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A Deep Dive into HubSpot's Lead Scoring

Ninad Pathak
September 19, 2023
June 10, 2024
Table of Contents

How well do you know your leads? With various marketing channels, leads come pouring in from multiple places daily. But how can you tell which ones are primed to convert and which still need nurturing? 

Enter lead scoring—a crucial mechanism for identifying and prioritizing your most promising leads.

This post will explore the ins and outs of lead scoring in marketing automation software. We'll use HubSpot as an example to illustrate how lead scoring works, best practices for setting up and optimizing your lead scoring, and critical use cases for putting this powerful tool to work. 

Whether you already use a particular software or are just evaluating options, you'll learn fundamental principles of lead scoring to identify and prioritize your most promising leads. The result? More closed deals and faster revenue growth. Let's dive in!

Why Lead Scoring Matters

Lead Score factors.ai

You have leads from your website, landing pages, online ads, email campaigns, and more. How can you quickly identify the most promising ones worth prioritizing? Relying on guesses won't cut it. 

You need a systematic way to distinguish hot leads from cold ones.

That's lead scoring —a quantitative way to qualify leads based on their level of sales-readiness. It assigns points to leads as they engage with your business and demonstrate buying signals. 

The more points, the hotter the lead.

However, not all scoring models are created equal. 

Many basic systems only look at a limited set of criteria or fail to adapt as leads progress through the buyer's journey. But HubSpot's approach gives you a more customizable and dynamic solution.

With the right lead-scoring strategy, you can:

  • Identify hot leads—See at a glance which leads are sales-ready based on their activities. Focus energy on your hottest leads first.
  • Nurture cold leads—Understand what criteria cold leads are missing to prioritize relevant nurturing.
  • Improve conversions—Convert more leads by focusing on those already showing buying signals.
  • Enhance personalization—Deliver personalized, timely experiences matched to each lead's score.
  • Track performance—Monitor the impact of your lead scoring criteria over time. Tweak criteria as needed.

Now, let's dive into how scoring works in HubSpot specifically.

How Does HubSpot Lead Scoring Work?

HubSpot's lead scoring methodology is powered by two key components—criteria and weight. Let's explain how each contributes to a lead's overall score.

Scoring Criteria

Scoring Criteria Hubspot

The criteria component determines which lead attributes and behaviors add or deduct points from a contact's score. HubSpot's software comes pre-loaded with default criteria based on typical buying signals.

Example positive criteria include:

  • Visited a pricing page
  • Downloaded an ebook
  • Clicked on a call-to-action

Examples of negative criteria include:

  • Unsubscribed from emails
  • Bounced email
  • Page visited with keyword "competitor"

However, the criteria driving your lead scoring model can be completely customized based on your unique business. You may tweak the default criteria or add new ones that match your typical buyer's journey.

HubSpot makes it easy to update your lead scoring criteria at any time as your business evolves. Whether launching a new product, shifting target audiences, or identifying new buying signals, you can update criteria on the fly.

Lead Scores or Weightage

The second component determining a lead's score is the points assigned to each criterion.

When a lead meets a defined criterion, the associated points are added to their lead score. When negative criteria are met, the points are deducted.

You control the points for both positive and negative criteria. The higher the weight, the more significant the impact each criterion has on the overall score.

For example, you may assign 50 points for visiting a pricing page but only 10 points for downloading an ebook. This freedom to assign points for each action gives companies greater control over their lead scoring. 

HubSpot's flexible criteria and weighting system enables you to:

  • Customize criteria based on your unique buyer's journey
  • Continually fine-tune criteria as your business evolves
  • Assign point values tied to each criterion's impact on indicating sales readiness

Let's walk through how to configure lead scoring in your HubSpot portal.

Setting Up Lead Scoring in HubSpot

HubSpot allows you to customize the default lead scoring system to match your unique business needs. The setup process is relatively straightforward but does involve some essential steps.

Step 1: Accessing Lead Scoring Properties

First, navigate to the Properties section under Settings. Here, you can view and edit the default scoring criteria. Marketing Hub Professional and Enterprise accounts get access to lead-scoring properties.

Step 2: Adding or Removing Criteria

Adding or Removing Criteria

In the Positive and Negative Attributes sections, you can add new criteria rows to define custom factors not included in the default model. For example, you can add a score based on job title or company revenue.

You can also remove criteria that are not relevant to your business. When criteria are removed, all contacts will be re-evaluated accordingly.

Step 3: Setting Score Weights

Assign positive or negative weights for each criterion based on how many points you want the score to increase or decrease. You can edit the default weights as well.

Ensure high-impact factors get adequately weighted to reflect their correlation with conversions.

Step 4: Defining Filters

The criteria can be filtered further to specify the conditions under which points will be allotted. For instance, you may score only for the first form submission.

There is a limit of 100 total filters across criteria sets. Complex filters can increase processing time.

