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Everything You Need To Know About Generating MQL For SaaS Like A Pro

Published on May 16th, 2022

12 min read

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Not every website visitor will buy your product; some could be students learning about a topic you wrote about, job seekers, a competitor, or someone just browsing. But how do you differentiate between them? How do you understand who to sell to? Or when is a casual visitor more likely to turn into a qualified lead? In this post, we will be discussing what an MQL is, how you can identify one, and more.

What is an MQL?

When a prospect matches the target buyer’s persona and is deemed more likely to become a potential customer by the marketing team, that lead is a qualified marketing lead.

They demonstrate real potential to complete the conversion goals you have set. This is determined by checking what web pages were visited, what resources were downloaded, CTAs were clicked, and which social posts they interacted with. To understand this better, you need to have a clear picture of your target audience if your ideal customer is C-suite folks at SaaS startups, research students, or entry-level employees at any company who won’t qualify as MQLs for you.

MQLs aren’t just interested in buying your services or using your SaaS product. Still, they also can help you achieve your marketing goals – users, revenue, annual spend, customer lifetime value, etc.

Targeting and capturing more MQLs will help you concentrate your marketing efforts on leads with some conversion potential without wasting resources on customers who will never be going ahead with the purchase.

Marketing qualified lead criteria: How to qualify an MQL?

When a prospect or a lead demonstrates potential to complete the preset conversion goals, that is when you say that the lead in question has transitioned over to becoming an MQL, different businesses have different criteria to check whether a lead is an MQL or not.

It’s something vetted by the marketing or growth team. Post a thorough analysis. If they say that a particular lead is more likely to convert through a well-thought nurturing cycle, they will mark it as an MQL, and if the sales team feels the same way, MQL becomes a sales qualified lead (SQL). However, before defining a lead as an MQL, the marketing team needs to take care of 2 key components:

  • Ideal target audience: SaaS marketers need to have a clear picture of their buyer persona’s behavior. They need to jot down the characteristics your lead is more likely to have.
  • Marketing goals: You need a set of pre-assigned marketing goals you want the target audience to achieve, and your target audience’s goals will help you succeed.

Take, for example, Salesforce. Their target audience ranges from small-sized companies to enterprise-level ones. As for their marketing goals, their primary goal is to make revenue. However, they also want to maximize user numbers which they aim for by using free versions of their software. Also, now that they have reached a specific size, they need to prioritize annual revenue.

As for your SaaS and defining what an MQL is for your company, you need to have a good understanding of your target audience and a list of marketing goals they will help you achieve.

Pre-determined criteria to define the MQLs can help you ensure that only the highest quality leads are shared with the sales team. This, in turn, helps the marketing team determine the type of content they need to offer the audience to nurture them and push them through the funnel. But how can you accomplish that?

Tips to qualify an MQL

#1 Ensure that your marketing and sales teams are in sync

To identify whether a lead can be qualified as an MQL, the internal teams must be in sync – especially the marketing and sales teams. Additionally, cross-team coordination should also include the product and customer success teams. This is where recurring meetings to align the teams will play a prominent role.

#2 Define the incoming leads

The marketing and sales teams need to work together and define the incoming leads. To kick start the process, you need to have a buyer persona in place first and then try to answer the following questions:

  • What is the type of content you are sharing with your audience?
  • How do you label the audience interacting with different pieces of content?
  • What are the characteristics of an MQL for your SaaS business? (Their pain points, demographics, etc.)
#3 Create a proper Lead scoring system

Once you answer the questions mentioned in #2, you can create a lead grading system to semi-automate the qualifying process. For the sake of convenience, marketers use a two-step process:

  • Lead Scoring: It allows you to assign a numerical value (pre-defined) to each lead based on various action items they have performed, whether downloading a checklist, visiting a particular page, opening a targeted email, or clicking on a retargeting ad, etc. These scores increase or decrease along the buying process. For example, if a lead clicks on a discount offer link you shared in an email, they get 10 points. If they add it to the cart, they get 10 points, and if they abandon the cart midway, they get -10 points, taking their score to a 15 – making it easier for your marketing and sales teams to understand which lead they need to prioritize.
  • Lead qualification: It’s a yes/no system that allows you to measure the quality and value of leads based on the score they have attained and the data you have about their behavior on your website. It helps marketers separate MQLs from casual website visitors. Leads that pass this test are categorized as MQLs – you can now send nurturing campaigns.
#4 Ensure that your lead definitions are updated

As your business grows, you need to ensure that all your teams and processes are updated. It’s essential to revisit your lead definitions and update them as needed.

