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Once you have established a working process to create high quality content on a regular basis, build targeted lead generation campaigns and follow up with relevant lead nurturing, the next logical step is lead scoring through marketing automation. Lead scoring gives you an opportunity to evaluate leads from the point of view of your sales team. Before you pass leads along to sales reps, they should be graded in terms of actions taken that indicate sales readiness. Here are several tips for putting together an effective lead scoring strategy.
Start at the Top of the Funnel
Marketing automation systems such as HubSpot and Marketo have built-in lead scoring functions based on content consumed and actions taken (or not taken). You must evaluate a score for each action, such as downloading your TOFU white paper on content marketing best practices. At the top of the funnel, downloading this content shows an interest in your subject matter and expertise, both good signs of a potential buyer, but not an indication of immediate sales readiness. In this case a relatively low score is appropriate, say 5 on a scale of 0-100. Let’s say your new lead leaves a generic email address, however, such as email@example.com. This is not a good sign, indicating an unwillingness to be contacted further, so you might want to deduct 5 points. On the other hand, you might want to reward a lead for leaving a corporate email address and even more for a legitimate phone number. Get your sales team involved, map out all of the possibilities and decide what’s important to your sales team. This should be the basis for your scoring system.
Think Hard About the Middle of the Funnel
What happens between the initial download (or conversion) by a lead and a bottom of the funnel action, such as a request for a demonstration or sales call? This is the vast mid-funnel (MOFU) jungle, the stuff of lead nurturing legends. It’s easy to lose track of leads as they come back to download or participate in more opportunities, or just browse around hoping not to be noticed by an aggressive sales rep. How can we pave the way more effectively so that our leads don’t just swim around endlessly and so that our reps make the call at just the right time?
- Map content to your lead nurturing campaigns that is gradually but progressively more sales-centric as you move downward through the mid funnel, for example, case studies and testimonials.
- Add value in every step of lead nurturing to create a demand for more information, for example a series of emails and downloads like the chapters in a book.
- Include CTAs in your lead nurturing emails and confirmation pages that enables a quick bottom-funnel request. You never know when a lead may be ready to buy, so make it easy to get there.
- Assign lead scoring values to each step weighted more heavily towards your lower-mid and bottom funnel content. The more sales-oriented content they consume, the more likely they are sales-ready.
- Ask more questions in your mid-funnel landing pages, such as role, product interest, company size and purchase timing, to help you further score and qualify leads.
- Create a strategy for dealing with tire kickers and never-ready leads. Consider subtracting from their lead score based on the amount of time they remain in your mid-funnel and the number of visits and downloads they consume without a bottom-funnel conversion.
Get on the Same Page With Sales
Marketers often think they know how sales reps think and what enables them to close sales. We also tend to think that reps are happy to login to a CRM and use our high-tech lead scoring strategies. Think again. It’s true that most reps would love to have an up-to-the-minute list of qualified leads standing by for their calls, but if they have to invest a bunch of time learning the system and interpreting your data, not so much. That’s why having an integrated sales and marketing process planned out in advance and fully subscribed to by every member of the team is essential. Your job as a marketer is to understand the strategies and tools, listen to your sales reps and help them accomplish their goals. Why not explain the whole lead generation-nurturing-scoring process and ask for their input? When does a lead actually become sales qualified? What triggers a buyer behavior and when? Who would know better than a sales rep? Once you get all of the rules in place, you can automate the process and actually make sales and marketing much more accountable and productive.
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