Generating leads has traditionally involved cold calling, hitting up trade show booths, knocking on doors, and purchasing lists and targeting those on them via telemarketing and direct mail appeals. The advent of the website, with request for information and chat functionality, then created a new channel through which leads could come to businesses. Now big data and analytics are making lead generation and scoring a much more scientific process – and one which is expected to yield greater efficiencies and earning potential for businesses.
About 79 percent of marketers have not yet even established lead scoring, according to Marketing Sherpa.
Many of those that do lead scoring do so using subjective or otherwise uneven assessments. For example, some companies simply rely on sales people to make the call. Loren Padelford, executive vice president at Skura, said that leads that come in related to non-core products frequently get lower scores even if the lead itself is a hot one.
Employing predictive models, however, can enable a company to be more consistent in scoring based on a lead’s true propensity to make a purchase. It does that by assigning points to people or companies based on whether they own your product, have been to your website, and/or follow you on Facebook (News - Alert), for example. Then, your company can decide to which groups of leads it wants to target with a particular e-mail campaign, for example.
“Eloqua (News - Alert) has found that organizations that use lead scoring increase their close rates by 30 percent, increase their revenues by 18 percent, and revenue per deal increases by 17 percent,” product marketing manager Jody Mooney wrote on the Oracle (News - Alert)/eloqua blog. “These marketers are using buyers’ online behavior and demographic data to determine if a lead is a good fit before they pass it to sales. Improving lead quality and reducing some of the tension between sales and marketing, they are using technology to only pass the leads that are more likely to result in a closed opportunity over to sales.”
Infor, a software company with $3 billion in annual revenues, offers tools and services that allow for predictive scoring, the ability to reach out to leads, and measurement of the success of such campaigns, said Bob Dunfee, director of CRM solutions and field CTO at the company.
Many customers think they need lead scoring, he added, but they don’t know what they need or how to get there. One powerful tool that most companies are not leveraging but might want to consider, he says, is real-time scoring. Most companies today do batch scoring, which involves the generation of scored lists on a weekly or monthly basis. With real-time scoring, however, a company can see which customers are on its website at this very moment and can watch and score those individuals immediately, he says, adding it can also identify whether a visitor wrote about the experience elsewhere on the web. That enables the company to reach out to those people it deems as high-value prospects immediately, and also – if the website visitor posted a comment on a social network – to score and reach out to the online friends of those individuals.
This kind of capability requires the use of a real-time engine, added Dunfee. Infor Epiphany Interaction Advisor is such a solution, he said, adding that this self-learning offering is in use by around 175 companies today.
“Every one of our customers gets unbelievable results from IA,” Dunfee said. “Microsoft (News - Alert) is using IA in the e-mail channel and is getting… a 22-67 percent lift just in click through rates, and for e-mail that is just an astounding number.”
The particular Infor product Microsoft leverages in this case is the Epiphany Email Advisor, which sits on top of Interaction Advisor to enable Microsoft to populate the e-mails it sends out with content that most closely matches what particular customers recently seemed to be looking for. Because the e-mails are targeted to the particular interests of those that receive them, he said, they are viewed as more relevant and are more likely to be opened and acted upon.
Other Infor customers of IA include AOL (News - Alert), which is also using Email Advisor and has as a result seen a 30 to 40 percent lift in acceptance rates, and Navy Federal Credit Union, which in the past three years has seen $2.2 billion in incremental revenue due to new auto loans and mortgage loans resulting from its marketing efforts, said Dunfee.
So important are these predictive lead scoring solutions to businesses that many of the companies in this space are being snapped up by larger entities – with Oracle’s purchase of Eloqua as just one example. At the same time, new players are expanding into the leading scoring marketplace.
For example, Tony Sidor told CUSTOMER magazine that BPO and call center company Alorica is developing a lead scoring solution that leverages predictive analytics. Sidor, Alorica’s senior vice president of business development, views lead scoring as doing an analytical assessment of current profitable customers, and well as prospects, and scoring them based on their likelihood of becoming a client. But whether you’re talking about Alorica’s customer service and support, win-back and retention efforts, or BPO, the company is aggressively building data marts for its customers and then doing predictive analytics to identify and reach out to those segments via any mediums that make sense, he says.
Alorica already offers a lead scoring solution aimed at the health insurance sector. And when CUSTOMER interviewed Sidor in late February, Alorica was preparing to launch
a sales product for lead surveying and scoring, which it built in collaboration with a partner. Sidor added that the company is also considering an acquisition in this space.
Everybody is frustrated with the traditional practice of lead generation by buying lists, Sidor said, so a lot of boutique lead scoring companies have popped up, and the smart BPOs are partnering with them to make lead acquisition and scoring less frustrating and more profitable for businesses. This is part of a larger move into analytics, not just for lead scoring but also to upsell customers. It also goes hand-in-hand with the new multichannel way of doing business, he added, noting that businesses can’t afford to reach everyone by phone, so they need to figure who it makes sense to reach out to via phone and who to contact via other methods.
In the end, Sidor said, it’s also about moving to a more rifle-type approach to marketing and sales as opposed to the more traditional shotgun approach – and that means reduced costs and more top-line revenue growth.
Edited by Stefania Viscusi