HubSpot Lead Scoring Best Practices

Matthew Deal

HubSpot lead scoring is more of an art versus a science.

How to Setup HubSpot Lead Scoring

One of the advantages of having HubSpot is its relatively easy lead scoring implementation. HubSpot Lead Scoring, while having a heap of issues, does not suffer from ease-of-access. That includes lead scoring in HubSpot.

In other words, setting up lead scoring in HubSpot is the easy part. The hard part is making a strategic decision to use data to determine your lead flow.

Like the wind on a blustery day or a car horn in the distance— lead scoring is really a way to focus your attention. Is this lead good? Is it garbage?

Lead scoring isn’t always an exact, “dialed-in” method but more of a wait-and-see method. This is especially true in a few situations:

  • You’re still working on figuring out who your customers are. If you’re still not sure you have a strong vision of your ideal customer profile, lead scoring, whether you’re doing so in HubSpot or not, might be challenging.
  • Data Quality. I’ve seen several times when a client cites the number of contacts they have versus the quality of data. Sure, you might have 100,000 contacts, but do you have the data necessary to build relevant lists and automations to make your marketing effective?
  • You don’t have many closed won deals. The heart of optimization for lead scoring is simply basic pattern recognition: if most of your closed won deals involve people with a certain job title, well, just market to people with that job title.

A moving target, more than a monolith

Any lead scoring system is a testament to continual improvement. While your organization may seem the same, there are trends, business models, and culture that continue to evolve. 

Lead scoring systems are never going to be perfect.

Lead scoring systems are never going to be perfect.

Just when you think you have your lead scoring system dialed-in, the market norm and perspective will change. Whether it’s systemic and aggregate, like a new business model, or as minute as a platform change, your targets require dedication to stay relevant.

HubSpot Lead Scoring

If you read here, you’ll know that I wrote a post outlining the things that are great, and not so great, with HubSpot lead scoring. Granted, every system has its own unique take on lead scoring and what metrics it deems important, but I’d characterize the two things you need to know at least with HubSpot:

  1. HubSpot lead scoring is great when it comes to field data. Any data that exists in a field is golden for HubSpot. Everything from geography to location, if you know a standard attribute, can be handled with lead scoring.
  2. HubSpot engagement metrics are almost non-existent in a way that’s useful. Calculated fields are limited to only 5 on anything other than an enterprise-level account, so it can be hard to really get a sense of your engagement metrics with the platform.

Hacking HubSpot Lead Scoring

So, with those two pain-points in context, know that while HubSpot lead scoring (also called HubSpot score) lets you technically lead score—it has some massive limitations around engagement metrics.

It’s for sure not all doom and gloom. HubSpot does include some metrics related to engagement (e.g. how many emails opened or how many recorded page views).

The issue is always time. HubSpot has no component that discounts time. After all, that’s great that a contact has 16 pageviews, but maybe those pageviews occur two years ago. See where we’re going with this?

Basic Pattern Recognition

More than any magic formula designed to let you pinpoint your most perfect leads, I’ll say this: use past data to predict your future.

Deals are the best example of this.

HubSpot deals are a great example of using past data as a model for future outcomes. Closed won HubSpot deals are one of the most critical KPIs for companies because it directly impacts revenue.

Basic, aggregate patterns is what we’re after.

Basic, aggregate patterns is what we’re after.

If you want to qualify leads quickly—start with looking at the attributes of who is participating in those deals. Some really good fields that could be relevant for your organization include:

  • Job Titles. Titles relate to job function (which might overlap with whatever you’re selling).
  • Geography. Some businesses offer more services or deliver those services in a specific state or geography.
  • Pageviews. If you want to know what someone is thinking about—look at their pageviews. The only reason you’d be reading this blog post is if you’re interested in HubSpot lead scoring (and thus stands to reason you might either work in HubSpot or have HubSpot).

Your goal for using past data projects how possible leads can be validated in the future.

Let’s work with some fake data as an example.

