Account-based scoring and the winds of change

New advances in account-based scoring that every b2b marketing team should be aware of!

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 pro’s and con’s 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

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

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

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

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!



adminAccount-based scoring and the winds of change


  1. Ray

    Hi Rajiv,
    I am researching on ways to score accounts. Your domain scoring approach is a good idea. I need help in figuring how to technically set this up in Marketo.

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