How can SaaS businesses get more MQLs?

#1 Segment your leads

As a marketer, you need a robust process to segment your leads according to their buyer’s journey and the funnel stage they are at. Based on the type of funnel you are using, website visitors can be categorized into the Awareness phase, Consideration, Acquisition, etc. You need to share a different piece of content with them at each stage, ranging from gated content to video tutorials to discount coupons. You should nudge them to move down the funnel towards the next step at each stage.=

#2 The free—model

One of the best and most effective strategies for getting more MQLs is by allowing users to try a freemium or free-trial version of your software. For SaaS businesses, freemium models work better. By allowing users to create a personal account, the team can attribute data to them, observe their behavior, and compare them against their preset MQL requirements. To know more about the freemium model and its effectiveness for SaaS businesses, check out this blog.

The best part is that it will help you get a larger volume of MQLs (which can turn into paying customers) who you can nurture over time by a preset automation process using tools like Activecampaign.

#3 Define clear MQL criteria and Nurture your leads

As mentioned earlier, you need to clearly define the characteristics of your MQL and then set up an automated process to move any incoming leads in that direction.

Assume that you have a project management software for which you have defined an MQL as the role of CEO/Founder/Manager, a company size of 40+, and within the SaaS industry. You then create a series of emails to push newsletter subscribers or anyone who has downloaded gated content (a case study of how your project management tool helped XYZ company enhance their productivity and time management) into signing up for your services. You can also add a direct personalized session for a product walkthrough.

#4 Share content based on where people are at in the funnel

“You need to share content designed to cater to each part of the funnel.” The content you share with your audience needs to vary based on what stage in the funnel they are at.

For example, a casual visitor to your blog or podcast will not request a quote or book a one-on-one session for a walkthrough of your SaaS product. People who download your checklist pdf or sign up for your monthly newsletter, if they are the right MQL, might move down the funnel.

#5 Create a proper nurture funnel with multiple touchpoints

To demonstrate your expertise and build trust within your audience, ensure that you have a pre-designed touchpoint plan or automation system with the proper flow that reaches out to the users through various channels at different stages. 

Additionally, you need to make sure that you aren’t sharing the same information repeatedly. Ensure that the content you share is relevant to where the contact is in your buying cycle. Touchpoints can include blog posts, emails, whitepapers, case studies, polls, etc.

#6 Pick a single channel and build that

To drive more MQLs, choose to focus on a single channel and own it. Also, Don’t be afraid to experiment with the channel you pick. Each channel has a different set of rules and tricks and various content pieces that work. Master one channel and own the traffic and qualified leads from it. Along with this, make sure that you tell people the action you want them to take next and guide them through the funnel.

#7 Add live chat on your website

This strategy is gold. Everyone loves having prompt solutions to their problems, and adding a live chat to your landing pages can help you achieve just that. It can also increase your conversion rates by 5-15%.

#8 Analyze each stage of your marketing funnel

Monitor and refine your marketing funnel as much as possible. Gather as much data as you can to understand your audience. Use clicky and Hotjar to get a clear picture of the pages your audience visits on your website. Above all, Google Analytics is the first tool you should use to understand your buyer persona better. Evaluate user activities at each stage of the funnel, and keep an eye out for points with the highest close rates.

Final Thoughts

For B2B SaaS companies, tracking MQLs and SQLs is crucial as it’s a way to visualize the critical steps in a customer’s journey. It helps them understand the content that performs the best at the top of the funnel, pain points, or queries of the prospects, and it can also help them understand at what point leads are the most likely to become an MQL and then a customer.

Of course, there are many strategies that you can implement to generate more MQLs, but these are the tried and tested ones that lead to FP SaaS success stories.

If you have tried a few and not gotten anywhere, we can help you. Speak to an FP Growth Advisory Expert now!

About the Author

Heebatullah

Technical Content Strategist and Inbound Analyst at FirstPrinciples, Heba is a motivated self-starter with a knack for analyzing and solving tough business problems. When not working, you can find her either reading a book, painting landscapes or sketching places she yearns to visit one day.

@Heebatullah

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