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How to Build HubSpot Lead Scoring That Actually Works

By Jenna Ott

How to Build HubSpot Lead Scoring That Actually Works

As many marketers know, HubSpot is a valuable tool that holds the potential to make our lives, and our marketing, better. But it's important to remember that HubSpot, while great, is just a tool. Knowing what elements of any tool to use and how to use them is the first step in a robust and well-managed marketing campaign.

In my experience, one of the most useful elements of HubSpot is the lead scoring tool. But it can also be one of the most misused elements, with many marketers over-engineering their lead scoring formulas.

While their intentions are usually good, the result is often a lead scoring framework that either yields poor leads, or doesn’t flag leads that are qualified.

So, let’s break down HubSpot’s lead scoring tool and how to use it for greater insights into your marketing and, ultimately, higher returns on your marketing investment.

What Is HubSpot Lead Scoring?

In the most simple of terms, lead scoring allows you to use demographic and behavioral data to place a numerical value on your contacts and prospects so that you can use that data to prioritize your marketing and sales efforts.

Inbound marketing is all about building relationships and lead scoring helps you to determine your strongest relationships, as well as the ones that need a little extra attention.

With built-in automation, HubSpot allows you to develop specific lead scoring criteria and apply it to your past, present, and current contacts in a “set it and forget it” fashion.

The information that lead scoring produces empowers marketers to build campaigns that are more likely to yield qualified leads that can be passed on to sales and, ultimately, closed as customers.

Where To Start With Lead Scoring

Lead scoring can be used to help marketers identify, nurture and deliver the most qualified leads to sales.

When it comes to utilizing lead scoring, HubSpot recommends starting with the following three steps:

  1. Determine the lead-to-customer conversion rate for all of your leads.
  2. Examine different attributes to determine what makes someone likely to close as a customer.
  3. Compare the close rate of your existing customers with each attribute.

Lead To Customer Conversion Rate is pretty straightforward. This is the percentage of leads that become a customer. It can be measured using the lead and customer metrics you should already be tracking right within HubSpot and is calculated by dividing the number of new customers acquired by the number of leads generated.

Customer Close Attributes will require a bit of work and analysis on your part. You are likely obtaining key demographic data on customers that can help you to determine this.

For example, are most closed customers at the C-Suite level of a big business, or are they entrepreneurs just starting out? Is there an age range or a specific company revenue range that most of your closed customers fall into?

These are the types of things you’ll be looking to identify and assign value to in your lead scoring.

Customer Attribute to Close Rate will be determined when you start to see patterns in the attributes.

Grouping your customers by common attributes will allow you to calculate an estimated close rate by attribute and help you to prioritize each attribute. It will also provide you with a sense of which attributes are most important to be on the lookout for and to market to.

Obviously, the process outlined above can provide a great deal of value, but it probably also sounds like it requires a lot of time - something that most marketers have in short supply.

This is where Predictive Lead Scoring comes in.

What Is Predictive Lead Scoring?

Predictive lead scoring is a built-in feature in HubSpot that assigns a value to leads, based on qualifiers and attributes, without costing you valuable time.

Officially, HubSpot defines it as a tool that uses an algorithm to predict which contacts in your database are qualified or not qualified.  

To do this, HubSpot Predictive Lead Scoring takes the following into consideration:

  • Demographic information
  • HubSpot contact insights
  • Company information for your specific business
  • Any interactions logged in the HubSpot CRM (including web analytics, marketing email interactions, form submission events, and more)

Using machine learning and advanced artificial intelligence (AI), predictive lead scoring identifies patterns in your prospect and customer data, so that you don’t have to.

These algorithms may vary, but they generally include information collected from forms on your website, demographics, behavioral data, social information, and more.

The predictive lead score values provided by HubSpot will be based on your specific collected data and will give insight into how likely your contacts are to close.

How Should Your Team Utilize Lead Scoring Insights?

First things first. Before you build out a lead scoring model, you should start by asking yourself whether your entire team is onboard with lead scoring.

