inbound lead scoring guideRecently, I’ve spoken with a few clients about lead scoring. If you have too many leads and not enough sales capacity to call each one in a timely manner, lead scoring is a great way to optimize your efforts. You can use it to triage your list of leads and to reach out to your most qualified contacts first.

In this post, I’ll introduce the concept of lead scoring. I’ll talk about how it works, whether or not you need it, how to think about using it, and what to do after you’ve set up your scoring parameters.

How does lead scoring work?

By utilizing software like HubSpot, you can easily assign point values to leads who perform certain actions or who meet specific criteria you’ve mapped out as valuable to your sales process.

Conceptually, it’s quite simple. You can either assign points when:

  • A lead has fulfilled certain demographic information. Perhaps the buyer persona you’re marketing to typically holds a Director or Executive title. If someone fills out your form and, under a Job Title field, types in “CEO,” you might want to assign points to that lead. If you’re a business who only operates in the U.S., maybe you should assign negative points to international leads.
  • A lead has taken a specific action in your marketing process. This is where a lead scoring strategy gets fun. You can assign points based on social media engagement, email marketing click-through rates, what pages your leads are visiting and what forms they are filling out. For example, if a lead visits your pricing page, that’s a good indicator that they’re more interested than the average website visitor.

Do I even need lead scoring?

I’ll be honest here. The vast majority of  businesses I speak with aren’t ready for lead scoring.


Here’s the thing. Lead scoring doesn’t really work unless, well, you have leads.

Unless your sales team is overwhelmed with the number of leads you’re sending their way, you shouldn’t invest any time into lead scoring. Lead scoring should only be used to triage your leads when you have too many and cannot reach out to all of them in a timely, personalized manner.

inbound lead scoring examplesEven if you have enough leads, you still need to have enough data points to make a lead scoring system worthwhile. Are you capturing enough information on your landing page forms? Do you have enough demographic data points to justify lead scoring?

If you’re not there yet, no worries. You’ll get there soon enough.

In the meantime, focus on generating more leads from your website. Spend more time analyzing your website traffic and understanding whether or not you’re driving enough qualified traffic to your website. Are you converting at least 1-2% of your organic search traffic to a lead?

If you’re not generating enough new leads each month, then focus on content creation and on optimizing it for search engines and promoting it via social media. Crush your call-to-action buttons. Re-think your website architecture and design. Build more landing pages around premium content offers that are valuable for people early in the buying process. Remember, not everyone is ready to request a quote, start a trial, reach out to you directly for a call, etc.

How should I set up lead scoring?

If you feel like you’re ready for lead scoring, then let’s talk about your options.

While there are a lot of ways to skin the lead scoring cat, here’s a framework I like to use:

  • First, start with your buyer personas. When a lead is a great demographic match for your business, then assign them a higher score. Add points for specific job titles or industries. Add points when a contact comes from a specific company, by tracking what email address they’re using (like Add points when other demographic parameters are met, like company size, geographic region or whether or not you’ve met this person before at an industry-specific event like a trade show.
  • inbound lead score strategyNext, add points for a lead’s “intent to buy.” Assign points to leads who visit your pricing page. Assign points to leads who are referred from high quality websites, like partner distributors. Assign even more points to leads who request more sales-ready content like technical white papers, case studies or buying guides.
  • Finally, add points for marketing activity engagement. If a lead visits your website more than one (or more than five or ten or twenty) times, then add points. If a lead opens or clicks on links inside of your emails, then add points. If a lead engages with you on social media, then add points.

What do I do next?

Now that you have set up your lead scoring parameters, let’s sit back and let the good times roll.

Not exactly.

Lead scoring is a constant iterative process. It’ll take some time to determine what score indicates a quality lead. Is it a score over 50? What about over 130? Only after chatting with your sales team will you know how well it’s working.

One easy tip to get started is to make sure you’ve got internal notification emails set up, for when a lead reaches a certain score. This is a good way to get notified instantly when someone is a seemingly good fit for your products and/or services.

Have you used or thought about using lead scoring before? What was your experience like?