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The Predictive Qualified Lead: Using Predictive Scoring to Find New MQLs

Diving into Predictive Marketing

As a demand generation practitioner working in the predictive marketing space, you’d think that I’d be first in line to deploy predictive lead scoring. But like most marketers, I approach new technology (and the inevitable change management it brings) with equal parts optimism and trepidation. I know all too well that technology is only 25 percent of the story… the process that supports it is the key to extracting value, and as such, I like to have a solid game plan.

Predictive lead scoring is powerful stuff. As someone who has deployed and managed many lead scoring programs, the promise of predictive is incredibly appealing. No more educated guesses about what a great lead looks like, no more arbitrarily weighting various scoring criteria, no more optimizing by anecdote. Predictive scoring is governed by data. Pure and simple. Let the model tell you which leads are the most promising based on your previous pattern of success.

But as an early adopter of marketing automation and a bit of a demand gen purist, there is an element to predictive scoring that makes me a little uneasy. The idea that buyer behavior – the online activity of a prospect – may not really matter when it comes to uncovering purchasing propensity feels a bit like heresy.

Full disclosure: I spent four years running demand programs at Eloqua before joining Lattice so the fact that I have been “drinking the Kool-Aid” when it comes to the importance of “digital body language” in determining lead score, (and thereby lead quality), goes without saying. The reality is that predictive scoring doesn’t discriminate. The model may not find that the behavior of a buyer is particularly predictive of intent. So what’s a marketer to do?

The Lattice marketing team has a somewhat unique use case when it comes to predictive scoring. We don’t (yet) suffer from the curse of abundance that predictive scoring technology is typically touted for. In fact, we’re trying to increase top of funnel volume. Enter predictive lead scoring.

Meet the New Leads on the Street

We’re using Lattice predictive scores to uncover a new bucket of marketing qualified leads (MQLs). This allows us to continue passing “traditional MQLs” (determined the old-fashioned way using traditional lead scoring) and test a new segment of leads that are deemed qualified due to high predictive scores. This new bucket, which we deemed PQLs or “Predictive Qualified Leads” have high scores for buyer fit (typically account level indicators) but they may not be particularly (or even slightly) engaged.

During our initial roll out, we’re testing this new cohort blindly with our sales team. We still pass our traditional MQLs but we now also pass PQLs that meet a high threshold for predictive score. Our SDR team calls each segment according to the same cadence and SLAs, which should yield some very accurate conversion comparison data. We’ll share the results in a future blog post.

The lesson here for me is that marketers need not abandon their activity-based scoring if they feel like it’s working for them. Test it! See

how the lead buckets compare. Before we decided how to use our predictive scores we analyzed how this new segment would overlap with our current MQL segment. This helped us to understand our MQL quality but also served as a load balancing exercise to model where the line of demarcation between MQL and PQL should fall. There’s plenty of room for experimentation with your scoring criteria. Not ready to pass totally cold (but highly scored predictive leads)? Set a predictive threshold and require some level of activity score.

There is no right or wrong way to deploy this technology and it’s important that marketers think creatively when deploying predictive lead scoring. It’s not just for lead prioritization!!! The results of a predictive scoring model will yield insights that most marketers only wish they had. What you do with those insights doesn’t need to be limited to gating your sales ready leads. Beyond the core (or obvious) use case, there are all kinds of account targeting, segmentation and lead expansion opportunities.

Want to learn more about predictive scoring and hear how the Lattice marketing team is doing with this experiment? Attend our upcoming webinar with SiriusDecisions and Demand Gen Report on November 20th.

   Image Credit(s):                SandwichGirl                    

Written by

Elle Woulfe
October 22, 2014