With sales being the ultimate conversion of any B2B marketing team, you need a straightforward path to determine how quickly your prospects will be ready to buy. The right insights can help you separate those who are buying soon from those who will be ready in several months—or those who may never buy at all. Marketing and sales teams know that’s not so easy. A lot of time is wasted following up with prospects who aren’t ready to make the leap. According to Aberdeen Research, as many as 73% of your B2B leads are not sales-ready. Lead scoring is the strategy that helps you effectively navigate those challenges. If you get it right, you can experience a 192% higher average lead qualification than companies that don’t leverage lead scoring, according to Aberdeen. By pairing a lead scoring strategy with email marketing, you can effectively determine how to further engage your subscribers in a way that leads to conversions. That’s why today we’ll take a look at some factors that should be part of your email marketing plan, and most importantly, we’ll easily learn how to use lead scoring with email marketing.
How can you use lead scoring with email marketing?
- Define lead scoring as a foundational strategy
- Identify the lead stages and create targeted content
- Build your lead scoring campaign
- Segment your list for better lead scoring
4 ways to use score leads using email marketing
1. Define lead scoring as a foundational strategy.
It’s important for your team to set the groundwork by defining what successful lead scoring means for your company. On a more general basis, lead scoring gives you the ability to qualify prospects based on certain demographics and firmographics, including budget, company size, and job title. This is definitely a good place to start, especially if you have a software solution. It makes sense that you would only target prospects who can afford your product. Also, your product should be a good fit from a functional standpoint. You want new clients to get successful results. But, again, that’s just a start with the lead scoring process. Even within that market segment, you’ll find prospective buyers will be at widely different stages in the buyers funnel. You’ll interact differently with the 27% of buyers who are sales-ready, compared to the 73% who are not. How do you figure out which is which? This requires another level of qualifying factors. This is where your email marketing automation can provide the insights you need to further score leads. Use it to gather data about certain user behaviors, including the following:
- Email opens
- Views on specific pages
These example behaviors can signal a user’s intent when it comes to purchasing your product. Those engaging in specific activities, such as viewing several videos and downloading ebooks, are likely to be more interested in receiving a follow-up call from your sales team than one who is only browsing a few pages on your site. You can take the time to make an educated guess about which behaviors are more likely to result in conversions leading to a sale. But this can be a risky proposition. Guessing—even educated guessing—could lead you to send acquisition messages to prospects at the wrong time. If they are not yet familiar with your solution or product, acquisition outreach could turn them off. To avoid those risks, use marketing automation. This will provide insight into behaviors indicative of a sales-ready subscriber.
2. Identify the lead stages and create targeted content.
To develop a strategy that targets the different phases of the buyer’s funnel/marketing funnel, you need to create relevant content that encourages engagement at each point With a fine-tuned email nurturing strategy (one that is continually improved based on customer interactions), you can encourage prospects to go deeper into the funnel. And with more prospects heading in that direction, you can achieve what every marketing team desires—a funnel widening in the middle and at the bottom. Outline the content that will help your prospects make decisions at different phases of the marketing funnel. Additionally, include adequate messaging to address questions your audience may have at each stage of the decision-making process. To keep it simple, think of the life acquisition cycle. The main phases that lead to a final sale include:
- Awareness — This top-of-the funnel content can include blogs, videos, and infographics that identify the pain points typically experienced by your intended audience. It should serve to make a connection, getting your audience’s attention by communicating that you understand their challenges.
This content should be designed to encourage your audience to learn more about your brand by visiting your site or signing up to join your email list if they haven’t done so already.
- Engagement — Beyond this, content should be developed to address the middle phase of the funnel, becoming more comprehensive to answer the more complex questions that your prospects may have before considering your product/service. These can include various whitepapers, long-form blogs, ebooks, and webinars.
It’s important to realize that many of your prospects may be in this phase for some time before moving to the next phase. It may require highly personalized content that shows how your solution/product is working for other companies in similar industries. This is also the phase where you can start identifying which prospects are moving more quickly toward a sales conversion, and which ones may require a few more months of nurturing.
- Decision — At every end of the funnel, create content with the goal of overcoming any final objections your prospects may have before purchasing. This is where you can develop an in-depth presentation of how your product/service solves the pain points that have been previously outlined in content.
You may offer one-on-one consulting and demos of more organization-specific scenarios, as well as information on pricing. More than likely, your sales team will be heavily engaged at this point. Paired with email marketing automation, this type of nurturing campaign will give you the data insights to build a lead scoring campaign that make it easy to detect when your subscribers are sales-ready.
3. Build your lead scoring campaign.
With your nurturing campaign up and running, you can start grading your leads by giving each of them a score based on behaviors. These behaviors should be in response to your email lead nurturing campaign. You can approach this lead categorization in several ways, typically using a numeric score. For example, prospects who are a good fit from a demographic/firmographic perspective should be placed in the top tier of sales-ready leads—but only if they’re showing interest by downloading ebooks and whitepapers in quick succession. Start grading your prospects with a numeric score of 1 or 2. If one of these leads also takes the time to attend a webinar, bump them up as a priority. Your sales team should be trying to call them directly, or at least sending personal emails. But these are obvious examples. There will be dozens of behavior combinations that may indicate a prospect’s readiness to convert. And those factors may not always be evident to you. Instead of devoting your time to sifting through the data to score and categorize your leads, use your email marketing automation for scoring. It not only will save you the time from scoring and categorizing those leads manually, but it will also do a tremendously better job of grading leads accurately. Here is a general example of how you can set up your scoring:
- Open your welcome email – 5 points
- Open 3 subsequent emails – 10 points each (30 points)
- Click-through to your site – 15 points
- Browse product page – 20 points
- Download a whitepaper – 25 points
- View a product tutorial – 50 points
In this case, leads with a score of 75 points can be categorized as sales-ready. And anything above 100 could be a signal that it’s time for your sales team to make a direct contact.
4. Segment your list for better lead scoring.
Another key part of setting up an effective lead scoring system involves dynamic list segmentation through marketing automation. The dynamic segmentation feature of your marketing automation further supports your lead scoring strategy with minimal effort on your part. Using the points system you’ve already established, marketing automation can be set up to segment your contacts—allowing you to send relevant email messages to the appropriate audiences in the right formats, all in real time. Develop messaging for each segment in the acquisition cycle, based on the points assigned for each category. You can create sub-segments within the categories of new leads, warm leads, qualified leads and sales-qualified. This segmentation, as well as messaging, should be constantly in flux, adjusting to reflect changes in the level of engagement among your subscribers. Subscribers within each segment may move more quickly than others and, therefore, should be treated to content personalized to their changing interests. Another benefit of a lead scoring with email marketing is that you will start detecting the mix of activities among your subscribers that tend to lead to a conversion. Use this data to continue to fine-tune your content marketing strategy. Through this cycle of lead scoring and the delivery of more relevant content, you will gain the ability to further nurture your segmented audiences. You also will become more efficient at widening the bottom of the funnel and gaining more sales-ready leads. Start building more effective lead scoring with email marketing automation. Delivra will show you how. Contact us to learn more.