What Are MQLs? Marketing Qualified Leads Explained

What Are MQLs? Marketing Qualified Leads Explained

9 Min Read

In the ever-evolving landscape of marketing and lead generation, the concept of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) has gained significant traction. As businesses strive to optimize their marketing strategies and generate qualified prospects, understanding the essence of MQLs becomes crucial.

In this article, we will explore the concept of MQLs in depth, unraveling the criteria and characteristics that distinguish them from other types of leads.

What are Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)?

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) are individuals or businesses that have shown an interest in a company’s products or services, typically through actions like filling out a form on a website, subscribing to a newsletter, or downloading content.

These leads are deemed more likely to become customers compared to other leads, based on their engagement with the company’s marketing efforts, but they are not yet ready for a direct sales approach. 

Difference Between MQLs and SQLs

You may have heard of sales-qualified leads (SQLs), and you may be wondering how they are different from MQLs.

Sales-qualified leads are further into the sales process. They are aware of your company and interested in talking to a sales professional to see how your product or service can meet their needs. MQLs aren’t at that stage. They are curious about you, but they aren’t seriously considering a purchase yet. 

Difference Between MQLs and SALs

Whereas an MQL is more likely to become a customer because they’ve already expressed interest in your company, sales accepted leads (SALs) are individuals your marketing team has moved into the sales funnel based on your specific criteria.

Your team likely has triggers for various customer touchpoints. For example, if someone signs up for your email list, you may wait until they actually click through to one of your newsletters before you follow up to further define their needs. If someone downloads a white paper or another piece of marketing content from your website, you may have someone from the sales team give them a call.

Any interested lead who has been verified by your marketing team can be passed into the sales funnel for contact by your salespeople. These leads then shift from MQLs to SALs. 

Why Are MQLs Important? 

MQLs play a crucial role in the effectiveness of a sales funnel, bringing about numerous benefits that drive business growth by enhancing your demand generation and lead generation initiatives. Some of its primary benefits include:

  • Streamlined Sales Process: MQLs allow for a more efficient sales process by identifying prospects who have shown enough interest in your product or service, reducing the time and resources spent on less promising leads.
  • Increased Conversion Rates: By focusing on MQLs, a business can enhance its conversion rates because these leads have already displayed a certain level of interest and engagement with the company’s offerings.
  • Better Alignment Between Marketing and Sales: MQLs foster better alignment between marketing and sales teams as both work collaboratively to nurture leads and move them through the sales funnel.
  • Improved Customer Journey: With MQLs, businesses can tailor the customer journey to the specific needs and behaviors of qualified leads, enhancing customer experience and boosting satisfaction levels.
  • More Accurate Forecasting: MQLs provide a useful metric for forecasting sales and growth, as they represent a pool of potential customers who are likely to convert to actual sales.

As touched upon above, attracting new customers is one of the costliest parts of marketing and demand generation. MQLs have already expressed interest in your company, so they are likely to be more receptive to a sales pitch.

If your sales team pitches every potential lead or spends time cold calling, they may win a few new customers, but they’ve probably spent too much time focusing on pitches that go nowhere. 

Being able to distinguish between an MQL’s meaning and that of a regular lead gives your sales team the chance to focus on those who are most likely to buy. The team doesn’t have to spend time pitching to people who are unlikely to buy, because those leads are filtered out of the pipeline. 

Marketing Qualified Lead Examples

You can determine the interest level of potential leads based on how they interact with your website and other marketing efforts. A qualified lead may: 

  • Add items to their cart
  • Download white papers or other types of content
  • Sign up for your newsletter
  • Sign up for a software demonstration or free trial
  • Mark items as “favorites” or add them to a wish list
  • Visit your website more than once and stay to look at different pages
  • Share your content on social media
  • Click on an ad to access your website

All these actions signify interest in your company, but they don’t necessarily mean the prospect is ready to buy yet. Here are steps you can take to further qualify your leads. 

How Are Marketing Qualified Leads Determined? 

For best results, have your sales and marketing teams work together to create the process for qualifying MQLs.

