For most business owners, growing revenue is a top priority. To increase revenue, you need leads. But not any ol’ leads will do. Sales growth requires a steady stream of marketing qualified leads (MQLs). MQLs are warm leads from people who have shown an interest in your offering. Leads from people who have engaged with your brand in some way are more likely to become a customer. These MQLs can come from organic marketing and paid ads.
What adds the ‘Q’ in Marketing Qualified Leads?
The primary goal of your marketing efforts is to increase the number of people that engage with your brand in a way that qualifies them. Your potential buyers signal interest through their interaction with your brand. You have a marketing qualified lead if the prospect:
- Downloaded free or paid content
- Signed up to your mailing list
- Clicked on a sponsored ad
- Completed a web contact form
- Repeatedly visited your website
- Attended a free or paid webinar
The list is not extensive, but it gives you an idea of the sort of actions that you want an ideal buyer to take as part of qualifying them.
The better you qualify your leads, the less time you will waste on people who will never buy from you.
Other actions like engaging with your social content and following your social pages could turn a prospect into an MQL. But sometimes, people follow you and engage with social media content to support you/your brand. It’s often not a signal that they will buy now, soon or in the future. So, while getting more followers is great, I class these leads as a lower quality to MQL. To convert them to MQL, you should aim to get your brand’s followers to give more significant signals, such as downloading an eBook or attending one of your free webinars.
Where have all the MQLs gone?
Historically, marketers have found it notoriously difficult to link their efforts to sales activities. What is new is the accelerated growth of sales activities on digital platforms, posing an opportunity for marketers to deliver more marketing qualified leads. Gartner’s recent report on The Future of Sales notes that 80% of sales will be on digital platforms by 2025 as research shows a shift from in-person sales to digital channels. So, if you aren’t getting many MQLs, your time to shine is now. Or, at least, your time is coming.
Closing in on MQLs requires a focus on where your buyers hang out. If your prospects are going to download content or attend one of your webinars, you must meet them where they are. For B2B buyers, the typical hang out spots are:
LinkedIn is the world’s largest online professional network. By showing your unique professional story through experience, talents, and education, a complete LinkedIn profile can help you connect with prospects.
Virtual events are especially beneficial to B2B marketers at the ‘evaluation stage’ of the Sales Funnel. Other notable benefits include scalability and reach, which let B2B marketers cater to a worldwide audience and produce as inclusive or exclusive an event as required.
Face-to-face contact at conferences, trade exhibitions, and seminars is part of this promotional strategy. Every event is distinct in terms of its target audience, content, and culture.
Browsing Google/Bing etc
You need to start thinking outside the box for keywords and regularly check search query reports.
Specific-interest business communities
Covid-19 has accelerated this trend of getting customers together online to talk about a subject they care about. It has triggered even more companies doing it, also at a very early stage.
These establishments are created specifically for professionals to advance their careers, meet like-minded people and get first access to new projects in the industry. Industry bodies usually have a membership e.g. Chartered Institute of Marketing and Oil & Gas UK.
These are the most common places to find your prospects, but you must research to verify and potentially add to the list.
Tips on increasing MQLs
One of the main benefits of developing MQLs is that it makes sales easier. While MQLs are not a guarantee of a deal, they signal a willingness to find out more, a curious browser. A list of MQLs gives the sales team an increased chance of landing a sale. The more relevant and timelier your marketing content is, the higher the chance an MQL will become highly interested and turn into a qualified sales lead.
Here are a few ways to increase MQLs in your business:
Solve a clear problem
Having content that helps your lead will make it easier for your sales team to connect with them on the exact services you could provide.
Publish evergreen content
This is search-optimised content that stays relevant for readers over a long period.
Provide information for every part of the buyers’ journey
Understand your buyer persona and their journey so you can generate content that assists them along the way while also portraying you as an authority in your field.
Give people a reason to stick around your website/socials/emails
Continue to push out information that your buyer persona can relate to, and remember, don’t be afraid to go personal.
Go beyond being a source of information by helping prospects make sense of information
You may be speaking to people who may be unfamiliar with your industry terminology or internal acronyms. It’s in your best interests to avoid using words that will cause them to become confused.
Encourage prospects to get in touch and ask questions
Asking questions is an excellent approach to start a conversation, engage others, and build a sense of community. It will make it simple for prospects to express themselves.
Marketing has a clear place in helping sales teams get more leads and increasing conversion rates. With sales conversations moving to digital platforms and only 17% of the entire purchase journey spent with a salesperson, MQLs have never been more crucial to the sales process.