The Power of Salesforce Marketing Cloud – and how to offset its Achilles Heel
The costly acquisition of Exacttarget (now Salesforce Marketing Cloud) by Salesforce back in 2012 came to certain experts by surprise. Not because it wouldn’t meet Salesforce’s hunger for acquiring top-notch martech products and teams. But Salesforce had been a more B2B2B focused company and Exacttarget was very much in the B2C space; even if the acquisition brought in Pardot as well – one of the marketing automation platforms of choice at the time for B2B marketing.
So why did they do it? Well, Salesforce had understood that B2C type of marketing was on its way to becoming the standard for B2B environments. It is much more story driven. It seeks to create experiences; not transactions. Marketing Cloud enriches email journeys with SMS, advertisement, social engagement and more. It is today one of the top 3 choices for enterprises and is used by companies like Adidas, Schneider Electric or American Express and sets new standards every quarter.
But, like any product, Marketing Cloud has its weaknesses as it clashes up against Marketo, Eloqua or Hubspot in tight races to win deals. One is reporting. Native Marketing Cloud reporting is limited, but its offset through its Einstein Analytics connection within Sales Cloud. Usability may, arguably, be another one, but once it is set up, the fire-power is enormous. One key weapon in the tool set of B2B marketers remains a headache though within Marketing Cloud: lead scoring, and website tracking – the central tool kit to achieve superior sales and marketing alignment and run client-driven, behavioral marketing campaigns.
The importance of Lead Scoring for Sales and Marketing Alignment
According to Marketing Sherpa, 61% of B2B marketers send any lead directly to sales without lead qualification strategy, while sales reps ignore 70% of all leads coming from marketing. This leads to a series of negative implications, for instance, it’s considered a top 3 time waster for sales teams.
You may have experienced it in your own working life: sales teams often complain about lead quality and even start ignoring certain leads that you as a marketer have successfully generated. But here lays the key to sales and marketing alignment and ensuring there is a smooth bridge between your marketing campaigns and hand over to sales.
Being able to send the right leads to sales requires a few simple steps:
- Define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP or Persona): Discuss together with your sales team what a great lead looks like. Traditionally this can be defined by job title, industry they are in, location, available budget, and more.
- Start tailoring your communication and content to your ICP to attract the right leads
- Collect the right data around leads to be able to qualify / disqualify them
- Identify which leads match that profile and who is sales-ready to successfully and timely hand them over to the sales team
While steps 1 and 2 are pretty much in your hands, steps 3 and 4 require technological support. One key tool here is lead activity tracking to collect data on which leads are most engaged on the one hand. Key data around lead context should be collected in forms. And lastly, a lead scoring mechanism to quantify lead interest and lead fit to get an objective measure of who is ready to speak to sales.
Lead Scoring types and methodologies
The Aberdeen Group has conducted a study around 180 enterprises and compared their performance before and after implementing lead scoring systems. Enterprises that follow best practices and successfully deployed lead scoring saw efficiency increases amongst some of the key sales and marketing KPI’s including lead conversation rate, pipeline thickness or forecast accuracy.
Lead scoring basically quantifies lead-company fit, and lead interest fit, to have a measure of the quality of a lead. We distinguish between “lead (profile) grading” and “lead (activity) scoring”. “Lead grading” is seeking to answer the question: is the lead a good fit with your perfect customer profile. For instance, you favor leads who are “managers” working at companies with more than “500 employees” in the “Canada” region and thus give these leads a higher grade.
“Lead activity scoring” is telling you how actively engaged a lead is in working with your company: does their activity reveil strong, immediate and relevant interest. Your team will then determine a scale of scores and grades and define which profile attributes and which activities contribute to them, with the final goal to set a threshold as of when the lead becomes a sales-qualified lead.
Within lead scoring, we further differentiate between “predictive” scoring models and “point based” scoring models. “Predictive” scoring models look at a wider set of historical data such as past website activity, CRM activity, or market signals. The outcome is usually a propensity score or “likeliness to be a good fit” score with a visual feedback or % score. It’s aim is to be more precise and actionable, making it a good fit. On the downside, predictive scores rely on a large and accurate set of data, and are looked at with reservation by some sales teams due to its intransparent black-box nature.
“Point scoring” models are user driven, meaning, marketing and sales managers will assign points for different actions or lead profile elements, and provide a total point score for that. Important is that the entire sales and marketing team understand how the points are composed. “Point scoring” puts users in control, but comes with other issues such as “point inflation”; the problem that you may end up with too many leads with high scores after a longer time.
5 options to add Lead Scoring to Marketing Cloud
Here’s the clue; Marketing Cloud doesn’t offer satisfactory native functionality out-of-the-box for activity tracking and lead scoring. B2C companies traditionally just have smaller sales teams, and Salesforce hasn’t catered to the need yet for now.
Below we’d like to offer you a few options how to successfully track which leads are engaged and how to score them to identify the best leads in combination of Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud.
1: SalesWings: lead activity tracking and lead scoring add-on for Marketing Cloud
Before you can score your leads, you need to have the activity data as a foundation for scoring. Without a complete, quality data set, your scoring is inaccurate. Lori Wizdo, Principal Analyst at Forrester, found that over the entire buying cycle leads will revisit the website. But missing out on website tracking in Marketing Cloud means not only that you can’t score these important buying signals from sales leads. It also means that you won’t be able to do advertising retargeting to a specific segment. You may want to retarget only people who are showing interest in “elderly insurance”, instead of wasting your advertising budget by “spraying and praying”.
