone who still needs more time or is simply browsing content. You might use visit or conversation history or even simple metrics like whether they subscribe to your emails to score a lead higher or lower quality.
But for modern marketers, a traditional inbound lead funnel isn’t the only place we can use scoring to impact our performance. With emerging marketing strategies like Account Based Marketing (ABM), Conversational Marketing, and Omnichannel Communications, there are opportunities for scoring to impact multiple touchpoints in the customer journey.
Two regularly used flavors of scoring:
Segments an audience using contextual details. Typically a word or a phrase to provide an at-a-glance cue.
Segments an audience relative to the other members of the wider audience. Often used as a range, like 0-5 or 0-100 to showcase weight.
Scoring can add value and efficiency to any internal process where segmenting by quality or urgency improves operational decision making. With this example martech stack, there’s multiple chances to implement scoring:
- Chat (Drift, Intercom) – Conversation qualification score of 0-3 to automatically sync conversations with your CRM
- CRM & Automation (HubSpot, Marketo) – Lead score to mark sales readiness and move leads through the funnel.
- Attribution and Conversation Management (CallTrackingMetrics) – Conversion and call scores to inform marketing campaigns, and automated tags to trigger follow up actions.
- Customer success (ChurnZero, Gainsight) – NPS score to provide product and brand feedback and fuel automated review campaigns.
How to build your scoring system
Effective scoring starts where most effective marketing does: setting a goal and knowing your audience. With scoring, you’ll want to build a plan that accounts for each channel but is also in service of your team’s overall goals. Let’s say you’ve aligned goals with your sales team around a revenue number. One part of your journey to achieve those results could be to make sure Marketing is only delivering leads that Sales has a high likelihood of closing to reduce wasted effort and resources.
How do you know which lead has a high probability of closing? By developing an ideal customer profile or detailed buyer personas. Collect all the data you can. What characteristics do your customers have in common? What characteristics do your unqualified prospects have in common? Bring in data from as many sources as you have bandwidth for. Great insights will come from surveying or interviewing your customers. Do the same with your Sales team. Ask them what patterns they’ve been hearing from prospects they successfully close, lose to competitors, and mark unqualified. Use call recordings to verify assumptions and listen to customers and prospects in their own words.
A few easy things to look at:
- Email domain – are prospects with hotmail.com addresses more likely to be unqualified?
- Geographic location – are there regions where you don’t do business? Regions your customers are clustered in?
- Company size – you likely have a niche you can place more emphasis on in scoring.
- Marketing engagement – are they opening and clicking on emails? Have they viewed your pricing page?
- Form fills – what forms have they submitted, and how many?
- Conversations – have they called or chatted with someone already?
Ready for more? Download our guide, The Secret to Scoring for Sales and Marketing Success, for more insights, checklists, and breakdown of how to use scoring for marketing, sales, and customer success.