Best Practices for Prospect Scoring in Pardot
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Best Practices for Prospect Scoring in Pardot

It is a fine art to determine when a prospect is sales ready. If you wait too long to pass the prospect off to the sales team you will likely lose the sale. Pass the prospect too early in the process and you risk alienating the prospect and coming across as annoying. Thankfully, the Pardot marketing automation platform comes with the ability to score prospects based on certain actions they take on your website or email that you send. And to tell to truth–nurturing  and handing off prospects to sales is more of a science than an art.

Baseline Scoring System

Out-of-box, Pardot comes with a baseline scoring system. For example, if a prospect completes a form 50 points are added to their prospect score. For any custom redirect link click 3 points are added, and any Opportunity Lost from the CRM the Prospect loses 100 points. You can view the full list here. While the baseline scoring system is a good example that shows the capability of the platform it is not sufficient for most businesses who have multiple products and lines of business. Also, not all form submissions/link clicks/page views are created equal. You do have the ability to the scoring on customize certain forms, files, etc. by using a completion action. For example, a prospect may fill a form which would add 50 points to their score, but then on the completion action we may take away 50 points because it was the careers form on our webpage, not a sales lead submission form.

Custom Scoring Rules

There are also custom scoring rules in Pardot. With custom scoring rules you can change the scoring values assigned to the prospect actions/behavior found in the baseline scoring system. Again, here the point assignment is not as granular as most companies require based on a type of form or product line. Pardot does a pretty good job with their baseline model and I don’t see custom scoring rules adding a ton of value to lead scoring. The only exception here is if you think other activity is more indicative to winning a customer or should be weighted differently based on your sales process. For example, if you host an event and if the Prospect shows up at the event their prospect score should automatically go to 100 and they should be deemed sales ready then it would make sense to use custom scoring rules (because the default scoring model gives 0 points to a Prospect’s score when they are checked into an event on Eventbrite). Again, this assumes all events/clicks/form submissions carry the same weight, but you can of course do some tweaking on the backend with a completion action if you think one event/email click/form is more or less indicative of prospect becoming sales ready.

Furthermore, you can use tags on your marketing assets such as education -25, product -10, and raises hand +50 to indicate how your completion actions interact with your scoring model. For instance in my Pardot org, I deduct 25 points from the base model of a successful form fill which assigns 50 points for thought leadership content (net +25 points). I deduct 10 for product related successful form fills (net +40 points). I add 50 points in the completion action for when a prospect fills out a form to raise their hand (net +100).

Multiple Scoring Categories

Now for the magic–multiple scoring categories! This feature in Pardot allows you to create separate categories to score prospects instead of just one global score. This is typical for medium and large companies who have multiple lines of businesses (LOBs) or products. It also makes it easier to cross sell and track the readiness of an existing customer to buy an upgrade or additional product. Pardot allows you to create up to 50 scoring categories. Note that Pardot Scoring Categories only apply to form or form handler submissions, file downloads, custom redirect clicks, email clicks, and email opens. In addition, scoring Categories leverage the folder model, so you need to organize all of your marketing assets into product/LOB folders.

Let’s take the following example and build out their folders and scoring categories:

A company has a software line of business where it sells different types of software products. The products are “CPQ”, and “Billing”. The company also has a services line of business that has 2 core professional services offerings–Standard and Signature.

For this example we would create a Software CPQ folder, Software Billing folder, and Services folder. We would organize all of our marketing assets into the proper folder. Essentially then we would use completion actions to interact with our base or custom scoring model (in a similar way I described we use it to differentiate between types of forms). You might have two different files in the Software CPQ folder. One could be a thought leadership piece that increases the Software CPQ Score by 10 when the file is accessed. The other file could be a Software CPQ product specification sheet that increases the Software CPQ score by 25 when it is access/downloaded. Note that these interact with your default/custom global scoring category as well. So, for example in the default scoring model each time a file is accessed a prospect gets 3 points added to their score. That means if you wanted to increase their score for that Scoring Category to a net of 25 points when they access a product spec sheet you would just need to add 22 in the completion action.

By crafting our prospect scoring based on funnel stage and product/service line we are able to better tailor our marketing campaigns and also capitalize on future cross- or up-sell opportunities.

The Nitty Gritty: Scoring Category Setup

1. Go to Admin –> Automation Settings –> Scoring

2. Then click the blue ‘Add Scoring Category’ button.

3. Then enter the name of the scoring Category. If you want to name it the same name as the corresponding folder you can certainly do so. If you are assigning multiple folders to the Scoring Category then you might want to use a more general name.

