Understanding Lifecycle Stages in HubSpot

Written By Sean McGauley
June 22, 2023

Imagine you’ve been tasked with running a marketing campaign for your software company and your goal is to generate leads and nurture them into paying customers.

But, here’s the catch – you have no idea who in your database is a current customer, who sales are already talking to, or how much prior knowledge your contacts have about you and your company… Are you ready to quit your imaginary job in this scenario?

Without a clear understanding of where each lead stands in your marketing and sales funnel, it’s a struggle to effectively target and engage them. This is where lifecycle stages become indispensable.

The frustrations of marketing without the knowledge lifecycle stages bring

Lifecycle stages play a crucial role in effectively nurturing your contacts and companies throughout your marketing and sales processes.

By utilizing the lifecycle stage property in Hubspot, you can gain insights into where specific contacts or companies stand in your processes and improve the handoff between your marketing and sales teams. 

But perhaps even more important, lifecycle stages will supercharge your marketing. Here are a few of the major benefits incorporating lifecycle stages has on your marketing strategy:

  • Tailored Messaging: By categorizing leads into lifecycle stages, you can customize your messaging and content to resonate with each group’s specific needs
  • Smoother Handoffs: Lifecycle stages enable seamless handoffs by providing a shared understanding of each lead’s status and readiness for sales engagement. 
  • Improved Conversion Rates: Understanding where leads are in their journey allows you to identify potential bottlenecks and optimize your marketing activities accordingly. By analyzing conversion rates at different lifecycle stages, you can identify areas for improvement and tailor your tactics to address specific challenges.

In this article, we’ll explore the lifecycle stages in HubSpot and how you can use them to suit your business needs.

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An Overview of the Default Lifecycle Stages in HubSpot

Using HubSpot Lifecycle stages for your Business

HubSpot provides default lifecycle stages that serve as a foundation for tracking the progress of your contacts or companies. These stages represent the different milestones in your process and can be set up to update automatically as contacts or companies move forward. Here are the default stages in sequential order:

  • Subscriber: Contacts who have willingly opted in to receive more information from you by signing up for your blog or newsletter. This stage is generally owned by marketing and the kick-off for nurture.
  • Lead: Contacts or companies that have shown interest in your organization beyond subscribing, typically through conversions on your website or other interactions. This stage is also generally owned by marketing and tied to nurturing contacts further down the funnel.  
  • Marketing Qualified Lead: Contacts or companies that your marketing team has determined as ready for the sales team. This stage indicates that they have met specific criteria or demonstrated strong potential as potential customers. This stage often represents the handoff from marketing to sales and is generally owned by the marketing department.
  • Sales Qualified Lead: Contacts or companies that your sales team has qualified as potential customers. This lifecycle stage is where sales take over ownership.  
  • Opportunity: Contacts or companies associated with a deal or actively engaged in a potential business transaction with your organization. This is another sales-owned lifecycle stage. 
  • Customer: Contacts or companies that have successfully closed at least one deal with your organization, indicating a formal customer relationship. Depending on the organization, this stage may share ownership with both sales and marketing departments. 
  • Evangelist: Customers who have become advocates for your organization, promoting and endorsing your products or services. This is another lifecycle stage that is often shared ownership between marketing and sales.
  • Other: Contacts or companies that do not fit into any of the above-defined stages but still hold value in your database. Ownership of these stages should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Are you starting to see how powerful lifecycle stages can be for improving your marketing?

Customizing Lifecycle Stages

While the default lifecycle stages cover the basic progression of contacts and companies, you also have the flexibility to create and customize your stages to align with your unique business processes. Your customization could be based on your specific industry, sales cycle, or customer journey. 

Here at Growth Spurt, we recommend the default lifecycle stages. HubSpot’s done a great job of providing everything you need to appropriately categorize your contacts and companies based on where they are in your marketing and sales processes – so, why reinvent the wheel?

How Do You Move Contacts Through Lifecycle Stages?

Lifecycle Stages

The idea behind lifecycle stages is to progress your contacts through to the next appropriate stage by continuing to nurture them with the right messaging at the right time.

There are a couple of ways a contact’s lifecycle stage can be updated, let’s take a look.

Updating Lifecycle Stages 

You have the flexibility to manually update the lifecycle stage property or leverage various tools within your HubSpot account. Here are some methods for updating lifecycle stages:

  1. Manual Updates: You can manually update the lifecycle stage property for individual contacts or companies, providing complete control over their progression.
  2. Bulk Updates: For efficiency, you can bulk update the lifecycle stages of multiple contacts or companies from an index page, allowing you to make changes in batches.
  3. Importing Lifecycle Stage Column: When importing contacts or companies, you can include a lifecycle stage column to update their lifecycle stages in bulk.

Automatic Updates for Lifecycle Stages

HubSpot provides automation features to assist in updating lifecycle stages efficiently. You can set up automatic updates to trigger in the following ways:

  1. Lifecycle Stage Automation Settings: Lifecycle stages in HubSpot allow you to automatically update when a deal is created. The default is to automatically set the lifecycle stage of associated customers and companies to opportunity. And that when the deal is closed/won, it automatically sets it to customer.
  2. Default Stage for New Records: Define a default lifecycle stage for newly created contacts or companies to ensure they start in the appropriate stage.
  3. Updates Based on Associations: Automatically update lifecycle stages based on a record’s associations, such as engagement with specific campaigns or interactions with your organization by setting up an automated workflow that triggers your associated action and updates the lifecycle stage.
  4. Default Stage for Synced Records: Establish a default lifecycle stage for records synced from connected apps, ensuring consistency across platforms. For example, if your organization is syncing contacts from Salesforce to HubSpot, a default lifecycle stage can be used to ensure the synced records are tagged with the appropriate lifecycle stage.

Automation is a great way to save time and effort by allowing HubSpot to handle the lifecycle stage updates automatically, reducing manual work for your team. It’s also helpful to set up these automations as you scale.

The Bottom Line on Lifecycle Stages in HubSpot

Using lifecycle stages in your marketing strategy is vital. In today’s competitive business landscape, consumers have now come to expect personalized interactions throughout their lifecycle. Without a clear understanding of where each lead stands in your marketing and sales processes, you risk missing out on valuable opportunities to engage your audience.

Think back to the example software company campaign we talked about at the start of this article, the one that you were drafting your letter of resignation for. With lifecycle stages, you can easily run an effective marketing campaign in that situation. You can feel confident that you know which contacts in your database to reach out to and what content you should provide. 

By embracing lifecycle stages, you empower your marketing efforts with a deeper understanding of your leads, ensuring targeted messaging, smoother handoffs, improved conversion rates, and long-term customer relationships. Incorporating lifecycle stages in your marketing strategy will enable you to maximize the impact of your efforts, drive meaningful engagement, and achieve sustainable business growth in an ever-evolving marketplace.

What's the difference between HubSpot's Lifecycle Stages and Lead Status? Find out here. 

Sean McGauley

About the Author

Marketing is more challenging than it’s ever been - but, I’m committed to finding new and creative ways to succeed. By day, I’m a digital marketing enthusiast with a passion for connecting brands with their target audience. I have over a decade of experience in creating and executing successful campaigns with a proven track record. I specialize in Strategy, Copywriting, SEO, and social media marketing - always staying up-to-date with the latest industry trends and technologies. By night, you'll likely find me adventuring with family and friends. I enjoy nature, photography, mountain biking, fly fishing, and trying new foods. I want to connect with other like-minded professionals to learn from and work with.