Every company handles marketing qualified leads (MQLs) differently. That's why there isn't a golden rule for MQL definition or how to decide when a lead becomes an MQL. In working with multiple clients, I've found that using a lead scoring MQL definition usually survives the test of time and becomes one of the best ways to have engaging conversations on what contacts are considered MQLs and when they should be handed off to sales for follow up.
Mapping lead scores to lifecycle stages
One of the easiest ways to segment your database between new site visitors and those most likely to purchase is by using HubSpot's Lifecycle stage default contact property. The values for this property are Subscriber, Lead, Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), Sales Qualified Leads (SQL), Opportunity, Customer, and Evangelist.
In HubSpot, a contact's lifecycle stage only moves forward. New contacts should start as subscribers and, as they continue to engage with your brand, move towards their end goal of becoming a customer.
Lead scoring varies greatly by your processes, handoffs between sales and marketing, and definitions for each of the stages. If you're just getting started, here are the key questions you'll want to answer:
- What information do we need before sales books a call or follows up with a contact?
- What are the qualification criteria that our sales team will use to determine if someone's a good fit or not?
- What are the red flags we should look out for to help disqualify contacts that aren't a good fit?
- Are there any indications (demographics, company information, behavior, or engagement) that someone would be a better target than others?
Once you have answers to those questions, you can start building out your scoring and lifecycle stage mapping. Don't worry so much about the numbers (you can always adjust the values for what adds to and subtracts from a score later).
Keep it simple and work backwards from 100 points
You can use any number you want, but to make things simple, we're going to say that our Marketing Qualified Leads are contacts with 100 points.
We'll also use the MQL lifecycle stage as a way to handoff contacts from marketing to sales.
Let's get that workflow setup in HubSpot:
We can also set a number for contacts to move from Subscriber to Lead. To make things pretty simple, we'll say 25 points. Now you can build out the workflow that updates the Lifecycle stage for contacts with a HubSpot score greater than or equal to 25 points to Lead.
Once these two workflows are built, you're ready to start giving point values to move contacts through your sales process.
Now that we've set our target score for a contact to be considered an MQL, we need to think of the behavior and attributes that would get them there. Here are three categories we can use to help us add and subtract points from a contact's score:
This is everything your contact does from opening up an email to browsing your website. While some behaviors, like requesting to talk to sales via a form, can be used to automatically hit that 100 point goal, others can be used to reduce a contact's score.
Some positive behaviors include:
- Form submissions: Subscribing to your newsletter, downloading content, and commenting on your blog posts can be a good indication of interest. For more involved forms like requesting a demo, asking to speak to sales, or signing up for a free trial of your product, you may want to have these submissions alone boost someone to become an MQL.
- Spending time on your product and pricing pages: Have you noticed that contacts who frequent certain pages on your site convert at a higher rate than others? Use this information to adjust your scoring model.
- Clicking on links in your emails: Email engagement could be a great indication that someone is ready for the product or service you're providing.
- Social media engagement: Is your contact following you on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram? Have they clicked on or shared your content? If so, you may want to boost their scores.
- Event registration and attendance: Web and in-person events are a great way to bring in new leads. Score those who registered and those who attended separately. You also may want to adjust the scores based on the type of event. For example, someone who attended a demo webinar may be scored higher than someone who stopped by your trade show booth.
- Downloading and viewing content: Has your contact filled out any forms on your site to download content? You can also score them higher for viewing your ungated content as well.
Demographic and company information
In addition to behavior, you should also factor demographic information into your scoring. Below are some examples of demographic information you can include in your lead scoring model:
- Job title/Role: Will this person have the budget to make a purchase or are they more of an influencer in the buying process? What's their seniority?
- Email: Did the person sign up using a free email provider like Gmail or did they use their work email? If they used a free email provider, you may want to lower their score if your business is primarily selling to companies.
- Phone number: Did the contact provide other contact details or ways to reach them? Contacts who provided their phone number may be a higher priority for your sales team to follow up with them.
- Location: If your sales focus is tied to a certain state, region, or country, your contact's location should be reflected in your scoring model. You can always use inferred information from their IP address or company if you haven't explicitly asked for their location information.
- Company size: If the person provided their company information, you can use company size to determine if that matches your target market.
- Industry: Use the associated company property in HubSpot to increase or decrease a contact's score based on their company's industry.
Once you've started scoring contacts, it's important to keep in touch with your sales team to ensure the leads that are "marketing qualified" are indeed meeting those standards. Continue to refine your scoring, working closely with sales, to ensure that your model is working.