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All Places > Marketo Whisperer: Implementation Tips > Author: ee884c14ba09e9548ca454f39f039ba416c6fbfc

A big part of having an Engagement Platform is that you can target leads very precisely and dynamically based on a host of data coming into the platform. Despite this many clients still have not utilized the full potential this targeting can offer. Nurture Programs are a great place to take advantage of this targeting (Nurture is automated communication streams).

We recently designed a Nurture Program for a client that looked like this:

Lead Nurture Summary 2015 05 22

There would be 12 nurture streams based on persona and lifecycle stage - so for example a CIO in the late stage of their buying cycle would get a certain type of communication. There would be 6 industry nurtures - if we know someone's industry, would get industry related communication. And 4 of the planned communication streams were based on product interest (Mobility, data center, management and security and application analytics).

The challenge for the client was how to know the interest for leads in their Engagement Platform. The client was asking interest on forms on their website, but many of the leads in their platform did not have an interest identified because they had not filled out a form:

table image

The client wanted to identify interest based on web pages visited by a lead. The challenge with deriving interest from web pages visited is that someone might visit many pages on their website representing many different interests. In this case how could we say the person had a particular interest?

“Interest Scoring” provides a solution to this challenge.

The general idea with Interest Scoring is to create a scoring model that scores interest for the purpose of identifying the leading interest for a lead (no pun intended). As an example say the company is Apple (completely made-up example). I may visit various web pages but I visit the Apple Watch pages far more than the other pages. If Apple was scoring interest by product interest my Apple Watch score would be very high – higher than the scores for all the other Apple products. So Apple might decide to focus communications with me more on the Apple Watch.

How to setup interest based scoring

Here is the 1-2-3-4-5 on how to create interest scoring:

  1. Select interests
  2. Organize pages by visits
  3. Assign points
  4. Build interest scoring model
  5. Reap the results

Let’s explore each of these steps in a bit of detail.

Select Interests

How you might organize interest usually varies by company. In the Apple example  above interest was organized by product. So in this example interest could be Mac, iPad, Apple Watch, etc. Another example could be a business-to-business Healthcare company that organizes interest by types of customer such as Hospital, Clinic, Individual Doctor. How you categorize interest will vary by client and much thought needs to go into how this should be for your company.

Organize pages by visits

Once you have selected your categories of interest, you will want to organize your web pages into these categories. Back to the Apple example all the Apple Watch web pages would indicate interest in the Apple Watch. If I look at the Apple website all the Apple Watch pages seem to contain the word “watch” so in this example it would be as simple as saying any visit to a web page that contains “watch” means we should score for Apple Watch. By the same token all the iPad page visits would be score for iPad interest. Etc. If the web pages are not named like this you can still collect all the web pages for each interest – page-by-page.

Assign Points

Then you will need to assign points for visiting the various interest pages. You can keep it simple and assign the same point value for all the web pages or you can get more granular if you want.

Build interest scoring model

Finally you will need to build your interest scoring model in your Engagement Platform. Once it is built and activated you will start to see leads in your database scoring up for various interests.

Reap the results

There are many ways to reap the results. Targeting is the use case we have already focused on. But you can use this interest information in many ways:

  • To target your nurture or other communications
  • To help assign to the correct team if you have a sales process
  • To give sales better visibility into interest for a lead
  • To get a better idea of relative interest in your current database and over time to spot trends

Interest changes

The point I want to make here is that interest can change rapidly. So say we follow the Apple example and three months later John visits several Macbook pages, Macbook interest might score up to the top and I would move John from the Apple Watch nurture to the Macbook nurture. You don’t have to do it exactly that way. It is a business decision for each client to decide how to act on this powerful information.

Other activity

This example focused on looking at web activity. I also want to point out that you can look at any activity and expand your interest scoring model accordingly. You can look at email activity, event attendance or anything else you want to add to your interest scoring model.

This post was co-written with Kristen Carmean and John Mattos.


The winds of change were in the air for the client. Their team thought the march to account-based scoring was destined to happen. So they arranged a call to talk to their marketing platform provider to see what could be done to take advantage of account-based scoring in the platform.


This is the challenge the company faced:

  • Target companies had many individuals involved in the buying process. This means that activity associated with that opportunity was split across many leads/contacts.
  • Even when the company as a whole should have had enough activity to be worth sending to sales, the individual leads were not scoring up to sales.
  • The result was missed opportunities and delays in reaching out to leads. This cost the client revenue, since 35-50% of sales goes to the vendor that responds first.** (


Account-based marketing is how to solve this challenge. And there are different ways to execute account-based scoring. This post will explain 2 variations on account-based scoring so you can make an informed decision:

  • “MA Domain-based approach” utilizing your marketing automation platform
  • “CRM Account-roll-up approach” utilizing your CRM


What is “MA domain-based scoring”?

