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Marketing Qualified Leads for SaaS - How to Increase Them

July 26, 2017 Andy Beohar

pexels-photo-147408 (1).jpegMost SaaS companies have experienced the growing pains involved in trying to align their marketing and sales teams. Marketing may feel like sales is not doing a good job of following up with leads, and sales may feel like the leads they are getting are not worthwhile. One of the best ways to improve alignment between your marketing and sales teams is to work on increasing the number of Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs), or leads who are most likely to become customers based on lead scoring.

Below, we offer a few strategies that you can use to increase the number of high quality leads for your SaaS company:

1. Define MQL, and make sure marketing and sales are on the same page.

The first step to increasing the number of marketing qualified leads is defining what exactly an MQL looks like for your company. The marketing and sales teams should work together to define what a qualified lead is and what each funnel stage looks like for your prospective customers. Your lead flow strategy should be well-documented to ensure that your marketing and sales teams are on the same page. In addition to clearly defining qualified leads and lifecycle stages, you’ll also need to make clear when and how these leads will be given to sales. Furthermore, sales should know how they should follow up with leads.

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Once your organization has defined what a qualified lead looks like, the marketing team can more confidently pass leads on to sales that are ready for follow up. The sales team will know that these leads have shown a certain level of engagement based on a mutual understanding of what a qualified lead is, and they can confidently follow up. Not only does this help keep your marketing and sales teams at peace, but it can also improve productivity. Marketing will no longer send unsure leads to sales, which means sales won’t waste time following up with leads who won’t convert. 

2. Develop a lead grading system.

Next, your organization will need to develop a lead scoring system. Lead scoring allows you to rank your leads on a scale that helps you better understand where they are in the funnel and whether they are ready for sales to follow up. This is one of the best ways to help your marketing team identify those leads that need to be nurtured and help your sales team prioritize leads in the follow-up stages.

When it comes to lead scoring, it’s best to keep it simple. Make sure that both marketing and sales are on board with the lead scoring system. Take these steps to get started:

  • Identify key factors and determine point values. The first step in creating a lead scoring system is identifying which factors or engagements are important to identifying a qualified lead. These can include factors like job title or industry, and they can also include certain types of engagement like page views or downloads. Once you’ve identified which factors are key in determining a qualified lead, you should use a simple point scale to assign values to each of these factors. The scale should be from 0 to 100 (with 100 being the most qualified).
  • Assign scores to each of your leads.Now that you have a scoring system in place, it’s time to rate your leads. Identify any positive attributes like conversions or page visits as well as negative attributes like opting out of email updates or not engaging with your website.
  • Determine a score threshold for MQLs and SQLs. Determine what the score value will be for a lead to be considered an MQL or SQL. Marketing should work with sales to decide on the best point value so that everyone is on the same page. Whether you use a CRM or send along an email, your organization should also have a system in place for notifying sales when it’s time to follow-up with a lead.

Picture2-40.pngAs displayed here, HubSpot has its own internal lead scoring system.

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3. Create Account-Based Marketing Lists.

Account-based marketing is a methodology that helps you deliver targeted content that is more likely to engage a lead at each step in the funnel. Rather than just creating and promoting the same content to everyone, account-based marketing involves developing specific content that is set up to engage each type of lead or account. This process helps cultivate more qualified leads that are ready for sales follow up.

Your marketing and sales teams should work together to build each target account list. Consider which types of companies you would like to work with ideally. Think about what industry they are in, how many employees they have, what their annual revenue is, and anything else that might be important for determining qualified leads. To find the answers to these questions, you can look at current customers and do a little research on your target audience.

One of the biggest advantages of account-based marketing is that it helps you deliver more targeted content to your leads that will guide them to the next step in the marketing funnel. This is not only a great system to use for delivering more qualified leads to sales, but it can help your marketing team better navigate lead nurturing—especially when there are multiple personas within an account. For instance, let’s say that you know the CEO and CMO tend to both interact with your SaaS company before making a purchase. You notice that only the CMO of a particular business has engaged so far. Now, you can work to engage and interact with the CEO in order to move this lead closer to qualified status.

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4. Optimize lead qualification with attribution.

Once you know what a qualified lead looks like and you have a system for grading and engaging leads, it’s time to determine if your process is working. That’s where marketing attribution comes in. Marketing attribution helps you tie all your marketing efforts back to revenue. This is the best way to see which of your marketing activities are driving real business value. Once you know the value of these activities, you can improve the way that you define Marketing Qualified Leads for your SaaS company in order to optimize lead generation.

To create a marketing attribution model, you will need to look at all the marketing touch points that a lead was exposed to before becoming a paying customer. This can cover a wide range of activities from watching a video ad on social media to looking at pricing or feature comparisons on a site that compares different SaaS products.

In short, this attribution model involves assigning credit or dollars from a sale to the activity that a customer engaged in before making a purchase. The credit should be assigned proportionally, based on each touch point’s influence on the overall purchasing decision. Once you have this information, you can then determine which marketing activities are producing the best result and look at their cost to see which are most profitable. This attribution model will help you determine which of your marketing efforts are most successful in moving leads toward qualified status. Thus, you will be able to optimize your marketing budget and spend more time on activities that are ultimately helping influence conversions. 

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