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Why Community Engagement is The New Lead Scoring

Dennis Shiao Director Product Marketing DNNDennis Shiao, Director of Product Marketing, DNN

Lead scoring fuels many of today’s lead generation programs. When sales receives scored leads from marketing, they prioritize outreach to favor prospects most likely to turn into opportunities. In addition, sales is provided with a rich activity profile that describes how prospects attained their scores. It provides important hints on the prospect’s status in the buying cycle.

Let’s consider how to supplement lead scoring with community engagement.

Online community platforms are seeing increased adoption from brands implementing lead scoring. Brands are using them for customer support, product discussions and product ideation. Customers assist prospects, partners assist customers and customers help one another. This activity generates a goldmine of data. If marketers effectively apply analytics against that data, they uncover the gold: the ability to turn scored leads into closed deals.

Traditional lead nurturing and lead scoring programs revolve around outbound email. Leads are acquired through this practice and placed in one or more outreach or nurturing programs. These outbound emails are intended to stay engaged with prospects. Once a lead crosses a scoring threshold, they’re sent over to a sales rep for follow up.

So that’s traditional lead scoring. Now, let’s consider how to apply a new form of scoring to online community engagement.

Scoring Becomes Self Sustaining

In online communities, the “draw” for participation isn’t an outbound email: it’s the potential to engage with (and learn from) other participants. Users may have a tactical reason to login (e.g. performing a search). Or, they may wish to browse Q&As to become informed. In either case, users return multiple times. Each visit generates many potential “scoring actions.”

Traditional lead scoring tracks clicks on emails, website visits, page views and webinar attendance. Online communities generate a far greater breadth of scoring actions. Consider:

  • Votes (e.g. “likes”, voting up/down, etc.);
  • Publishing a question;
  • Publishing a blog post;
  • Submitting a comment;
  • Following other users; or
  • Responding to a poll

These actions provide an entirely new dimension of activity unheard of in today’s programs. Combine this with sentiment analysis and marketers can pair explicit information (how users feel) with their implicit information (how you think they feel, based on their activity).

Web site visitors have little knowledge of other visitors. An online community, however, is defined by members’ relationships. These relationships, along with users’ activity profiles, help to define influence. Traditional lead scoring doesn’t consider influence, but yet it’s incredibly relevant, as you’ll read below.

Scoring Methodologies for Online Community Platforms

Traditional lead scoring aggregates activities into a single lead score. In online community platforms, two distinct scores are needed: interest and influence.

Interest. “Interest” scoring is analogous to existing lead scoring: it’sactivity measurement within a particular environment (e.g. website). In an online community, this can include “one way” actions, such as reading. It can also include “two way” actions, like sharing and voting. The interest score can be used to judge prospects’ readiness to engage for example.

Influence. Influence can be defined by the ability to drive action. Influential users are well-followed and the content they share is well-read. The influence score can be used to identify advocates and evangelists who can help spread your message to your intended audience via their channels.

Brands have been effective using online community platforms to engage with customers and prospects and provide crowdsourced customer support and product ideation. With the engagement data generated by these platforms, the opportunity is clear: it’s time for community managers to partner with Marketing to provide unified audience views. Supplementing lead scoring with community engagement is the future. Let’s make the future now.

Dennis Shiao is Director of Product Marketing at DNN, where he’s focused on product marketing, sales enablement, pricing and competitive analysis. Dennis is author of the book “Generate Sales Leads With Virtual Events” and is a contributor to the book “42 Rules of Product Marketing.” Dennis can be found on Twitter at @dshiao.