Leads are the most important resource in B2B marketing, but not all leads are worth the same. Lead scoring points you in the direction of the most promising contacts.
It is crucial for marketing success that you focus on the really important leads. Which lead has the greatest potential for sales and which contacts can still wait with the nurturing? A well thought-out concept for B2B lead scoring will help you identify the important leads reliably and in a systematic way. This saves valuable resources and is therefore indispensable in B2B today. In this guide, you will learn everything you need to know about lead scoring.
What is Lead Scoring?
B2B lead scoring is a process that you can use to evaluate leads. The term scoring comes from English and means scoring. Since resources are limited in marketing, as in all other departments, prioritizing leads makes sense. Which leads are the most valuable and should therefore be considered first in the nurturing process? With lead scoring, you can make this decision based on solid data.
Another important aspect in the evaluation of leads concerns their maturity in relation to the conclusion of a purchase. You are interested in how far the lead has already progressed in his decision-making process or on his customer journey.
Unqualified vs. Qualified Leads
When you work with leads, you differentiate between unqualified and qualified leads. In short, with an unqualified lead, we don't yet know if they're really interested in buying and if they have anything more than a passing interest in our products.
The following characteristics are typical of an unqualified lead:
do not yet have a proper overview of the company's offer
have not yet decided to buy
do not know which solution they need
have not yet received sufficient nurturing
have a high tendency to churn
When it comes to qualified leads, a further differentiation is required. In practice, you differentiate between marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs). An SQL is already further along in their customer journey than an MQL. Basically, these leads are more determined and ready to make a purchase after appropriate nurturing.
What Are the Benefits of Lead Scoring?
The benefits of lead scoring are numerous, but the top 4 are
easy prioritization of contacts
Time and cost savings
higher conversion probability
higher sales in the long run
The Basis: Data
So far, so good. But before you can start B3B lead scoring, you first need data. And to do that, you need to know which data is actually relevant for meaningful scoring
To score leads, you need as much information as possible about the target audience and their demographics. You need to determine what information is relevant to your scoring model, what goals you want to achieve with scoring, and how the specific calculation of the score should be done. So there are some preparatory steps you need to take to get started with lead scoring.
This Information Is Important for Your B2B Lead Scoring
You collect three main types of information for lead scoring: Demographic data, company information, and interest- and behavior-based data. Either you get this information directly from your contact or it's publicly available.
The following data are important for demographic information:
Place of residence
This is the important company information:
Number of employees
Data on the behavior and interests of your contacts is also important:
Number of website visits
Interactions with posts on social media or with emails
Number of views of specific content (e.g. download eBook)
Stage in the Customer Journey
For example, your company offers a white paper on a new machine that can be used to equip factories to optimize the manufacturing process. The machines are only interesting for companies that have a certain size, as they require significant investments. In such a case, you are mainly interested in company information such as the project budget, the annual turnover and the industry.
As a general rule, good B2B lead scoring only works if you have a solid foundation of data.
Determine what information is relevant to you and make sure to collect it and keep it up to date.
How Do You Want to Collect Information About Your Leads?
You get a lot of important information from the leads themselves. This can include the annual turnover or the project budget. This data can be collected through a contact form, for example. In B2B lead scoring, it is an art to define the fields in the contact form correctly. The rule here is: not too much, but ask for everything relevant.
Why Do I Need All This?
The more you know about your leads, the more targeted you can support them on the customer journey with relevant information. And: You know exactly when the leads are ready to be contacted by your sales team
The Implementation: B2B Lead Scoring Model
Once you have all the information you need about the contacts, you can develop your lead scoring model. The B2B lead scoring model is the system you use to score your leads. So how meaningful the scores really are depends on how you define this system. It is important to invest a lot of time in developing the model and it is normal to refine your model over time. So adjustments will take place later.
Explicit vs. Implicit Lead Scoring
In order to be able to classify leads in the context of scoring, you are mainly interested in two values: the interest score and the potential score:
Interest score captures the contact's interest in your products and services
The potential score records the accuracy of fit of the contact to the target group.
You need to be able to calculate both scores for successful B2B lead scoring.
