Marketers / Marketing Cloud

Lead Scoring In Salesforce Marketing Cloud

By Philip Schweizer

The costly acquisition of Exacttarget (now Salesforce Marketing Cloud) by Salesforce back in 2012 came to certain experts by surprise. Not because it wouldn’t meet Salesforce’s hunger for acquiring top-notch martech products and teams. But Salesforce had been a more B2B2B focused company and Exacttarget was very much in the B2C space; even if the acquisition brought in Pardot as well – one of the marketing automation platforms of choice at the time for B2B marketing.

So why did they do it? Well, Salesforce had understood that B2C type of marketing was on its way to becoming the standard for B2B environments. It is much more story driven and seeks to create experiences; not transactions. Salesforce Marketing Cloud enriches email journeys with SMS, advertisement, social engagement and more. It is today one of the top 3 choices for enterprises and is used by companies like Adidas and American Express.

But, like any product, Marketing Cloud has its weaknesses as it clashes up against Marketo, Eloqua, or Hubspot in tight races to win deals. One key weapon in the tool set of B2B marketers that remains a headache though is Marketing Cloud lead scoring, and website tracking – the central tool kit to achieve superior sales and marketing alignment and run client-driven, behavioral marketing campaigns.

The Importance of Lead Scoring

According to Marketing Sherpa, 61% of B2B marketers send any lead directly to sales without lead qualification strategy, while sales reps ignore 70% of all leads coming from marketing. This leads to a series of negative implications – it’s considered a top 3 time waster for sales teams.

You may have experienced this in your own working life, but here lays the key to sales and marketing alignment, and ensuring there is a smooth bridge between your marketing campaigns and hand over to sales.

Sales and marketing alignment leads to sales efficiency and shorter sales cycles.

Being able to send the right leads to sales requires a few simple steps:

  1. Define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP or Persona). Discuss together with your sales team what a great lead looks like. Traditionally this can be defined by job title, industry they are in, location, available budget, etc.
  2. Start tailoring your communication and content to your ICP to attract the right leads.
  3. Collect the right data around leads to be able to qualify / disqualify them.
  4. Identify which leads match that profile and who is ready to hand over to the sales team.

While steps 1 and 2 are pretty much in your hands, steps 3 and 4 require technological support. One key tool here is lead activity tracking to collect data on which leads are most engaged. Key data around lead context should be collected in forms. Also, a lead scoring mechanism tool is needed to quantify lead interest and lead fit to get an objective measure of who is ready to speak to sales.

How Are Marketing Leads Scored?

The Aberdeen Group has conducted a study around 180 enterprises and compared their performance before and after implementing lead scoring systems. Enterprises that follow best practices and successfully deployed lead scoring saw efficiency increases amongst some of the key sales and marketing KPI’s including lead conversation rate, pipeline thickness or forecast accuracy.

Study around lead scoring effectiveness conducted by the Aberdeen Group.

Lead scoring basically quantifies lead-company fit, and lead interest fit, to have a measure of the quality of a lead. We distinguish between lead (profile) grading and lead (activity) scoring:

  • Lead grading is seeking to answer the question: is the lead a good fit with your perfect customer profile. For instance, you favor leads who are “managers” working at companies with more than “500 employees” in the “Canada” region and thus give these leads a higher grade.
  • Lead activity scoring is telling you how actively engaged a lead is in working with your company – does their activity reveal strong, immediate and relevant interest.

Your team will then determine a scale of scores and grades and define which profile attributes and which activities contribute to them, with the final goal to set a threshold as of when the lead becomes a sales-qualified lead.

Within lead scoring, we further differentiate between predictive scoring models and point based scoring models.

  • Predictive scoring models look at a wider set of historical data such as past website activity, CRM activity, or market signals. However, predictive scores rely on a large and accurate set of data.
  • Point scoring models are user driven, meaning, marketing and sales managers will assign points for different actions or lead profile elements, and provide a total point score for that. Point scoring puts users in control, but comes with other issues such as “point inflation” and you may end up with too many high scores after a longer time.

Does Salesforce Marketing Cloud Have Lead Scoring Capabilities?

Here’s the clue; Marketing Cloud doesn’t offer satisfactory native functionality out-of-the-box for activity tracking and lead scoring. B2C companies traditionally just have smaller sales teams, and Salesforce hasn’t catered to the need yet for now.

However, below are a few options to successfully track lead scoring in Salesforce.

5 Ways to Add Salesforce Marketing Cloud Lead Scoring

1. SalesWings

SalesWings provides a quickly-deployed and cost-effective solution to deploy real-time website activity tracking and lead scoring for Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

It automatically tracks all website activity, ad clicks, SMS, email clicks as well as form submissions around your existing website(s) and landing pages. Saleswings then combines a machine-driven predictive scoring tool to identify leads that need to be urgently addressed, with a flexible point-based scoring where the user is in control to score lead actions such as website visits, form submissions, ad clicks or SMS clicks. The user can furthermore design a set of rules to automatically segment leads based on behavior and intent, which can then be used for data driven marketing and steer Marketing Cloud journeys based on lead behavior.

Sales intelligence around leads is key to sales enablement.

Furthermore, you can alert the sales rep when a lead is sales-ready through email, Slack, or in the browser to enhance lead response times. With all data available in custom fields and related lists within a few instances in Sales Cloud, Saleswings provides for a user-friendly way to prioritize and hand over the right leads to the sales team while providing the sales reps with intelligence around the leads true interest.

