Lead Scoring Primer: How BVR Boosted Qualified Leads by 260%

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The days of batch and blast are over. Today’s marketing efforts require a targeted approach that understands the behavior of your customer, what they want and soon, what they will do next. “The marketing game has changed dramatically,” said Tom Pines, CEO at Real Magnet. “We’ve gone from batch and blast to a much more sophisticated way to do things. The main driver is the flood of e-mails being sent. Everyone is overwhelmed. Now it’s all about relevancy, segmentation and targeting. Marketing is currently moving from marketing segmentation to marketing automation. The next phase will be predictive—looking at your data and start making recommendations for you.”

But to get there, publishers have to realize not all leads are the same and to treat them as such wastes precious time and resources for your sales team. Knowing how to score leads not only raises the value of a prospect, it helps put sales and marketing teams on the same page and raises the efficiency and efficacy of your entire staff. The recent Connectiv Audience Marketing Council meeting offered a lead scoring how-to featuring Pines, Kevin Novak, founder and CEO of 2040 Digital and Jacob Perry of publisher BVR.

Lead scoring enables marketers to identify the right offer for the right person at the right time and place. “Lead scoring is very important, you could have someone with the highest score in world and if that person works at some mom-and-pop and can’t afford your products, it’s a bad thing,” said Pines. ”Segmentation will tell you what people are interested in but not how much they are interested. That’s where lead scoring come in."

There are several different types of lead scoring models, according to Novak.

Manual scoring is driven by a marketer’s own research and uses customer demographic and behavioral information and includes as many attributes as you want, weighing the significance of those attributes using round numbers (such as a range of 70-100).

Attribution scoring is driven by your past customer data and integrates demographic and behavioral information for the process of identifying a set of user actions that contribute to a desired outcome. Explicit attributes are related to who this person is, what their role is, and what their location is, while Implicit attributes are related to actions and behaviors such as attending an event or a webcast.

Both Novak and Pines urged publishers to set negative scores for “bad behavior” which ranges from actively dropping off an email list to not engaging with a product over a set period. “And don’t just copy another’s model" said Novak. “It may not correlate to you and your value proposition to the specific target users.”

The emergence of marketing automation platforms makes lead scoring far easier—provided you integrate the system into your process and teams. Marketing automation will offer a list of behaviors to score against—open a message, click a link, open a message category, submit a survey, register for an event, etc. “You’re not just scoring individual interactions,” said Pines. “Once someone does a certain threshold of actions, we want to take our own actions, such as send them a message, add them to a group or send internal message to your sales and marketing team.”

Case Study: How BVR Created a Lead Scoring Framework and Boosted Leads 260%

In 2010, BVR (Business Valuation Resources) which offers M&A news and data, had close to 30 employees and no CRM or marketing automation platform. “Like a lot of companies, we were struggling with the inefficiencies of a manual process,” said Jacob Perry, database marketing manager at BVR. “The sales staff used Excel spreadsheets and we didn’t know what lead sources were converting better than others.”

In 2013, BVR implemented a CRM, gaining real-time reporting and dashboards, followed by the adoption of a marketing automation platform in 2014. BVR then set up a lead scoring model by identifying close to 20 different user behaviors (both good and bad), and assigning those behaviors to one of four scoring categories including Critical, Important, Influencing and Bad.

“It’s important to look at a lead scoring model as evolving as you learn new things about audience and gain new resources,” said Perry. “At first it felt like we were trying to arbitrarily assign scores to different behaviors. It helped us helped to break it down into four categories. Now instead of trying to compare one activity to 15 different activities, you’re first choosing which categories it should be in.”

BVR’s Lead Scoring Model:

Critical (scoring ranges between 10-50 points, with 50 being very good)

Demo request: 50

Database visitor search: 40

Report sample download: 30

Important (scoring ranges between 11-29 points)

Attended webinar          20

Attended conference    20

Prospect created in last 90 days: 20

Product brochure download: 15

Visited shopping cart page: 15

Product subscription page visit: 15

Influencing (1-14 points)

Ezine subscription: 13

General form completion: 13

Free download: 10

Twitter retweet of BVR content: 10

Product page view: 5

Email click: 3

Webpage view: 1

Bad behavior (negative points)

Opted out of email: -15

No activity for 90 days: -20

No activity for 180 days: reset to 0

In the first six months of its lead scoring program, BVR delivered 166 percent more leads to its sales team than ever before. Today, BVR is generating 260 percent more leads than before it implemented its marketing automation platform. “That supports the growth of our sales team and marketing team and it improved e-mail deliverability,” said Perry. “Our blast e-mails to entire lists that weren’t segmented had about 9 percent to 12 percent open rates. Now we’re seeing between 14 percent and 18 percent open rates. Segmented e-mails, where we know who is receiving it and what offer to send went from 25 percent open rates to 40 percent to 60 percent open rates. As open rates increased, so did clickthroughs and so did sales.”

The BVR sales team prioritized leads that had engaged within the last 20 days. If a lead hadn’t engaged in 90 days, they received the lowest possible score. At 180 days without engagement, a lead was reclassified as a fresh prospect.

“Now our sales team can prioritize who they are contacting, they see can the activity and what’s driving their score very transparently,” said Perry. “We can send users information about a product and also gauge the risk of not renewing if they aren’t engaging. It lets us provide consistent branding across sales, and we see far better collaboration between marketing and sales because they’re looking at the same reports and have a better understanding of what a qualified lead is.”

For access to the presentation decks and a recording of the Audience Marketing Council meeting on lead scoring, click here


Matt Matt Kinsman is vice president of content + programming at Connectiv, the only association focused on the integrated b-to-b model—including publications, events, digital media, marketing services and business information. Prior to joining Connectiv's predecessor American Business Media in 2011, Kinsman was executive editor of Folio:, the leading information provider for the magazine industry.