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

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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.

    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.

    Setting a strong MQL follow-up

    There are many different types of MQLs that can benefit from a strong follow-up strategy. To ensure success, it is important to have a well-rounded approach that includes outbound marketing techniques such as email and direct mail campaigns, as well as more targeted inbound tactics like content marketing and social media.

    Before you understand why setting up a strong strategy is vital, it’s good to truly understand what is MQL and what is its definition. Simply put, an MQL is an individual that has shown interest in your company or product and could potentially become a customer. The goal of your strategy should be to nurture these leads and convert them into a sale.

    Your MQL to SQL Process

    While it might seem daunting at first, setting up a strong MQL to SQL process doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s quite simple by following the steps below.

    • Identifying Your Target Audience: Understanding the needs and interests of your target audience is key to creating a successful follow-up plan. Consider their demographics, interests, and challenges they may have.
    • Crafting Your Message: Once you have identified your target audience, it’s time to craft a message that will resonate with them. Your message should be personal, engaging, and relevant to what they are looking for.
    • Developing a Strategy: Once you have crafted your message, it’s important to develop a strategy to distribute it. This includes determining the channels you’ll use, as well as the frequency of broadcasts.
    • Measuring Your Results: Last but not least, you should measure your results to see what is working and where improvements can be made. This can help you fine-tune your MQL to SQL process so that it’s more effective in the long run.

    Key Factors of Successful MQL Campaigns

    Now that you know what to include in your successful MQL campaigns, below are some factors that are included in some of the best and most successful types of MQL to SQL campaigns.

    Personalized Messages

    By far, one of the best ways to ensure success with MQL is to craft personalized messages that are tailored specifically for each lead. This could include information about the product or service they are interested in, as well as any insights you can provide from your own experience. In addition, crafting personalized messages is a great way to ensure a buyer’s journey that is enjoyable and fulfilling.

    Some ways to use personalization include:

    • Using the right name: Whether you are sending an email or direct mail, addressing the lead by name is a great way to make them feel appreciated and taken seriously.
    • Using location-based information: Depending on where your leads live, you can also craft messages that include relevant local events or attractions.
    • Including upsells and cross-sells: Including additional offers or incentives in your messages can go a long way towards making them more appealing.

    Effective Segmentation

    Segmenting MQLs into smaller groups is also important for success. By dividing them into different segments based on their interests, challenges, and pain points, you can create more effective campaigns that will result in higher conversions.

    For instance, some particular segmentation might include:

    • MQLs that have followed up: Your most valuable and engaged leads are those that have already taken action. For instance, if you know your MQL has engaged in email or called your business, it’s a good indicator you’re close to covering this lead to an SQL. You might need to use more engaging, personalized, and aggressive marketing tactics.
    • MQLs based on location: Depending on their locations, you can craft messages that include relevant local events or attractions.
    • Job roles and industries: If the MQL is part of a particular industry or has a specific job role, you can craft messages that cater to their needs.
    • Time-based segmentation: Depending on the stage in the buyer’s journey, you can craft messages accordingly.

    Know When To Stop Campaigns and Modify Them

    Of course, not all campaigns will be successful. Keep track of your results and adjust if you don’t see the desired outcome. If a particular campaign isn’t working, stop it and try something else. Try different channels, messages, or strategies until you find one that works for your MQLs.

    For instance, if you notice your MQL is now an SQL, you can modify your campaigns to focus on nurturing them and keeping them engaged rather than continuing to send drip campaigns. This could include introducing them to new products or services, as well as providing helpful resources that can keep them interested in your business.

    Similarly, if your MQL has requested you to stop sending them messages, make sure to honor their request.

    By understanding what MQLs need for success and modifying your campaigns, you can ensure that your campaigns are as effective as possible and drive real results. With the right plan in place, you can turn more of your MQL leads into SQLs and maximize your ROI.

    Different Types of MQLs

    Creating an effective MQL follow-up process requires you to understand the different types of MQLs as well. Some of these include:

    • Prospects: Leads that have not yet expressed interest in a product or service.
    • Qualified Leads: These are leads that have shown some interest but may not be ready to commit.
    • Active Leads: These are leads that have expressed a strong interest in what you have to offer and are likely ready to buy.
    • Sales Qualified Leads: Also known as SQL, these are leads that have gone through a qualification process and are ready to be passed on to the sales team.

    Once you understand what type of lead you are dealing with, it’s time to start setting up a strong MQL follow-up process.

    Creating Strong Campaigns With Professional Help

    By far, the most vital part of capturing leads and attention is the ability to create engaging content that speaks to your customers. At Writer Access, we have a team of writers dedicated to helping you turn your MQLs into SQLs and improve your ROI!

    Whether you need creative emails, drip campaigns, engaging web content, and so much more, we’re here to help. Sign up for a free two-week trial today!

    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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