HubSpot Deals and Lead Scoring

Deal Name Job Titles Headquarters
Big Cereal VP of Sales Raleigh, NC
Vandalay Industries Marketing Coordinator, Marketing Director Scottsdale, AZ
Big Marketing Company VP of Sales Durham, NC
Taco City Director of Marketing Greensboro, NC

Let’s pretend that these were your creme-de-la-creme deals—the ones that either represented the most revenue or were close to some other goal that’s important to you.

I say this because it isn’t always sheer revenue that matters the most to organizations, but many different aspects of offers, products, price points, and more.

The methodology is still the same: your goal is to look at the attributes of contacts within these deals and use that as the basis of your lead scoring.

If you tend to have a lot of deals with contacts who have a job title of “marketing director”, it stands to reason that you grade new leads higher via lead scoring (since those historically have represented some percentage of your closed won deals).

In the example above, you might have a business that depends on the geographic location of your contact.

The attributes of these contacts within your deals are the basis of your lead scoring

While we’ve discussed contact attributes, you could 100% do the same process for companies or within deals:

  • For Deals, use: New or Existing Business. Product Type. Product
  • For Companies, try: Company Size, Budget, Headquarters Location

Retroactively Adding Data for Better HubSpot Lead Scoring

One powerful, albeit time-consuming, method is to retroactively add data to your past deals, companies, and contacts.

Let’s say you started trying to categorize the type of companies that work with your business. This may be an effort you recently started—meaning that the data would only exist for companies going forward.

You can always retroactively add data and create that as a lead scoring criteria.

You can always retroactively add data and create that as a lead scoring criteria.

Instead, you can retroactively sort through your old contacts, companies, and deals to create that new data point (perhaps this is simply called “Company Type”).

The good news is that while adding data to new deals isn’t retroactive: most of HubSpot lead scoring is.

As long as you have a rule setup for evaluating a certain metric — HubSpot will score that lead as soon as the data is available.

Engagement Metrics and Lead Scoring

The assumption with most lead scoring systems is that you have the data already or you know most of your contacts. There are too many reasons to list for why that data might not exist.

Essentially, other metrics exist in HubSpot that are ultimately unique to every contact and those are engagement metrics. Some examples include:

  • Pageviews. Critically revealing of what users are actively considering or researching on your site.
  • Email Opens, Clicks. Subject lines tightly tied to particular products can be especially revealing in terms of which contacts might be interested in particular products or services.
  • Form Submissions. Form submissions are an entire discussion within themselves, but they are a particularly powerful, intent-driven signal that you can tap into to score leads
  • Chatflows. Whether we’re using Intercom or HubSpot’s built in chatbot, chat interactions are like long-form, well, forms that can tell you critical details about your users.

Again, time is the biggest caveat to using these metrics since, usually, we want to see that these actions have been taken (e.g. an email open or form submission) within recent history versus sometime last year.

There are some metrics better than others that can mostly get you the data you want:

  1. Pageviews x Recent Engagement Date. These are two default fields in HubSpot that let you see contacts with both high numbers of pageviews (again not a perfect metric) along with their recent engagement date — a field that’s updated with their latest interaction (email open, meeting scheduled, etc).
  2. Likelihood to Close. This is a really useful metric that indicates the probability of a contact to close within the next 90 days. Unfortunately, this is only available on enterprise-level HubSpot products.
  3. Recent Form Conversion Rate. Put your finger on the pulse of recent contacts who have interacted with your brand and use recent form submissions.

HubSpot Lead Scoring As A Process

Lead scoring in HubSpot is designed to be an ongoing process—not a one-off quick fix. We remind our clients that lead scoring is often the starting point for a much larger conversation on how your organization or company responds to leads.

In other words, lead scoring in any system is designed as a rough sign post—another data point that allows for better lead flow. More importantly, lead scoring is designed to represent your ideal customer profile and to prevent anything from slipping through the cracks.

If you haven’t already, check out my other article on how to hack HubSpot lead scoring for more in-depth detail on other nuances specific to HubSpot.

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