What is a Marketing Qualified Account (MQA)?

If there’s one thing we’ve come to rely on in the B2B sales and marketing world over the past 10-15 years, it’s an abundance of acronyms meant to help us define and talk about the components of digital marketing.

Many have become as ubiquitous as real words. I even used one in the first sentence, did you notice?

It’s time to begin using one more acronym as the adoption of account-based strategies continues:

Marketing Qualified Account (MQA)

A target account (or discrete buying center) that has reached a sufficient level of engagement to indicate possible sales readiness.

What is the difference between MQA and MQL?

In demand generation, companies use Marketing Qualified Lead, or MQL, to designate a lead deemed worthy to be handed off to sales. But the metrics required for Account Based Marketing are different than those used in demand generation, because instead of relating to an individual person, they align to target accounts.  In other words, while MQL relates to one lead, the MQA is for entire accounts that are ready to go to sales.  Think about the difference between fishing with a net and fishing with a spear. 

The definition of a Marketing Qualified Account is at the very foundation of Account Based Everything (ABE), which focuses our sales and marketing efforts on a relatively small number of high-value accounts that have the greatest revenue potential.

What About Ideal Customer Profiles?

An Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) defines the subset of your entire addressable market that reflects the firmographic and technographic characteristics of your best prospects and customers. When your sales team selects and prioritizes their target accounts, they should be picking accounts that are part of the ideal customer profile. That way, when any of those accounts engage with you, you know they are also a good fit for your company. In other words, your MQAs are the subset of your ideal customer targets that are also engaging with you.

A few definitions to help:

  • Firmographic – company characteristics such as size, number of employees, industry, growth, number of locations, and more.
  • Technographic – what technologies the company currently invests in, or is looking to invest in.
  • Engagement– how engaged your company is with this account right now, using signals such as pages visited, rep activity levels, past sales into the company, account engagement by persona, coverage of key decision-makers, executive entry points, and more. This metric is often determined by minutes.

Why does this matter?

This is not just an attempt to add another acronym to the pile. More importantly than naming the evolving concepts of digital marketing, these acronyms help us to measure our efforts.

The introduction of the SiriusDecisions Demand Waterfall® (with MQL, SQL, SAL, and more) emerged with the beginning of marketing automation. It allowed demand marketers to apply disciplined measurement to lead management, and allowed marketers to measure, optimize, and report on their impact to sales (and the rest of the business) in highly quantitative terms – effectively changing the role and importance of the marketing leader in a modern organization.

I believe the adoption of Account Based Everything will once again transform how companies grow, unifying sales, marketing, and support teams around one common understanding of target accounts. And, just as the marketing automation and demand generation revolution required new metrics, account-based strategies will require new metrics yet again. When it comes to ABE, it’s important for us to apply this same type of quantitative thinking to both optimize our efforts and prove the value of our investment.

For more detailed examples, view my SlideShare, The 5 Big Metrics for Account Based Marketing

[slideshare id=55980837&doc=flipmyfunnel-big5metricsforabm-miller-dec2015final-151209154540-lva1-app6892]

And for more information on how to build your Account Based Everything strategy, download The Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing.

Jon Miller
Jon Miller
Jon Miller is CEO and founder of Engagio. Previously, Jon was the VP Marketing and Co-Founder of Marketo. He is a speaker and writer about marketing best practices, and is the author of multiple Definitive Guides including Marketing Automation, Engaging Email Marketing, and Marketing Metrics & Analytics. Jon has a passion for helping marketers everywhere, and is on the Board of Scripted and is an advisor to Optimizely and Newscred. In 2010, The CMO Institute named Jon a Top 10 CMO for companies under $250 million revenue. Jon holds a bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvard College and has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

2 Responses to “What is a Marketing Qualified Account (MQA)?”

February 12, 2020 at 7:44 pm, Mauricio Garza said:

Good read. However, if you have, say 5 people in the buying center, and you “qualify” 2 of them, would that make the account a qualified onet? Do you want all members of the buying group to be qualified? Are individuals handed off to sales as soon as they are qualified? I like the concept but it is a bit tricky. Thanks

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February 23, 2020 at 8:56 pm, Brandon Redlinger said:

Hi Mauricio – You can set up the criteria in a few different ways, We’ve seen companies define an MQA as “if an account has 2 qualified leads, they trigger the MQA.” We’ve also seen companies say “if 3 key personas become qualified, then mark as MQA.”

At Engagio, we layer in a few more things. An example for MQA for target accounts “if any 2 key personas with a combined engagement score (https://www.engagio.com/blog/4-ways-measure-engagement-target-accounts/) of 30 within the last 30 days, mark as MQA.” Then you can say “for non-targe accounts, if any 2 key personas with a combined engagement score of 100 over the last 60 days, mark as MQA.”

Hope that helps!

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