Pardot Scoring vs Grading: What’s the Difference?


Pardot Scoring vs Grading: What’s the Difference?

Tips for how to set up Pardot Grading and Scoring in your Pardot instance

Pardot (aka Marketing Cloud Account Engagement or MCAE) is a dynamic marketing automation solution by Salesforce that empowers businesses to streamline their marketing strategies, nurture leads, and drive success.

One of the most valuable features that Pardot offers is its robust lead qualification system. This system is designed to help marketers identify the most promising leads, thereby optimizing their marketing efforts and boosting sales conversions.

At the heart of this lead qualification system lie two fundamental components: Scoring and Grading. These two dimensions provide an invaluable two-fold analysis of your leads.

While both scoring and grading might seem similar at first glance, they serve distinctive purposes in lead qualification. In essence, scoring quantifies a prospect’s engagement level or activity with your brand, while grading measures how well a prospect fits your ideal customer profile.

Understanding the nuances of scoring and grading can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, enabling your Sales team to focus on the most qualified, high-potential leads.

In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into the intricacies of Pardot scoring and grading, exploring their differences, how they work together, and how to use them effectively for optimal lead qualification.

Understanding the Pardot Lead Scoring System

Pardot scoring is a numerical system that quantifies a prospect’s level of engagement with your marketing efforts. It is dynamic and keeps changing based on the prospect’s activities, such as email opens, website visits, form submissions, etc.

In Pardot, each interaction or activity associated with a prospect is assigned a specific point value based on the scoring rules that you supply.

For instance, opening an email might be worth 1 point, while downloading a white paper could be worth 10 points as it indicates a prospect that is more likely to be sales-ready. This scoring model allows marketers to gauge the interest and engagement level of a prospect based on their cumulative score.

A high score indicates a prospect that has interacted extensively with your content and marketing initiatives. Conversely, inactivity over time can result in a decrease in a prospect’s score (if you choose), reflecting their waning interest or engagement.

Here are some examples of actions that can influence a lead’s score:

  1. Score Increases May Occur Due To:
    • Opening or clicking through emails
    • Filling out a form or taking another page action on a landing page
    • Downloading content like eBooks, white papers, etc.
    • Participating in webinars or online events
  2. Score Decreases May Occur Due To:
    • Period of inactivity or lack of engagement with marketing efforts
    • Unsubscribing from your email list
    • High email bounce rate

Remember, each organization can tailor the scoring model to their unique business needs, assigning different point values to different actions based on their significance in indicating prospect engagement.

Properly utilized, Pardot scoring can provide a clear indication of who your most engaged prospects are and where your Sales team should focus their efforts.

Understanding Pardot Lead Grading

While lead scoring is about determining the interest of a prospect in your product or service, grading in Pardot is about evaluating the fit of a prospect for your business. In other words, lead scoring is about “interest”, while grading is about “fit”.

Pardot grading works on an A+ to F scale and uses criteria specified by the user to assign a grade to marketing qualified leads. A prospect’s grade is generally the demographic and firmographic attributes that indicate how well a prospect fits the ideal buyer persona. All prospects  starts with a grade of D and the grade is increased or decreased in increments of ⅓. 

For instance, a qualified lead that matches a majority of the specified criteria would be graded an ‘A’, while a lead that matches fewer would receive a lower grade.

To explain further, here are some factors that might contribute to a lead’s grade:

  1. Job title: If a company’s ideal target audience includes specific job titles (e.g., CTO, Marketing Director, etc.), prospects with these job titles would receive a higher grade.
  2. Industry: Businesses may have more success in certain industries. For example, a software company that specializes in solutions for the healthcare industry would assign higher grades to leads from that industry.
  3. Company size: The size of the prospect’s company, usually determined by number of employees or annual revenue, can influence the grade. For instance, if a product or service is geared towards large enterprises, a lead from a large company would receive a higher grade.
  4. Geography: If a business operates in certain regions or countries, or if their product or service is more applicable in certain locations, leads from those areas would receive a higher grade.
  5. Product usage: If a lead has shown a high level of interaction with a product or service, it can contribute to a higher grade.

