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Lead Scoring: How B2B Search Marketers Can Lead the Process

edmond-derek
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B2B search marketing teams should step up to the forefront in lead generation initiatives in 2012. According to the 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark report by MarketingSherpa, three of the top four challenges growing in pertinence are directly related to lead generation.

b2b-challenges-2012-marketing-sherpa

MarketingSherpa recently released a blog post and supporting case study highlighting how developing a lead scoring process can improve the overall effectiveness of lead generation. The average lead generation ROI for organizations using a lead scoring process was 138 percent, in comparison to 78 percent lead generation ROI from those surveyed who were not using a lead scoring process, according to the blog post, 

More importantly, MarketingSherpa’s survey included of 1,745 marketers and found that 79 percent of B2B marketers are not engaging in lead scoring.

lead-gen-roi-with-scoring-marketing-sherpa

Via the case study, lead scoring is the process of creating a point structure for various demographic, firmographic, and behavioral attributes, such as job title, company size and industry, and email address type (free like Gmail or business-specific). A new lead is assigned a total score based on these attributes.

Prospects with scores that meet or exceed a set total are passed along to the sales team for action. The rest are kept in the B2B marketing lead nurturing funnel, or disregarded if they don't meet a minimum score.

Lead scoring could clearly become a key component of the B2B marketing strategy, pushing the overall success of the organization’s lead generation programs over the top. This column evaluates some of the factors involved in lead scoring, and proposes how B2B search marketers can help contribute to and ultimately step to the forefront of the lead scoring process.

Bridge the Communication Gap

The first step in developing a lead scoring system is for sales and marketing to work together in defining appropriate criteria. B2B search marketers should bridge this connection because of the significance of organic search traffic referrals to the internet marketing function and the need to benchmark SEO performance through quality lead volume.

Based on the MarketingSherpa case study, scoring criteria that could be captured online includes:

  • Titles and Roles
  • Contact Information
  • Types of content marketing access requested or accessed

Prioritization of information and field requirements need to be agreed upon so that marketers are sending only the types of leads that fit minimum point benchmarks for sales to act upon. Business value will then be much better ascertained through the traffic and keyword referrals SEO programs bring.

Customize Form Submissions

Once the appropriate lead scoring criteria is established, B2B search marketers should do their part to input form requirements in association to conversion actions on the site. Make certain form information is associated to the lead scoring criteria agreed upon, but also take into consideration the proximity of conversion opportunity to potential sales readiness.

Conceptually, we often seek to limit the requirements on form submissions where there is less likelihood a sales call would be imminent; this is because we want to achieve a higher volume of opportunities to nurture. Conversely, forms that would be perceived to be for more direct sales inquiries should have more comprehensive requirements.

A somewhat generalized client example:

lead-funnel-example

In more complex B2B client scenarios, sales-oriented conversations are more likely to occur after more than one initial conversion point. However to get to that second conversation, the first step it to obtain an effective email address or other contact information. So in a traditional lead scoring system, greater precedence would thus be given to the business email (versus free email).

B2B search marketers would want to make sure that they are involved in helping capture and evaluate lead criteria collected through all types of form submissions.

Optimize Content Assets Through Keyword Research and Cross-Linking

Make sure that at least the basic optimization strategies are incorporated into landing pages where form submissions will be presented. Examples of core SEO best practices include:

  • Identified keyword strategies.
  • Keyword specific HTML title, Meta descriptions, page headings, web addresses.
  • Social sharing functionality.
  • Cross-links from relevant pages and sections of the website to increase user and search engine visibility.
  • Clear call-to-actions.

It’s easy to bury content marketing assets deep in the navigational structure of a website. In order to avoide this issue, B2B SEOs should identify locations within the site to cross-link, which will, in turn, provide greater visibility for users and search engines.

Connect the Dots with Web Traffic Reports

The final piece of the puzzle is within web traffic reports. Make sure to segment individual conversion opportunities or conversion types (depending on the volume of potential goal opportunities) and evaluate the performance of organic search referral traffic across branded, non-branded, and now not-provided keyword traffic.

Dave Davies wrote a nice post earlier this month on better understanding not provided search referrals which might be of added value in this process.

Final Thoughts

As the B2B marketer’s role garners more pressure, search marketers need to do their part to better impact the lead generation process. This requires B2B SEOs to be more involved and knowledgeable in all facets of B2B marketing strategy.

Focusing in areas that have demonstrated measurable success, such as lead scoring, also illustrates the value of SEO to the entire organization.

Has your SEO strategy included lead scoring as part of the role’s responsibility? I would enjoy hearing of others successes and challenges via comments below.


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