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Marketing Automation: What is an MQL?

Posted by Ash Chandler on 02-Jun-2017 15:00:00

Firstly, what is an MQL in this world of acronyms and abbreviations? Well, it’s a marketing qualified lead.

This status is used in lifecycle marketing and the defined stages related to the concept of mapping and aligning marketing and sales efforts to different stages of a buyer journey.

A simple lifecycle can be stated as such: anonymous > MCL > MEL > MQL > SQL > SRL > customer

The lifecycle is traditionally linked to the sales funnel stages: Awareness > Consideration > Decision > Sale

An MQL is the final output of all marketing plans, campaigns and activities – it’s the hard-earned leads that have been generated from months and possibly years of marketing effort.


Why is the MQL status needed?

As a seasoned marketing professional, you may already know what an MQL is. However, the key part of this process is actually quantifying what criteria an MQL should be defined by. There are two reasons for this:

  • From a marketing perspective, you need an agreed line that a lead crosses over to instigate the handover to sales at the right point in the buyer’s journey. Equally, marketing need to define what success looks like to show they are delivering the right leads to the business.
  • From a sales perspective, the sales team need to know that they are receiving quality leads that are ready to engage in a sales conversation. They do not want to spend time pushing leads down the sales funnel or talking to tyre kickers who are looking for information on solutions or products but have not decided that they want to buy yet.

How do you get to this holy grail of the perfect MQL?

Well firstly, there is no such thing as a perfect MQL. What constitutes a good quality, qualified lead can shift and change in time depending on numerous factors. But there are a few things that you can do that can make sure that the leads marketing generate are what the business needs.

  • Talk, talk, talk. Both marketing and sales need to talk to each other to define what a good lead looks like. 
  1. What job roles do sales get the most traction with?
  2. What information do sales need to know about the lead to make the conversation valuable?
  3. What marketing intelligence needs to be passed over with the lead to enhance the chances of closing that deal?

  • Marketing need to align with the targets and strategy of the business.
  1. What markets does the business operate in or target its products/services to?
  2. Are there any new markets that the business wants to enter into?
  3. Which businesses and job roles do marketing need to talk to within these target industries?

  • Analyse sales conversion data and profitable customers to define propensity to buy. This will allow you to do a few things.
  1. Define leads that will likely become the best customers once they convert, to prioritise them over other leads. They could be fast tracked to sales or marketed to in a more personalised way to convert them to MQLs more efficiently.
  2. Define quick-win leads that are likely to convert to a sale faster to support the sales process.

  • Map out key buying signals that can be identified throughout marketing channels to highlight when leads are showing a readiness to have a sales conversation. This can be completed by analysing the last attribution point from marketing before sales took over the conversation and closed the deal. There are multiple different touchpoints but a few are as follows:
  1. Downloads of decision-level pieces of content such as pricing guides or more detailed product or service information.
  2. Visits to key webpages such as the contact page or pricing pages. Even multiple visits to certain product pages or information resources can define an MQL.
  3. Calls on the inbound telephone number or direct emails to request further information.
  4. Contacts from target organisations that interact with marketing activities.


All of the above will ensure that the marketing department and associated efforts are seen as productive, responsive and delivering value to the sales team and the wider business at the same time.


To find out more about the role marketing automation can play in your lead generation activity, and to delve deeper into the intricacies of the technology…

Check out our marketing automation page now...

Topics: B2B Marketing Automation, Marketing Automation, Automated Marketing, marketing automation mql