Typically with marketing automation, marketing teams can score individuals for their potential to purchase. This functionality is called lead scoring. Lead scoring typically allows you to score for any demographic or behavioral trait – but lead scoring usually on a single lead or contact basis.


In a nutshell domain-based scoring allows you to score at a company level as well.


So for example say your score threshold is 50 which means at a score of 50 you will pass leads to inside sales. What if you have lots of leads at a score of 50?


Domain-based scoring allows you to have one more data point – a score for a particular company.


So now in addition to looking at lead scores you can also look at the score for that company as well. In this example you would have access to a lead score and in addition you could have a company score.


This way your sales team can prioritize individual leads and can also prioritize companies.


Another example would be if several leads have not reached a lead score of 50 but if you considered all their actions together, their company should be at sales.


What about “CRM account-based scoring”?

An alternative is to perform account-based scoring in your CRM for this. Typically this would entail taking all the contacts in your CRM and rolling up the scores to the account level.

There are pros and cons to the CRM account roll-up approach.


The first thing to be aware of is that roll-up in CRM will rely on your contact / account hierarchy in the CRM. A score value can only be rolled-up to an account if a contact is associated to the account.


If your team is primarily working with CRM contacts then the CRM approach is a possibility. If you are working with leads in the CRM the CRM roll-up approach will be an issue because the leads are not associated with accounts so for leads a CRM account-roll-up is not possible.


The second thing to be aware of with the CRM account-roll-up approach is that the work will need to happen in the CRM. This is fine except for marketing teams that may not have access to changes in the CRM in a timely fashion.


How does “MA domain-based scoring” work at a high-level?

Domain-based scoring on a high level is taking any leads and contacts with the same domain name and scoring across that domain. Here is a simple visual showing how 2 leads score without any account-based scoring:

image before account scoring.png

In the above example 2 different people in the same company both got scored and neither one hit the score threshold. They are treated as individuals and there is no account-based scoring.


In the below example these 2 people both get scored for the others actions based on having the same domain:

image after account scoring.png

Since both these leads have domains of, they both get scored for the activity of the other so they both have a score of 30. Nice!


There are gotchas and the next section will answer the main ones.


Can I fine-tune the MA domain-based approach?

Yes you can.


For example let’s say a company is too large and you don’t want to lump all leads with the same domain into the same bucket. You can absolutely add other criteria such as location. So for example you might score any leads/contacts with the same domain ONLY if they are in the same country.


So in addition to domain, you can flexibly add criteria that you need to add. This exact criteria tends to vary by client and this makes the domain-based approach very flexible. The CRM account-based approach by comparison would aggregate across defined accounts in the CRM.


What are the benefits?

If you are looking to make a decision on this here are some pro’s and con’s of domain-based scoring to consider:

pros and cons image.png

How does MA domain-based scoring work technically?

This depends on your marketing automation platform. This is how it works with Marketo. Other platforms may offer this differently or not at all.

If you have Marketo, the REST API will be used to perform the domain matching outside the platform. Here is a visual on this:

process image.png

Once the API is set-up the rest will happen in Marketo. Marketo will just score all the matches using “Marketo Smart Campaigns” (in other words Marketo workflows).

So the play-by-play scenario here looks like this:

  1. Different leads are scored in the Marketing Automation Platform
  2. Several meet the domain criteria and are matched using the API, and are placed on a list in the CRM
  3. The CRM now knows they are all with the same company and scores them all according to the defined rules in the MA platform

  If you would like to get into more detail on how this works, let us know and we’ll get you the information you need.


Who can benefit from this?

If your target audience routinely consists of more than one person involved in a buying decision you can benefit from account-based scoring.


Imagine that you have a universe of target companies. With regular scoring you can see when someone is active or meets your criteria. Using one of these approaches you now can have “company” early warning that will tell you if a company or a certain part of a company seems to be exhibiting buying behavior. When we presented this to one of my clients recently they were excited and these were some of their comments:

“This is like an early warning system”

“This will be of interest to sales”

“Interesting that even leads activity are being linked to accounts”

“This would allow us to prioritize leads with the same score”

“This would give us a lot of intelligence at the lead level”


Need Assistance?

I am sure this all varies by vendor, but from my perspective your vendor should provide options:

  • Some may be able to do this entirely on your own
  • If you would like to build this out yourself with guidance, the marketing platform vendor should have a services package that includes guidance
  • And if you want the vendor to build it out for you, the marketing platform vendor should offer that as well

I hope you find this useful!