MQL vs. SQL: What Different Lead Types Mean for Your Business

What’s the lifeblood of any business? Leads.

Leads are potential customers that can turn into sales and profit for your business. But leads aren’t all alike. Each one has different needs and expectations. They’re not always at the same stage of the buyer’s journey. One might simply be curious about a product or service, while another might be ready to jump on board and make a purchase.

Splitting your leads into marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and sales qualified leads (SQLs) helps you sort them so you can best nurture each relationship. Knowing what category a lead belongs to is the key to moving them along the sale’s funnel where you want them to be. 

Let’s talk about how MQLs and SQLs differ, then go over ways to optimize your landing page for each.

MQLs vs. SQLs

People often talk about leads as though they’re all identical. 

But just like how marketing and sales are different fields, so are MQLs and SQLs. 

MQLs can be thought of as being in the stage before sales: MQLs are leads that have been generated by marketing efforts, whereas SQLs have already been handed off to the sales team. The main difference is their level of readiness to buy.

An MQL is intrigued, but not hooked

MQLs are contacts who have expressed interest in your marketing offers. This type of lead has intentionally engaged with your brand—whether that’s through downloading a resource or repeatedly visiting your webpage. 

While MQLs have only entered the awareness or consideration of the buyer’s journey, they’ve already shown some level of interest, making them more promising than just any ordinary lead.

Still, you need to be wary of your approach with an MQL. If they’re not fully committed, coming on too strong might scare them away. Things like repeat visits or downloading a free resource like a white paper might inch an MQL closer to transforming into an SQL—but there’s no guarantee that their actions will go beyond curiosity. 

An SQL is (almost) ready to buy

SQLs are most likely to purchase the products or services you offer, making them a lead worth pursuing more aggressively. They have already entered the sales pipeline and are moving into the decision-making phase.

Your sales team may have already vetted the SQL and rubber-stamped them as a serious buyer. A sale is just one step away, and the SQLs’ readiness to buy makes them prime candidates for sales engagement. They’re near the end of the buyer’s journey and want to make a purchase. 

That doesn’t mean they’re going to be a quick sale—you still need to present high-quality content and reach out with tact and respect.

Optimize Your Landing Page Based On Your Lead

Optimizing your landing pages is an essential part of any business’s game plan. After all, you wanna take full advantage of the opportunity to convert traffic into leads that turn into customers. 

Here are some simple tips on optimizing your landing page for MQLs and SQLs.

How to optimize for MQLs

An MQL is into your product or service but they haven’t made the next move. 

How do you show ‘em you’re totally worth it? By showcasing everything you have to offer on your landing page and, most importantly, by highlighting what separates you from the rest.

Are you selling project management software? Great! Tell ‘em what makes your product unique. Can you make task tracking less of a headache? What about customizable workflows?

This is exactly the kind of stuff we want to know:

Image courtesy of ClickUp

ClickUp does a good job of highlighting that their platform does it all. Their landing page explicitly positions itself as a replacement to other SaaS and project management software, and they even provide a demo preview to show how their software works.

Image courtesy of ClickUp

Finally, social proof also helps convince MQLs that others who have tried your product or service love the results. See an example of a happy customer below.

Image courtesy of Balance App

While you wanna reel in your prospective customers, you don’t wanna overdo it with pushy copy. Remember that an overly promotional landing page can be a big turn-off for MQLs who are simply shopping around.  

How to optimize for SQLs

An SQL is deciding whether or not to commit to your service or product. Unlike MQLs, these guys are warmed up enough to be hit with a sales push. 

This means you can be a wee bit more persuasive with your language. 

Think more like what you would see on a sales landing page—these are designed specifically to convert. The copy is compelling, straightforward, and includes a CTA.

Check out this example for HelloFresh:

Image courtesy of HelloFresh

This page makes it easy for their customers to order their next week’s meals ASAP. It shows the options for a meal plan with a discounted price. All that’s left to do is input an email and voilà—their customer is one step closer to completing their buyer’s journey!

Since SQLs already know what you have to offer, you don’t need to overwhelm them with too much information. That being said, you can briefly recap the benefits so that SQLs feel reassured that they’re making the right choice.

Tailor Your Landing Pages for the Right Leads to Boost Those Conversions

Now that you know that no two leads are the same, you can strategize and implement the proper tools to boost conversion rates

By capturing MQLs and nurturing them into SQLs, you can bring qualified leads closer to conversion. Remember the main difference between MQLs and SQLs is in their intent and interest to buy. MQLs need more information, whereas SQLs might need that extra push. 

Landing pages make a useful marketing tactic that lets you collect information from your visitors and generate MQLs and SQLs. That’s why it pays off to craft your landing pages effectively.

So, are you confident that you’ve built strong landing pages? Are you collecting the right type of data? Is your traffic converting?

Luckily, there’s a simple way to make sure your landing pages perform at their peak. Smart Traffic lets you easily create landing page variants that deliver the most relevant experience to your leads based on which stage they’re at in their buyer’s journey.

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About Josh Gallant
Josh is the SEO Lead at Foundation Marketing where he oversees the creation and execution of search-driven content strategies for B2B brands. He's a self-proclaimed spreadsheet nerd who loves all things SEO, content marketing, and fantasy football (with multiple data-driven titles to his name).
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