Lead Scoring And Grading: The Foundation Of Effective Lead Management

With a wide variety of marketing automation software programs available to provide lead management, this tool is quickly becoming a crucial factor in maximizing digital marketing returns. However, despite the fact that lead management is critical for ensuring effective lead nurturing campaigns, many organizations are still doing it wrong.

Effective lead management: Scoring and grading

Effective lead management involves the attribution of points based on both implicit and explicit data. Implicit data is gathered based on the behavior of a given lead. Actions should correlate with specific point values that are totaled up to indicate the lead’s interest in purchasing or intent. Their corresponding point total is known as their lead score.

Actions that garner lead score points can include form submissions, page views, email conversions, or any other behaviors that your organization believes will signal an intent to purchase. For this reason, top-of-the-funnel behaviors should not earn as many points as middle-of-the-funnel behaviors. At the same time, bottom-of-the-funnel actions should be worth the most points due to the greatest implication of purchase intent.

Explicit data, on the other hand, is used to determine a given prospect’s lead grade. The lead grade is a reflection of how well a prospect matches the ideal customer profile determined by the sales and marketing teams. Explicit data like industry, company size, role, and revenue are often captured through form submissions and used to qualify that lead in comparison to a typical customer. If a lead’s explicit attributes do not line up with those of your current customers, it’s not likely he or she will be a good fit for purchasing.

Ineffective lead grading can become the number one cause of wasted time for marketing and sales personnel. If implemented improperly, these people will spend more time manually adjusting scores for unqualified leads than they will nurture qualified leads.

How NOT to manage leads

The best way to learn is often by example. Recently, I’ve become a victim of incredibly poor lead nurturing—and it’s likely the result of stupendously poor lead management. Surprisingly enough, the culprit is Marketo, the world’s largest marketing automation software company. This particular company should know better, especially since their lead management software was their first product in 2008. Coincidentally, this is the product that their reputation has been built on.

While adjusting our own lead management criteria here at DigitalRelevance, I sought outsources to provide insight into the process. I stumbled upon (and downloaded) Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Lead Scoring. This was my first time on Marketo’s website, for the record. I filled out their form in order to learn from a seemingly harmless piece of top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) content. Then, unexpected events began to occur.

Here are four emails I have received from Marketo since the download on 11/11… And I’m sure more are on the way:

Notice anything peculiar about these “nurturing” emails?

Let’s get one thing straight: TOFU form submissions happen all the time. In fact, they happen almost constantly. In marketing, TOFU’s purpose is to provide educational learning to visitors in order to draw traffic to a website, raise awareness of a company, and ultimately capture lead information. For these reasons, TOFU interactions should garner only a tiny attribution of lead score points (if any at all), and they should never be taken alone as implied intent to purchase.

Furthermore, as merely a marketer here at DigitalRelevance, I am clearly not the decision-maker in the marketing automation software buying process. At best, I could be considered an influencer. Regardless, I surely do not match Marketo’s ideal customer profile which would be necessary to attribute a high lead grade to my account. Isn’t that why they asked for my position?

So, let’s agree that I have a very low lead score and an unqualified lead grade.

Given this assumption (fact?), I’ve had a hard time understanding the reason for any of these 4 bottom-of-the-funnel emails that have been polluting my inbox on a regular basis.

The importance of effective lead management

In case you’re wondering what bad lead nurturing looks like, this is it. These are emails that most people would expect to receive if they filled out a “Contact Us” form. Given the zero interest I expressed in Marketo as the solution to the problem I don’t have, these emails frankly come off as poor lead nurturing etiquette. I’d wager a bet that it’s due to ineffective lead management.

Don’t piss off your prospects. Respect their boundaries by understanding their intentions and goodness of fit through lead scoring and lead grading. Together, these form the foundation for effective lead management, something that every organization should be paying attention to.

Have you ever been the victim of poor lead nurturing? Share your ideas and thoughts below!

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