Step 5: Testing Score Criteria

Testing Score Criteria

Once configured, test the scoring against sample contacts to ensure it works as expected. Remember to refine the criteria and optimize based on the latest data.

However, there are a few limitations to note with HubSpot lead scoring:

  • You can only have 100 active scoring criteria at one time.
  • Each criterion can be assigned between -250 and 250 points.
  • Points decay over time, with email actions decaying the fastest.

Best Practices for Lead Scoring in HubSpot

Now that you know how HubSpot's lead scoring works, let's zoom out and discuss best practices. Let’s look at how to build and optimize an effective lead-scoring strategy.

Decide What The Score Should Measure

First, decide what you want the lead score to represent—a general engagement thermometer or a sales qualification threshold. 

  • Are you trying to identify sales-qualified leads purely based on intent signals?
  • Or do you want a more holistic score combining intent, firmographics, engagement, etc.?

Whatever the goal, the criteria should align with what the score represents.

Use Workflows for Fixed Criteria

Workflows can automatically move contacts to specific lists based on definitive triggers like email clicks or form submissions.

MOL Mapping

If you have clear SQL criteria like job title + demo booked, use workflows to move such contacts rather than scoring automatically. This helps avoid manually updating scores for obvious qualifications or disqualifications.

For example, you can create a workflow that adds contacts to a "Hot" list whenever they download a pricing sheet or schedule a demo.

Avoid Unreliable Signals

Criteria like page visits or time on site can be misleading as they measure generic engagement. Unless proven to correlate with conversions, avoid such vague scoring factors.

Instead, track predictive signals like content downloads, feature-specific page visits, demo activity, etc., that indicate interest in your offerings.

Incorporate Score Decay

Prospects go hot and cold over time. Their actions should be valued higher for recency. Decaying scores regularly helps surface recently active contacts instead of looking at scores from months ago. 

For instance, you can decay scores by 20% each month to account for recency. This means after a month is completed, a lead score of 100 will become 80.  With this, new activity in the last month gets more weightage than, let’s say, six months old activity.

While there is no direct and simple way to do this in HubSpot, you can add filters like “AND days < 30” to consider scores within the month. Alternatively, you can create workflows to deduct score points at set dates in a month. 

Test, Test, Test

The best way to optimize scoring is to test different versions—run A/B tests on criteria and weighting to see which ones best identify your hottest leads.

Analyze how predictive each criterion is of deals closed last quarter. Eliminate weak signals, adjust weights to optimize correlation, and refine your scoring strategy to find the one that works best for your business.

Review Regularly

As your business evolves, lead behavior and conversions can change. Revisit scoring rules quarterly to check alignment with goals, remove outdated criteria, and adjust weightage as needed.

Also, analyze the correlation between top criteria and won deals over the last quarter to eliminate ones with weak correlation and tweak the weights of strongly predictive ones.

Segment Beyond Just Score

While the score provides a universal gauge of sales readiness, it also segments leads based on persona, source, and other attributes. This provides a more detailed view of where leads are at.

Following best practices will ensure your HubSpot lead scoring model provides an accurate, evolving snapshot of your highest-converting leads.

Top Use Cases for HubSpot Lead Scoring

Now that you understand the mechanics behind HubSpot lead scoring, what are some of the best ways to implement this tool? Here are four top use cases to consider:

Account-Based Marketing

Types of ABM

Account-based marketing is a powerful approach to focus your efforts on high-value accounts rather than scattershot campaigns. Lead scoring helps identify prime accounts by combining attributes like industry, size, tech stack, etc.

You can create targeted content campaigns, account engagement plans, and coordinated sales plays customized to these premium accounts. Get the whole revenue team aligned on activating your ideal accounts.

Improved Retargeting

Lead scoring provides the intelligence to create more effective remarketing campaigns. By scoring site visitors based on their content engagement, you can retarget high-intent leads who have shown interest but are yet to convert.

Then, you can create customized remarketing ads and tailored offers around abandoned carts, exit pages, or other drop-off points and identify disengaging leads to re-activate them with relevant content recommendations. 

Refining Buyer Personas

Analyze which lead scoring criteria have the highest correlation with conversions for each of your personas. Identify their unique buying signals.

Then, optimize your personas and associated nurturing journeys to align with how each persona buys from you. Make your personas more predictive—giving your marketing and sales teams the data needed to optimize their approach.

Personalized Onboarding

Lead scoring lays the foundation for tailored onboarding and ramp-up. Identify high-intent visitors and fast-track them with expedited onboarding while providing assistance and training to low-intent leads to get them up to speed.

The applications span across the funnel—from separating anonymous traffic to routing qualified leads and much more. But HubSpot has some limitations which can hinder your decision-making. 

Major Limitation of Lead Scoring in HubSpot 

While HubSpot provides a customizable lead-scoring tool, there are still some inherent limitations to be aware of:

Siloed Data

Lead scoring on HubSpot only accounts for behavior within its tools, not across your tech stack. This interferes with necessary signals like:

  • Website analytics data
  • Marketing campaign performance
  • CRM data on deals and customers
  • External intent signals

With data trapped in silos, you miss critical behavioral and intent signals outside HubSpot, resulting in incomplete lead profiles and inaccurate scoring.

