What Kind of Leads Do B2B Marketers Really Want?

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Lead scoring is possibly one of the most important aspects of any B2B marketer’s existence. Successful lead scoring campaigns help determine likely customers from casual window shoppers.

When done properly, lead scoring and marketing automation decrease the likelihood that those precious online marketing dollars will be wasted on misguided campaigns that reach few, if any, qualified leads. Marketers are wise to invest in these tools that increase overall efficiency and provide for proper lead nurturing.

Most marketers use two categories for lead scoring: explicit leads and implicit leads. Understanding the key differences between these two categories help you understand how you can better allocate your time and resources during the nurturing phase.

Clear and Explicit

An explicit lead is commonly thought of as a prospect who matches any one of several parameters outlined by a marketer before an analysis of online behavior begins. These parameters could include things like company size, industry, product interests, budget and decision-making authority.

For example, a marketer at a company that sells inventory management software would likely consider large department store chains and grocery stores to be explicit leads because these businesses are in the retail industry, a prime market for inventory software. This data would be collected from a form the prospect fills out at the company’s website. This allows the marketer to score the importance of the lead based the preset parameters.

Implicit Behaviors

Unlike the process of identifying explicit leads, which involves a comparison of a lead’s firmographics to a predetermined profile, revealing implicit leads involves significantly more deduction. An implicit lead can be defined as a prospect whose online behavior indicates they may possibly be interested in the services or products offered.

For example, a prospect that visits a website on several occasions and provides their email address in exchange for educational materials such as a white paper or case study, is considered a highly qualified implicit lead. In these situations, where online audience members display legitimate interest, it can almost be inferred that they are a match the parameters outlined as part of the explicit lead identification system. Other behaviors such as registering for webinars or demos, page views, site visits and opening nurturing emails also qualify a prospect as an implicit lead.

You Need Both

Many B2B marketers often wonder which category of leads should have the most focus, but the fundamental aspect of lead scoring is that the process of identifying explicit and implicit leads is happening simultaneously.

Let’s say, for example, a prospect visits your website and provides an email address in exchange for a white paper on a particular facet of your industry, which may or may not directly relate to their business interests. Immediately after the download, they leave the website. At this stage, it would be somewhat preemptive to label them a qualified lead, if only because they did not display a suitable depth of interest in the product pages on your website to identify them as such. However, a passing glance at the email address provided reveals the individual works for a company whose industry and size is a direct match in the explicit lead profile.

In this scenario, it is possible to see how seamlessly marketers can transition from an investigation of a possible implicit lead to the identification of an explicit lead. This example is somewhat oversimplified given the complexity of online interactions and the reluctance of online audiences to provide contact information on conversion forms, but identifying explicit leads requires significantly less time than deducing the viability of an implicit lead. Therefore, marketers should consider both facets of lead scoring an indispensable element of their daily practice.

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