Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): What You Need to Know for Success

Your marketing and sales teams need to be aligned in order to qualify and convert leads into loyal customers. This ultimately starts with the engagement and vetting of prospects to turn them into what is known as MQLs.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): What You Need to Know for Success

Regardless of the industry that your company is in, it is a necessity to ensure that you are generating and using high-quality leads that have a strong chance of converting into a customer. 

After all, all leads are not created equally.

There are numerous stages that prospects go through before they are ready to make a purchase with your company, and leads are typically categorized as either marketing qualified leads (MQL) or sales qualified leads (SQL).

But what is the difference between MQLs and SQLs? How does a lead become a MQL?

Let’s take a closer look into marketing qualified leads, why they’re important, how they are identified, and a few steps to help you generate more MQLs, which can help improve your lead conversion metrics.

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    What is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)?

    A marketing qualified lead (MQL, for short) is a lead that has shown potential interest in your company’s offerings as a result of your marketing efforts and lead generation strategies.

    Compared to other leads that you may have, a MQL is more likely to convert into a customer. When given a sales pitch, they’re more likely to be receptive to the message than a typical lead.

    Basically, a marketing qualified lead is someone who shows promise of becoming a customer and is considering what you have to offer, but they haven’t quite made it to the sales stage yet.

    What is the Importance of Having an MQL in Your Strategy?

    In business and marketing, quality is always more important than quantity.

    Sure, having a lot of leads is a great thing, but if they aren’t likely to convert, then you are wasting your time, effort, and resources to try and convert a prospect that is less likely to do so.

    Unfortunately, if this is the case, your return on investment (ROI) will suffer, which is not good news for your company as a whole.

    Marketing qualified leads have been vetted and qualified to be a quality lead that is in a state ready to purchase. This ensures your marketing and sales team are more efficient, resulting in a higher ROI.

    SQL vs. MQL: What is the Difference?

    The main difference between a sales qualified lead (SQL) and a MQL is the lead’s interest and intent to purchase.

    Marketing qualified leads are abundant, but the quality of these leads is low. The opposite is true of sales qualified leads, as they have already gone through a stringent process to weed out the leads that are deemed unqualified.

    A SQL will have a much stronger intent to purchase than a MQL. 

    In fact, a MQL is usually not ready to do business with your brand just yet, as they still need some nurturing from your teams.

    A SQL has done their own research, is actively engaged with your brand, has an immediate need for your offerings, has been vetted by your sales and marketing teams, and is ready to make a purchase. 

    A SQL is located near the bottom of the sales funnel, whereas a MQL is near the middle of the sales funnel.  

    There are certain criteria that a MQL must meet in order to become a SQL. These criteria will vary from one brand to the next, but they tend to focus on budget, pain points, and urgent needs.

    How Does the Qualification Process for an MQL Work?

    There are numerous touchpoints that customers have with brands. 

    This may be through a blog post, web page, social media post, content offer, or advertisement.

    This kind of engagement is how your marketing team ultimately identifies a MQL. They use certain criteria to identify the highest quality leads to send to the sales team.

    In the event that the sales team agrees that a lead is qualified and they believe they have a solid chance of converting a marketing qualified lead into a customer, then the MQL will become a SQL.

    By ensuring the leads are of high quality, marketing and sales teams are less likely to waste their time trying to convert someone who is on the fence about doing business with your brand.

    What is the Criteria for Classifying an MQL?

    One of the biggest mistakes companies make is assuming that all leads (prospects who have expressed an interest) are marketing qualified leads. 

    Research shows that up to 90% of MQLs fail to move to SQLs due to being prematurely identified as a marketing qualified lead.

    Therefore, you need to pay close attention to the actions and behaviors of prospects to determine if they are a MQL. 

    Some of these may include:

    • Downloading free content.
    • Filling out sign-up forms.
    • Choosing free trials and/or product demos.
    • Spending more time on your website.
    • Repeated website visits.
    • Favoriting items, adding items to the cart, or creating a wishlist.
    • Clicking on ads that direct to your website.
    • Contacting you for additional information.

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    What Actions Allow to Generate More MQLs?

    Many companies don’t have trouble generating traffic. Instead, their struggle is with generating MQLs. 

    Here are a few actions that will allow your brand to generate more marketing qualified leads.

    1. Create Informative Blog Posts on Your Site

    One of the most effective and long-term ways to generate traffic and MQLs is with high-quality, valuable content. 

    Content marketing is effective at producing quality MQLs, since prospects will come to you looking for a solution to their problem.

    Now, it is important to keep in mind that each blog you create will not necessarily guarantee the creation of a marketing qualified lead. This is true regardless of how great your blog post content turned out.

    When creating your blog posts, though, make sure it is an eye-catching headline, revolves around customer intent, and solves a specific problem that your target audience is likely facing.

    Ideally, your blog posts need to evoke certain emotions in your prospects while getting them to take the desired action.

    Some examples of converting your blog traffic into MQLs include using sign-up boxes (with the assurance of similar and quality content down the line) and offering free eBooks or videos in exchange for the prospect’s email.

    2. Offer Relevant Content via Facebook Ads

    Facebook is one of the most popular social media outlets worldwide. 

    It continues to bring forth new technologies that will help businesses as they work on lead generation and boosting revenue.

    The Facebook Ad Manager offers an assortment of targeting options, which will help you more strategically target your audience and attract MQLs.

    When creating a lead generation ad, you want to develop an offer that is seen as irresistible — something that your target audience simply cannot refuse to take you up on. 

    This may be a free video, eBook, industry report, or something similar.

    When your audience signs up to receive this offering, they are expressing an interest in your brand and its services/products. 

    This information can then be used in your other marketing efforts to help move them further down the sales funnel.

    3. Use Webinars to Your Advantage

    Video marketing is becoming more popular, especially in terms of webinars as effective marketing tools to generate MQLs.

    Webinars can attract prospects and require them to share their email address. Plus, when compared to other marketing materials, webinars have shown to have much higher conversion rates.

    Depending on your industry, you may use webinars to demo a new product, share educational content, or share recent case studies.

    As soon as you receive a prospect’s email address and information, you will need to contact them as quickly as possible to avoid your lead turning cold. 

    All your leads can be stored in the CRM, allowing you to nurture them all the way up to the day of the webinar.

    Keep in mind that not all leads will be ready to make a purchase following the webinar. Some will need further nurturing.

    After the webinar, consider sending out a survey to attendees. This will help you gain valuable feedback and insight into why some leads may have failed to convert.

    This information can then be used to create more enhanced targeting strategies that are more likely to generate higher quality leads.

    Wrap Up

    In order for your company to survive and thrive, it needs to receive a consistent supply of MQLs. 

    Thankfully, the internet makes it more possible than ever to generate those leads.

    It is during the research phase that you have the potential to truly connect with prospects. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that leads may not trust you from the get-go, so you will need to take steps to nurture them into transitioning to a sales qualified lead and converting to a customer.

    The more qualified leads you can get, the better the chances are that you’ll convert. 

    So, make sure to check out our blog post on outbound lead generation!


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