Using contact scoring


This article begins by introducing the concept of contact scoring. We'll look at the most common scenario for which contact scoring is used, before going on to mention a few alternative use cases. 

We'll also explain how to enable and set up our contact scoring functionality.

Good to know

Contact scoring is a purchasable add-on. To buy contact scoring, go to Contacts > Contact scoring and follow the steps.

Contact scoring explained

Contact scoring enables you to score and rank your contacts against a scale that you create, based on their engagement with you and the data you hold on them. This gives you and your business a way to manage and prioritise your most promising prospects for further engagement.

The key benefits are:

  • Improved sales efficiency and effectiveness - focusing your sales team's time and effort on only those contacts that are rated as most valuable
  • Improved marketing effectiveness - intelligence gained from ranking the types or characteristics of contacts that matter the most will ensure your marketing team know where to concentrate their efforts
  • Enable marketing and sales to work more in tandem - contact scoring will provide a common quantifiable framework with which your marketing and sales departments can discuss generated leads; they'll be able to talk the same language
  • Improved ROI - attune your efforts across your business as you target your most promising prospects in the most effective way

Contact scoring has become integral to modern lead management, and, when done well, it can produce great revenue results and increase your sales team's efficiency and productivity.

As mentioned above, scoring tends to make use of two metrics:

  • Engagement - representing your contacts' behaviours in terms of interaction with your campaigns, as well as their tracked activity on your website. This is known as 'implicit' information. It's also useful to think of this score as their interest in you. Our contact scoring calls this 'Engagement'.
  • Data - this is 'explicit' information that you're likely to already have recorded against your contact, such as their job title, industry sector, company size, location and so on. This sort of profiling enables you to score a prospect against the type of customers you usually sell to and thus rank their suitability. Think of this as your interest in them. Our contact scoring calls this 'Suitability'.

Combining these two metrics into an overall contact score is the best way to generate accurately qualified leads that you can pass on, with confidence, to your sales team to follow up. 

A contact scoring use case

A typical contact scoring scenario is pretty straightforward: you'll want to gauge who your hottest leads are and then, when they become 'red hot', pass them to your sales team at their optimum conversion point. 

At the outset, you'll typically make a decision upon a score threshold qualifying a prospect as a 'red hot' lead. No need to worry if you have no idea what this score should be; this figure can always be tweaked. As mentioned, this will be a 'trial and error' process if you're using contact scoring for the first time.

Prospects will build their score by regularly opening emails sent to them, routinely clicking links in emails, frequently visiting pages of your website, as well as downloading whitepapers, product information and/or signing up for conferences, etc. If they're doing this, they're displaying a very high level of interest in what's being offered by you, and this is reflected in their score and ranking.

Your contact scoring system will, therefore, be designed to highlight the contacts that you have the best chance of selling too, as brought to the boil by your marketing efforts. It's now over to your sales department to try to seal the deal!

Other Contact scoring use cases

There's no reason though that you can't 'think out of the box', as they say, with contact scoring. By using it in tandem with marketing automation, there's plenty of scope to be inventive with it and employ some real ingenuity, should you want to. Here are some ideas to inspire you (and if they really fire you up, then please search our support and resources area for even more information).

You could...

  • engage low scorers by using marketing automation to make a tailored program that warms them up
  • reward your most engaged contacts with discounts, content to share, etc., and turn then into brand advocates; they'll start shouting about you!
  • use a contact's high suitability score to raise a low engagement score by using a program to really mix up your email marketing to them
  • use a program to re-target previously hot contacts who received certain campaigns but then cooled
  • use contact scoring's flexibility and get creative; try something different like measuring customer happiness - complaints could lower a score which in turn triggers incentives to stay loyal, whilst positive reviews increase scores and trigger rewards for custom

To do any of this, though, you need the functionality - and it's at your disposal! Time to set it up...

Getting started - Enabling contact scoring

If you've purchased contact scoring and you're the main account holder, you'll need to enable contact scoring in your account settings. This is done by opening the settings menu in the bottom left corner of the screen, selecting Account from the settings menu, selecting the Account settings tab and then ticking Enable contact scoring from underneath 'Features'.


Don't forget to select Save settings to ensure the enablement registers.  

A message will confirm that your account details have been changed successfully, and it will also ask you whether you'd like to set up contact scoring now.

