In a recent blog post, a fellow Account Director here at DemandGen, Angela Najab, talked about how to break your Demand Factory down into sections, in order to efficiently roll out its implementation in phases. I want to focus on how you can start preparing now for one of those sections, which is the engine that drives a successful Demand Factory: lead scoring.
Lead scoring is the basis of many core functions, and has a direct trickle-down effect on the other areas of your Demand Factory. Two of the most important functions are:
- Identifying funnel stage. Lead score often dictates a Lead’s funnel stage (Inquiry, MQL, SAL, etc.), and essentially “decides” when a Lead is ready to be passed to Sales.
- Feeding nurture programs. By determining a Lead’s funnel stage, lead scoring is responsible for choosing the leads which are added to and removed from nurture programs.
The point here is. . .lead scoring is important to address, even if your organization is not ready to implement it at this very moment. That’s why you can – and should – be working now on “behind the scenes” preparation of the fundamentals to ensure you are ramped up and ready to roll, as soon as your business decides to design and roll out a lead scoring system. Handling a few of these projects now will help you avoid scenarios that we see too often: getting halfway along a lead scoring implementation and suddenly, “Gee, this data is terrible!” or “We can’t score on that because we’re not collecting data on that field.”
Here are 6 things to do now, to prepare for a top-of-the-class Lead Scoring in the future.
- Make sure your data capture strategy is up to par. Are you giving away valuable pieces of information of your website for free, in other words without capturing lead data in exchange for it? Or are people not filling out forms because the content isn’t compelling enough? That needs to change – you can’t score on data you don’t have! The use of clean, user-friendly forms should be the foundational piece of your overall data capture strategy. People are willing to share their information, if they feel that what they are receiving in return has enough value, and the forms don’t scare them off. A key reason for improving data capture now is that it’s going to be a while, after you initiate changes, until you see sufficient results for scoring. So, the sooner the better.
- Get rid of dirty data. By far, the #1 thing I have seen throw wrenches into lead scoring projects and render them ineffective is the lack of clean data. A lead scoring model is only as effective and accurate as the data you feed into it. Spend some time evaluating the quality of your data, identify the dirty stuff, and go ahead and do something about it! There are many vendors out there that can help with data cleansing. It is vital to take the time now to fix this problem, so you don’t have to stop halfway through your lead scoring project and put it on hold for months to work on data issues. (Take a look at this post for more on data.)
- Get more useful data. Data appending and data normalization can vastly improve the effectiveness of your future lead scoring system.
Data appending. Along with your data cleansing research, keep an ear open for companies that can help with data appending. Everyone knows that shorter forms equal higher conversion rates. But at the same time, we need data to feed the lead scoring engine, so think about a solution that gives you additional qualification criteria on your leads: hidden pieces of data that users don’t have to fill out, but you’re still capturing: for example, simple facts like zip code for a street address, or more sophisticated data enrichment like a company name from an anonymous IP address.
Data normalization. At DemandGen we frequently perform title normalization, for example, which is extremely helpful. If a company is trying to score on title, having a free text title field doesn’t do anything for you! Using a sophisticated algorithm, we parse titles out into function and level, providing much more useful information to help you feed leads the most relevant content in your nurture programs.
- Make content a priority. Often, people don’t think about the content being related to your scoring project, but the reality is that it is vital to the success of any lead scoring project: content is the bait that you are putting out there to attract the leads you’re going to score. If the bait is bad, your results will reflect that. As I mentioned before, people will give you their information if you offer them something that is valuable. Do a thorough content inventory of the assets you are serving up on your website or via lead nurtures. Is it up to date, or are you offering white papers from 7 years ago? Is it easily digestible, or is it too technical (or not technical enough) for your key audience? Does it clearly address a pain point your product or service can solve? Poor, outdated content leads to disinterest, no forms submitted, no data captured, and nothing to score on – which leads to an ineffective scoring program. (Here are some more suggestions on content.)
- Establish your Marketing & Sales Lead Scoring Taskforce. Notice I am calling it a Marketing AND Sales taskforce! If you’re a marketing person tasked with heading up the lead scoring engagement, find some buddies on the Sales team who will be the most helpful in determining what defines a qualified Lead. Assemble a diverse set of Sales individuals – at every level, VPs, Managers, and Reps – who are interacting with and getting to know your ideal prospects day in and day out. Also, having Sales involved really helps in encouraging the whole Sales organization to adopt lead scoring once it’s rolled out. Overall, to be successful, lead scoring has to be a true collaborative effort – so get those relationships going, even though you may not need them right away.
- Consider including Predictive Analytics. Predictive Analytics is a hot topic in the B2B space; is it right for your organization? Many industry leaders are using predictive applications to determine who will buy, and when. Take some time to explore what those solutions can offer, and talk with some experts in the field who can help you decide how you can bake predictive analytics into your lead scoring strategy (hint, hint: we have those experts at DemandGen!). Talk to us about the different ways we could apply it in your situation.
Building the Demand Factory can seem very intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Preparing for each section with due diligence, such as doing these tasks before your lead scoring project commences, will help you create a seamless system in which all the parts mesh well together.
As a Senior Account Director, Ron Scrafano helps DemandGen clients adopt and optimize marketing technologies across their organizations. Ron was an early pioneer in the Marketing Automation industry starting in 2007 when he became an Eloqua certified expert and began to enable success for hundreds of B2C and B2B organizations.