Research: Why Behavior Matters in Lead Scoring


Marketo’s Definitive Guide to Lead Scoring defines lead scoring as a “shared sales and marketing methodology for ranking leads in order to determine their sales readiness.”

“A solid lead scoring approach not only helps to rank prospects against one another, but can smooth the lead  flow and serve as the baseline for building a range of business rules that include ownership, role and activities. ” – SiriusDecisions, What’s the Score

There are different kinds of things you can track with scoring:

  • Fit: Fit score is based on the demographic and firmographic attributes that tell you how well the prospect compares against your ideal buyer profile – things like job title or role, industry, and company size.  In other words, how attractive is this potential lead to me?
  • Interest: Interest score is based on the prospect’s engagement with your campaigns and content. This can include things like reading the blog, attending webinars, downloading papers, and even social behaviors such as sharing your content on their networks. Interest score tells you how attractive you are to the potential customer.

Anyone who has ever gone on a date can tell you that you need both fit and interest to have a relationship – you need to be interested in them and they need to be interested in you.

The ROI of Behavioral Lead Scoring

So it makes logical sense to track fit and interest.  But does this actually drive more revenue?  It turns out that data from the Marketo Benchmark on Revenue Performance can help answer that.  Here’s what it shows:

I find this result amazing.  Companies that are using Fit-only lead scoring are seeing essentially no improvement from lead scoring.  But companies that use Fit and Interest see 12% points higher revenue growth and a whopping 17% more sales time spent selling [TWEET THIS].

Timing Is Everything – Buying Intent

But it turns out that even Fit + Interest is not enough! You could be interested in someone, and they could be interested in you… but they could be married.  So ideally you will track additional factors that will indicate timing. This will help you know whether someone is an early-stage prospect that is just looking to be educated or entertained – or an active lead that is considering a purchase of your product or solution.

This can take the form of BANT criteria (budget, accountability, need, and timing) that you get explicitly by asking the prospect. Or it can take the form of implicit factors that you track.  For example, at Marketo we’ve found that there are some behaviors that are highly correlated with prospects moving into a buying cycle with us.  These include:

  • Visiting our detailed pricing pages.
  • Registering to watch our detailed demos.
  • Downloading mid- and late-stage content such as How to Select a Marketing Automation Company
  • Using “Marketo” as a keyword in a Google search.  (You see the same thing in consumer products.  Using a generic word such as digital camera or marketing automation suggests early-stage research; using a keyword like Canon EOS 6D or Marketo suggests someone is closer to buying.)

By scoring identifying “active buying behaviors”, we are able to be more relevant when we follow-up with a lead.  If someone has a high score but low buying intent, we know we need to be more educational; but if someone has high buying intent, we know we need to “Act Now” since they are more likely to be interested in a fast-track to talking with sales.

Get Started Fast

One of my most frequent pieces of advice regarding any marketing automation or lead management implementation is to “Think Big, Start Small and Move Quickly”.   The idea is that getting some fast wins on the board, and then evolving in an agile fashion towards the full vision, is almost always going to drive better results than trying to build everything at once.

So the next question is, “where should I start”?  Where are the quick wins? This will vary by business, of course, but I’ve often seen that the biggest bang for the effort comes from implementing some of the basic behavioral lead scoring ideas discussed in this post.

At the simplest level, this means letting the sales team have insight into who is opening emails, visiting the website, and responding to campaigns. Even that basic insight helps sales representatives focus their time and energy on the customers that are actually engaged and want to talk to them. I’ve seen time and again that this quick win not only improves sales productivity and revenue, but it also is a great way to build sales and marketing alignment and to get the sales team on board with your marketing automation investment.

Where have you seen the quickest wins from lead scoring?