Sales, marketing, leadership, etc. should all understand the value of lead scoring and how it is being determined in your organization.

The purpose of lead scoring is to increase the number of qualified leads that are passed on to sales by providing marketing with better information with which to target campaigns. Unless the marketing and sales teams are aligned on what a qualified lead looks like, lead scoring isn't likely to deliver on this promise.

When your team is aligned, has identified the specific criteria that will be used to measure whether leads are qualified, and is prepared to begin utilizing lead scoring, it’s time to get to building out your HubSpot lead scoring framework.

Building Your Lead Scoring

To start off, focus on creating lead scoring that functions in the way that it should for your specific organization.

No two companies are alike and you are using lead scoring to pinpoint and prioritize marketing qualified leads that are uniquely likely to become customers of your organization.

1. Create MQL Qualifier Lists

Start by determining what specific criteria must be present for a contact to be considered a marketing qualified lead (MQL). You can then use HubSpot’s smart list feature to build a list that includes any contacts that meet this criteria.

With MQL qualifier lists established, you can utilize additional tools such as email automation, workflows, and contact lifecycle stages to enhance and improve your targeted marketing efforts in a manner that doesn’t require added time from you and your team.

2. Determine Criteria Scoring Point Ranges

As you identify all of your scoring criteria, you will need to assign point values and set scoring ranges. Most organizations seem comfortable with a 1-10 score range model. Anything more than that can become cumbersome.

In general, the smaller the point range, the easier it is to manage and evaluate. Some organizations seem to prefer a 1-5 scoring range as it is easier to identify a low score falling in the 1-2 range, a middle ground score of 3, and a high score of 4-5.  

Whatever you decide is best for your organization should be based on your comfort level when it comes to developing appropriate marketing efforts for each score range and lead level.

3. Take All Actions Into Consideration When Assigning Lead Scores

While some actions may clearly constitute a specific score, such as a “Contact Us” form leading to a 10 (on a scale of 1-10), consider that a combination of actions taken could also garner a 10.

For example, a lead that has opened multiple marketing emails and visited multiple key site pages (such as a pricing page) could just as easily earn a 10 lead score.

4. A Max Score Should Align With Your Total Max Criteria Score Range

Your max qualifying lead score is going to be different from the scoring used for each individual qualifying characteristic. The max score is the combined total of the qualifying characteristics used for lead scoring.

For example, let’s say you have identified 10 qualifying characteristics and the max score for each of those characteristics is based on a scale of 1-5, your max lead score would be 50.  

This model allows leads to meet the MQL criteria by accumulating points via a mix of criteria.  

5. Segment Your Maximum Range

HubSpot recommends segmenting the maximum range into three parts.

“We benefit from dividing our range into parts that represent what meeting a certain score means for the contact's status in the database. This allows division of lead score ranges into 3 parts, such as ‘Leads in need of nurturing,’ ‘Engaged Leads,’ and ‘Lead Score MQLs.’”

If you’re a marketer that is familiar with HubSpot, you know that the best way to familiarize yourself with most features of HubSpot and determine how to best use it to serve your purposes is to dive right in.

With lead scoring, I recommend doing just that, while keeping everything above in mind.

Treat your first foray into lead scoring as an experiment and know that it will probably take you several iterations before you have your lead scoring model exactly where you want it.

My advice is to get lead scoring set up and then work closely with your sales team to evaluate each new lead that comes in.

Look at what their lead score was and why they got the score they did. If their score is higher than it should be (based on feedback from sales), try to determine which criteria artificially inflated the score. If it was too low, see if you can figure out what you missed.

Evaluating each lead in this way will not only help you to build out a robust and accurate lead scoring tool, it will build stronger alignment with your sales team - something that will only benefit you as you work to build a marketing program that delivers measurable ROI for your company.

Free Assessment:

How does your inbound marketing measure up?
Take this free, 5-minute assessment and learn what you can start doing today to boost traffic, leads, and sales.


Inbound Sales
Published on January 7, 2019

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