Attributes can both increase and decrease a lead’s grade. If a prospect matches a positive attribute, their grade can increase. If they match a negative attribute (an attribute that is deemed to be a poor fit for the business), their grade can decrease.

For example, if you sell enterprise software solutions, a CTO of a large corporation might have a high grade due to their job title and company size. But if that CTO was located in a region where your business doesn’t operate, their grade could decrease because geography might be a negative attribute.

By effectively using Pardot grading, businesses can ensure they focus their time and resources on the leads that are most likely to convert and become high-value customers.

Summarizing the Key Differences Between Scoring and Grading

In simplest terms, scoring tells you how interested a lead is, and grading tells you how good of a fit they are for your company. Together, these metrics provide a comprehensive view of a lead’s potential value to your business.

For instance, a lead with a high grade but a low score would be a good fit for your business but might not be ready to buy yet. These leads might need more nurturing before they’re ready to make a purchase.

Conversely, a lead with a high score but a low grade might be very interested in your product but may not be a great fit. These leads might end up being lower-value customers or might not convert at all.

Tips For Using Scoring and Grading Together

By using both scoring and grading togehter, your business can prioritize leads who both have a high level of interest and are a good fit for your company, improving the efficiency of your Sales team and increasing the likelihood of successful conversions.

When setting up scoring and grading models, businesses should:

  1. Define the ideal customer profile: Understand who your most valuable customers are in terms of their demographic and firmographic attributes, and base your grading model on this profile.
  2. Identify key engagement activities: Determine what actions indicate interest in your product or service and set up your scoring model to reflect these.
  3. Set realistic scores and grades: Start with a simple model and refine it over time based on actual data and feedback.
  4. Adjust regularly: Monitor and adjust your scoring and grading criteria as you gather more data and your business needs change.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

While there are best practices to employ with Pardot scoring and grading, there are also some missteps you should be mindful of and try your best to avoid. Some common mistakes include:

  1. Using too many criteria: This can make your models overly complicated and difficult to manage. Start with a few key criteria and expand slowly as necessary.
  2. Failing to adjust the models over time: Just like your products and services, your scoring and grading models should evolve over time. Review and adjust them regularly to ensure they remain relevant.
  3. Ignoring low-scoring or low-grade leads: While these leads may not be your top priority, they should not be completely ignored. They could still turn into valuable customers with the right nurturing strategies.
  4. Overvaluing a single engagement action: While some actions might show a higher level of interest than others, don’t let one action overly influence a lead’s score. It’s important to look at the overall pattern of engagement.

By understanding and correctly applying Pardot‘s scoring and grading features, businesses can ensure they’re focusing their time and resources on the most valuable leads, ultimately driving sales efficiency and increasing conversions.

Let Our Marketing Team Help You With Pardot‘s Scoring and Grading

Pardot’s scoring and grading systems are integral to crafting an efficient and successful lead qualification strategy. They help businesses effectively prioritize leads based on their engagement and fit, ultimately directing marketing and sales more strategically.

Balancing these two elements allows you to identify the most promising leads–ones who are not only interested in your offerings but also closely fit your ideal customer profile. This twofold analysis can significantly enhance your marketing strategy, enabling your Sales team to allocate their efforts optimally.

At Interrupt Media, we strongly recommend implementing scoring and grading into your Pardot lead qualification strategy.

Not only does this enable your business to identify the most valuable leads, but it also helps optimize your marketing and sales efforts, thereby enhancing your overall business growth.

As your trusted partner, we can provide comprehensive assistance in implementing scoring and grading models in Pardot. Our expert team can also offer support in planning, implementing, migrating, and integrating marketing operations and sales operations software.

So, why wait? Start leveraging Pardot’s Scoring and Grading system to supercharge your lead qualification process today. Get in touch with us at Interrupt Media, and let’s transform your lead management together.

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