Depending on the type of qualification and stage in the sales cycle, various types of leads can be distinguished: among them, Marketing Qualified Leads are the first contacts who show interest in your offer. Here's who they are and how to identify them.
Not all lead are the same.
If you think about the path that leads a person to purchase one of your products or services, there are several stages they go through: first they sign up for your newsletter, then perhaps download a free pdf, up to and including asking you for specific information about the cost and use of your offering.
You may already be aware of this (or you may not): either way, it is clear that depending on the type of leads you want to get or the one you are targeting, your strategies and communication will change.
It is a process that helps your ability (and that of your people) to achieve the goals you set for yourself.
Also because, a lead is profitable the moment it shows that it has all the makings of a paying customer....
Do you agree?
That's why you should be able to identify and prioritize so-called Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs): leads that have already shown interest in you and are more likely to convert.
Have you ever heard of them?
In this article you will find out what an MQL is, why it is important to identify it, and how you can define it as such.
Marketing Qualified Lead: what is it?
Actually, it is a fairly simple concept: a Marketing Qualified Lead is a person who has shown an initial interest in you and what you are proposing to them.
Voluntarily interacting with your brand in a meaningful way, that is, taking an action that can take many forms: filling out a contact form, signing up for a newsletter, putting items in your shopping cart, click on an ad and display a web page, and so on.
All of these voluntary actions show that that person is open to the idea of making a purchase and has taken a first step in that direction-without yet materializing it, however.
He is a "promising" contact, who has been considering you and is curious about you, but without getting too close to an actual purchase. At the same time, he is more likely to be responsive and receptive to a sales pitch, for example, than someone else.
Marketing Qualified Lead: how to identify it?
That an MQL is a contact who has expressed interest in you we have already said.
It is also true, however, that the level of such demonstrated interest can vary widely (you also understand that signing up for a newsletter is different from putting products in a shopping cart).
That is why you should establish other criteria, beyond brand interactions, to qualify that lead; they may include specific demographics, or the type of online behavior or degree of engagement.
The first thing to do is to map the customer journey from the brand awareness to purchase. If you have already done so, revisit that map to ensure that it clearly defines each stage of the sales funnel.
From there, you have to consider relevant factors such as:
- Customer demographics;
- Buyer habits among your target audience;
- How MQLs interact with marketing resources;
- How do "non-MQLs" interact with marketing resources.
MQLs and "non-MQLs" will interact with marketing resources in very different ways.By analyzing these differences, you will be able to better understand what differentiates these two groups of potential customers.
MQLs are more likely to produce sales conversions because they are more receptive than typical leads. However, they have not yet become paying customers and should therefore only be offered solutions relevant to their problem.
After examining the behavior of MQLs and "non-MQLs," it is time to go deeper: this is the time when you should start considering other classification factors.
For example, you might decide that a Marketing Qualified Lead is a potential customer who has requested a quote online or filled out a contact form. Or, that it is one who has added items to an online shopping cart, clicked on a paid ad, or registered to receive e-mail notifications.
That said, when identifying and targeting MQLs, consider these suggestions as well:
Review historical data
Take a look at the sales data for the past year. What type of buying path did customers take? Are your results coming equally from all marketing channels or particularly from one of them?
After determining which sources are generating the best leads, you can further explore the effectiveness of each-and evaluate your strategy accordingly as well.
Ask customers for feedback
Not all MQLs will make a purchase (though more likely than others to do so): with this in mind, you should actively seek feedback from the very potential customers who do not.
For example, suppose a customer present in your mailing list add a new item to the cart and abandon it. Since you already have a relationship with him, you could contact him and remind him of what he left undone, but you could also ask why he decided not to complete the purchase.
Gathering feedback will help you strengthen future marketing campaigns and refine your qualification criteria.
Over time, your criteria for identifying a qualified marketing lead should (possibly) evolve: to make sure they are as relevant as possible, always try to understand what the trends are among your target audience.
Review the data and buying habits among successful leads, find out what factors these people have in common so you can optimize your next marketing campaign and further increase conversion rates.
Identifies a competitive advantage
Understanding your market positioning is critical, not only to use Marketing Qualified Leads to your advantage, but also to achieve your sales goals.
Which value proposition can you offer customers? Why should they choose your product over those provided by your competitors?
Determine how you are different and use that to gain an edge in your content marketing to achieve a higher lead conversion rate.
Marketing Qualified Lead: what it is NOT
According to the definition we have given, an MQL is neither just a lead nor a guaranteed customer.
Let's say you should neither overestimate nor underestimate it.
Qualified marketing leads are simply those who have indicated some level of interest or involvement with your business and may be open to further information. If they go further and show that they are actually ready to make a purchase, then they have already taken the next step (which we will discuss in a moment).
Consequently, we can say that an MQL is not a guarantee of a sale, in the sense that you should not assume that it will turn into an actual customer, proceeding along the channeling until it reaches that status.
This is important to understand because if a lead is clearly not ready to make a purchase and you approach them as if they were, you risk scaring them away and driving them away altogether.
On the other hand, it is not even a "common" or "regular" lead: a Marketing Qualified Lead is not just passively observing you, but has engaged in a behavior designed to satisfy his curiosity. This means that he not only knows you exist, but is already directing some of his attention to you.
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) vs. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
If you are involved enough and know enough about lead generation, you may have yet encountered this other acronym: SQL, which stands for Sales Qualified Lead.
Let's start by quickly saying what it is: a Sales Qualified Lead (translated sales-qualified lead) is a contact who has expressed a genuine interest in your product or taken an action that explicitly indicates this; he or she is therefore one step closer to becoming a paying customer.
Now, I can imagine your thinking: how is it therefore different from an MQL?
I'll explain it right away.
An MQL is "curious," has shown interest in your marketing efforts and could potentially make a purchase, yet is not yet ready to do so.
A SQL is a potential customer who has shown a higher likelihood of conversion and meets specific criteria related to the likelihood of purchase, so he or she is in the right moment to do it for real.
Thus, the main difference between the two is the perceived willingness to make a purchase: it has to do with where each potential customer is in the sales funnel based on his or her level of interest.
Within the sales funnel, an MQL comes before an SQL and requires more attention to be converted into a sales opportunity: if properly "nurtured" through targeted marketing efforts, it will become an SQL.
Whether it is free content, a social media post, a webinar, a Web page, an article in the blog, a podcast or an ad, marketing has many potential touch points with various leads, potential customers and target audience members before anyone else in your company.
The resulting engagement data (and contact information) is vital to the success of your business because it allows you to efficiently sift through those prospects to identify the highest quality leads.
Once marketing has identified MQLs, you can send them to your sales team, which in turn performs its own qualification process and extracts the highest-level prospects.
This not only saves time, but also ensures that marketing and sales are aligned on who your buyers are, what kind of marketing content respects the right prospects for your business, and more.
Which can only contribute to your success.
How about you? Have you identified your Marketing Qualified Leads yet?
Let me know in the comments!