What is lead scoring? The technique that helps turn your leads into real customers

lead-scoring-e1588152615432

They say that a sale is all about delivering “the right message at the right time to the right person”.

I bet you’ve heard it before.

And I also bet that you, yourself know it’s true – especially if your database of potential customers isn’t segmented.

You know exactly what happens. You send a seemingly irresistible discount voucher or offer, but your conversion rate remains low.

You only manage to get four or five orders, at best.

If this happens on a regular basis, you need to start classifying the leads in your database through lead scoring: a system that allows you to plan more effective marketing actions and to increase sales with the same number of potential customers.

And to that end, this post will tell you:

  • The main features of a lead scoring system and how your online store can benefit from having one.
  • How to classify the leads in your database.
  • Three steps to implement a lead scoring process.

Time to forget about mass mailing. ;)

👉 What lead scoring is and why you should implement it in your e-commerce

First of all, here’s a definition:

Lead scoring is an automated marketing technique that allows you to classify the leads in your database according to the stage of your conversion funnel they fall into. 

In other words, this tool assigns a certain score to each of your potential customers depending on how interested he or she is in buying any of your products.

This has also been referred to as “measuring a lead’s temperature”, and it’s a key part of inbound marketing strategies.

Applying this system has plenty of benefits for your e-commerce:

  • It increases your sales: Lead scoring helps you determine which leads in your database are ready to buy so you can send them a discount voucher at the right time. It also allows you to spot cross-selling opportunities.
  • Low-quality leads are left out: Low-quality leads are those that are unlikely to materialize into sales (for example, those who downloaded your lead magnet but aren’t interested in buying). If you get them segmented, you’ll be able to focus your marketing actions on those leads with a better chance of becoming customers. 
  • You fine-tune your marketing strategies: Lead scoring gives you details about the profile of your buyers as well as the opportunity to recognize the specific actions signaling that a potential customer is ready to buy. 

Now let’s take a look at the different types of leads your e-commerce may have.

👉 How are leads classified?

The list of possible criteria for segmenting the contacts in your database is endless, but here are the two basic methods:

  1. The customer profile: Not all of your users match the characteristics of your buyer persona. For example, even if you’ve targeted senior managers of big companies, some people in a mid-range position may still have leaked into your database. These leads will be given fewer points because they are less likely to become customers.
  2. Their actions: That is, how users interact with your e-commerce shop. For example, if they’ve downloaded one of your lead magnets, the number of emails they’ve opened, or how many times they’ve contacted you with a query.

Following these two criteria, leads are grouped into three categories:

  1. Cold leads: These are at the top of the funnel. They know they have a problem, but they still aren’t ready to buy. This lead corresponds to those users who’ve just downloaded your lead magnet. 
  2. Marketing qualified leads: They’re in the middle stages of the funnel. They’re aware of the consequences if their problem doesn’t come to an end, so they’re exploring possible solutions.
  3. Sales qualified leads: They’re ready to buy from you, but they need a nice little push (like a personal offer at the right time).

To get a cold or marketing qualified lead to move through your conversion funnel, you need to give them some valuable content to get them to purchase some of your products.

This process is known as “lead nurturing” and is usually carried out through an email marketing strategy.

👉 How to implement the lead scoring process into your e-commerce

Now that you know what lead scoring is, let’s take a look at how to put it into practice.

You just need to follow these three steps.

✅ 1. Create a scoring system and some milestones

First, you should determine the scoring system for your leads.

Generally, each contact in this system is given a score from 1-100 (1 meaning they’re at the coldest stage and 100 meaning they’re ready to buy).

Right, but what’s the criteria for giving a certain score to a lead and how can you make sure it changes?

Just make sure you come up with a set of actions (also known as “milestones”) for your leads to complete and assign each one a certain score. 

Here are some examples:

  • Fills out a form to download your lead magnet: 5 points
  • Opens an informative email or a newsletter: 2 points
  • Responds to a question asked in one of your emails: 10 points
  • Opens an email with a sales promotion (even if they don’t use it): 15 points

This allows you to create an automated email sequence in which the score of each lead is updated according to the milestones achieved.

For example, if a contact is added to your database, downloads a lead magnet, and opens five emails in the nurturing sequence, it’s a sign he or she is ready to buy. At that very moment, the system automatically sends that person a discount voucher to encourage conversion.

The score assigned to each milestone depends on the length of your funnel.

For low-ticket products, a sequence of two or three emails should be enough to get a contact to place their first order, while high-ticket items may take between 10 and 15 emails.

✅ 2. Choose the automation tool you’re going to use 

When it comes to designing a lead scoring system, you can do it with two possible instruments:

  1. An emails sales funnel: It’s the most basic method and you can do it with any email marketing platform, such as MailChimp or Active Campaign.
  2. An advanced automation tool: If you want to implement a more thorough lead scoring system, you’ll need a tool like HubSpot or Marketo (to name a few). This kind of software has very sophisticated web analytics methods that can even measure each user’s interaction with your website (for example, how long they’ve spent on it, how many times they’ve visited it, or if they’ve visited your prices page).

Marketing automation tools aren’t cheap. In exchange, however, they offer more precise segmentation options and better conversion rates than email sales funnels. 

✅ 3. When they pass, send them an offer!

Once leads in your database have achieved enough milestones to have a score between 80 and 100, it’s time to send them an offer.

We suggest personalizing the offer as much as you can, like sending an automatically generated discount code valid for a single user only.

On top of that, if the discount expires in a few hours, they’re more likely to use it. 

And once a user has made their first purchase, don’t forget to put the icing on the cake by implementing one of the best techniques to foster client loyalty, which we describe in this article. ;)

✅ 4. Analyze and optimize your funnel

There’s no point in creating an automated system if you don’t keep an eye on it.

Once your funnel is up and running, you’ll have to monitor it to make sure the points in your lead scoring system are working as they should.

For example, if you find out that your conversion remains low, it could be a sign that your funnel is too short and that your leads need to achieve more milestones before qualifying for sales.

Or perhaps it’s the opposite – the email sequence you’ve created may be too long, so your potential customers end up losing interest.

You need to run continuous trials to optimize your lead scoring systems and keep increasing your funnel’s conversion volume.

If your database is big enough, you can run an A/B test with differentiated email sequences to find out which one gets you better conversion.

Also, be sure to get regular feedback from your sales team or customer service. 

Since they are the ones in direct contact with those leads, they’re a reliable source of information when it comes to spotting the milestones at which point most sales are generated.

👉 Have you decided how you’re going to implement lead scoring into your e-commerce to increase sales?

Setting up and starting a lead scoring strategy is a time-consuming process, but once it’s active and optimized, the conversion rate of your promotions will go through the roof. 

Now it’s time for you to grade your leads and see the perks of this system for yourself. ;)