Lifecycle Stages

OTime to complete: 3 hours

This project will walk you through the necessary steps of setting up Lifecycle Stages in HubSpot.

Completing these steps will allow you to:

  • Track how your contacts are moving through your buying cycle.
  • Segment your contacts to send them the right email at the right time. 
  • Create smart content that targets different offers and website content to leads and customers.
  • Monitor your leads on social to help close deals or provide real-time customer support. 
Step 1: Correctly identify the 8 Lifecycle Stages in HubSpot
Learn how

To-do

  1. Subscriber: Think of subscribers as those folks who know about you and have opted in to hear from you periodically. In many cases your subscriber base is the segment of your contacts database that has only signed up for your blog or newsletter and nothing else. You should nurture a long-term relationship with subscribers and offer them content that will increase the chances that they will move forward in the customer lifecycle. If you are blogging on HubSpot, those who subscribe to your blog will be automatically marked as subscribers. If you are importing contacts from another system, you will have to mark them as subscribers during the import process. 
  2. Lead: Leads have shown more interest in what you offer than subscribers have. Typically a lead has filled out a form with more than just an email address, often for some sort of content-based offer on your website. We see companies use the lead lifecycle stage for what we think of as general, broadly appealing, or top of the funnel offers. As each lead demonstrates a higher degree of sales readiness and qualification, they will move to further stages. HubSpot automatically assigns contacts that submit forms on your website as leads.
  3. Marketing Qualified Lead: Marketing Qualified Leads, commonly known as MQLs, are those people who have raised their hands (metaphorically speaking) and identified themselves as more deeply engaged, sales-ready contacts than your usual leads, but who have not yet become fully fledged opportunities. Ideally, you should only allow certain, designated forms to trigger the promotion of a lead to the MQL stage, specifically those that gate bottom of the funnel offers like demo requests, buying guides, and other sales-ready calls to action. Each organization has a unique definition of a MQL. For this reason HubSpot does not automatically assign contacts as MQLs. 
  4. Sales Qualified Lead: Sales Qualified Leads are those that your sales team has accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow up. Using this stage will help your sales and marketing teams stay firmly on the same page in terms of the quality and volume of leads that you are handing over to your sales team. This lifecycle stage requires a custom definition be developed with your sales team and may take some time to agree upon. Don't let this discourage you, this is normal.
  5. Opportunity: Opportunities are contacts who have become real sales opportunities in your CRM. This lifecycle stage typically updates based on the definition of an opportunity within your CRM. If you currently do not have a CRM synced, you will not need to set-up this step
  6. Customers: This is everybody’s favorite lifecycle stage: an actual, paying customer. This lifecycle stage is critical to much of your marketing analytics. Be sure to always have an accurate customer count. This lifecycle stage will often update automatically if your are integrated with a CRM or other external system that tracks customers. Otherwise, you will need to mark your customers manually. 
  7. Evangelist: Evangelists are those contacts that are advocates for your business - they sing your praises from the rooftops! They are usually a small but vocal group who will refer new business to you unsolicited. Leveraging their networks often bring in new customers and help you reach leads you may not have been able to otherwise. 
  8. Other: Other is the wildcard lifecycle stage. Examples of what this stage has been used for include: closed lost opportunities, customer renewals, and key accounts.

Pro Tip

Take the time to internalize the definitions of each lifecycle stage. It's the most effective way to track how your leads are moving through their path to purchase and the foundation of a well-managed contact database

Step 2: Set up the Subscriber Lifecycle Stage
Learn how

To-do

  1. Identify all of the activities that would result in a contact being considered a subscriber. This might be people signing up for a newsletter or signing up for your blog. 
  2. If there are other contacts you would like to mark as Subscriber, you will have to do so manually. Here is how to update the individual Lifecycle Stage of a contact. Here is how to update the Lifecycle Stage of a list of contacts. If you are importing a list of contacts into HubSpot, you will be prompted to select the Lifecycle Stage during the import process. 
  3. Build a list using the qualification criteria Lifecycle Stage  = Subscriber. 

Example

Pro Tip

If you are blogging on HubSpot, the Lifecycle Stage of people who subscribe to your blog will automatically be updated to Subscriber. 

