The online lead generation market is fast moving, and increasingly sophisticated. By failing to keep pace, you can find yourself with a mountain of bad quality leads, low conversion rates, and a high cost-per-acquisition. In plain English, this means wasting money and failing to connect with the best prospective customers for your business.
Many companies struggle with how to improve the quality of their leads and achieve the optimal financial performance. Lead scoring is a proven technique that helps buyers improve conversion and buy better leads; at the same time, scoring leads helps sellers identify the best customer for a given lead.
But to understand lead scoring, we first need to understand the its benefits. First, lead scoring improves the efficiency of working the leads. Second, it improves the mix of leads.
Before lead scoring was widely adopted, lead buyers had to utilize other means – such as lead verification checks and call center agents – to qualify leads. These services aim to confirm which leads are reachable and whether the person associated with a lead is qualified or interested in buying.
Lead buyers needed to perform these checks because sellers often prioritized quantity over quality. Even a high quality online lead generator would rather sell 1000 leads at $10 than 100 leads at $50, provided the cost per acquisition stays the same.
Therein lies the problem. Lead buyers are focused on sales targets. If it takes 1000 leads to get 100 customers, the buyer cannot afford to buy fewer leads and risk sales declining to 20. Cost per acquisition is a secondary concern, addressed only after sales targets are attained, if at all.
Lead Scoring Creates Value
So how do you avoid this pitfall? Take an incremental approach. Identify your best converting leads, based on cost-per-acquisition (or even lifetime value that includes cost-per-acquisition) and other attributes including behavioral, demographic, and source information. Using this technique, a lead buyer can segment leads and score by performance.
A smart lead buyer who works closely with lead sellers will share the details of the best performing leads so the lead seller can target more prospects just like them. Meanwhile the lead buyer can alter re-marketing techniques to improve the efficiency of its conversion programs.
By adopting a lead-scoring approach, one online university reduced its cost-per-acquisition by approximately $200. Conversions increased, and therefore sales improved without purchasing additional leads.
The university scores all leads and uses a web-based portal to publish conversion data. Each lead seller can view its specific performance data and compare it against the average of all sources/sellers. The university identifies the type of lead (e.g., geography, degree type, demographic information) so that a lead source can target more good leads and perhaps sell the non-performing leads where they are a better match. By introducing a real-time score where a lead generator knows if the lead is a good fit for a client, the lead generator can operationalize the program.
Beyond Real Time Scoring
When lead scoring is integrated into the lead generation process, the knowledge gained from the score can be used to create predictive analytics across the enterprise. An effective lead scoring program will help your company:
1. predict churn (and thereby reduce loss of customers);
2. prioritize valued customers, in order to provide those customers with enhanced customer service and boost retention and spending; and
3. optimize media buying to generate even better leads.