In an age of countless marketing technologies at our disposal, one tool that continues to prove incredibly useful and beneficial for B2B small- to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) is lead scoring. With lead scoring tools, SMBs can streamline their prospect qualification and routing processes to help the Sales team focus their efforts on highly-engaged and relevant leads.
Because of the various tools out there, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find the best solution that supports your organization. But how do you know which tool is the best one for you and what are the differences between the various lead scoring tools out there?
In a previous blog post, we talked about how marketing automation solutions can add value to an organization’s technology stack through their scoring capabilities. In this post, we deep dive into lead scoring and how it compares across the top three B2B marketing automation solutions for SMBs: HubSpot, Marketo and Pardot.
HubSpot – A flexible, happy medium
The bulk of lead scoring for SMBs on HubSpot is executed through its Lead Scoring hub. The tool is set up very intuitively, with positive attributes on one side and negative attributes on the other. As users complete certain actions against the set parameters— such as email clicks, page views and web form submissions— HubSpot will add or deduct points from a lead’s HubSpot score.
Another great feature is the ability to retroactively adjust the HubSpot score. If your team ever decides to restructure the scoring model, HubSpot will automatically readjust scores in your database to reflect the changes. This may come in handy when the sales team suddenly discovers that leads with a certain job title are more likely to buy and that past information needs to be included.
The lead scoring hub is not without its limitations. Each attribute will only score a lead once, which means you’ll need several different attributes if your model calls for scoring on each email click, for example. In this case, you’ll need a rule that gives one point to someone that clicks on an email for the first time, a second rule that gives two points when someone has clicked at least twice, another rule that gives 5 points to someone that’s clicked 5 times, etc. It’s also important to note that the HubSpot score can’t be edited manually or through workflows.
As a workaround, you can create a field separate from the HubSpot Score and use workflows to manage your behavioral scoring (much like with Marketo, which we’ll get to in a moment). The lead scoring hub, which adjusts the HubSpot score, would then be used only to score contact and company properties, such as job title or company size—that is, it will provide a demographic grade for each lead.
Pardot – Built-in, foolproof scoring and grading
Pardot differentiates itself from HubSpot and Marketo by having built-in demographic grading. It keeps the behavioral, or implicit, score separate (called the lead score), and uses profiles and automation rules to assign a letter grade between A-F to prospects so that the sales team can prioritize not only on a prospect’s level of interest, but also on their assigned value.
For example, an intern would have a lower grade than a CEO. Regardless of how high the intern’s score is, his grade will exclude him from a salesperson’s efforts because he/she would most likely not be in a position to make purchasing decisions.
Scoring in Pardot can be executed in several locations, including admin-level Scoring Rules, Page Actions, Automation/Segmentation Rules and Completion Actions. Like HubSpot’s Lead Scoring hub, any changes to the admin-level scoring rules are retroactive. Unlike HubSpot, Pardot will score an action each time it’s taken. It’s important to note that the admin-level Scoring Rules in Pardot consist purely of broad actions—you can’t score on demographics, or score on specific campaigns.
There are other places in Pardot where you can achieve more granular scoring:
- Page Actions allow you to assign a score to web pages with the Pardot tracking code.
- Automation/Segmentation Rules run prospects that fit within a set of user-specified criteria through a set of actions, which can include score adjustments.
- Completion Actions can be assigned to forms, files, emails and pages to adjust a prospect’s score when they complete a desired action.
Marketo Scoring – Powerful logic, endless possibilities
Smart Campaigns are Marketo’s version of Pardot’s Rules and HubSpot’s Workflows. Unlike Pardot or HubSpot, Marketo doesn’t have a defined tool for lead scoring. Marketo users often download a pre-built program template from Marketo and customize the Smart Campaigns within it to achieve their desired results.
Smart Campaigns are powerful, and with enough creativity and know-how, you can create a sophisticated multi-level scoring and grading system, or you can keep it as simple as your business needs dictate.
Because of Marketo’s advanced logic capabilities, users need to test and regularly monitor their smart campaigns. More customization means that there is a higher probability of human error, so while Marketo lead scoring has the potential to be more comprehensive, it is also the easier to get lead scoring wrong.
Each marketing automation platform has its own set of pros and cons. This is true even when looking at one function. If you’re in the market for a new marketing automation solution, we hope that this article helps to inform your decision. If you currently work in any of these tools, or have had the opportunity to work in all of them, we would love to hear your opinion—which platform provides the best lead scoring for SMBs?