Businesses rely on high-quality leads because they have a greater chance of turning into paying clients. The sales process can be optimized by focusing on the leads that have already demonstrated serious interest in your product through lead qualification.

But how do you know which leads are likely to convert and which ones you should ignore?

This is where marketing-qualified leads come in. Everything you need to know about this crucial lead qualifier is covered in this post.

By coordinating efforts across departments and individuals, your company’s staff may provide customers with memorable interactions that encourage them to become paying customers.

Collaborating in this way can greatly enhance your lead qualification process, which in turn increases your chances of converting leads into paying customers.

What Is a Marketing Qualified Lead?

A marketing qualified lead (MQL) is a lead that the marketing team believes is more likely to convert into a customer than others. This determination is based on metrics such as the number of web pages visited, content offers downloaded, CTAs clicked, and social postings interacted with.

However, most definitions of marketing qualified leads indicate that, while high-quality leads are likely to convert in the future, they are not now ready to buy.

Looking at the process from the top, a marketing qualified lead will eventually become a sales qualified lead and ultimately a paying customer if they progress through the sales funnel. Each stage of the trip indicates a potential customer who is getting closer to perceiving your company as the solution to their problems and making a purchase.

How Does the Mql Qualification Procedure Work?

A lead becomes a MQL, then a SQL, progressing down the funnel until they (hopefully) become a customer.

As previously stated, if a lead becomes a MQL, it has been validated by the marketing team. In other words, the marketing team decides whether sales has a good possibility of effectively nurturing and converting a certain lead into a customer.

If the sales team agrees with the marketing team and believes it has a good probability of converting a MQL into a customer, that MQL is referred to as a sales qualified lead (SQL).

Sales qualified lead (SQL) vs. marketing qualified lead (MQL) (SQL)

Marketing Qualified Leads
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Why Would You Want to Save a Lead as a MQL?

Marketing has several possible touchpoints with leads, prospects, and target audience members before anyone else at your firm, whether through a content offer, social post, virtual or in-person event, site page, blog post, subscription, podcast, or ad.

The ensuing engagement data (and contact information, if any) is critical to your company’s success. It’s how your marketing team can sort through those prospects and find the highest-quality leads based on criteria defined by your company (more on that below).

Once marketing has identified MQLs for your company, they can be passed on to your sales team, propelling sales through the earliest stages of their jobs (e.g., discovery and prospecting) and providing them with leads that their marketing counterparts believe are worthwhile.

Sales then goes through their own qualification process, selecting the top-tier prospects from the list of MQLs.

This not only saves sales staff time, but it also ensures that marketing and sales are on the same page about who your buyer personas are, what type of marketing material attracts the ideal prospects for your organization, and more.

MQLs are categorized in accordance with standards developed for the company’s industry.
These three characteristics are the foundation for defining a qualified lead:

  • Need: Your product solves a problem for the client.
  • Authority: The prospect has decision-making control.
  • Budget: Your product is within the prospect’s budget.

Using these three factors, we can weed out unqualified applicants more quickly.
Establishing MQLs and SQLs requires close cooperation between sales and marketing departments. Before a lead can be moved from the MQL to the SQL stage, marketing and sales must assess how engaged the lead is. Tough sales methods could turn off MQLs who are still too cold to convert. If marketing fails to hand along interested customers to sales quickly enough, the customer may go elsewhere, costing the company money.

Lead scoring

Lead scoring plays a critical role in this procedure. Each lead should be assigned a score that corresponds to a stage of the buying process. Leads get closer to making a purchase as their score rises. Leads earn points whenever they perform a desired activity, such as opening an email, subscribing to a podcast, registering for a webinar, or requesting a trial. Once they reach a particular point, signifying a serious interest in what you have to offer, we label them as SQLs.

What criteria should be used to define a MQL?

1) Customer background information

It is possible to anticipate which of the current leads will convert into purchasers by analyzing the actions of previous consumers just before they made a purchase. Analyzing past transactions made by customers might help you determine if any significant patterns have emerged.

A good attribution model will help you be as precise as feasible.
Most of your blog readers will likely click on to your pricing page or open several of your outreach emails before requesting a demo, signing up for a free trial, and eventually becoming a paying customer.

Lead scoring and qualification are predicated on a straightforward buyer’s path.

2) Target persona

Constructing concrete buyer personas from your past clients is the next step. Are there specific demographics of customers that you target?