Select the set this up link to take you straight through to setting up contact scoring labels - something we recommend doing if you want to make the most of your new contact scoring capabilities. 

Otherwise, if contact scoring is already enabled in your account, you can access it via ContactsContact scoring.

Creating contact scoring labels

It's a good idea to use contact scoring labels. This will help you, and anyone else you work with, to easily understand the status of a contact, as opposed to relying on your colleagues to correctly interpret the numeric score generated. If a contact is marked as 'Red hot', then, straightaway, everyone understands that this is an extremely promising lead!

Labels can be set for the overall score (calculated from the average of the engagement and suitability scores), or they can instead be set for when the engagement score reaches n and the suitability score reaches n.

You can decide the wording of these labels, if you wish, as well as set the score threshold that needs to be reached for the label to be applied.

If you haven't come straight through to this page from enabling contact scoring, as outlined above, then you can instead select ContactsContact scoring and then select the Labels tab to start setting these up.


Select Engagement and suitability to toggle over to setting up labels based on both of those scores.

You'll notice how we've already applied the following labels and scores to both 'Overall' mode and 'Engagement and suitability' mode:

  • Cold when a contact's score is 0
  • Cool when a contact's score is 20-39
  • Warm when a contact's score is 40-59
  • Hot when a contact's score is 60-79
  • Red hot when a contact's score is 80 or above

These are typical labels and score ranges used by businesses when contact scoring. We'd advise starting out with them if you're using contact scoring for the first time, certainly until you start to get more of a feel for the mechanics and workings of it. It could well be the case that you'll want to tweak things as you iterate the process, which is, of course, possible via the 'Labels' tab. 

Note that a score can't be set above 100, nor is it possible to set a label with a higher score than the label that is above it.

For a label to be active, check the box next to it. Uncheck a label to make it inactive.

If you do wish to edit a label, simply type the new label into the field. This could be anything, as long as it's meaningful to you and your colleagues (e.g. 'Promising' instead of 'Warm', or 'Poor' instead of 'Cold').

To change the scoring range for labels, use either the increment/decrement buttons or simply type the desired number into the field. Only integers (whole numbers) can be used.

After making any changes, ensure you select Save.

Please note: After saving a change, a confirmation message will inform you that your changes may take up to 24 hours to take effect. This is because contact scores are automatically re-evaluated once every day. Therefore, a change will not take place immediately but will take effect at the next scheduled evaluation. Evaluations happen 24 hours after your first rule is set as active, so a change could be a maximum of 24 hours away from taking effect if it was made just after your last evaluation.

There are further benefits to using labels, of course. You can segment by labels (useful when, for example, you're looking to create a segment that gathers up all of your 'red hot' leads to pass to your sales team),  plus they can be used as criteria for enrolling contacts into programs (such as when wanting to warm up 'cool' and 'cold' contacts, as mentioned above) and making decisions. They can even be used for dynamic content variations.

Creating contact scoring rules

For contact scores to build, you'll need to create contact scoring rules and activate them.

To create a contact scoring rule, select New rule from under the Rules tab (any existing rules will be listed here).


The 'Add rule' configuration panel will slide in from the right, which consists of three components - 'Condition', 'Scoring' and 'State':


1. Condition - This sets the condition which a contact must meet in order to be scored against this rule. A new segment can be created or an existing segment can be chosen, and the contact will be scored when they're present in the segment.

Selecting New segment will open up the segment builder to allow for a new segment to be created (e.g. a contact has opened any campaign they have been sent at least two times). Once created, select Apply. You'll be taken back to the 'Add rule' panel, which will list your segment.


From here you have the ability to either delete the segment using the red cross beside it or edit it by selecting Edit segment.

2. Scoring
- Provided the contact is in the segment, scoring options can be set for suitability and engagement.

Selecting Set scoring options will bring the 'Set scoring options' panel sliding in.

Here you can either set the increment or decrement applicable to either the suitability or engagement score (decrementing is available as, of course, you may want inclusion in a certain segment to have a negative impact on a contact's score). Once happy, select Apply.

3. State - Set the rule as active or inactive.

Once you've set all three of these components, you can select Apply.  

Your new rule will then appear under the 'Rules' tab.

