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How to Use HubSpot to Define Marketing Qualified Leads

July 1, 2015

By Andrew Macey

iStock_000024980012_MediumMost inbound campaigns stem from the common goal of lead generation.  Often, it is not just a sheer number of leads that are needed, but a certain amount of qualified, sales-ready leads that can be worked immediately.  The less time sales spends talking to unqualified leads that are not yet ready to purchase, the more time they can spend selling to the right audience.  This being the case, lead qualification plays an important role in the integration of sales and marketing.  Defining and segmenting leads based on whether they are marketing qualified or sales qualified will increase sales efficiency and also gain more traction from nurturing workflows and email campaigns.  For marketers, having a clear definition of marketing qualified leads will significantly help reporting as well. 

To help in this situation, HubSpot has made it very easy to define and segment marketing qualified leads.  Here are 4 ways to do so:

Using Lifecycle Stages 

First and foremost, HubSpot allows users to mark contacts as certain lifecycle stages.  One of these in particular is MQL.  If leads are being manually followed up with or assessed individually, utilizing this lifecycle stage in the contact record will be very useful.  Additionally, these lifecycle stages can be used for further segmentation as well as inclusion lists when syncing these new leads with Salesforce.

Create Lists based on Important Criteria 

HubSpot’s smartlist functionality is great for defining marketing qualified leads based on contact data.  For example, if certain job titles are more of an “influencer” role in the sales process, they might not yet be sales qualified.  In this case, we can create lists based on criteria that disqualifies them as an SQL and therefore keeps them as marketing qualified.  Additionally, these lists can include website behavior, email opens, event triggers and workflow membership, all of which can help when defining leads as MQLs.

Lead Scoring 

Similar to smartlists, marketers can score leads based on contact information and behavior data.  Using lead scoring, you can assign values and points to contacts both by adding or subtracting from the overall score.  This score can determine when a lead is marketing qualified and when it should be held off from moving to sales.

Dig into Analytics

Along with utilizing the segmentation and qualification tools, HubSpot’s analytics can be extremely helpful in defining marketing qualified leads.  By definition, MQLs are not sales ready.  Therefore, they do not often close as customers and usually spend a lot of time in the sales process.  If you have your CRM integrated or at least manually close customers in HubSpot, you can look back at those recently closed leads and determine what criteria led to them becoming a customer.  Identifying what made those leads sales qualified will in turn allow us to define a MQL as a lead that does not fit those criteria.  Knowing which leads are ready for sales will essentially disqualify others.  These will be marked as marketing qualified leads.

To effectively score leads and define them accurately as marketing qualified, it’s important that we are properly aligned with sales.  Constant communication with the sales team and discussion around the quality of these leads will help you as marketers refine these lists and improve this process.  The overall goal is to have a clear definition of marketing qualified leads so that they can be properly nurtured and followed-up with, eventually leading to sales qualified and finally customers.

What methods do you use internally as a way to define marketing qualified leads?  How has this affected your overall sales results?


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Topics: HubSpot, Inbound Marketing, Lead Conversion