When creating lead scoring models, we therefore distinguish between explicit and implicit information. Explicit lead scoring deals with the contact information of a lead and maps its profile. The decisive question is whether a lead with its respective profile is congruent with your Ideal Customer Profile
In the explicit model, the characteristic evaluation is done in a quantitative and qualitative way. For example, you can sort your leads according to the amount of sales. This is a quantitative evaluation of the characteristic annual turnover. It is also possible that you are only interested in certain positions such as buyers or CEOs. This would be a qualitative evaluation and a comparison with the target group.
The following characteristics, for example, are interesting for explicit scoring and can be used to assess the suitability of the lead:
With implicit lead scoring, on the other hand, the evaluation takes place in relation to the behavior of a contact. Here you are interested in their commitment or interest in your company and its products. The lead receives a higher score if it expresses a higher interest in buying and thus increases the prospects that a sale will actually be made
Commitment and buying interest of the lead can be evaluated based on various characteristics. For example:
Behavior of the lead on the website such as viewing certain content
Number of downloads (whitepapers, eBooks, etc.)
Time of last activity
Frequency of activity
Interaction on social media channels
Email open rate and click-through rates
Number of form submissions
Calculation of the Score
To obtain a score, you assign a point value to the individual characteristics. In this way, a weighting takes place automatically. For example, you can assign +5 points to the download of eBooks, while the download of the product list is already assigned +20 points. The latter already indicates a much more concrete interest that it could come to a purchase. These are calculations regarding the interest score.
With the explicit information for the potential score, it works very similarly. If you only want to sell to large companies, you could assign a value of +10 points for a number of employees over 1,000. If you only have more than 100 employees, you could add +5 points. It is also possible that you assign a negative value of, for example, -5 points for companies with less than 50 employees and therefore very small companies.
For the "position" criterion, decision-makers such as the CEO or buyer may be particularly important to you. They get a high point value. An IT employee, on the other hand, might receive fewer points, and you might give interns a negative score.
Which Model Is the Right One?
Many users in practice combine the explicit and the implicit approach. This leads to a two-dimensional B2B lead scoring model that is more meaningful.
Tools for Lead Scoring
For B2B lead scoring, you have the option of relying on various tools. These make your work easier and lead you more quickly to evaluations that help your company to be successful. We present you some examples of useful tools on the market.
HubSpot allows you to run one or more lead score properties. After you define the criteria, your leads are automatically qualified accordingly. This allows you to score contacts across thousands of data points. From page view to close, HubSpot collects all the relevant data for you in one place.
Salesforce offers complete lead management for B2B sales, including functions for B2B lead scoring. Here, too, the assignment of a score is largely automatic and thus saves resources in marketing and sales.
Platformly offers functions for generating and nurturing leads as well as for B2B lead scoring. As a user, you get the option to customize the scoring to the needs of your business. Platformly generates the profile pages for the contacts automatically.
Pedalix offers the optimal solution especially for marketing teams with limited resources. Through the use of artificial intelligence, the initial setup is completely unnecessary. So you don't have to invest a lot of time to find out which criteria are most important for your company, but can let the AI do it directly. In addition, with Pedalix you not only receive its two-dimensional lead scoring profile, but even a 3D scoring model, which also shows you how high the interest of your lead is in your core topics.
Automated or Manual?
Many companies start with manual lead scoring and establish their processes first before thinking about moving to automation. The fundamental question is whether manual or automated lead scoring makes more sense. In fact, there's a lot to be said for automating it right away and doing it "right."
Why Manual Lead Scoring Is Not Useful
The manual approach is only justified if the data sets are manageable. So, a human employee in marketing can still handle the work involved in B2B lead scoring. However, this is practically only the case if the company is new or still very young. Today, you're collecting data so quickly in marketing and sales that the manual approach is quickly becoming impossible.
This makes it questionable why you should invest any work in manual lead scoring at all, if it's clear from the start that only automation is a viable long-term path. In the case of rapid growth, only automated lead scoring with a connection to the CMS and CRM delivers valuable results. Therefore, the experts' recommendation is that you should focus on automating your processes right away. It doesn't make sense to establish processes that have no future.
B2B lead scoring is one of the best ways to prioritize contacts and set a sensible order for nurturing. Many leads alone are not enough, you also need to know which leads are most valuable to you. The answer is provided by the lead scoring described here. Today, no marketer should do without it.