Every contact scoring rule you create will be listed in this area, whether active or not, and all the main details of your rules will be confirmed along with it.

From here, you can do the usual things you'd expect to be able to do; search for a rule, select a rule for deletion, copy a rule, edit a rule, as well as being able to change the display of the listing of your rules, if you wish.

There are no limits to the number of rules you can create. What's more, given the flexibility of our rulemaking, it means you can set scores based not only on email opens, clicks, ROI, survey completions, job title, company turnover, etc., but if you have WebInsight then you can leverage it to set scores based on page views, downloads, etc.

Pro tip: We'd recommend avoiding rules that are based upon sending, opening or clicking specific campaigns or clicking specific links. Why? It leads to a lot of rule maintenance, as you'll need to create, manage and update these rules, especially when certain campaigns or links are no longer relevant and may affect your contacts' scores in a way that's no longer desirable. A better idea would be to make use of link groups, meaning you can make one rule covering a range of links. You'd only need to assign a link to a link group, as opposed to creating or editing a contact score rule to incorporate it.

Please note: After saving or editing a rule, just as with label changes, a confirmation message will inform you that your changes may take up to 24 hours to take effect.

Automatic updating of contact scores

Contact scores are updated automatically once a day, every day. 

From the moment you set your first rule as active, it will be 24 hours until your rules are evaluated and the scores are calculated. So, if you set your first contact scoring rule as active at 9:00am on a Monday morning, your scores will have updated after 9:00am on Tuesday morning.

To underline what this can mean for scores, here's an example. Let's say you have a rule that assigns a score of 20 points to contacts who click any link in any campaign at least five times in the last 30 days, and the contact has met the rule. They have their 20 points for it. However, on the 31st day they no longer meet the rule because some of those clicks now fall outside of the current 30 day period, and re-evaluation on this 31st day would see them lose those 20 points.

Viewing your contacts' scores 

There are two ways you can view your contacts' scores:

On the 'All contacts' page

  1. Go to Email > Contacts > All contacts (or a particular address book).
  2. The contact score should be displayed for all contacts in the table columns Contact scoring: Engagement, Contact scoring: Suitability, Contact scoring: Contact score and Contact scoring: label
    If you don't see the contact score, select display and turn it on.


These columns will also be included in any export.

On the Single customer view

  1. Go to Email > Contacts > All contacts.
  2. Find the contact you want to view, then select the contact's name.
  3. On the Single customer view, you can see the Contact score in the customer profile box on the left.contacts-score-scv.jpg


Using contact scoring to create segments

The great thing about having scores attributed to contacts is that you're able to segment upon them easily. This allows you to effortlessly gather up your 'red hot' contacts into one address book to provide to your sales team. 

To do this, select Contacts > Segments, select New segment, name it appropriately - such as 'Red hot contacts' - and then drag in and drop Data fields from the side panel into 'Include contacts that match all the rules in this group' in the segment builder. Next select [click to select a datafield] and set the rule, for example, to be 'Data field 'Contact scoring: Label' must be equal to Red hot'.

Select OK, save the segment and then select Generate count to create your segment of red hot contacts.

This segment can then be converted into an address book via the 'Segments' tab's More actions menu. 

Or you could of course segment on your 'cold' and 'cool' leads, with an eye on targeting them with campaigns to warm them up.

What if you wanted to add another condition, though? How about 'Red hot' contacts living in the country or city where your next conference is because you want to target them with a special emailed invite? Alternatively, how about colder contacts that live in the country or city where your next conference is because you want to send them an incentivising campaign to tempt them to attend, in the hope of warming them up?

All of this can of course easily be done via our segmentation tool.

Using contact scoring in programs

And how about automating the above? By setting up contact nurturing programs to automatically cultivate and generate promising contacts, you can free yourself up to concentrate on other things. 

You can use contact scoring as enrolment criteria for a program designed to warm contacts up, by creating a segment such as 'Contact scoring: Label' must be equal to Cold or Cool':

Plus you can use contact scoring to make decisions in programs, so as to send your contacts down a different route depending on their suitability, engagement or overall score, or their label.

You can also use contact scoring for exit conditions, meaning that when a contact reaches a certain score and matures within a contact nurturing program, they'll exit it. They'll receive no more campaigns and will be ready to pass to your sales team for conversion.


