Imagine this: You’re the marketing manager for a mid-market or enterprise-level business, and you’re facing the daunting task of presenting the results of your team’s lead generation efforts for the past year. What tool in your marketing arsenal will best prepare you? You guessed it: lead scoring.
Now, consider a second scenario: You’re the director of sales for that company, and the sales vice president has asked you to present this quarter’s pipeline, along with targets and past performance. To do this, you need to fully understand which leads are qualified, which are unqualified, and which have potential. Which marketing qualified leads deserve your team’s attention and will drive the most revenue? What process can empower you with the right information? Yep, you got it: lead scoring.
Throughout my time in marketing automation, I’ve had the pleasure of working with a wide variety of businesses to develop lead scoring models. Although the details of these models differ greatly, there is one thing they all share: the process to establish a sustainable lead scoring model.
As you’ve heard time and time again, the sales and marketing scenarios above go hand in hand. We know reliable lead scoring benefits both sales and marketing, but it can be a challenge to get the ball rolling. The purpose of this article is to break down the process into four simple steps.
Step 1: Focus on Key Demographics
Oracle Eloqua defines this as the “Profile” or “Explicit” component of lead scoring. Your main objective for this step, whether you’re a salesperson or marketer, is the same: Identify your ideal lead based on data from Oracle Eloqua Contacts, Accounts, and Custom Data Objects.
The key is to focus in on 3 to 5 total attributes. Remember, lead scoring is a continuous process. Like any “evergreen” campaign you may be running today, it requires refinement over time. What I want to emphasize here is building the foundation.
As a collective group, the sales and marketing teams need to ask:
- What do we know about our current qualified leads?
- How can we rank that information using data available across our databases?
- What specific values are most important?
I highly recommend that when your team is going through this step, you find standardized picklist fields to drive this element of the scoring model. The reason for this may be obvious, but it’s worth emphasizing: Oracle Eloqua will use this model to evaluate all contacts in the database, so it’s important to know exactly what you are (and aren’t!) looking for.
Again, keep it simple: Choose a handful of characteristics that illustrate your business’s ideal lead. Use this foundation to enhance the lead scoring model in the future.
Step 2: Understand How the Ideal Lead Interacts with You
Oracle Eloqua defines this as the “Engagement” or “Implicit” component of lead scoring. The goal with this step is to determine which elements of your marketing efforts—emails, website visits, form submissions, event attendance, webinar viewership, etc.—influence the development of a qualified lead.
Just as we saw in Step 1, it’s important to start simply, with a few specific components. It’s tempting to include all of your assets and webpages; however, try to stick to the basics. Understand how currently qualified leads have interacted in the past:
- How many emails did these leads click over the past 6 months?
- Did the leads view specific website content?
- Did they submit forms or download information to indicate they’re interested in speaking to sales?
Your goal here shouldn’t be to cover every engagement scenario. Instead, try to define 3 or 4 types of engagement that identify quality leads. Determine the importance of each type of engagement, including how recently the engagement occurred.
Step 3: Define the Actions to Take for Each Lead Score
After you define the key characteristics of your ideal leads, identify their significance, and activate your model, Oracle Eloqua assigns a score to every contact in your database. Congratulations, you’ve launched your lead scoring plan! … Now what?
At this point, it’s important that all stakeholders understand the actions to be taken for leads at each level of Profile and Engagement fit. As you likely know, Oracle Eloqua assigns a Profile score of A-D and an Engagement score of 1-4. How will the business manage A1 leads—those who perfectly fit the lead model—vs D3 leads, who likely aren’t sales-ready?
These people will have vastly different needs. My recommendation is to construct a matrix that defines which lead scores identify qualified leads, and which need more attention from marketing.
At what point should leads be passed over to sales? Perhaps someone with a C1 score isn’t the decision-maker at their organization, but they’re highly engaged and could connect the salesperson to the proper resources. Based on their elevated activity, now is the time to reach out.
An A4 is exactly the right person to speak to, but may need a bit more content relevant to their interests. Targeted marketing communications can help prepare them for a sales meeting. The takeaway here is to define tangible actions for each score and determine the owners of those actions.
Step 4: Test, Refine, and Test Again
This is, in my opinion, the most important step. Now that you’ve launched your lead scoring model and determined the actions and next steps for each score, it’s time to relax, “set it and forget it.” …. Right?
If only it were that easy.
Nope. Instead, you need to regularly revisit your scoring model’s performance. Decide how to determine whether the model is effective. Is it based on a number of converted leads? Is it based on the percentage of pipeline sourced from marketing? Whatever the case may be, you must have benchmarks in place to determine whether your lead scoring model is working.
Go back to Steps 1 and 2: How does sales define and ideal lead? Is this reflected in the score that’s assigned? If results aren’t meeting expectations, identify where things are falling short. Maybe specific fields or activities are more important than anticipated, or your high-value criteria are too narrow.
Ultimately, your objective is to learn where the lead scoring model should be adjusted, make the necessary changes, re-establish goals, and test again. I recommend assigning ownership to a stakeholder that can revisit the scoring model on a regular basis. The evaluation frequency may depend on the length of your sales cycle.
The process to stand up lead scoring requires agreement from multiple resources, and the task can be intimidating, but these four steps will get your lead scoring model up and running. If you’d like to chat about how to identify your business’s ideal lead, reach out to us, and we’ll be happy to help!