Demand Generation

4 Ways to Upgrade Your Lead Scoring (Hint: It’s about Better Data)

Demand Gen Report recently released their 2016 Lead Scoring Survey Report sponsored by Act-On Software. The findings are, like many things in B2B marketing, a bit of a mixed bag.

Let’s start with the good news. Demand Gen Report’s survey found that the majority of marketers (86%) are using lead scoring as part of their demand gen strategy; not only that, but they’re also seeing results. More than half of survey respondents said they experienced improved marketing and sales alignment from scoring, and more than 40% saw improved conversion rates among leads.

But when it comes to the current state of lead scoring, it’s not high fives all around. Nearly half of the marketers surveyed admitted their lead scoring initiatives need improvement, and fewer than 2 in 10 ranked their programs as highly effective. Perhaps the most concerning finding is this: Only 15% of respondents indicated that leads that met their scoring thresholds were rated as highly qualified by sales. Clearly, we marketers still have a way to go to improve the accuracy of our scoring – and win the trust of sales as a credible source of sales-ready leads.

Here are 4 things that can improve the quality of your lead scoring program – and reduce the number of “false positives” that get passed to sales before they’re really qualified.

1. Integrate “Post-Click” Content Engagement Data

The lion’s share of lead scoring models tend to value the quantity of interactions (the number of click-throughs, pages visited and assets downloaded) without considering the quality of the exchange or what happened after the click. They are missing a key element of engagement and an important indicator of sales readiness.

To put it another way, most lead scoring suffers from the conceit that a click is the same thing as engagement. But assuming someone actually read or watched something when they merely clicked isn’t good enough to score leads accurately. To separate the casual researcher from the truly engaged and qualified prospect who is ready to buy, you need to track their interactions with your content after they click.

Today’s buyers are busy, distracted and attention-starved. When a prospect spends time with one or more of your assets, it’s meaningful because it’s so rare. The ability to measure post-click content engagement allows you to give people a strong positive score when they actually engage with your assets.

In addition to how much time people spend with individual assets, listen for how many assets they are engaging with. Engaged buyers look a lot like TV viewers who binge on their favorite shows: they consume a lot of content in a sitting, and this binge behavior is a key indicator of sales-readiness. In an Inbound Marketing blog article titled Lessons from The Top 5 Most Binged TV Shows, Bianca Banova puts it this way:

“Leads that are hyper-engaged with your content can be easily converted into new customers. Even if your leads are primarily consuming top funnel content, keep an eye on their behavior – it’s not always about what type of content people read, sometimes it’s more about how much they engage with it. Pay attention and adjust your lead scoring system accordingly.”

This is how our marketing team scores people and how many of our clients use the PathFactory content marketing automation platform to supercharge their own lead scoring programs. We also give a higher number of points when the asset type is of a higher value in terms of sales readiness (e.g. we score an eBook higher than a blog post). For more on how we’re using content engagement data to improve scoring, click here.

2. Use Progressive Profiling

Ok, sure, you want to gather all this data so you have a complete profile for scoring, but you need to find the right balance between driving quality conversions and not driving your prospects crazy.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been on the dating scene, but I do recall that asking too many questions too soon and getting too personal on a first date is unlikely to get you a second one. I also know that being on the receiving end of someone asking the same question over and over again can get pretty annoying. But it’s not uncommon to see marketers testing their audience’s patience and goodwill in their haste to round out their profiles and increase the hit rate of their lead scoring.

Of course, you want to provide your sales team with as much insight as possible about a prospect’s budget, purchase timeframe and priorities. But don’t make the mistake of trying to gather all of this intel in one fell swoop. It’ll just make you look awkward and needy – and lower your chances of getting your prospects’ permission to continue seeing them.

Progressive profiling lets you build your customer profile over time. With progressive profiling, you can capture demographic data and buyer preferences gradually, which means you can keep your forms short, snappy and non-intrusive – and we know that shorter forms convert better. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was a detailed profile of your potential buyer.

3. Get Predictive

B2B marketers today are living in a golden age of data: they have the ability to pull in vast amounts of data about their prospects (behavioural, demographic, firmographic, historic, etc.). Predictive marketing solutions can help you better prioritize leads based on buying signals and intent data that might not be immediately obvious. They use sophisticated algorithms to analyze prospect datasets and predict outcomes, such as who is most likely to buy in the future. Adding predictive data to your lead scoring model can help you and your sales team focus on those individuals and accounts that have a greater propensity to drive real results. To go back to the dating analogy above, it’s like having a crystal ball to help you tell who is likely to be a good catch and who is just going to waste your time.

4. Use a Data Append Solution to Fill in the Gaps

How’s your data hygiene (sorry to get personal)? Are you missing key contact data for some contacts in your lead database? Got invalid email addresses and bogus phone numbers? What about demographic data? Despite all efforts to keep your data clean, it’s hard to do on your own. A data append solution can fill in the gaps and match up emails, phone numbers, postal codes, titles – you name it. The demographic and customer contact data provided by a data append can give you the missing insight you need to target your prospects and personalize your messages and follow-ups. And if you’re not ready to invest in a full-blown predictive solution, many data append services can provide additional dimensions to your contact and account profiles that will give you a much better sense of buyer fit.

Summing Up

The Demand Gen Report Survey is a great resource for assessing where you’re at with your lead scoring program and how your model measures up. It’s also a reality check for B2B marketers to investigate how they can add new dimensions to their lead scoring models by layering in additional data and buyer insights.