Using contact scoring to drive dynamic content 

You can also use contact scoring to drive dynamic content in campaigns and landing pages, so your recipients or visitors are seeing relevant content according to their ranking, and you can nurture them in this way.


What does suitability mean?

This element allows you to score a contact based on their profile type - their demographic. For instance, this will be such details as their job title, the company they work for, the type of industry they're in, their age, etc. It's likely that you know the profile of the type of customer that you most commonly sell to and thus, based on these details, you can ensure your rules segment on contact data fields that contain this information, contributing towards ranking contacts accordingly.

If you don't already capture this type of information about your contacts, then it's probably time to think about starting to do so!

What does engagement mean?

This element will relate to the behavioural data you store on your contacts, e.g. the amount of opens and clicks for campaigns. The more a contact has engaged with a certain campaign you've sent them, the more you can be sure they're interested in what you have to offer. As a consequence, you'll want to ensure your rules segment and score upon these behaviours so it impacts upon a contact's ranking.

How is the overall contact score calculated?

The overall contact score of a contact is the average of their suitability and engagement scores. For example, if a contact has a suitability score of 20 and an engagement score of 50, then their overall contact score will be 35.

Note that the overall contact score will be rounded up to the nearest integer (whole number) if the average happens to fall on a half (e.g. a suitability score of 5 and an engagement score of 10, which has an average of 7.5, will be rounded up to 8 overall).

How regularly do contact scores get updated?

Contact scores are re-calculated automatically once a day, every day (once every 24 hours).

Due to the rolling way the re-calculation process operates across all accounts over this 24 hour period, a fixed time of day can't be given for when re-calculation will be completed on your account. 

Therefore it's best to check for changes in your contacts' scores across a minimum 24 hour period. If you last checked your lead scores at 9am on a Monday morning, then check them next after 9am on Tuesday morning if you want to see any difference; any sooner could be too early for any re-calculation to have taken place. 

This is why, after saving a change to a rule, or editing a scoring label, a confirmation message will inform you that your changes may take up to 24 hours to take effect. Changes do not take place immediately. They take effect at the next scheduled evaluation, which could be a maximum of 24 hours away if a change was made immediately after the last evaluation was calculated.

I'm generating a lot of 'hot' contacts but sales say they're anything but 'hot'! The 'hot' contacts aren't interested and can't be sold to. What am I getting wrong? 

This is what we mean when we say there's a 'trial and error' element to contact scoring; an iterative process that can be tweaked by monitoring your scores and keeping them healthy.

If you're generating loads of 'hot' contacts, happily passing them over to your sales team but your sales team are coming back and complaining that they're not ready to be sold to, then you need to reassess your score settings. Chances are your doing something like top-loading contacts with disproportionate scores when they're only doing minorly significant things (for instance, simply opening an email, clicking a single link in an email, etc.)

If you begin applying engagement scores of 20-30 for such behaviours, and a contact only needs 60 points to qualify as 'hot', then just two or three opens or clicks of your emails will see you collecting a high number of 'hot' leads in no time, but they won't really be 'hot' at all.

The great thing about our contact scoring tool is that it lets you prioritise what's important to you in terms of engagement actions and suitability characteristics, enabling you to weight scores appropriately to produce quality of leads over quantity of leads. 

Recalibrate your scoring if your contact scoring system is looking top heavy. This can be done in one of two ways:

1. Increase your scoring thresholds, if you can, meaning your contacts need to engage a lot more, or be far more suitable from a 'profile' perspective, in order to warm up as a lead.

2. Recalibrate your score settings for rules. If you were incrementing by 10 for a rule, reduce this considerably so it's not as easy for a contact to attain certain score thresholds and labels that exaggerates their interest.

If your contact scoring system is set up to work correctly and effectively, you should find that the majority of your contacts are in the low scoring categories. Don't despair at that, as it's a good thing really! It means that the scores you've set up are probably right and that only significant levels of engagement and suitability will see contacts rise up the rankings, which will qualify them as genuinely good leads.

Your sales team won't thank you for large amounts of lukewarm (or worse) leads that you're telling them are 'hot'; but they will thank you for one genuine 'hot' lead that they can convert!

Did you find this article helpful?

Can we help?

Thanks for using Dotdigital. If you need more help or support, then contact our support team.