The Unbearable Lightness of Lead Scores

What does it really mean that a lead now has 100 points? 20 points? Is the 125-point lead 25% more likely to convert than the 100-point lead? Is the 100-point lead 100X more likely to convert than a 1-point lead?

If you’re assigning these kinds of point scores to your leads and you can’t answer those questions, you may be doing lead scoring the wrong way. Perhaps it’s because you’ve seen all the other marketers doing it this way, and you think it must be this way. But must it be this way? Does the chorus of marketing angels sing out, “Es Muss Sein!” (It Must Be!) when you add arbitrary numbers of points to leads based on traits or activities whose effect on likelihood of conversion you might not have a damned clue about?


I know it may seem simpler to continue using this sort of points system. That’s what tools like Marketo and Eloqua support. But let’s not be slaves to the constraints of Marketo and Eloqua. Don’t let sometimes garbage-y software tell us what to do! Instead of saying “action A earns a prospect X points”, try thinking of it in the following way:

“Leads that performed action A (or a set of actions ‘A’) have had a conversion rate of X%”

“Leads that performed Action B had a conversion rate of Y%”

“Leads that didn’t perform either Action A or Action B had a conversion rate of Z%”

It’s fairly basic segmentation following analysis. It might not have the sexiness of “lead scoring”, but it serves the same purpose and it does the job more effectively. Instead of an arbitrary points system, you can rank your new segments of leads by their odds of conversion, and you can choose which segments convert at a high enough rate to be worth sending over to your Sales team.

You can even call it a lead score to humor any of your marketing coworkers who like to leverage nonsensical business jargon. Or maybe armed with this new knowledge you can bring about a paradigm shift in their thinking.

One thought on “The Unbearable Lightness of Lead Scores

  1. Great perspective Ben. Traditional lead scoring is arbitrary, because it’s subjective by nature of being rules-based. Who creates the rules & scores? Well, you as the marketer do. And how do you know a certain action is worth X number of points? Well, by trial & error, of course!

    The easiest & most effective way of creating an objective measure of a lead’s likelihood to buy from you is through machine learning. Math-based reasoning can also take into account many 1000s of variables whereas a human might only process a few dozen w/ accuracy.

    Let me know if it’s time to explore predictive with us by reaching out at!


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