SalesWings provides for a quickly-deployed and cost-effective solution to deploy real-time website activity tracking and lead scoring for Salesforce Marketing Cloud. It automatically tracks all website activity, ad clicks, SMS, email clicks as well as form submissions around your existing website(s) and landing pages. Saleswings then combines a machine-driven predictive scoring tool to identify leads that need to be urgently addressed, with a flexible point-based scoring where the user is in control to score lead actions such as website visits, form submissions, ad clicks or SMS clicks. The user can furthermore design a set of rules to automatically segment leads based on behavior and intent, which can then be used for data driven marketing and steer Marketing Cloud journeys based on lead behavior.
Furthermore, you can alert the sales rep when a lead is sales-ready per email, Slack or in the browser, to enhance lead response times (Marketo’s equivalent is called “Interesting Moments”). With all data available in custom fields and related lists within a few instances in Sales Cloud, Saleswings provides for a user-friendly way to prioritize and hand over the right leads to the sales team while providing the sales reps with intelligence around the leads true interest. Last but not least, Saleswings can optionally provide data points around the lead and company profile for further lead qualification, making it a complete solution for flexible lead scoring for Marketing Cloud.
2: Marketing Cloud Connect and Process Builder to score email opens and clicks
While Marketing Cloud does not have standard lead scoring, you still can build a ‘simple’ custom lead scoring using standard features: implement a custom scoring system within Sales Cloud based on Marketing Cloud data that is synced via Marketing Cloud Connect.
Since marketing activities are synced back to Sales Cloud, you can quite easily build a process that uses interactions like “Opens” and “Clicks” on the emails you sent to classify your leads and contacts. Thus, each time your subscriber interacts with your emails, his score increases.
This score, calculated within Sales Cloud and stored on the lead/contact level, can be sent back to Marketing Cloud via Marketing Cloud Connect ; you just have to define this field on the Marketing Cloud profile with a custom field sourced by your linked Sales Cloud org.
3: Marketing Cloud Journey Builder to score Email Activities and Landing Pages Activities
Another option to implement custom Lead Scoring within Marketing Cloud can include Journey Builder: a journey can be initiated once your subscriber opens and clicks within an email. Your Journey could then set a custom field to store a score.
Nonetheless, if you want to score your leads you have to take into account different types of interactions, not only emails. Indeed, if a lead is interested in your products, his interactions will include emails communication, but also website browsing on products pages.
From your email communication, a best practice is to redirect your traffic to dedicated Landing Pages, instead of your standard website pages. Indeed, with Landing Pages, you can optimize the Conversion Rate by testing CTA, webforms and so on. But also, if you build those Landing Pages with the Cloud Pages feature of Marketing Cloud, you will be able to track interactions such as web form submissions (dowload a white paper, ask for a demo, register for a seminar, subscribe to a trial, etc.).
Thus, the journey could also take into account web form submissions, based on Cloud Pages Data Extensions.
Journey that sets a custom Lead Score after a form submission
Each time a subscriber submit the form in the Landing page (“seminar form” Smart Capture Form in the “Seminar subscription” Cloud Page in this example), a journey is trigger to update the subscriber profile: update the custom Lead Score field, and update additional information captured in the form (i.e. Company name, etc.).
4: Marketing Cloud Personalization Builder and Predictive Intelligence to track website behaviors
We have just seen how to integrate interactions on emails and on specific landing pages. But browsing on your website, i.e. other pages than just landing pages, should bring important insight on your customer’s behavior and interests as we have seen in the first option.
Marketing Cloud can offer this kind of tracking to automatically build a profile to highlight product interests. The tool to implement this kind of tracking is the powerful-but-not-so-much-known Personalization Builder, powered by Einstein feature.
The Predictive Intelligence engine then build a dynamic profile of the subscriber or visitor with Web activity tracking, product and content preferences, predictive recommendations, and store data in specific Data Extensions.
Nevertheless, Predictive Intelligence and website behavior tracking require a quite long prerequisite settings both in Marketing Cloud and in your website prior to gather data and deliver first insights..
5: Google Analytics 360 integration to use data from Site Usage, Goals and Ecommerce behavior
If you want to score your lead with the highest relevance, you should integrate all interactions, from all channels, from all of your marketing campaigns that reach your lead. Email, landing pages and website tracking are a wide source of information, yet you may reach your lead through other actions and channels with your marketing campaigns. If you track those campaigns with Google Analytics, the latest announcement of a strategic partnership between Salesforce and Google could help you!
The brand new Google Analytics 360 integration will include data from website usage, goals and eCommerce behavior tracked within Google Analytics and to so make those data available to trigger Customer Journeys built in Marketing Cloud.
Each interaction could so be scored depending on the weight you assign to each interaction. For example, adding a product to a basket may reflect a stronger engagement than a product detail page visit for instance. All these advanced Google Analytics features come at a price, with a proposed list price of 150k US$ per annum. But if you want to go premium, you pay premium.
Surprisingly, Salesforce Marketing Cloud does not offer the native lead scoring capabilities of its smaller sister Pardot, while Eloqua or Marketo do. But there are a set of powerful ways to drive your sales and marketing interactions. The authors of this article therefore recommend to base your decision which marketing automation platform to choose mainly on core marketing automation features and keep the goal in mind of lead scoring: aligning your sales and marketing teams around top priority opportunities and personalize your customers experience based on their intent. With this in mind, the Marketing Cloud eco-system has got you covered.
Cyril Louis is Head of Salesforce practice at Hardis Group Switzerland, an european Salesforce implementation partner. Cyril is an 8-times Salesforce certified consultant, including deep expertise in Marketing Cloud. He’s also the Geneva Switzerland Salesforce User Group leader.
Philip Schweizer is Co-founder and CEO at SalesWings, a lead website tracking and lead scoring add-on for Salesforce and Salesforce Marketing Cloud. He’s an expert in the design, selection and implementation of modern sales and marketing processes and how to support them using the latest technologies.