Unlocking the Potential of Higher Quality Leads in Demand Generation
Written by Darren Griffin on September 7, 2023

Many field and demand gen marketers I’ve been speaking to have discussed ‘HQLs or Higher Quality Leads’ and their frustrations with them.   

What does HQL refer to?

Usually, it means, ‘We want to find a way to bypass our internal marketing funnel’ or ‘We have BDRs (Business Development Representatives) moaning at us a lot about the quality of leads and/or the information we’re giving them.’ 

So, how are they currently generating HQLs? There are two primary methods: 

    1. Double Touch Campaigns with Publishers: A publisher will run a typical single-touch content syndication demand generation campaign in this approach. Subsequently, that publisher will target that individual with additional content to generate a second touch. Once this second touch is achieved, the lead is passed on to the client.  

However, questions arise:  

  • How much work and individual lead retargeting is done to generate that second touch? 
  • How honest is that second touch? 
  • How much brand damage is done? 
  • When does it turn into harassment? 

2. Qualifying and Profiling Questions: Another method involves incorporating 2 or 3 qualifying and profiling questions into the form. But does this approach add value? Let’s do the math. 

Let’s say you have 2 additional questions on your campaign, raising the Cost Per Lead (CPL) by 10%. If you previously paid $50 per lead, you are now paying $55. So, for a $100k budget, instead of receiving 2000 leads, you receive 1818 leads instead. 

Typically, only 5% of these leads might reach SQL status from your carefully nurture process*. So, instead of 100 leads making it to SQL status, you now have 91. 

At this point, measuring success becomes harder, but it’s necessary. 

Will these 91 leads, with the additional questions and insights, make more sales than the initial 100 leads?  

My instinct says no, but no one seems to be measuring this fairly. If I were a sales director, I’d rather have 10% more SQLs. 

*SQL conversion metrics varies from client to client 

Does this mean that HQLs are bad?

No, but proper measurements should be put in place, and alternative organic methods should be considered and tested. 

So, what do other organic ways to generate HQLs look like? 

Utilizing Different Publishers for a Target Account List (TAL): Using two different publishers using different assets to engage a tightly defined TAL can result in organic double-touch leads while generating valid single-touch leads. 

Retargeting Single-Touch Leads via LinkedIn: Funnily enough, LeadScale provides a seamless way to orchestrate the movement of leads between third parties, LinkedIn, and clients, facilitating the retargeting of single-touch leads. 

Programmatic DSP Retargeting: Implementing programmatic Demand-Side Platforms (DSPs) to retarget single-touch leads. 

Generating Organic TAL with Programmatic and Using Publishers: Utilizing programmatic methods to generate an organic TAL and then employing publishers to generate leads from that organic TAL. 


Pursuing Higher Quality Leads (HQLs) is vital to demand generation and marketing. However, it’s crucial to approach this quest with a strategic mindset, a commitment to rigorous measurement and a willingness to test novel approaches. 

Send me an email or add me on LinkedIn if you want to discuss more about HQLs.

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