3) Talk to your sales team

All of the feedback you can get from your sales team is invaluable. Who is their most receptive demographic of buyers? Why is that, exactly? Which customers are the most demanding?

4) Issues and what to avoid

MQLs are frequently mislabeled as SQLs too early in the sales process. Yet, if these potential customers haven’t decided to buy, then advertising to them is pointless. If you try to sell to your consumer too soon or with too much pressure, you risk losing them as a customer and hurting your business financially.

Criteria for Marketing Qualified Leads

Setting precise MQL criteria is how you ensure your sales team receives high-quality leads. Establishing these criteria is also beneficial since it allows marketing to identify which types of marketing materials, content, and offers will perform best among your target audience members who meet the criteria. In other words, developing effective MQL criteria benefits both marketing and sales.

How to Implement MQL Criteria (Plus Examples of MQL Criteria)

1. Create a working partnership between the marketing and sales teams.

As emphasized multiple times throughout this essay, keeping open communication and coordination between the marketing and sales teams is critical to MQL success. Marketing cannot target or identify high-quality leads unless it collaborates with sales. And without marketing’s assistance, sales will not have access to MQLs.

You may begin by emphasizing the importance of this link to the marketing and sales organizations, so they realize the benefits of cross-team collaboration.

Then, you could schedule recurring meetings to discuss alignment as well as roles and potential areas for growth (e.g., which marketing content is working best with prospects, which enablement materials sales feels are missing, or prospect feedback that reps get directly from the source and can share with marketers to help with campaign targeting, etc.).

During these sessions, there may be time set aside for discussion about how to strengthen the marketing and sales connection and alignment, as well as time set aside for feedback, ideation, and fact sharing.

2. Develop lead definitions.

Marketers and salespeople should collaborate to create lead definitions for your company. In other words, marketing should collaborate with sales to identify, explain, and document the key attributes and traits that define a MQL on your team.

For example, your marketing managers may collaborate with your sales managers to define a MQL. This technique will most likely resemble the one you used to create your buyer personas.

Here are some questions to consider when developing MQLs:

  • What kind of marketing content should be used to define someone as a MQL?
  • Which exact distinguishing characteristics (demographic and firmographic) are required to label someone as a MQL?
  • Which pain points or challenges need a person face in order to qualify as a MQL?

Based on the lead definitions you generate, you may go a step further and give point values to certain MQL criteria to form the foundation of a lead scoring system. This will ensure that your sales team receives high-quality leads in an orderly manner, allowing them to be as productive as possible.

3. Regularly review your lead definitions.

Not only does your company, internal teams, and customer base expand with time, but so do your prospects, buyer personas, and leads. That’s why it’s critical to revisit and update your lead definitions on a frequent basis.

For example, perhaps your marketing team revisits your lead definitions quarterly – they may assess them as a team and then offer any modifications they believe are essential to sales for comment. Perhaps marketing and sales should evaluate the definitions together and update them in a collaborative meeting.

In any case, keep in mind that just because something works for you today doesn’t mean it will continue to work for you in the future. Be aware that your lead definitions will need to be updated in order to ensure that marketing is targeting, recognizing, and providing high-quality leads to and for sales personnel.

MQL Action Examples

An MQL has engaged with your brand in a way that demonstrates their interest. This activity on their part assists you in identifying marketing leads who are on their way to becoming paying clients.

1. Obtaining trial software

The marketing qualified lead has expressed an interest in making a purchase from your organization. Downloading trial software suggests that consumers want to see how well your solution will meet their wants and solve their problems.

2. Participating in software demonstrations

Registering for software demos, like trial software, shows that a lead wants to better understand how your product offering can match their overall needs.

3. Completing online forms

When a lead fills out an online form with their contact information, they’re informing your company that they’re willing to talk. This voluntary action demonstrates deliberate engagement and interest.

4. Subscribing to a newsletter or mailing list

Signing up for a newsletter or mailing list shows that a lead is interested in receiving more information and content from your company. They want to learn more about your organization and stay up to speed on the latest products or services.

5. Putting goods on a wishlist

When a lead adds items to their wishlist, it indicates that they are interested in your products even if they are not yet ready to buy. However, they may return at some moment and add those things to their cart.

6. Putting things in a shopping basket

When a lead places goods in an online shopping cart, they are demonstrating an interest in acquiring those products, similar to the wishlist. They might not buy them right away, but they are demonstrating interest in your goods.

