The Basics of Lead Scoring and Grading in Pardot



This blog explores the use of Pardot for B2B organizations, focusing on lead scoring and grading features which assign values to prospects based on their engagement and intent, thus aiding in better lead qualification. The author provides a detailed guide on how to set up and adjust lead scoring and grading, suggesting a blended model approach for businesses to identify high-intent leads that fit their ideal customer profile, with the ultimate aim of maximizing the effectiveness of sales and marketing follow-ups.

By Cameron Katoozi, Marketing Consultant at Heinz Marketing

Over the last month, I’ve been diving into Pardot for the first time ever to get a better sense of the tool and its capabilities. At first glance, it can be very daunting with a variety of different functions. It includes everything from automating processes to building landing pages/emails/forms, etc. Yet, one of the most interesting features that I have been playing around with is lead scoring and grading. Essentially, this automation assigns values to your prospects to further segment and understand their intent. In my opinion, I believe every B2B organization using Pardot should implement lead scoring to some extent. How come? With a strategic lead scoring system in place, you can help sales and marketing teams focus on the follow-up process with leads, instead of qualifying them.

Here are some of the basics to lead scoring and grading to help you get started.


Before diving into lead scoring and grading in Pardot, your first step should be creating an audit of all your content and assets. This includes blog posts, landing pages, email templates, contact pages, form submissions, and more. You want to be sure to include everything that can be accessed on your website, because if a visitor can interact with it, then Pardot can track it. While auditing, you may realize certain assets can be associated with higher levels of intent than others. This will be useful when assigning score values later.

What is Lead Scoring and Grading?

Lead Scoring

Lead scoring allows you to track and assign numerical values to individual prospects based on their engagement with your content. The score indicates the level of interest the prospect has in your product or service. Whether that be through your website or emails, you can track and score every activity. Often, lead scoring is implemented to create a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), so your sales team receives the highest quality leads. If you are new to Pardot, there’s no need to worry, as Pardot assigns score values to a variety of activities by default. Some of the most common activities to track are:

  • Email click-through: when a prospect clicks on a link in your email, this shows a higher level of interest than a simple email open.
  • Form submission: once a lead fills out a form, they are no longer anonymous as you have useful info such as their name, email, company, etc.
  • Page view: usually a lower score than other metrics, but a page view can determine how much engagement they are showing with your website.
  • Content download: if you have gated content, then prospects will complete a form submission as well. Depending on the content, some may score higher than others (whitepaper vs instruction manual)

Lead scoring is adjusted by navigating to Admin > Automation Settings > Scoring. This is where you can change point values and activities.

Lead Grading

Grading is a separate way to assess the quality of leads being passed from marketing to sales teams. Grading assigns letter grades (A – F) and uses increments of 1/3rd, such as A, A-, B+, and so on. The criteria used in grading are much different than scoring. The main goal is to see how closely a prospect matches your company’s Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Some criteria examples are:

  • Industry: make sure the prospect is in your target industry.
  • Company size: assess if they might be too large or small to use your services.
  • Job level: this helps narrow down the prospects that make the final decisions or influence decisions.
  • Location: for region-locked products/services, you can assign a higher or lower value accordingly.

Simply, lead grading assigns a letter grade to the prospect’s characteristics (prospect matches your ICP) while lead scoring assigns a numerical value to the prospect’s behavior (how they interact with your content).

Lead grading is adjusted under ‘automation rules’. This offers a more granular level of customization and lets you change the letter grade associated with each criterion.

Scoring Values

How do you know which activities should be scored higher than others? Can you assign too many points?

As part of Pardot’s default lead scoring values, it also assigns a minimum MQL threshold. For most B2B companies, it’s recommended that you start with a threshold of 50 points. This means the prospect must reach a total of 50 points across different activities to reach MQL status to move on. Going back to our content audit, we want to assign greater point values to the highest intent activities. In general, these activities tend to be form completions and email click-throughs.

Activity Decay

Not all activities warrant a positive score; There are also times when you want to implement activity decay or a degradation model. Activities where you assign a negative score include someone visiting your career page, or other pages not directly related to your product or service. This model gives higher scores to prospects with actual interest and avoids others who are not a good fit.

Next Steps

Now that you have an overview of what lead scoring and grading are in Pardot, the next steps are implementation and testing. As you learn more about your target market and how they interact with your content, you will need to adjust the scoring.

B2B companies may want to take a blended model approach of both lead scoring and lead grading to give you a better picture of your prospects. This will ensure that you are collecting the highest intent leads that fit your ICP. Explore all the features Pardot has to offer to get the highest quality leads!