9 Ways to Identify a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)

What is a marketing qualified lead sticky notes

Marketing Qualified Lead

In the dynamic world of marketing and sales, understanding and identifying your potential customers is the key to success. Among the various types of leads that businesses encounter, marketing qualified leads (MQLs) play a pivotal role. But what exactly is a marketing qualified lead? And why is it so essential to identify them? Let’s unravel the answers.

Key Takeaways

  • A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a lead that is more likely to turn into a paying customer, exhibited by a higher level of engagement with a brand or specific activity, unlike leads that are only browsing.
  • Identifying MQLs is crucial for businesses because it allows marketing and sales teams to prioritize efforts, focus on high-quality leads, optimize resources, and tailor follow-up actions for improved lead nurturing and increased conversion likelihood.
  • Key identifiers for MQLs include actions such as downloading trial software or free ebooks, using software demos, filling out online forms, and other engagements that indicate a strong interest in the company’s products or services, which can be quantified through lead scoring.

What is a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)?

Marketing Qualified Leads Pipeline

In the marketing and sales industry, leads refer to potential customers who have expressed some interest in your products or services. However, not all leads are created equal. Some leads may just be browsing, while others are ready to make a purchase. This is where the concept of a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) comes into play. An MQL is a lead that the marketing team considers more likely to evolve into a paying customer compared to other leads. They display specific criteria that indicate their potential to become paying customers, such as a particular level of engagement with the brand or activity on your web pages. By analyzing marketing qualified lead actions, the marketing team can better identify and prioritize these valuable MQLs.

Understanding the level of engagement plays a significant role in the journey of a lead through the sales funnel. A lead’s engagement level refers to the degree of active interaction they have with a brand, including metrics such as email open rates and link click-throughs. However, filtering out false positives – leads that exhibit certain actions that may resemble genuine interest but do not actually signify a desire to become a customer – becomes necessary.

Why does Identifying a Marketing Qualified Lead Matter?

Increase Sales with Marketing Qualified Leads

Having grasped what an MQL is, understanding why their identification matters is just as significant. The identification of MQLs is of utmost importance for businesses as it allows sales and marketing teams to:

  • prioritize their efforts
  • focus on high quality leads
  • optimize resources
  • target the right leads for follow-up actions.

Also, recognizing MQLs can improve lead nurturing. By understanding which leads are more likely to convert, businesses can tailor their marketing strategies, providing customized content and offers that are more likely to resonate with these leads. This results in an increased likelihood of conversion and ultimately, the acquisition of prospective customers.

How To Identify Marketing Qualified Leads

Sales Team Discussing MQLs

Identifying MQLs is a multi-faceted process that involves analyzing demographic information, behavioral data, and engagement levels. The analysis of demographic information, for example, can help identify common characteristics of the target audience and examine their purchasing behaviors, providing valuable insights into the lead’s interests and needs. Behavioral data, on the other hand, including buyer journeys, existing customer behaviors, and engagement on social media, can be used to optimize the sales process and improve lead conversion rates.

One critical tool in identifying MQLs is lead scoring, a methodology that assigns a value or score to each lead based on their demographics and interactions with your business. This systematic way of evaluating leads allows marketing teams to identify MQLs more efficiently.

Also, collaboration between marketing and sales teams is key in this process as it ensures that the criteria used in lead scoring align with the sales team’s expertise and understanding. This enhances the quality and readiness of leads before they are passed on to the sales department.

Examples of Marketing Qualified Leads

After discussing the theoretical aspects of MQLs, it’s time to look at some practical examples. MQLs can be identified through a variety of actions, from downloading trial software to engaging with ads or marketing materials. Each of these actions signifies a different level of engagement and interest in a company’s offerings, helping marketers identify high-quality leads.

Now, we will examine some common actions that potential customers with a specific job title may take which would qualify them as MQLs.

1. Downloading trial software or free ebook

The act of downloading trial software or free ebooks is a strong indicator of a lead’s interest in a product or service. It signifies their readiness to engage with the brand, their potential as a qualified lead, and their inclination to explore the product or service. Various factors can influence a lead to download trial software or free ebooks, including:

  • Personality
  • Desires
  • Necessity

Businesses can attract more MQLs by:

  • Improving the download process
  • Utilizing social media marketing
  • Offering gated content like eBooks, free trial offers, and whitepapers
  • Providing additional incentives

Companies have found success by offering trial versions of their software for download and utilizing free ebooks as downloadable assets to identify MQLs.

