Learn B2B SaaS Marketing

    What is a MQL in B2B SaaS Marketing?

    Last updated: May 16th, 2024

    Any seasoned marketer will be familiar with the term MQL. However, in the B2B SaaS niche, this lead type is often not properly defined and not given enough priority.

    So, it’s time to take this right back to basics and define what is a MQL and its importance in B2B SaaS. We’ll also explain how to correctly qualify MQLs and nurture them the whole way through your marketing funnel.

    Let’s start by unpacking the MQL meaning.

    What is a MQL?

    Quite simply, a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a lead that the marketing team has identified as having a high interest in your product, based on the online behaviors and actions displayed. Leads showing significant interest are worth nurturing to move them closer to becoming paying customers.

    MQL and SQL: What’s the Difference?

    Where the MQL shows a high interest in your product, a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) displays behaviors that show an intent to buy. SQLs are considered to be further along the sales funnel than MQLs.

    Importance of MQLs for B2B SaaS

    Even though MQLs aren’t ready to buy yet, that doesn’t mean they are unimportant. In fact, MQLs are a highly valuable part of the SaaS sales pipeline. Without MQLs filtering down, you won’t get the sales you desire.

    Provide Valuable Customer Data

    In the SaaS industry, the customer data collected on leads is invaluable. This includes all the details you collect while figuring out who’s just browsing and who’s an MQL.

    The information collected helps you to accurately segment your audience for marketing purposes, and there is a ton of insight to be gained from online behavior. For example, you can identify the content and offers that are most engaging for visitors, if they are attending your webinars or subscribing to your podcast, and other engagement patterns.

    This data and any feedback provided are essential to analyzing and optimizing the sales funnel. You can identify if there are bottlenecks or other issues that are causing problems along the sales journey so you can make the necessary improvements.

    Help to Align Sales and Marketing

    MQLs have a way of bringing your sales and marketing teams together. When the marketing team hands over a lead to the sales team, it encourages collaboration and breaks down barriers between the two departments.

    And we know that when sales and marketing work well together – great things happen. One study done by Marketo found that when sales and marketing teams are well aligned, companies are 67% better at closing deals.

    Allows You to Focus Resources on Quality Leads

    Identifying MQLs allows you to invest marketing resources where they will be most beneficial, rather than investing time and money on leads who are unlikely to convert in the future. This improves your marketing ROI and CAC overall, two very important metrics.

    Correct Processes Lead to Improved Conversion Rates

    Correctly nurturing MQLs at this seemingly early stage in the sales pipeline ensures they maintain an interest in your product while moving them further down the sales funnel. Overall, happy MQLs lead to an improvement in conversion rates.

    Where Most SaaS Companies Go Wrong with MQLs

    Most SaaS companies simply don’t take MQLs seriously enough. They usually look at MQLs as a numbers game or a vanity metric where gaining contact info is the end goal, but this misses the mark. The real endgame is conversion – turning those leads into paying customers. This means the journey doesn’t stop at marketing; it includes a smooth handover to sales, transforming MQLs into SQLs.

    Identifying and Qualifying MQLs

    To get your marketing funnel working correctly, you need to walk your leads through the steps to conversion. This starts with identifying and qualifying MQLs. Get this right, and it all works smoothly; get it wrong, and you’ll spend time and money nurturing the wrong leads who are unlikely to convert.

    Pinpoint Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

    ICP is the lead who will benefit the most from your product and is most likely to convert. They will typically be naturally drawn to your product. Those that fit the ICP will often display more interest in the product, which is also how we define an MQL. An ICP is, therefore, the primary target of your marketing efforts.

    Establish Lead Scoring Criteria and an Indicator for Handover to Sales

    Lead scoring criteria should consider which behaviors or actions are more likely to result in a conversion. This can be identified by looking at historical data from past customer actions.

    Working in collaboration with your sales team, you can establish a point-based system for all the factors leading to a conversion. This includes whether the lead meets your ICP and displays the behaviors of a lead who’s ready to convert.

    At some point, you also need to establish when the cutoff point for an MQL should be so it can be passed on to the sales team.

    Implement and Segment

    Once both sales and marketing are satisfied with the lead scoring criteria, you can implement the lead scoring process. Segment your leads correctly and target them with the content and lead magnets that meet their intent.


    Nurturing MQLs Correctly

    Correctly targeting MQLs and nurturing their journey is crucial to reducing churn and having more successful conversions. Content that meets intent should have its foundations firmly rooted in the buyer awareness matrix.

    Buyer awareness

    In addition to developing attractive content, establishing email marketing automation is both a time-saver and an efficient way to distribute personalized email copy to your segments.

    Key Metrics for Measuring MQL Performance

    When it comes to monitoring and measuring marketing effectiveness, these are the most crucial metrics to track:

    • Engagement metrics: Engagement metrics like email opens, content downloads, and event participation indicate interest in the product and are easy to track.
    • MQL conversion rate: This looks at the rate at which site visitors become qualified MQLs and will tell you how effective your lead scoring and marketing efforts are.
    • MQL to SQL conversion rate: This is the ratio of MQLs that move successfully to SQLs. This metric can tell you how effective your lead nurturing is.
    • Cost for acquisition: This is an important budgetary metric that is interlinked to how effective your marketing efforts are. It tells you the cost of acquiring each MQL and helps you stay within budget.

    Wrapping Up

    Now that you know the significance of MQLs in B2B SaaS, you can start to identify and qualify MQLs to develop and implement an effective lead scoring system.

    Naturally, the correct qualification of leads is intrinsically linked to overall business growth. MQLs move on to become SQLs, and successful sales processes result in paying customers. But, if you want to get an idea of where your business sits against the competition and how scalable it is currently – try our SaaS scalability score self-assessment.

    What you should do now

    Whenever you’re ready…here are 4 ways we can help you grow your B2B software or technology business:

    1. Claim your Free Marketing Plan. If you’d like to work with us to turn your website into your best demo and trial acquisition platform, claim your FREE Marketing Plan. One of our growth experts will understand your current demand generation situation, and then suggest practical digital marketing strategies to hit your pipeline targets with certainty and predictability.
    2. If you’d like to learn the exact demand strategies we use for free, go to our blog or visit our resources section, where you can download guides, calculators, and templates we use for our most successful clients.
    3. If you’d like to work with other experts on our team or learn why we have off the charts team member satisfaction score, then see our Careers page.
    4. If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, Linkedin, Twitter, or Facebook.