Platforms, Technology

How to Improve Your Marketing Qualified Leads and Score MQLs

BY: Carey Picklesimer

PUBLISHED: 7/31/2019

You’ve likely heard it far too often, “That MQL was crap!” Wouldn’t it be more satisfying to win sales over with high-quality marketing qualified leads?

Let’s get your sales team high-fiving!

The struggle between sales and marketing is real. The solution? Communication and collaboration with your sales counterpart on scoring criteria as well as ongoing monitoring of the incoming results.

But what criteria should be specifically defined as success indicators? And what’s the one thing your team should do before setting up a lead scoring program in Marketo?

To maximize the value of your Marketo investment and CRM integration, it’s important your team institute a solid lead scoring process to increase your sales team’s effectiveness and efficiency.

Look backward to build for the future


Take a look at your past customers and won opportunities. What do they have in common? The easiest place to begin is by understanding WHO your customer is. To get started, your team should first identify the basic demographic data of the people who buy from you.


This can include company size, geography, job title, industry and other items that are specific to your business, such as the number of vehicles owned, number of sales reps, location of headquarters, etc.

The second part is more challenging to do en masse, but vital to making lead scoring a success. What did a prospect DO throughout the sales process that lead them to be a customer? By reviewing past activities, such as the web pages they visited, emails they clicked or the number of times they spoke with a sales rep, your team can determine the behavioral data that matters.

Ask your sales teams for input. Data is important, but you shouldn’t avoid anecdotal information.  Sales reps can help you with the information that might be missing or harder to find in your analysis. This can include things that prospects mention in phone conversations, emails or at in-person meetings. Your goal is to gather as much information about your prospects and customers as possible.

Start with a spreadsheet: Create a lead scoring matrix


It’s tempting to jump right into Marketo and start building, but that may make it harder for long-term success. Whether you already have a lead scoring model set up or your team is getting ready to implement your first lead scoring program, you’d be smart to create a lead scoring matrix to help guide your efforts.


The matrix is essentially a grid that captures all of the info related to your team’s lead scoring program in one place: the information you are scoring, the scores you will give it, and the supporting Marketo assets you’ll need to build or manage. This includes smart campaigns, interesting moments, and other related campaigns, such as sales alerts and lead lifecycle campaigns.


The time that you invest in your lead scoring matrix will not only help your lead scoring program implementation proceed more smoothly, but will also ensure that you aren’t inadvertently leaving out any important elements.

Once you’ve created the matrix, implementing the lead scoring program in Marketo will be as simple as following a blueprint. The matrix can also make it easy to review and troubleshoot your lead scoring programs.

You’re not married to your first lead scoring program


Remember that true strength comes from flexibility. Don’t feel pressured to be locked into your lead scoring model. It is a guideline, not a commandment. Schedule time every quarter to review and update your lead scoring matrix; an outdated lead scoring program is a great way to miss opportunities and leave money on the table.

Take a look at any leads that fell just below the threshold, as they may be worth qualifying. And ensure that you’re in constant communication with sales about the quality of leads that are delivered. A good rule of thumb is to shoot for 75-80% of your leads being accepted; if you have more than that, your scoring may be too tight and if you consistently come in lower, you may need to loosen your criteria.


By keeping an eye on your lead accepted percentage and keeping the lines of communication open with Sales, you’ll be optimizing your lead scoring efforts.

Organize your lead scoring


Lead scoring programs have a lot of moving parts, so it’s important that your team develop and maintain an organized group of documents. Within Marketo, using tokens is one of the best ways to keep your scoring values on point; we’ll talk more about that in a minute. Additionally, using the same naming convention for campaigns, tokens and folders will help make certain that the right score is assigned to the right attribute every single time.


Remember that your processes and the way your instance is organized will have a big impact on your lead scoring success.

Use myTokens


To be effective, your lead scoring should be as centralized and consolidated as possible. For maximum flexibility, your team should take advantage of myTokens in Marketo so that they can easily tweak the value of variables on-the-fly, allowing your team to be responsive to real-world users.

Check in with sales


Your lead scoring program—and especially the tokens you set up—should not be a “one and done” process; rather, they should be part of an ongoing conversation between your team and the sales team. Set up a regular time each quarter to check in with the sales team on how the lead scoring is working for them, and review/adjust your tokens as necessary. Don’t be scared to make changes to your lead scoring system as you become more informed about your users and what makes good MQLs.

Implement interest scoring


How can your team identify what products/services interests a particular lead if they haven’t indicated their preference via a form or met some other conversion criteria? To help broaden your pipeline and deliver more relevant content to leads, your team may want to consider having interest scoring set up. Interest scoring essentially makes an educated guess—based on which web pages a lead visits the most—at which products/services a lead is most interested in.

Setting up interest scoring can be a complex process, which is why many enterprises opt to get help when it’s time to implement it. Similar to setting up your lead scoring matrix, the time and money you invest in setting up your interest scoring model will pay dividends by allowing you to make informed decisions based on meaningful results.

Tap into the community


The Marketo community is filled with lead scoring advice, guides and implementation resources (including The Definitive Guide to Lead Scoring), so urge your team to leverage its value whenever possible.


There’s nothing like getting in-the-trenches advice and guidance from your peers on the best scoring criteria, ways to use demographics imported via web hooks or even suggestions for creative ways to score user behavior or engagement patterns.

Need help setting up your lead scoring program? Want to implement interest scoring for your enterprise? Get in touch with MERGE today for a no-cost consultation.