It is a complete solution for flexible Marketing Cloud lead scoring.

Lead scoring and lead behavioral segmentation tags help drive meaningful journeys.

2. Marketing Cloud Connect and Process Automation

While Marketing Cloud does not have standard lead scoring, you still can build a ‘simple’ custom lead scoring using standard features: implement a custom scoring system within Sales Cloud based on Marketing Cloud data that is synced via Marketing Cloud Connect.

Since marketing activities are synced back to Sales Cloud, you can quite easily build a process that uses interactions like “Opens” and “Clicks” on the emails you sent to classify your leads and contacts. Thus, each time your subscriber interacts with your emails, their score increases.

This score, calculated within Sales Cloud and stored on the lead/contact level, can be sent back to Marketing Cloud via Marketing Cloud Connect ; you just have to define this field on the Marketing Cloud profile with a custom field sourced by your linked Sales Cloud org.

New custom field in Marketing Cloud’s Profile Management, synchronized with Sales Cloud data.

3. Marketing Cloud Journey Builder

Another option to implement custom Lead Scoring within Marketing Cloud can include Journey Builder: a journey can be initiated once your subscriber opens and clicks within an email. Your Journey could then set a custom field to store a score.

Journey that sets a custom Lead Score depending behavior on Email activities.

However, for successful Salesforce lead scoring you have to take into account different types of interactions, not only emails. If a lead is interested in your products, their interactions will include emails communication as well as website browsing on products pages.

From your email communication, a best practice is to redirect your traffic to dedicated Landing Pages, instead of your standard website pages. With Landing Pages, you can optimize the Conversion Rate by testing CTA, webforms and so on. But also, if you build those Landing Pages with the Cloud Pages feature of Marketing Cloud, you will be able to track interactions such as web form submissions (ask for a demo, register for a seminar, subscribe to a trial, etc.). Therefore, the journey could also take into account web form submissions, based on Cloud Pages Data Extensions.

4. Marketing Cloud Personalization Builder and Predictive Intelligence

We have just seen how to integrate interactions on emails and on specific landing pages, but browsing on your website, i.e. other pages than just landing pages, should bring important insight on your customer’s behavior and interests as well.

Marketing Cloud can offer this kind of tracking to automatically build a profile to highlight product interests. The tool to implement this kind of tracking is the powerful-but-not-so-much-known Personalization Builder.

Predictive Intelligence can capture known subscribers and unknown visitor behavior via Collect Tracking Code, a JavaScript snippet you have to deploy on the webpage you want to track.

Example of Collect Tracking Code to deploy on the webpage.

The Predictive Intelligence engine then build a dynamic profile of the subscriber or visitor with Web activity tracking, product and content preferences, predictive recommendations, and store data in specific Data Extensions.

Example of Profile Preferences.
Predictive Intelligence Data Extensions.

Nevertheless, Predictive Intelligence and website behavior tracking require long prerequisite settings both in Marketing Cloud and in your website prior to gather data and deliver first insights.

5. Google Analytics 360

If you want to score your lead with the highest relevance, you should integrate all interactions, from all channels and all marketing campaigns that reach your lead. Email, landing pages and website tracking are a wide source of information, yet you may reach your lead through other actions and channels with your marketing campaigns. If you track those campaigns with Google Analytics, the strategic partnership between Salesforce and Google could help you!

Google Analytics data integrated in Marketing Cloud.

The brand new Google Analytics 360 integration will include data from website usage, goals and eCommerce behavior tracked within Google Analytics to so make the data available to trigger Customer Journeys built in Marketing Cloud.

Each interaction could so be scored depending on the weight given to each interaction. For example, adding a product to a basket may reflect a stronger engagement than a product detail page visit for instance. All these advanced Google Analytics features come at a price, with a proposed list price of 150k US$ per annum – but if you want to go premium, you pay premium.

Final Thoughts

Surprisingly, Salesforce Marketing Cloud does not offer the native lead scoring capabilities of its smaller sister Pardot, while Eloqua or Marketo do. But there are a set of powerful ways to drive your sales and marketing interactions. Base your decision about which marketing automation platform to choose mainly on core marketing automation features, and keep the goal in mind of lead scoring – align your sales and marketing teams around top priority opportunities and personalize your customer experience based on their intent.

The Author

Philip Schweizer

Philip Schweizer is Co-founder and CEO at SalesWings, a lead website tracking and lead scoring add-on for Salesforce & Marketing Cloud


    April 13, 2020 2:01 pm
    Thanks for sharing such an informative blog. This blog gives information about how to implement lead scoring and lead activity tracking in salesforce and salesforce marketing cloud for the B2B Industry.
    Josh Tyler
    February 22, 2022 2:51 pm
    If leads are being generated through a variety of channels (some offline, some online), and therefore, the lead behaviors (visitor/customer/prospect etc ) are not always translate-able into Email Clicks/opens, form fills, whitepaper downloads, site visits etc, how does one best score their qualifying behaviors (again, both online and offline) using these methods - can we even use Pardot, SFMC, GA360, JB, SalesWings in such cases to score an accumulated list of leads to see who really are the valuable GlenGarry leads?
    Digi Tool advisor
    August 03, 2022 10:07 am
    This article is creative and informative. I actually look such website for our company.

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