By Amber Kemmis

what-is-a-marketing-qualified-leadDo you treat all leads equally? Are you measuring the success of your marketing based on how many leads you generate no matter who the leads are?  One more question . . . Does your sales team complain to you about the leads they get?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it is time you find out what a marketing qualified lead (MQL) really is. You may have heard of the term, but it can be simply defined as any lead that has a better chance of buying from you than other leads. According to the official web definition, a marketing qualified lead is “a lead [that] has been deemed worthy of hand off to sales.”

A marketing qualified lead is the kind of lead that sends sales into utopia when the profile crosses their desk.  However, what a marketing qualified lead is exactly will vary by company.

What Is Your Company’s Definition of a Marketing Qualified Lead?

To identify what a marketing qualified lead is for your company, you can use existing marketing analytics (if you have them) and information from sales to help you and your sales team find the definition of a marketing qualified lead.  It is important to gain insight from your sales team early in the process because what marketing thinks is qualified may differ significantly from what sales perceives as qualified.  For example, marketing may see a lead as qualified when they’ve downloaded three of your eBooks; however, sales sees that the lead isn’t a decision maker and immediately disregards.  Asking your sales team who their ideal prospect is will help you to identify your company’s marketing qualified leads.

What Attributes Can Sales & Marketing Utilize to Identify MQLs?

Although the attributes for an MQL will differ for each company, the following are some common identifiers or attributes of a marketing qualified lead, which can be identified by talking to sales and using marketing analytics:

  • Demographics: Characteristics like age, gender, ethnicity, employment status, marital status, income level, industry, company size, job title, or interests. Using lead intelligence forms on offers, you can gather many of the demographics needed to identify MQLs on your website.
  • Behavior: Another way to determine a marketing qualified lead is the level of activity that lead has with your company and website. To identify where a lead is at in the buying cycle and thus more qualified, you can review the type of content they downloaded.  For example, a lead that has downloaded a top-of-the-funnel offer like a how-to guide is likely just learning about their problem and not as qualified. However,  a lead that downloads a middle-of-the-funnel offer like a case study shows they are more qualified because they are interested in how your company has helped customers. In addition to content downloaded, you can also include other behaviors like email clicks, social engagement, views of your pricing or FAQ pages, and subscriptions.

Once you’ve identified what a marketing qualified lead is for your company, you should not set it and forget it. The definition will need updates as your company grows, but it is also likely to need more revisions early in the process as you work out any flaws.

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Amber Kemmis

About the author

Amber Kemmis is the VP of Client Services at SmartBug Media. Having a psychology background in the marketing world has its perks, especially with inbound marketing. My past studies in human behavior and psychology have led me to strongly believe that traditional ad marketing only turns prospects away, and advertising spend never puts the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Thus, resulting in wasted marketing efforts and investment. I'm determined to help each and every one of our clients attract and retain new customers in a delightful and helpful way that leads to sustainable revenue growth. Read more articles by Amber Kemmis.

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