Inbound Marketing Online Sales

Lead Scoring to generate qualified leads

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By David Tomas, on 11 August 2016

Leads are Inbound Marketing’s very reason of existence… but as any good marketer will know, not all leads are created the same way. Some contacts have very high, short term possibilities of conversions, others will only make you waste your time.

But how to tell one from the other? Very simple: you need to have a good lead scoring strategy to generate qualified leads. So today I would like to tell you exactly what this technique is, what you need to get it functioning and how to set up your own lead qualification system.


What is lead scoring?

This marketing technique consists assigning a score to each one of your leads to identify the more interesting ones for your business. Using a series of developed formulas in collaboration with marketing and sales, you can follow up on your leads’ behavior and activities, as well as their commercial profile. The objective of this analysis to track the conversion probability of a lead.

If you do it right, this technique will allow you to perfectly distinguish between the different types of leads:

  • Cold lead. This user is already a part of your database, given that they have already left you their information. Nevertheless, they are still quite a while away from the purchasing moment, in the phase known as TOFU or “Top of the Funnel”.
  • Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). This user has shown interest for your brand and content on several occasions. You will also have had the opportunity to get more information on them, meaning you will already be in the right position to apply your lead scoring and see if they are ready to convert. This phase is known as MOFU or “Middle of the Funnel”.
  • Sales Qualified Lead (SQL). Also known as a “hot lead”, this lead has passed through all the phases with a good grade and is ready to get a visit from the sales team, a phone meeting or demonstration. This is the BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel).

Having a good lead qualification plan also lets you know for sure which of your leads is qualified enough and at what moment they will be ready for you to move their contact information to your commercial team. All of this will allow your inbound marketing strategies to achieve maximum efficiency, as you will save both time and money by focusing your efforts only on the more interesting leads.

What do you need to start qualifying your leads?

So by now you have already been convinced to add this technique to your strategies. Before you begin, let’s go over a few key elements you will need:

  • An inbound marketing strategy already in place with a certain volume of lead generation. If you are still getting started, it might be wiser to concentrate your efforts on getting more leads and analyzing what the users who convert more have in common.
  • A clear view of the qualities that make a user convert. At this stage you may find it useful to have previously worked on your buyer personas: a semificticious representation of your company’s ideal client.
  • A marketing software that will help you automate the entire process. Each of your users’ scores can vary several times a day according to their interactions and, as we have already seen, the best is to work with relatively large numbers, which is why you need a system that will do the work for you. Marketo and Eloqua are very complex systems, but made for large corporations with considerable budgets. A more flexible option is Hubspot, which is incredibly complete in all inbound marketing options and with pricing options for all company sizes.

How to establish a lead scoring system

Ready to start organizing your leads? If you follow these steps, it is sure to be easier than you think.

1) Identify your MQLs

The first thing you need to do is making the distinction between the “cold” leads and qualified needs for marketing purposes. In order to do so, their contact data and activity levels are key. Here are 7 tips about identifying your MQLs:

  • Develop a joint definition of what a good lead is, agreed upon by the marketing and sales departments.
  • Use your buyer persona information.
  • Ask your online sales team. They are in direct contact with the clients, which makes their opinion important. What leads do they consider most important and why?
  • Take a look at what the leads who most convert have in common.
  • Analyze your leads’ behavior. What pages they visit, how long they spend on it, where they come from. These are all clues that will help you later.
  • Remember that quality matters, but so does quantity. You need to keep your conversion funnel full, so don’t be overly demanding in your criteria.
  • Study the results and continuously revise your definition.

2) Establish your punctuation levels

Once you know what you are looking for in your leads, you need to order them in a list and assign a value to each one. In order to do that, it is important we be dealing with easily measurable attributes: the less space there is for improvisation and uncertainty, the better. Of course, this scale has to be approved by both the marketing and commercial department.

To make it easier, the best is to make the maximum sum of all the points 100. Some punctuations can occupy larger percentages than others, according to the importance you give them. You can even play around with negative percentages, for example, attributing a -5 to students who have downloaded your ebook for a school project.

3) Identify your SQLs

The simplest and the easiest to automate step: when a lead reaches a certain cut-off percentage that you have established, it send its contact to the sales team for them to seal the deal.

4) Measure, revise, repeat

I will never tire of saying and repeating it: in marketing, the job is never done. Even though your strategy may be working perfectly, you can not fall asleep on the job. Measure all your results, revise them continuously and optimize them constantly to perfection.

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David Tomas