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Quantity over quality! As marketing automation software and CRM have more influence on how we approach marketing, sales and marketing teams have started talking more about the concept of “marketing-qualified leads” (MQLs). It’s an important topic in modern marketing, but even some otherwise well-informed demand gen teams get confused when it comes to this. A form fill is not an MQL. Even someone who fits the ideal customer profile for industry, function, and title may not be an MQL. An MQL needs to fit all the proper segmentation criteria and, more importantly, show a level of engagement that indicates genuine interest in your product. So how do you measure this and what do you do with MQLs? Let’s dive in:

Modern consumers are increasingly self-educating. They do not want to be cold-called by sales too early, or find themselves pressured to make a decision before they are ready. By qualifying leads before your sales team engages with them, us marketers can put our teams in the best position to actually close a sale. That means less time wasted pursuing prospects that are not interested or in the right stage in the buying funnel for your sales team, allowing them to focus their efforts on the prospects most likely to actually convert to customers.

It’s almost impossible to know with certainty how much of an analyst report, white paper, product datasheet, or customer case study a prospect reads after they download it. However, webinars are unique among marketing tactics in that they show exactly how long someone engaged with your content. For example, many webinar platforms provide added intelligence on poll and survey responses, resources downloaded, questions asked, and other in-event interactions. All this data can be used to show sales that the lead is indeed ready to be contacted, see a live demo, or have a conversation about their specific use case or unique implementation. That should be the standard for what makes a strong MQL.

But what about leads that aren’t qualified? When someone signs up for a webinar but does not pass the engagement threshold that would make them an MQL, it doesn’t mean that we should not follow up. It just means that Sales probably shouldn’t follow up… yet! There could be any number of reasons why a likely prospect did not engage with the webinar as much as we would have liked. They could have been distracted, called away to another meeting, or not as interested in this particular event as they are in your product offering or company as a whole. After the webinar, while the MQLs get sent to Sales, we can enroll the unqualified leads in an automated nurturing campaign designed to identify the most likely prospects, serving them the right content at the right time based on where they are in their customer journey. By inviting them to attend future webinars and sharing other content that you think they might find valuable, you can keep them engaged and give yourself another chance to win them over.

The difference between a marketing-qualified lead and a marketing-engaged lead is depth and breadth of touches with our content. By focusing on tools, like webinars that maximize those touches, and designing nurturing campaigns to keep prospects engaged, we can be sure to keep the sales pipeline full of MQLs! The important thing to remember is our job isn’t to give Sales a very long list of email addresses. Our job is to nurture, score, and qualify leads so that our

Have we whet your MQL and lead scoring appetite? Check out our latest white paper, Lead Intelligence: A Better Model for Lead Scoring.