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How to Deal with Score Decay in Account Engagement

How to Deal with Score Decay in Account Engagement

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Scores in Marketing Cloud Account Engagement play a critical role in getting the right lead to the right person at the right time. However, scores can become unreliable and actually distract sales if they are not periodically decayed. In this post, we’ll address the importance of score decay and provide several methods that can be used in your organization. 

A Primer on Scoring

Before we get into score decay, let’s level set on Account Engagement scores. Account Engagement scores are a measure of calculating engagement with your account engagement assets. Prospects with higher scores have had greater engagement and are therefore more sales-ready.

Base Scoring

All Account Engagement accounts come with base scoring rules configured. These rules add and subtract points for actions like email opens, form submissions, page views, link clicks, and more and are intended to be a starting point. It’s highly recommended that you customize these rules based on your organizational needs and conduct periodic reviews to ensure that prospects are not scoring up too slowly or too quickly. 

Review Your Scoring Rules 

Account Engagement Settings > Automation Settings > Scoring

Additional Scoring

Scores can also be increased in Account Engagement manually at the prospect level, using automations (automation rules, completion actions, and engagement studio programs), or in bulk when importing prospects into Account Engagement (by mapping to “Add to Score”).

Suggested Reading 

If you want to learn more about scoring and grading, check out the following posts:

The Importance of Score Decay

Time is possibly the most important consideration that influences the quality of leads.

Think of leads as fresh-baked cookies. Who doesn’t want a chocolate chip cookie hot out of the oven? Those same cookies are still pretty good after they’ve cooled a bit, but they get a bit stale after sitting around for a few days. The same applies to your leads.

It’s important to make sure the hot leads get to sales as quickly as possible and that they are easy to identify. Let’s say that 100 points is your threshold for passing a lead to sales. Which lead would you want to call?

  • “Roy” has a score of 150, but his last engagement was 30 days ago.
  • “Katie” has a score of 101, but engaged today and passed the 100-point mark as a result.

It’s pretty clear that “Katie” is the better lead in this scenario, but we have all the facts. The reality is that your sales team has a lot of leads assigned to them and they don’t have time to learn the story behind each. It’s very possible that sales could prioritize “Roy” over “Katie” based on score alone. This would be logical, but incorrect. We can take the guesswork out of this situation by applying score decay so that “Roy’s” score falls below the 100-point threshold based on his inactivity.

Score Decay Methods

There are two primary ways that scores can be decayed –  Activity Based Decay and User Based Decay.

  • Activity Based Decay is based on activity (or inactivity in Account Engagement). This method simply decays scores to a set value (or reduces by a set amount) based on the last activity date of the prospect. 
  • User Based Decay is score decay that’s triggered by internal Salesforce users based on updates to the contact or lead record. This could be actions like updating the status or any other field.  

Activity-Based Decay

Activity-Based Decay is very simple to implement but requires a few decisions to be made in advance.

  •  When should a lead be decayed?
  • By how much should the score be decayed?

The “when” question differs greatly between organizations and is often related to the length of sales cycles. Organizations with longer sales cycles tend to tolerate longer periods of inactivity while those that are more “transactional” in nature tend to decay scores quicker.

The decay amount is also based on the organization and its scoring model, but I can offer some guidance and best practices based on experience.

  • Tip #1 – Don’t decay all the way to 0. I like to keep some points associated with the prospect as an indicator of past engagement. As a starting point, I would recommend decaying by 50% of your threshold for passing leads to sales. If 100 is your threshold, decay to 50. 
  • Tip #2 – Decay to a set number vs. by a specific amount. Scores in Account Engagement continue to increase over time – if measures are not taken. It’s not uncommon to see some older prospects with very high point values. As an example, if a prospect has a score of 275 and you reduce by 50 points, you still have a lead with a score of 225 points who has not been active in an extended period of time. This really does not help at all. My recommendation is to reduce it to a set value so you can be assured that the lead drops off the radar or your sales team – until new engagement is recorded.

Implementing Activity-Based Decay

  1. Create an automation rule in Account Engagement with a descriptive name.
    • Example: Score Decay – Last Activity > 45 Days Ago
  2. Make use of the “Description” section to summarize what actions the rule will take and when.
    • Example: Decays scores that are greater than 50 to 50 if the last activity is greater than 45 days ago. 
  3. Set the rule to repeat and specify the number of days before eligible to repeat.
  1. Configure the rules and actions.
    • The example below is very simple, but you can add additional rules as needed. For example, you can omit records that have open opportunities or are being worked by sales so their scores are not decayed.
  1. Since this rule will be altering the scores of prospects, be sure to preview the matches before activating. Also, be sure to review all automations in Account Engagement and Salesforce that could be triggered as a result of score adjustments.

User-Based Decay

Account Engagement scores are intended as an indicator of engagement within Account Engagement. Since scores can only be changed in Account Engagement, decaying scores based on actions taken in Salesforce requires a bit of ingenuity and a “handshake” between the platforms. The goal is to tell Account Engagement to decrease the score based on an action that occurred in Salesforce.

In this example, we are going to use flows and custom fields to trigger score decay in Account Engagement from Salesforce. I like this option due to the ability to easily set the criteria that triggers the action and the fact that code is not required.


Scores should be decayed to 50 if the status is changed to “Nurture” by a user in Salesforce.

Implementing User-Based Decay

  1. Create “Trigger Score Decay” custom fields on the contact and lead objects in Salesforce.
    • Data type = Checkbox
    • Default value = Unchecked
  2. Create a “Trigger Score Decay” custom field in Account Engagement.
    • Type = Radio Button
    • Sync behavior = Use the most recently updated record value
    • Values (these are case sensitive)
      • true
      • false
  1. Create flows on the contact and lead objects to update the “Trigger Score Decay” checkbox based on the defined entry criteria. This is a straightforward flow that uses a single element to update a checkbox field. The checkbox will later be used to trigger an automation rule in Account Engagement.

Full Flow

Entry Conditions Configuration

Update Triggering Records Element

  1. The final step is to create an automation rule in Account Engagement that will decay the score if the “Trigger Score Decay” checkbox is checked. The rule will also need to uncheck the box as a way of “resetting” the record. 

Score Decay – Status – Nurture Automation Rule

  1. Test, validate, and activate. As with all automations, be sure to test by debugging your flows and previewing automation rule matches before activation.

Address Overinflated Scores

Scores in Account Engagement are meant to identify prospects that are actively engaging with your marketing. If scores are not decayed, identifying prospects with recent activity can become a challenge and lead to confusion for your sales teams.

Score decay is fairly simple to implement, but should not be done in a vacuum. It’s very likely that there are processes in your Salesforce or Account Engagement orgs that could be triggered when the score of a contact or lead is decayed. For this reason, it’s highly recommended that testing is conducted in a sandbox organization prior to implementation in production and that key stakeholders are included in the process. 

Need help along the way? Send us a message to see how we can help you reach your goals.

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  • Mike Morris is a 9x Salesforce-certified consultant who joined Sercante in 2019. He has over 20 years marketing experience from previous roles leading internal marketing departments and collaborating with large sales organizations. His strong interest in marketing operations and technology led him to the Salesforce platform and to his current role at Sercante. When not working, he enjoys staying active by running, biking, and getting outside as much as possible.

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