2. Using software demos

Software Demo for MQLs

Utilizing a software demo is another way leads can show their interest in a product. It provides insight into the value, benefits, and uses of the product for potential leads, and shows an active interest in exploring the product’s features. Businesses can monitor user behavior and set qualification thresholds to understand the level of interest and engagement of the lead, enabling more targeted and personalized follow-up.

Monitoring metrics such as attendance, engagement, and conversion rates can give businesses a comprehensive understanding of the lead’s interest and interaction with the product. Interestingly, the use of software demos has been found to be associated with higher conversion rates, with potential increases of up to 85%.

3. Filling Out Online forms

Completing an online form, such as registering for a webinar, newsletter, or email subscription, is another strong indication of an MQL. It signifies the lead’s willingness to share their information and actively engage with the company. Through these forms, businesses can gather a wide range of information from potential customers, including:

  • Personal data
  • Engagement data
  • Behavioral data
  • Attitudinal data

4. Submitting an email address for a newsletter or mailing list

Subscribing to a newsletter or mailing list is another action that could indicate an MQL. It signifies an interest in maintaining a connection with the company and potentially transitioning into a paying customer. It also reflects a lead’s interest in receiving notifications about sales, promo codes, or coupons from the company.

Businesses can optimize the use of newsletters or mailing lists by offering valuable content, personalized offers, and targeted messaging to their subscribers.

5. Favoriting items or adding items to a wishlist

Favoriting items or adding them to a wishlist is another way leads can show their interest in specific products or services. Such actions signify a significant level of interest, and by monitoring and evaluating these actions, marketers can pinpoint potential leads with a higher probability of becoming customers.

Following such behavior, marketers can segment the leads and respond promptly, nurturing them with valuable content.

6. Adding items to the shopping cart

Added to Cart and Checkout

Adding items to a shopping cart signifies a lead’s interest in making a purchase and their engagement with the company’s products, potentially qualifying them as an MQL. Businesses can motivate potential customers to finalize their purchase by suggesting related items, offering time-sensitive promotions, and providing comprehensive product information.

However, comprehending why some leads might add products to their cart but not complete the purchase becomes necessary. By tracking shopping cart behaviors, marketers can better understand their leads and improve their conversion rates.

7. Repeating site visits or spending a lot of time on your site

Repeated site visits or prolonged periods of time spent on the website are indicative of a potential MQL. These behaviors demonstrate sustained interest in the company and its products or services.

Tracking tools can quantify the duration leads spend on a website, providing valuable insights into the lead’s interest and interaction with the product.

8. Clicking on an ad to find your site

Click rates on ads can serve as an indicator of an MQL, reflecting the degree of engagement and interest from the audience. Higher click rates indicate resonance with the target audience and the attraction of potential leads. By monitoring metrics such as:

  • click-through rate (CTR)
  • bounce rate
  • session time
  • customer engagement
  • conversion rate

Businesses can gain a comprehensive understanding of their leads’ behaviors.

The most effective advertisements for attracting MQLs include pay-per-click ads (PPC), email marketing, performance content marketing, content marketing, webinars, and video advertising as part of their marketing efforts.

9. Contacting you to request more information

When a lead contacts a company for more information, it indicates their proactive interest in the company’s offerings and a tendency towards becoming a paying customer. Leads can contact a company through a variety of channels such as:

  • social media
  • email
  • traditional mail
  • phone calls
  • text messaging
  • instant messaging
  • VoIP
  • video calls

Typically, MQLs commonly seek details about the company’s products or services, inquire about sales terms, request emails, ask for product demos, or any other information that aids them in making purchasing decisions.

Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) vs. Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)

After gaining a comprehensive understanding of MQLs, it’s vital to differentiate them from Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). While MQLs represent leads that have expressed interest in a product or service but require additional nurturing, SQLs denote leads that have been evaluated by marketing and are prepared for a more direct sales discussion. The distinction between MQLs and SQLs is made based on their level of engagement and the nature of conversions they have carried out.

Differentiating between MQL and SQL is a fundamental step in the lead hand-off process, guaranteeing a smooth transition and an efficient follow-up by the sales team.


In conclusion, understanding and identifying Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) is an integral part of an effective sales and marketing strategy. MQLs represent potential customers who have shown a significant level of interest in your products or services but are not yet ready to make a purchase. Identifying these leads allows businesses to focus their marketing efforts, nurture these leads effectively, and ultimately increase their conversion rates.