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What Is a Lead in Marketing?

From generating to converting, you’re probably well aware that leads are an important part of marketing and the overall customer life cycle. But you could be wondering what are leads in marketing? Simply defined, leads in marketing refer to any individual or organization within your marketing reach who has interacted with your brand way or has the potential to become a future customer. A lead can be someone that sees or downloads your content, signs up for a trial, or visits your store. 

Marketing qualified leads

Marketing departments are often more interested in marketing qualified leads, or MQLs, where a potential customer has shown a basic level of interest in your company or product. Here are a few examples of a marketing qualified lead: 

  • Filling in a website form with phone number and email address
  • Signing up for a newsletter
  • Interacting on social media
  • Calling your company to ask for more information
  • Engaging the chatbot on your website
  • Filling in a contact form at an event 
  • Downloading an eBook
  • Signing up for a webinar
  • Clicking on an internet ad for your product

These activities are all considered MQLs because the potential customer voluntarily engaged with the company in some way in response to a marketing activity. 

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Difference between a marketing qualified lead and a sales qualified lead

It’s important to differentiate between marketing qualified leads and sales qualified leads (SQLs). MQLs are people who have shown a curiosity about your brand and products, whereas SQLs are people who have indicated that they are ready to make a purchase of your product or service. It is important for marketers to understand the difference between MQLs and SQLs so that they create communications for the former specifically that won’t risk overwhelming the contact and scaring them off before they make a purchase. 

Depending on how a company’s marketing and sales departments are structured, when MQLs are identified, they might be passed along to the sales department for further communication directly from them. In other companies, other qualifications might be needed in order to pass an MQL onto an SQL, like fitting a customer persona or taking a specific journey through the website. 

Marketing departments typically create a lead scoring system to help them determine the quality of a lead. Knowing the quality of a lead can help a marketing team know how likely a lead is to convert into a sales qualified lead and can help the marketer offer the right kind of communication to continue to nurture the lead down the funnel