Without connecting data across your martech stack, you lack the 360-degree view of each lead needed to power predictive scoring. This significantly hinders the model's accuracy.

No Historical Data Access

Unlike dedicated scoring tools, HubSpot does not provide visibility into the historical progression of a lead's score over time.

For certain high-growth companies, these limitations around flexibility, integration, and visibility can become bottlenecks. Lead routing and sales prioritization may need to be fully optimized.

But how can you overcome these gaps without completely changing tech stacks? Factors.

Close Deals Faster with Factors

Factors eliminates siloed data by combining information from all your marketing and sales channels—not just a single CRM. It enriches this unified data with account intelligence, intent, and more.

Wayne Enterprises Timeline

Unlike HubSpot, Factors retains the lead timeline and maps it to conversion—going from the first touchpoint on any platform to the last touchpoint on any platform—all on a single screen. This gives a 360-degree predictive view of sales readiness across channels and time.

Other key advantages over HubSpot scoring include:

Privacy-First Web Data Collection

HubSpot may not completely anonymize data, depending on how it has been set up. This can create compliance risks as regulations like CCPA and GDPR evolve.

In contrast, Factors uses data masking and consent management to collect anonymous website behavior data aligned with privacy requirements. You avoid regulatory exposure while still gaining crucial digital body language signals.

Superior Predictive Power and Accuracy

HubSpot's rule-based scoring methodology has inherent limitations in modeling the intricacies of human behavior. The rigid criteria often miss key predictive signals.

Factors overcomes this through sophisticated machine learning algorithms that examine thousands of potential factors to uncover the strongest predictors of sales readiness for your business. This enables vastly superior accuracy in identifying your hottest leads.

Transparent Scoring Models

With HubSpot, you lack visibility into why leads received specific scores, creating a black-box scoring model.

In Factors, you can inspect the critical data points behind each score to understand which attributes or behaviors added or deducted points. This model transparency is invaluable for refining your lead-scoring strategy over time.

Flexible Integration Across Your Stack

Factors Flexibile Integration

HubSpot's walled-garden approach requires ripping out your existing marketing stack to realize its full potential. Unless your existing marketing stack includes all tools from Hubspot, you’d have difficulty bringing it all together. This creates risky and expensive tech disruptions.

Factors flexibly integrates across your martech stack via APIs, pre-built connectors, and custom integrations. You can easily augment HubSpot with enterprise-grade scoring without replacing your foundational systems.

Hands-On Support and Modeling

HubSpot requires you to manage scoring setup and optimization mostly on your own through self-service options. Hubspot is known to have lousy support when it comes to critical issues. 

With Factors, you get dedicated customer success managers to provide strategic guidance around data pipelines, report customization, usage, technical issues, and more tailored to your unique business needs. This white-glove service amplifies your marketing performance.

If the built-in limitations of HubSpot scoring hinder your ability to operationalize scores, Factors provides the enterprise-class upgrade you need. 

With Factors, siloed data, and manual processes are replaced with end-to-end predictive intelligence. Leads are automatically scored, segmented, and routed based on a complete understanding of sales-readiness.

FAQs About HubSpot Lead Scoring

Let's wrap up with answers to some frequently asked questions:

Is HubSpot lead scoring retroactive?

No, HubSpot will only start scoring leads from the point you have lead scoring configured. It does not retroactively calculate scores before setup. This is unlike some advanced lead scoring and account intelligence tools like Factors.

Is HubSpot good for lead generation?

Yes, HubSpot provides a wide array of lead-generation tools, including blogging, SEO, landing pages, forms, and more. Lead scoring helps you quantify and prioritize all the leads being generated.

Can you adjust the points scoring scale in HubSpot?

No, you can only assign points from -250 to 250 for criteria. The scoring scale itself cannot be adjusted.

What happens if you delete a scoring criteria in HubSpot?

Deleting a criterion will automatically re-evaluate all existing contacts and update their scores accordingly.

Key Takeaways

  • Lead scoring is a powerful prioritization tool if optimized for your unique business. Don't rely on default criteria - make your own.
  • Review and refine your scoring criteria to match how your buyers' journey evolves. Keep it dynamic.
  • Test different scoring models through A/B testing. Measure the impact on conversions to optimize the model.
  • Combine scoring with workflows and segmentation for a multilayered view of your leads' sales-readiness.
  • Consider solutions like Factors to overcome limitations like siloed data. Take your lead routing to the next level.
  • With the right strategy, lead scoring gives you the focus and intelligence to accelerate deals and delight more customers.

Lead scoring provides invaluable visibility into the sales readiness of all your leads. And, to take lead scoring to the next level, book a demo with Factors today to see how predictive intelligence can help you identify and convert your hottest leads faster.

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