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shift into gear

You have a MAP that meets your business needs. You have a team in place. You are ready to get this show on the road.

What first?

Programs to score and source leads are the foundation your MAP infrastructure is built on, so it’s important to get them going first. Sourcing, in particular, is critical for the long-term health of your marketing analytics. Here’s how we like to do things at Yesler.

Lead Scoring

A basic lead-scoring setup uses two types of scores. (In some MAPs, like Pardot, “ ” are used in place of some scores, so we use “score” as a rubric.)
  • Behavioral scoring helps measure a prospect’s level of sales readiness and offers a sense of the channels that generate the best prospects.
  • Demographic scoring helps measure how well you’re targeting your marketing. For example, certain channels might generate leads that are consistently underqualified—something that can help you decide whether to continue using those underperforming channels.
But lead scoring in B2B marketing is often, unfortunately, a series of wild guesses. When using marketing automation, treat lead scoring as a science so you can get an accurate indicator of both sales readiness and sales fitness. By doing this, you can prioritize leads efficiently and measure marketing effectiveness.

Here are a few rules of the road to remember when you set up lead scoring in your marketing automation system.

Talk to your sales team

They know who the right prospects are—that’s their job. They are also, ultimately, the consumers of the lead-scoring data. Whether they are actually seeing the score in CRM or receiving the MQL resulting from the score, the sales team needs to have buy in on the project.

Keep the behavioral and demographic scores separate

Many lead-scoring systems lump the behavioral and demographic scores into one sum and call it a “lead score,” but this can present problems. For example, when the scores are lumped together, a student might visit 20 pages and qualify as a lead. Some individuals, no matter how interested they are in your company and your content, will never become customers because they’ll never fit the definition of your target audience. The scores must remain discrete so you can eliminate false positives.

Use the data you already have

If you’ve been using a CRM to track purchases, or have easy access to your customer database, run some basic regressions on your most valuable customers to determine the criteria for your demographic score. Don’t rely on anecdotes from the sales team about who the best potential customers are—you likely already have the data to figure it out. But do consult with them when finalizing the scoring model.

Coming up with an initial model for the behavioral score is somewhat trickier if you’re implementing a MAP for the first time, so it's best to work from industry best practices and refine from there.


Lead scoring is an iterative process, not a set-it-and-forget-it action. Because behavioral scoring is really a proxy variable for sales readiness, it changes depending on how people interact with your website, emails, and other content. Your schema won’t be perfect the first time you set it up. It requires quarterly or annual retuning. Craft campaigns with this in mind—make them scalable (will this setup be easy to replicate?) and robust (will this setup be replicable tomorrow?). Aim to create campaigns that can be used more than once.

Buyer-Cycle Scoring

Buyer-cycle scoring is a way to determine where prospects are in the buying cycle based on how they think and behave. Unlike lead scoring, which tracks how much content prospects engage with, buyer-cycle scoring tracks the kind of content they consume. To do it right, you need to know the stages your prospects go through on their way to buying your product, solution, or service.
Marketers define the buying cycle in different ways. Some use four stages, some use three, and everyone has smart names for the stages. In this example, our stages are defined in the following way:
  • Awareness. The buyer is aware that a problem exists.
  • Research. The buyer is working out how to solve the problem.
  • Consideration. The buyer is thinking about purchasing a solution to address the problem.
  • Evaluation. The buyer is evaluating potential solutions that meet their business requirements.
Once you’ve defined the stages of your buying cycle, you can apply buyer-cycle scoring to see where your prospects are in the purchasing process.
Setting up buyer-cycle scoring
Lead scoring is a must-have. Buyer-cycle scoring takes it to the next level. Get a jump-start on setting it up in your MAP.

Lead Sourcing

If we can offer once piece of advice to anyone who is looking at launching or revamping a MAP, it’s this: Consider your lead-sourcing model thoroughly and thoughtfully. We’ve seen many, many organizations fail to implement a lead-sourcing model or govern the lead-sourcing model once it’s launched. In one case, an organization had 107 options in the “lead source” field! That’s way too many to uncover any useful data about the sources that are driving your demand.
Remember: Lead source  is the first-touch way a lead arrived at your website.*
*A Yesler pet peeve: “Website” is not a lead source. “Organic search” is.
Sit down with a spreadsheet, write down all possible lead sources in the marketing mix you have in market (or are planning to launch) and start bucketing them—because the only good lead-source value comes from a picklist.
Under the hood
Lead-Sourcing Fields
It's critical to get your lead-sourcing fields set up right—from the start—or it won't be easy to measure the impact of your channels and tactics on your marketing. Download the full Marketing Automation Owners Manual for a step-by-step approach to setting up your fields and getting started with UTM parameters.
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