How Lead Scoring and Nurturing Work Together

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lead scoringAny outreach strategy can be overdone, including nurturing. The very last thing you want to do is irritate your future customer … so you need to watch the cadence of your messaging and be aware of which stage of the buying cycle the prospect is in. Lead scoring can help.

What’s lead scoring?

Lead scoring is the technique of assigning a numerical value to an attribute or action based on the degree of buying authority or purchase likelihood those characteristics represent. A CMO has the authority to buy, so that title gets a high score. Attending a webinar could be an indication of strong interest or intent in your industry; if so it should get a high score. Different activities or attributes are assigned numeric values, and over time, the sum product or weighted average of these numeric scores is used to prioritize and articulate the potential of each lead.

Lead scoring in practice

The number of leads being generated through online email campaigns, webinars, pay-per-click, and landing pages has grown immensely. Lead scoring helps you prioritize the good leads; it also helps identify the ones that will waste your time and bandwidth. A lead that does not engage in any way over a prolonged period of time isn’t a qualified prospect, and could be a potential spam trap on your email list.

Leads that are steadily scoring but not crossing any thresholds are best kept in nurturing programs, so marketing isn’t handing over sales leads that don’t actually have short-term promise.

An effective lead scoring system starts with a discussion between marketing and sales to set parameters and decide what constitutes a qualified lead. To achieve this, both teams must:

  • Agree on values to assign to a host of items and activities so that the responses can be ranked.
  • The characteristics should map to attributes and activities of your most desirable customers
  • Collaborate on how many points to assign to different titles, budgets, company size, and other factors

By establishing initial qualification criteria, marketing is able to focus on producing more targeted leads. It’s the process, not the number, that provides the greatest value of lead scoring.

A lead score isn’t a static number; it’s likely to change over time as the values that go into determining the original score change because of different levels of contact, changes at the company, and other differences.

Lead scoring methodologies

Determining weights introduces an additional reality check into the lead scoring process. It’s possible to give a greater value to the fact that a prospect has downloaded a white paper rather than a news release. By the same token, you can deduct points if someone visits the careers page.

Here are basic things to score:

  1. Attributes. Name, job title, company name, company size, industry, and location are common metrics. Answers to BANT-style questions (budget, authority, need, timeline), combined with data about a company’s specific situation can be useful.
  2. Actions. Actions still speak louder than words. Through their digital footprints, prospects tell you what they’re interested in, and to what degree.

lead scoring behavior


Applying the cues and clues

After a score is generated, a lead can be rated as “A,” “B,” “C,” or “D.” (Or by any other gradient system.) Leads marked “A” can be sent directly to sales, while lower scoring leads can be steered into a nurturing program. If your data analysis showed that B, C, and D leads tend to fall into particular locations in the funnel, you could run different nurturing programs tailored for those locations.

Nurturing accelerators

Accelerators are actions and behaviors that indicate that a lead is much further along in the buying cycle than their lead score or previous behaviors had indicated. Some examples of accelerators may include:

  • Filling out a Contact Us form
  • Visiting the pricing page on your website
  • Clicking through to particular sections of your site, e.g. customer videos

Determining which accelerators identify a sales-ready lead are is an excellent practice that will return value through shortening the sales cycle.

lead scoring white paperReady to learn more about lead scoring? Act-On’s “Introduction to Integrated Marketing: Lead Scoring” shows you how to build your lead scoring team, what a led score grid looks like, the positive value of negative scoring, and much, much more.