4. Now you can navigate to any form, form handler, file, custom redirect, or email in your folder and adjust the Category Score as apart of the Completion Action. Note that the global default/custom scoring rules still apply and contribute to the Category Score, and you need to use the ‘Adjust score for Scoring Category’ to get the score where you want it.

5. You can view all of the scores for each Scoring Category directly on the Prospect’s record. You can use the scores from Scoring Categories to build Lists (which feed email drip campaigns). For instance if you wanted build a list of customers who had already bought widget A, and had at least a score of 85 for the Widget B Scoring Category you could certainly do that!

I hope this post was helpful to those looking to setup Scoring Categories in Pardot for the first time! If you have any questions on how to leveraging Scoring Categories to successfully segment, market, and qualify your prospects drop me a comment below. Happy marketing!

Check out my blog post on scoring on the Pardot blog!

  • Meg Coffin
    Posted at 08:04h, 25 June Reply

    Hi Paul- Do you happen to know how you would be able to adjust the score or provide a “0” score if someone clicks on the same page multiple times… we want to prevent that from increasing their score if they click on something multiple times. thanks!

    • Paul Fischer
      Posted at 15:37h, 01 July Reply

      Hi Meg – the Lead Scoring functionality in Pardot is pretty light. Unfortunately, it does not support the ability to score different based on the type of landing page, video, webinar etc. This is problematic when you have one webinar that is top-of-funnel, and other that is bottom-of-funnel that you want to assign more points to. As mentioned the work around here is to use completion actions or automation rules instead of the default scoring model.

      There is somewhat of a work around for page views. If you set the default points assigned to page views to 0, then you can use Page Actions to designate different scores on each page depending on your type of page. Page actions can only occur once per hour in a particular page, so even if a Prospect re-visits a page within that hour the score will not be changed. This hour amount is set by the Pardot product and cannot be customized.

  • Emily
    Posted at 07:50h, 29 January Reply

    Do you have some standard scoring that makes sense to use beyond the SF default? We are just getting started with pardot and looking for some reference points . For example what score should be assigned for attending an event? Watching a webinar? Reading a weekly newsletter?

    • Paul Fischer
      Posted at 09:28h, 29 April Reply

      Hi Emily, it really is business specific. Also, you’ll want to keep in mind what type of event or webinar it is. For example, you may have a very high yielding industry specific trade show you attend that yields a lot of business, and maybe a more general networking tradeshow. You wouldn’t want to score those the same. Same for webinars — you may have an educational webinar, and also a webinar that is more product/sales specific. You’ll want to assess and assign different scoring. For a sales specific webinar I would weight that about 85-90, and require at least one more action to trigger a handoff to sales. Whereas a high-yielding tradeshow might put the Prospect score straight to 100 for sales handoff. It also depending on the expectations you set with the prospects. I think trade show attendees might expect to be contacted, whereas a webinar may not necessarily. Hope this helps!

  • Dagna
    Posted at 07:52h, 23 April Reply

    How would you increase a score for the leads you meet at trade show events? They are manually entered by sales into the SF CRM and added to a SF campaign.

    • Paul Fischer
      Posted at 09:23h, 29 April Reply

      Hi Dagna, you could use an automation rule and for criteria use something like they are a “Campaign Member of XYZ Campaign”.

      • Dagna
        Posted at 02:20h, 03 May Reply

        Got it – thanks Paul.

  • Lily
    Posted at 17:20h, 09 June Reply

    Hi Paul!
    Great article! It can really help me a lot! I am a student in Digital Marketing and am now building my first lead scoring matrix for an online store offering multiple product categories (similar to MediaMarkt). I am trying to keep it simple (for now) and my question is if I could assign the same points, for example, for visiting the price page of a product within a definite category (no matter what product and what category).
    Also, can I (or do I need to) add a frequency parameter, like visit >1 price pages within a product category in 1 week, in 14 days, in 30 days? In my default scoring I am considering to include criteria like visiting the same product page (i.e. getting more pts) more than once in 1 week, in 14 days, in 30 days and visiting multiple product pages (getting less pts) within the same time frames. Do you think it is right? I am trying to find a way to define appropriately my default scoring with my category scoring… Many thanks in advance!

  • Christina Medis
    Posted at 20:44h, 25 October Reply

    Hi Paul,
    50 pts pushes to sales, if they come back to nurturing, I want to reduce their score to 25. How can I do that with automation?

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