Step 3: Set up the Lead Lifecycle Stage
Learn how

To-do

  1. If there are other contacts you would like to mark as Lead, you will have to do so manually. Here is how to update the individual Lifecycle Stage of a contact. Here is how to update the Lifecycle Stage of a list of contacts. If you are importing a list of contacts into HubSpot, you will be prompted to select the Lifecycle Stage during the import process. 
  2. Build a list using the qualification criteria Lifecycle Stage  = Lead

Pro Tip

If you are using HubSpot Forms, the Lifecycle Stage of people who fill out your forms will default to "Lead". The only exception is people who subscribe to your blog. Their Lifecycle Stage will be "Subscriber."

Step 4: Set up the Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) Lifecycle Stage
Learn how

To-do

  1. Write out a list of all the different ways a person might interact with your company online before becoming a customer. This could be anything from subscribing to your blog to downloading an ebook to requesting a demo all the way up to purchasing your products and services.   
  2. Write out a list of demographic and firmographic qualification factors (industry, company size, location, buyers role) that your leads might possess. 
  3. Come up with a definition of a Marketing Qualified Lead that is agreed upon by both Sales and Marketing. A few examples of an MQL might be VP's/Executives who have downloaded an ebook, contacts who have visited your pricing page, or contacts from the Northeast US at companies of 200+ people. Remember, the definition of an MQL is different for every business, and can change over time. That is why it must be marked manually and is not done automatically by HubSpot
  4. Build a list in HubSpot with the criteria of your MQL. 
  5. Mark the contacts in this list with the Lifecycle Stage MQL. Here is how to update the Lifecycle Stage of a list of contacts
  6. Set up a workflow to upgrade all new leads to Marketing Qualified Leads that meet the criteria you identified in the third to-do of this step. 
  7. Build a list using the qualification criteria Lifecycle Stage = Marketing Qualified Lead

Pro Tip

If you have the data, examine the close rate of these activities and qualification factors to help inform who you designate as a Marketing Qualified Lead. If you do not have this data, the demographic and firmographic info from step 2 will be fine. 
Want to learn how to automatically update your contacts to be Marketing Qualified Leads?
Check out how!
Step 5: Set up the Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) Lifecycle Stage
Learn how

To-do

  1. Sales Qualified Leads are leads that have been vetted and confirmed as sales-ready by the sales team. Marking these contacts as such is a great way to align your sales and marketing teams. 
  2. You do not need to build a list of Sales Qualified Leads, though your company might find this helpful if you want a full perspective on your marketing funnel. 

Pro Tip

While not required, using the Sales Qualified Lead stage is a great way to foster alignment between Marketing and Sales to better define what sorts of leads are best fit for your company's sales process. 

Step 6: Set up the Opportunity Lifecycle Stage
Learn how

To-do

  1. This lifecycle stage typically updates based on the definition of an opportunity within your CRM. If you currently do not have a CRM synced, you will not need to set-up this step.
  2. You do not need to build a list of Opportunities unless this is a Lifecycle Stage your company uses and wants a full perspective of the marketing funnel. 

Example


Step 7: Set up the Customer Lifecycle Stage
Learn how

To-do

  1. Import your current customers into HubSpot. To do this follow these instructions. This will ensure that you have a proper customer count in HubSpot.  
  2. If there are additional contacts you would like to mark as Customer, you will have to do so manually. Here is how to update the individual Lifecycle Stage of a contact. Here is how to update the Lifecycle Stage of a list of contacts.
  3. Build a list using the qualification criteria Lifecycle Stage = Customer

Pro Tip

The Customer Lifecycle Stage will update automatically if your are integrated with a CRM or other external system that tracks customers. Otherwise, you will need to mark your customers manually. 

Step 8 : Set up the Evangelist Lifecycle Stage
Learn how

To-do

  1. Use this Lifecycle Stage to mark those folks who evangelize your company and it's mission. This could be contacts who help you bring on new business, a formal referral/partner program, or simply contacts who promote your business regularly. 
  2. If you plan to use this Lifecycle Stage, build a list using the qualification criteria Lifecycle Stage = Evangelist. 

Pro Tip

Evangelist is a great catch-all field that can be used to indicated the most passionate supporters of your business.

Step 9: Set up the Other Lifecycle Stage
Learn how

To-do

  1. This is an optional Lifecycle Stage and does not need to be used. It is helpful as an additional stage that can be adapted to the needs of your business. As a reminder, some use cases for Other might be closed lost opportunities, customer renewals, and key accounts. 
  2. If you plan to use this Lifecycle Stage, build a list using the qualification criteria Lifecycle Stage = Other. 

Example