Marketing Funnel Definitions
Use this list of common phrases and definitions associated with marketing funnels to better understand them.
A phrase used to refer to a set of connected marketing and sales strategies that are designed to work together to make people aware of a product and drive them to make a purchase.
The strategies that make up a brand’s marketing funnel are set up to serve as a sequence of marketing content pieces or strategies that take a lead from one stage to the next until they purchase something. A simple example of this would be a three part marketing funnel with:
1. A social media platform where people first learn about a company and its products
2. A blog post where people learn further details about the product, and
3. A product landing page where people get even more detail, and can actually purchase the product.
In this example, those three connected funnel stages ‘funnel’ a lead from one stage to the next until they make a purchase.
When people talk about marketing funnels, you will hear the phrase ‘lead’ thrown around a lot. In this case, lead means a customer lead, or a potential customer. Marketing funnels are designed to target leads (potential customers) and to educate them about the product in an effort to persuade them to become a customer.
The act of generating, or attracting potential customers, or leads. Lead generation strategies typically utilize top of funnel and mid funnel marketing strategies to attract brand new leads and to start educating them about a brand and its products, aka entering them into the brands marketing funnel.
A conversion, or lead conversion, occurs when a customer (lead) makes a purchase. Lead conversions are the goal of a marketing funnel, and can be unique for every company. A conversation for a B2C brand might mean that a customer made a purchase on their website, while a lead conversion for a content publishing company like a blog might mean that someone clicked one of their ads, or signed up for a newsletter.
Marketing funnels are designed to guide people toward places where they can convert, or become a customer.
Lead scoring is the act of measuring or estimating how likely a lead is to become a customer. That way, a company’s marketing and sales teams can be strategic about how much time they spend trying to convert each lead. For example, the company’s sales team might spend more time talking to leads with a high score, or high likelihood of becoming a customer.
Lead scoring is typically done with a framework or rubric based on different actions a lead has taken to demonstrate their level of interest in becoming a customer. Examples of these actions include downloading white papers, viewing product pages, interaction with newsletters, etc. There are popular lead scoring frameworks like the BANT model (budget, authority, needs, timeframe) that help companies score their leads, or you can create your own based on your marketing funnel stages and content.
Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL)
A marketing qualified lead is a lead, or potential customer, that has been entered into a company’s marketing funnel and reached a stage in the funnel that indicates a certain level of purchase intent. What stage this occurs at, or what actions a lead must take to become an MQL differ per company.
An example would be that any lead that fills out a website contact form and downloads a whitepaper is considered qualified by the company’s marketing funnel stages. Another example could be that the lead has viewed a particular product page and watched a certain video. You can make the criteria for becoming an MQL simple, or complex, depending on how broad you want your sales team’s efforts to be, or how specifically you want them to focus on the highest quality leads.
Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
Sales qualified leads follow the same concept as a marketing qualified lead, but this lead designation is typically assigned further down the marketing funnel. The criteria to become qualified from the sales team’s perspective might mean that a lead has gone through a product demo, or taken an introductory meeting with a member of the sales team. Scoring SQLs helps sales teams decide which leads are the most important for the team to focus their efforts on.