Lead Scoring Best Practices: A Beginner’s Guide

a guide to lead scoring best practices

Lead scoring is a system of scoring leads based on interest, interaction, and qualification. Individual interactions and information are assigned values; when customers take an action or provide information, those attached values create an individual lead score number. While this is a great tool for building marketing and sales campaigns, there is a lot to consider before jumping in. That’s why we’ve compiled these best practices to help you build and maintain a lead scoring system that works.

Integrate everything

Before we get started, let’s get one thing straight: If you’re using lead scoring with multiple systems, use the same method across all of your systems. When it comes to lead scoring best practices, that is numero uno.

These best practices are not specific to a CRM, a social media platform, or your marketing automation system. The idea is to link everything together to create one, cohesive unit. This will mean integrating your CRM and marketing automation software if they are not integrated already.

So before you get started, make sure marketing, sales, and management are all on the same page.

Determine your criteria

Before you can begin scoring leads, you need to know what qualities you’re looking for in a prospective customer. You will need to use both explicit and implicit lead scoring criteria in order to determine what aspects make up a qualified lead.

Explicit lead scoring measures tangible customer data such as name, title, email — these are things that your customer provides for you. Meanwhile, implicit lead scoring measures a lead’s habits. This includes trade show attendance, website visits, social media likes, and search history.

Based on this data, pick out the information that is most valuable. You can determine this by looking at a history of converted leads. What actions did they take? What information were they seeking? Now look at those who haven’t converted, do you see a pattern? Develop your criteria based on this history.

Use dropdowns when possible to collect explicit information

It’s no secret that data can get messy. If you’re collecting explicit information via a form, make sure you create dropdowns for things like job functions, company size, industry, or budget. This will allow you to develop accurate lead scoring. You might be targeting a specific job title or series of titles, but you won’t be able to attach a lead score to a freeform field. While automation systems are smart, answers can vary wildly (or be fake), which means information might not be accurate.

This will also minimize the amount of scrubbing your marketing team will have to do to clean data before sending an email nurture.

Build your scoring

Now that you’ve determined the information you want to highlight, you need to sit down and build your scoring system. Every lead scoring system is unique to the business it belongs to. It’s always great to map everything out in a spreadsheet or document before finalization. Make sure the right people have signed off on approvals and that you can give reasons behind the elements you’d like to focus on. It’s especially important that sales and marketing align on these lead score values. If sales does not agree with the lead scoring put in place, they are not going to do anything with high ranking leads.

Now let’s take a look at the actual building.

Assigning Values

The value spectrum you use will depend on your business, but in general you should assign values between 1 and 10.

It’s important to determine the appropriate values within a lead scoring system for each piece of explicit or implicit information you gain. After all, not all data is created equal. A certain job title might have a lead score of 5, but downloading a high-conversion white paper might have a lead value of 10. This is up to you, and dependent on your goals.

Don’t just focus on the positive

Assigning negative values is just as important as assigning positive ones. For instance, if your target are enterprises you might create a negative lead score value for companies that are smaller than 50 people. This is an indicator they may not find a good use for your product.

It is also worth assigning negative lead values for leads that have gone cold. If a lead hasn’t interacted with your brand in 3 months, you might want to assign a lead score of -20 to indicate loss or lack of interest.

Build a lead scoring matrix

lead scoring best practices

Now that you know what values you’re assigning for actions, you should determine what a lead score actually means. When a lead score hits a certain number, what action should be taken? What is the value of a lead score in the consideration phase?

Every system will be different. If you have a product that takes a lot of education before conversion, your leads may stay in the awareness phase longer (and thus the awareness phase might be higher than 50).

You can even create a stage with a negative lead score value, and create nurture campaigns designed to bring those prospects back into the fold.

Disqualifying based on lead scoring

Lead scoring doesn’t just tell you when you should send customers certain items based on interest. It also tells you when they’re not worth saving.

If you have certain job titles, industries, or company technologies that are hard disqualifications, you can set a large negative value. Setting up a negative value of 500 alerts you to the fact that this customer is not interested and should be removed from any current nurtures or sales efforts. Now, you can remove that lead from your database or let your sales reps know that lead is a dead end. This saves everyone on your team time.

Don’t create a score just for the sake of it

It’s easy to get carried away and create every sort of variation for lead scoring. But it’s important to remember that not every page of your website is important. Creating scores based on your help or contact pages will probably not help you in the long run. However, assigning a score based on someone filling out a “contact us” form is beneficial since it demonstrates interest.

Additionally, you can’t create lead scores by guessing as to what will lead to a conversion. Creating a lead score before you have converted customers, and the associated data, means you’re focusing on your own bias as opposed to the customer’s actions. So, gather data first and then examine it. Don’t create lead scoring based on a hunch; make sure you have specific results to point to and a good reason for assigning a value to a specific action.

Now that you understand lead scoring best practices, it’s time to implement these in your own CRM or marketing automation system. Still need help determining criteria and which campaigns to attach to certain lead scores? DemandZEN is here to help.