The Data Set Marketing Needs To Accurately Score Leads

June 15, 2017 Joe Vignolo

Lead scoring is something I like to call a "moving target". It’s difficult to get it just right, and frighteningly easy to screw up and miss completely.

And while there are basic guidelines every company should follow, most criteria used to score leads are extremely company/product specific, requiring constant tweaking as your business and customers evolve. It’s like riding a bicycle but in a different way than what’s usually implied. Once you take the training wheels off and really get moving, staying upright on a bike requires constant, albeit small, adjustments to balance and weight distribution. Forget to lean a certain way, or react to uneven terrain, and down you go. The same goes for lead scoring.

But there's a data set out there that makes the whole process a lot easier — technographics. But before we talk about the future of lead scoring, let's discuss how most companies do it now.

Where Most Companies Start

The most common way to come up with lead scoring criteria is to examine your current customers. What traits do your best customers share? Are they similar-sized companies? All in a certain geographic location? Were CTOs the primary decision makers? Basic customer analysis.

After you identify the characteristics your best customers share, as HubSpot’s Lindsay Kolowich writes, "you'll look at the attributes of your contacts who didn't become customers. Once you've looked at the historical data from both sides, you can decide which attributes should be weighted heavily based on how likely they are to indicate someone's a good fit for your product."

Kolowich suggests beginning with six criteria:

  1. Demographic Information

    Think of demographic information as "people" data. Things like job title, age, whether they have children and education level are all considered demographic information. This criteria is especially relevant if you sell and market only to certain roles in an organization.

  2. Company Information

    Company information, or firmographics, consists of data points like company size, revenue level and industry. Any successful lead scoring process will include company data, especially if you're selling a niche B2B product.
  3. Online Behavior

    A lead’s interactions with your site can give you tremendous insight into their interest level and priorities. Are they spending time looking at certain product pages? Which content offerings did they download? How much time did they spend on the site before becoming a customer.
  4. Email Engagement

    Classic open and clickthrough rates fall under email engagement. You’ll know who is most interested in your solution by how they react to your email outreach, whether that’s a nurture campaign, product announcement or promotion.
  5. Social Engagement

    Are leads retweeting you? That’s a pretty good sign they’re at the very least aware of your brand. If a lead is engaging you on social media often, they may be primed and ready for your product. Give them points!
  6. Spam Detection

    This one is a negative attribute. Did a lead fill out a form with a bogus name, company or email? If yes, it’s a good idea to assign them negative points. You don’t want your reps reaching out to qwerty@fakeemail.com, right?

Again, HubSpot’s Lindsay Kolowich goes into greater detail, but these criteria are a good place to start when building out your lead scoring, and determining what combination makes for a marketing qualified lead (MQL).

But there’s something missing. There exists a data set that makes a good lead scoring process great.

Using Technographic Data For Lead Scoring

Our friends over at Leadscoring.com pose a pertinent question: "Have you considered the powerful lead scoring and segmentation signals hiding in plain 'site'?"

That question is perfect in so many ways, but it really boils down to the word "site". If you examine a lead’s website — and I don’t mean from a design perspective — you can learn a lot about the company’s sophistication level. "By evaluating a company’s website technology profile (that is, the software, widgets, frameworks and other elements used to build out, measure and promote the site) you can learn a lot about the relative priority and sales readiness of a prospect for your product or service," according to Leadscoring.com. That technology profile, combined with information you can infer from that profile, is what makes up technographics.

Technographic data is primarily collected by gathering and analyzing technology signatures, or “digital footprints,” as they occur online. For web and mobile software, these signatures are typically snippets of code that can be found upon "pulling back the curtain" on any website or app. Here are a few common signatures related to popular software products:

technographic signatures

So how can you use technographics to improve lead scoring?

Technographics: A Powerful Proxy

Technographics can be used as a proxy for many of the other data points we’ve already discussed, including company size, revenue and other firmographics. And that's extremely powerful since accurate data on private companies is very hard to come by. Furthermore, technographics can be used to determine the sales readiness of a lead.

For example, if your lead’s uses Marketo for marketing automation, you can be reasonably certain of a few things:

  • Revenue: Marketo is a robust marketing automation platform that many enterprise-level businesses rely on. In short: it's really good, but it ain’t cheap. And that means at least one of two things: Either it’s an SMB company, but they anticipate growing quickly and therefore have invested in an enterprise MA solution, or they really are an enterprise company and can afford an expensive product.

  • Company size: No company that I know of will invest in Marketo if they don’t have a large marketing department. It’s not impossible — they may have a very sophisticated team or have use for a particular functionality that only Marketo provides — but it is unlikely. A large marketing team means an even larger sales org. This can give you a reasonably accurate headcount estimation.

  • Readiness: Sticking with the same example, let’s assume you sell a product that integrates with Marketo. That’s a good indicator of fit, right? They definitely should be scored highly. But let’s take it a step further, and imagine that not only does your lead use Marketo, but they also have one of your direct competitors installed. Game over? Negative points? Not necessarily. You now know that not only will your solution complement their existing systems, but that they already understand the value it can bring. Welcome to MQL city! Now you can use something like Datanyze to see the exact date they installed your competitor and reach out 10 months later when they are nearing the end of their contract.

Tech Sophistication Is The Future

This all circles back to using technographics to understand the sophistication level of a company, and what that can tell you. Here’s a graphic we have been working on illustrating the sophistication of a company based on their technology choices.

Tech sophistication by department

You can interpret low, medium and high as mom-and-pop shop, SMB and enterprise, respectively. As the size and complexity of a company’s technographic profile increases, you can bet their actual size and revenue amount do too.

Once you identify the technographic signals your best customers share — whether that’s a particular tool or combination of technologies — you can infer important firmographic data points, simplify your criteria and effectively refine your lead scoring to reduce false positives and stop good leads from slipping through the cracks.

Featured Image Source: Mass People Supporters Group of People Crowds by Ben Kerckx CC0 Pixabay

About the Author

Joe Vignolo

Joe is the Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Datanyze, specializing in authentic storytelling that connects and converts. Before joining Datanyze, he was an award-winning broadcast journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also believes Point Break is a shining example of American cinema.

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