7. Frequently accessing a webpage

A potential consumer who returns to your website has a strong interest in your company. They may return to discover more about what your company has to offer and see whether it matches what they’re looking for.

8. Visiting a website via clicking on advertisements

If someone who has already visited your site clicks on an ad to return to your site, this signals interest in your company. A lead who values what you have to give enough to return to you may regard you as an answer to their question.

9. CTA Selection

Leads that click on CTAs contained in your email marketing, website, or social media content show that your offers are appealing to them. They are interested in learning more about what you can do for them. This gives you background to continue increasing their interest and nurturing them as a lead.

10. Interacting with posts on social media

Leads who follow your company on social media and then actively engage with you show a real interest. You can expand on this with content that invites additional participation. This allows you to learn about their hobbies and what will be most appealing to them when they are ready to meet with the sales team.

Best Way To Generate MQLs

To expand your business, you need more marketing qualified leads. Lead generation might improve your chances of acquiring new clients.

Consider the following approaches to bringing in additional MQLs.

Include lead magnets in paid advertisements.

Paid advertising put your company in front of potential clients by placing your content at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). When you pay for these top places, the amount of individuals who see your content increases naturally. You can further entice consumers by offering white papers or ebooks in exchange for leads signing up to download your material. Combining your offers with landing pages that explain how your company addresses consumer problems will help you create the groundwork for lead nurturing.

Match the content and lead magnet of your ad to the target keyword you’ve selected. This ensures that the material is relevant and useful to the customer. Following up on their registration, marketing automation can assist you by offering more relevant information and content. You can then assess their response and how well they meet your qualifying criteria.

For example, a company that sells kitchen cabinets might run advertisements with the term “kitchen remodel” and give a landing page with a free ebook on everything you need to know about kitchen design. After the lead downloads it, the organization can send an email with helpful design tools to get the lead started.

Make your content marketing plan compatible with the buyer’s journey.

Understand what your customers want to see and learn at each level of the buying process. The better you understand what they want to learn, the better your material will be able to address their demands, and the easier it will be to keep the lead engaged as they mature into a MQL.

Design your marketing campaigns around your customer’s life cycle so that you can address their demands at each stage of the customer journey. This gives you more data before passing the leads on to the sales team, allowing you to be confident in your lead management and the quality of the leads you send on.

If you sell accounting software, for example, you require material that helps buyers through the funnel. You may have blog posts about financial organization at the top. You may have gated information about how accounting software can help them save time and money to nurture the lead.

This registration for the gated topic may then result in an email with accounting ideas and suggestions, emphasizing the importance of the accounting software. Finally, a free trial might help the lead understand what makes this offer appealing.

SEO optimization

Improving your search rankings can result in more visitors to your website. This increases the number of qualified leads in your sales pipeline. People will continue to come across your firm as they progress through the buyer’s journey, due to Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which can help you nurture them until they become a MQL.

For example, a company that sells educational resources might utilize SEO to assist interested schools find their curriculum. A robust SEO approach guarantees that this organization ranks high on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for a wide range of curriculum-related keywords, including those that are more mid-funnel. The target audience regards them as an authority figure and learns more about their offerings and whether they are a good fit.

Organize or attend networking events

Hosting and attending networking events can help establish your company as an industry leader, encouraging people to seek your advice when they have a question about your industry.

Consider a marketing platform attending a large conference. The marketing department can take use of conference possibilities to get to know attendees and improve their general reputation as an expert with a fantastic product. When those participants realize their present marketing platform is no longer effective, the platform given by their conference acquaintance may be the first to come to mind.

Utilize social media to subtly entice users.

You can also utilize social media to entice users in a subtle way. Having a strong social media presence allows you to connect with the larger community. You may monitor trends and interests of your target audience to better suit their demands. You may also attract customers by providing engaging material that they wish to share on their own social media pages.

A tourism company, for example, could create a social media presence centered on the concept of “seizing the day” and routinely post gorgeous photographs of people on vacation having life-changing experiences. Users may share and interact with the page for fun, but they are also learning about the organization. When a follower wishes to plan a trip, they can contact the travel agency.

Final Words

Constructing plans to bring in MQLs can help your company grow to new heights. However, it could take a while and maybe even specialized knowledge to complete the process. That’s why it can be helpful to hire a freelance expert.

With your newfound understanding of MQLs’ potential, you may move forward with developing your own. Apply the aforementioned advice and you’ll soon be able to find and close more qualified leads.

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