1. Come to a Consensus on the Definitions for MQLs and SQLs

Have your sales and marketing teams determine which customer actions signal an interested buyer. Look through your past marketing efforts to determine what generated the most clicks and which customers ended up buying. Your sales and marketing teams can use these insights to determine when to move an MQL to the sales team. 

Have the sales team define what they consider to be an SQL based on their successful pitches. Each member of your sales team may have a different answer, but it’s a good place to start. 

2. Establish Buyer Personas

If you haven’t already done so, develop buyer personas. Your team can create a buyer persona by looking through marketing data from customer surveys, successful sales pitches, focus groups, frequent shopper memberships, and other marketing tools. Make note of similarities between buyers. Use this information to create imaginary buyers so you can tailor your marketing efforts to your ideal customer. 

3. Use Your Data to Help Identify MQLs

Even if you don’t build a buyer persona out of all the data you collect in the process, you can still find out valuable information. Make note of demographic and firmographic patterns you see multiple times in successful sales pitches. 

Maybe you’ll notice that your pitches work better at midsize companies than at smaller firms. Or perhaps you’ll notice that you’re particularly successful in a certain geographic area.

4. Set Criteria for Specific Actions That Make an MQL

Once you’ve created buyer personas and identified demographics and other information for your qualified leads, set some guidelines for moving people into the sales funnel. Look through historical information to see if a certain set of actions signals whether a person is about to buy. 

For example, people who sign up for your newsletter may need more time with marketing, while someone who signs up for a demonstration could be a good candidate for the sales team. 

5. Track Your Efforts

Once your sales and marketing teams are on the same page, track how many new MQLs you get over a certain period. You may notice that your terms weren’t broad enough, meaning you could shift your criteria for qualifying leads. Revisit your strategy regularly and adjust it as needed. 

5 Ways to Produce More MQLs

Use these marketing strategies to generate more MQLs

1. Content Marketing

Producing high-quality content, including blog posts, videos, webinars, and social media posts, gets you noticed online. Strategize to produce content for potential buyers at each stage of the sales process. Make a mix of informative content that introduces your brand to people and authoritative content that explains your business in more detail to convert potential buyers. 

2. SEO

Search engine optimization (SEO) helps you rank higher in internet searches. When potential customers are researching solutions to their problems, the right SEO strategy will get you noticed. Figure out which phrases people are using to find you online, and structure your content around them. A good SEO strategy helps you find the right customers at the right time. 

Most people don’t navigate past the first page of their search results. Paid search ads help you appear in the top three on the first page without relying on SEO. The trick to generating MQLs with paid search ads is to be creative with your headlines and taglines. Use phrases people would use to find you online and create taglines based on how you can benefit your customers. 

4. Social Media

Social media helps you generate MQLs by spreading the word about your business. You can build up your following by engaging with customers or by posting content that compels people to share it through their own social media pages. 

You can create special social media campaigns aimed at generating more MQLs. For example, you can host a contest through which your customers have to tag other potential customers for a chance to win. You can also create sponsored posts and target them toward your buyer personas. 

5. Trade Shows and Events

Trade shows and events are perfect for generating MQLs because you are on-site to demonstrate your products and services and answer any questions potential buyers may have. If someone else in the room has a similar question, you may be able to convert them into an SQL too.

If you sign up to speak at a trade show, you can improve your credibility and establish yourself as the go-to expert in your industry. People may also tag you on social media, letting you broaden your audience. 

How Performance TV Can Help You Generate MQLs

With the rise of cord-cutting and smart TVs, your television advertising options are easier to customize. If you’re considering CTV ads through a streaming platform, YouTube, or another form of connected TV, you can choose which audience you want to target. 

Use your buyer personas and other demographic information to determine what your ideal customer is watching. Then make an ad that speaks to their pain points and explains what you can do to address them. Make sure you include a call to action directing viewers to your website or contact page so you can track your ad’s effectiveness. 

Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): Final Thoughts

Tailoring your marketing strategies to generate more MQLs can help you grow your business without spending extra effort on sales pitches. Improving marketing metrics like MQLs involves developing messages that resonate with people who are more likely to buy from you. 

You have plenty of options available to generate MQLs, including performance TV.