What is Lead Scoring and How Can You Use It?


Sales are the ultimate sign of success for any marketing campaign.

While promotional experts track a variety of metrics to determine how and where they can optimize their campaigns, revenue is how we see that we’re generating real results.

The question is, how do you generate successful sales? The right instincts can help you to separate the people ready to buy from those who need further nurturing. However, it’s impossible to be 100% certain on how to generate sales without a little help.

According to Aberdeen Research, around 73% of your B2B sales won’t be ready for a purchase. Jumping in with heavy marketing messages too quickly could scare them away.

Fortunately, there is a better way: lead scoring.

What is Lead Scoring in Email Marketing

Lead scoring is the art of assigning points to each lead you collect for your company. With the right techniques, you can determine how far along a customer is in their journey to conversion.

The further a customer is down the funnel, the more points they get.

Companies score leads based on various attributes, including the personal information they submit, how they engage with your site, and more. By scoring your leads, you can better understand how to convert them into customers. Plus, you ensure that you’re sending the right messages at the best times.

Here’s what lead scoring does for your company:

  • Identifies leads that need nurturing: Low-scoring lead might need initial engagement and more email opens before they’re ready to buy. Using top-of-funnel content to showcase your company’s benefits and what kind of problems you solve will push them closer to a sale.
  • Tests crucial assumptions: With lead scoring, you can get a better look at how your customers actually interact with your brand, and what they need from you. Your strategy helps you to refine your system over time.
  • Refines marketing messages: When you know where different segments of your audience are in their purchasing journey, you can refine your messages to suit each group. This boosts your chances of better responses to more relevant content.

How to Score Your Email Leads

Scoring your leads helps you to figure out exactly which strategy to take with your email marketing.

There’s no one-size-fits-all system here. However, it does help to have a tool in place, like Active Campaign, which helps you to streamline the scoring process. We’ll show you how to use tools like that in just a moment.

For now, start by thinking about the minimum criteria that a lead needs to meet to become a customer. For instance, if you’re selling alcohol, you need a customer to be at least the right age for alcohol purchase. If you’re selling business software, your client needs to be part of a business.

Next, look at:

Who Are You Targeting?

What does your ideal lead look like?

You’ve probably considered this before when creating your user personas.

Look at your user base and make a list of the essential qualities that your customers have. For instance, they may need to be in a specific location, due to limitations in your shipping ability. They might have specific demographic qualities, such as falling into a certain age group.

Here’s a look at how you can get started with persona mapping from Hubspot:

Your personal information might include details like spending potential, career, general attitude, and so much more. Getting specific with your definition will help you to understand your audience.

You’ll also need to think about how your leads behave.

In other words, how do they show you that they’re interested in your brand? Is it through email opens and clicks, social media shares, website visits, the use of free demos, or something else entirely?

Tools like Google Analytics help you to clarify potential conversion behaviors for your audience.

Choosing a Lead Scoring System

Now you know what kind of customers you’re scoring, and what sort of behaviors they engage in, you can decide on a system.

Most companies still with a simple scale, perhaps of 1-100. However, if your company handles different kinds of leads, you might need something more advanced.

With your customer behaviors in mind, as well as crucial characteristics for each lead, you can start assigning scores.

For instance, you might decide that being in a certain location is particularly important for your business to make a sale. Due to that, the right location might earn a score of around 50. However, being a certain age might get a score of around 1-10.

You can also use the thousands category to split segments. For instance, in Barkbox’s case, they might use the 1 in 1000 to refer to small dog owners, 2 (2000) for mid-size, and 3 (3000) for large.

Choose a point in your lead scoring strategy where your contacts transform into a warm lead. If you’re scoring out of 1000, you may decide that any lead with a score of over 400 is ready for a sales pitch. However, anyone under that number might need further nurturing.

Remember, it’s attempting to assign points to rules purely on the importance of that rule. However, it’ important to ensure that your scale doesn’t become unbalanced. Giving equal weight to critical conversion behaviors is helpful. For example, you might give up to 100 points to things like:

  • Spending power
  • Location
  • Previous interactions

Refining and Adjusting Your Lead Scoring System

Lead scoring can be challenging for many companies.

It’s difficult to know which factors really matter to making a sale – especially when you’re just getting started. The key to success is learning as you go, using your conversion information, analytics, and email marketing tools to gain more information.

Every 30 days from the moment you begin your lead scoring strategy, set some time aside to review the performance of your plan. Once you have a month’s worth of data, you’ll be able to analyze your assumptions more carefully.

Are your high-scoring leads really converting? Did any low-scoring leads make their way into the conversion pool? If so, what factors might have influenced this? Focus on the trends you see as people move through their purchasing journey.

One great idea? Try speaking to your audience to gain more insights:

Sending out a survey or poll will give you an excellent insight into why your customer bought from you. You might ask questions like “where did you hear about us?” or “What was your favorite thing about this product/ service.”

Qualitative insights into what makes your customer tick are invaluable to your conversions.

It’s also worth remembering that some leads won’t convert. This doesn’t mean that your scoring system is wrong. There are always outliers in the data. The key is looking at the big picture. If most of your high-scoring leads are delivering results, you’re moving in the right direction.

Using Lead Scoring in ActiveCampaign

Email marketing tools like ActiveCampaign make it much easier to manage your lead scoring strategy. Visit the Contacts page on your profile when you log into the system, then click on the drop-down arrow next to Manage Tags. You’ll see Manage Scoring here.

The reason we chose ActiveCampaign to show you how email marketing works in an automation tool, is that the system is brilliantly done. You can score both your contacts, and the individual deals that are in progress. There’s also the option to establish various different lead scoring programs.

If you’re selling various products and services and need to use different scoring systems to decide who might be ready to purchase, ActiveCampaign is ideal for that.

Inside your Manage Scoring segment on ActiveCampaign, you can have separate scoring systems for characteristics, and behaviors. There’s also the option to separate scores for email responses and site tracking.

Setting Lead Scoring Rules

Lead scoring programs on ActiveCampaign also house as many rules as you like. Those rules can be based on contact fields, behaviors like email clicks or opens, and website behavior too.

If you’re automating your email marketing campaigns with ActiveCampaign, you can place lead scoring strategies into your automations. For instance, you might have an automation that adjusts a lead’s score based on where a lead falls on an if/then statement.

For instance, if a contact signs up to your email marketing campaign, that could give them an initial ten points. Whenever the customer opens another email, they get another ten points, with extra scores delivered for things like clicking through to your website or forwarding a message.

Being able to automatically track and score your leads like this takes a lot of the pressure off your team. Plus, it speeds up your conversion strategy too. You can even trigger automations with different scores. When a lead reaches a set score, that might trigger emails inviting leads to participate in product demonstrations.

Ready to Start Scoring Your Leads?

Lead scoring is a valuable tool for any email marketing campaign.

Knowing where your customers are in their buying journey, and how ready they are to purchase, ensures that you’re sending the right messages at the best times.

A quality lead-scoring strategy will help your marketing department to create better leads for your sales team to convert. What’s more, it means you spend less time trying to push someone into a purchase when they’re not ready. This leads to better customer experiences.

Want to learn more about optimizing your email campaigns? Check out some of our other posts for extra insights.





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