What Are MQLs and How Do You Define Them for Customer Conversion?

Posted on May 21, 2024 | Updated on June 11, 2024

In business, finding people interested in what you’re selling isn’t easy and doesn’t happen as quickly as you might think. Sometimes, even when someone is almost ready to buy, they may change their minds. These actions leave business leaders wondering what more they can do to gain their business. 

However, the opportunity isn’t lost — it’s a chance to turn someone curious about your product into a real buyer. If someone has engaged with your brand, they may still be interested. That’s where the marketing team steps in. They can identify these people as marketing qualified leads (MQLs), making them more likely to become customers. 

Whether it’s through showing them ads or sending emails, it’s important to know who these qualified leads are so you can turn them into happy customers. This way, your business can grow by ensuring you focus on the right people.

What Are MQLs?

A marketing-qualified lead is someone who has shown more than a casual interest in your product or service. They engaged with your marketing efforts in a way that indicates they’re more likely to buy than other leads. This could be through actions like downloading a guide, signing up for a webinar or frequently visiting your site. Marketers identify MQLs based on a set of specific criteria. This way, the marketing time knows they’re ready for more direct sales attention. 

What Are Examples of MQLs?

Identifying an MQL involves looking for behaviors and engagement patterns that suggest a higher interest in your offerings. These indicators help you differentiate MQLs from general leads, pointing out those more inclined to purchase.

Examples of such behaviors include:

  • Downloading detailed guides or reports from your website.
  • Signing up for workshops related to your product or service.
  • Filling out forms to receive more information.
  • Repeated visits to product or pricing pages.
  • Engagement with emails through opens and clicks.
  • Using a contact form to ask specific questions about your services.

These actions show that someone is more interested in your brand, making them prime candidates for further nurturing through the sales team.

Steps to Defining MQLs

Before determining who qualifies as a marketing lead, you must understand what an MQL means in your business. Then, sales and marketing must agree on these criteria to ensure they collaborate properly to maximize results.

1. Identify Key Behaviors and Interactions

The first step to defining an MQL is refining the behaviors and interactions that signal a marketing-qualified lead. Start by looking at the customer journey and look for actions that indicate a strong interest. This could be signing up for premium content or adding a product to a cart. 

2. Define Lead Segmentation

Segmenting your leads is crucial in tailoring your marketing approach to different groups. Doing so is a great starting point for defining your MQLs and the best way to gain their interest. When segmenting leads, consider factors like demographics, behavior and engagement level. This ensures personalized communication, increasing your chances of converting leads into customers. 

3. Align Marketing and Sales Teams

Marketing and sales teams must agree on what qualifies as an MQL so there can be a smooth transition from lead generation to closing sales. Otherwise, a lack of a defined agreement can lead to missed opportunities. Marketing could lead to sales that aren’t ready to buy, resulting in wasted time and frustration. 

Ensure marketing and sales align by getting both teams to agree on a scoring system or a set of qualifications. Then, have regular discussions to review the criteria and adjust based on performance and feedback.

4. Set Scoring Criteria

Scoring criteria are essential for quantifying the assessment of a potential lead. This method involves tying numerical values to specific actions so marketers can prioritize those most interested. Implementing this system benefits sales teams so they can focus on customers who are more likely to convert. 

Once you’ve determined which actions indicate strong interest, you can assign points to each action. Then, you should decide on a point threshold that a lead must reach for you to consider an MQL.

5. Analyze and Refine

According to a Gartner survey, only 34% of MQLs convert to a sales-accepted lead. If your conversions are low, try to revisit the performance of your MQL criteria to improve lead quality and conversion rates. This is so you can identify leads more accurately and adjust the requirements to reflect the leads’ characteristics better. 

This involves regularly reviewing your conversion success of MQLs and soliciting feedback from the sales team. That way, you can make adjustments and choose leads with more potential to become customers. 

How the Marketing Qualified Lead Process Works

Marking a lead as an MQL starts with tracking and analyzing potential customer interactions. You can use various lead generation tools like Hubspot to keep track of all customer engagements. As individuals engage with multiple marketing materials, you score their actions based on the set criteria. When the scoring system meets or exceeds the set threshold, this is where a marketer can classify them as an MQL. 

The marketing team then passes the MQL onto the sales team for more direct outreach. The sales team will use personalized messaging to nurture the lead and adjust their approach to lead them toward a purchase.

Tips for Qualifying MQLs

Qualifying MQLs thoroughly is critical for optimizing the sales process. Use the following tips to enhance your qualifications.

Implement a Comprehensive Lead Scoring System

Consider assigning numerical values to various actions, including website engagement, content downloads and social media interaction. When you list different activities for lead scoring, you can better determine which leads are more engaged and likely to convert. This system should also factor in demographic data and behavioral indicators to prioritize leads effectively.

Use Lead Nurturing Campaigns

Lead nurturing further engages MQLs by providing them with valuable information. Through targeted emails and personalized content, you can keep your brand top-of-mind. Approximately 63% of surveyed marketers have seen an increase in conversions through personalization. That’s because this approach ensures you warm leads up adequately before handing them over to the sales team.

Get Feedback from Customers

Soliciting feedback from customers who have completed the sales cycle can provide insights into the performance of your MQL qualification process. This will help you identify strengths and areas for improvement in your lead nurturing and qualification strategies. This allows continuous refinement and ensures your criteria align with a lead’s characteristics.

Identifying MQLs for Small-Business Success

When you identify MQLs the right way, you increase the success of your sales and marketing efforts. However, the MQL process requires various methods to ensure you streamline it for efficiency. This aims to build a seamless journey, ensuring you give every lead the opportunity to become a valued customer.

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