Lead scoring tracks user behavior to provide timely, targeted sales and marketing assistance.

One of the biggest challenges facing many businesses when it comes to running their online store is knowing then and how to reach out to potential customers. The temptation is to treat every visitor the same way, when in fact, each of these visitors is coming to your website with a unique set of needs and interests.

Read our post: How SharpSpring Can Fix Your Leaky Sales Funnel

Understanding those variations in visitor need is what lead scoring is all about. And while this concept may seem new to the Internet, it’s actually something you’ve probably encountered in the real world (albeit in a subtler manner). Good sales is often a matter of timing, so to get an idea of what lead scoring is trying to accomplish, let’s consider two common scenarios that you’ve probably encountered yourself.

Problem 1: Too much too soon.

This situation is probably familiar to anyone who’s ever been to a shopping mall. You’re strolling from store to store, casually looking at clothes, but any time you venture inside you’re immediately beset by a sales person asking you if you need anything. You don’t; you just wanted to take a closer look at the shirt you saw in the shop window. But having taken a glance at the price tag all you want to do is leave.

It’s frustrating to you that you can’t be left to explore the store for even a couple minutes without someone inserting themself into your window shopping experience and exerting the subtle social pressures that make turning them down and leaving the store so hard.

Problem 2: Too little too late.

But now imagine a slightly different scenario: you’re now in a different store. You’ve found several items that you’d like to try on, but you don’t know where the fitting rooms are. Your arms are starting to get tired from trying to prevent the various fabrics from slipping off hangers, plus denim is heavy. All you want is someone to help you out, but suddenly no one can be found.

You’re the same person, but your needs are different in each situation. It’s not that you never want to speak with a sales person, just that your desire to speak with that person is conditional.

Now, in a brick and mortar store, the sales people can judge by your behavior if you’re just browsing or if you’re ready to try something on. If they’re good, they’ll let you explore on your own for a few minutes before offering to help, or they’ll wait for you to catch their eye so as not to be too intrusive.

But in e-commerce, the situation is very different. You can’t watch shoppers wandering through your store, but you can track their behavior on your website. This is where lead scoring comes in.

Read our post: User Tracking: Why Spying on Your Customers Is Good for Them

The solution: lead scoring to determine when to step in.

There are plenty of tools to help you track user behavior when they’re on your website. However, while most of these are designed to provide aggregate data (how many visitors, what pages get the most traffic), lead scoring ties actions to a specific user based on their IP address and other identifying information.

From there, lead scoring allows you to identify specific actions taken on your site and attach points to them. Then you can set thresholds that indicate how engaged a lead is and automate tasks to follow up with them based on their engagement.

For instance, you might give a visitor ten points for every page they visit, fifty points for visiting a pricing page, and one hundred points for downloading your buyer’s guide. Once they pass a two-hundred point threshold, you can automatically notify a member of your sales team to contact that lead personally. This is the equivalent of seeing them in your store carrying around an armload of clothing and offering to get them a changing room.

Lead scores should also devaluate over time.

Of course, if your lead scoring only adds value to leads, it can be misleading in ways you may not expect. Let’s say someone gets on your site and initially seems to show a lot of interest. They spend a lot of time on your pages, watch your video and even download an infographic. At first they look like a hot lead, but then a few weeks pass, and they don’t come back.

Finally, a month later they pop back on your site. If you haven’t set your lead scoring calculations carefully, this simple interaction may push them into the red zone of “very hot,” which in fact they were a warm lead that cooled substantially and my only be starting to warm back up again.

To adjust for this behavior, SharpSpring offers some dynamic tools that allow lead scores to decay over time. That way, you won’t have anyone stuck permanently as a “hot” lead when they actually haven’t been to your site in a year.

You can even take this a step further by adding factors that subtract points from leads if you feel that certain actions indicate a poor fit for your business.

Good marketing automation helps compensate for a lack of in-person contact.

The long and short of this is, in-person contact can tell you a lot about what a customer’s needs are. In lieu of this, your website needs other tools to compensate. Lead scoring is your best bet when it comes to engaging visitors in a way that will be helpful to them.

At the same time, it should also account for behaviors that may indicate a user isn’t ready for your full attention. Marketing that overwhelms visitors with more and more information won’t benefit your company at all. Marketing that responds to user behavior based on their revealed preferences will.

Published 08/23/19 by Laura Lynch