Understanding Customer Lifecycle Stages
If you’re using inbound marketing and content to grow your business, it is important that you also understand Lifecycle Stages.
Lifecycle stages can be used to define where your contacts are within your marketing funnel and is a great way to segment your audience lists. Each stage represents a transition down your funnel, from top of the funnel to bottom of the funnel stages. There are a few stages we typically recommend you define within your marketing funnel in order to appropriately address your contacts with targeted content to move them further through the buyers journey and down your marketing funnel.
Lifecycle Stages Defined
The basic stages we recommend you consider including within your marketing funnel include (definitions provided by HubSpot):
- Subscriber – these individuals have opted in to hear from you periodically. Most often this audience has only gotten as far as subscribing to your blog or newsletter.
- Lead – these guys have shown a little more interest in your brand, typically having filled out a form on your website and provided more information than just their email address
- Marketing Qualified Lead – also referred to as MQLs, these leads have identified themselves as being more deeply engaged. They’ve completed more bottom of the funnel offers with sales-ready calls to action.
- Sales Qualified Lead – these leads have been identified by your sales team as worthy of a sales follow up. Defining this stage will help unite your marketing and sales efforts, and ensure everyone is aligned around the quality and volume of leads being handed over to the sales team.
- Opportunity – these are individuals who have become real sales opportunities, and are most likely in the process of purchasing (or going through a trial) or are in the process of receiving a proposal.
- Customer – a real, live, paying customer!
Once your contact becomes a customer, you can move them even further through the funnel and categorize them as an Evangelist or Advocate. At this stage they are regularly and openly promoting and sharing your brand with their network. Doesn’t get much better than that!
Using Lifecycle Stages
Once you’ve defined these different stages within your business (i.e. what qualifies an individual to be a lead, a sales qualified lead, etc?) you’re ready to begin utilizing this information in your marketing efforts. Nurture a long-term relationship with Subscribers, and offer them content that will move them forward in the customer lifecycle. Use general top of the funnel offers for Leads, appealing to the majority of your audience, in order to begin to better define these individuals. From there, offer bottom of the funnel content such as demos, trial requests and buying guides to identify your Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). Determine the ‘last step’ from a marketing perspective, and use this to set your define your Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs). Your sales team will take it from here!
Always be evaluating the flow of your contacts through the marketing funnel and stages to ensure your nurturing efforts are paying off and that you’ve appropriately provided content and CTAs for each stage.
If you need help establishing the lifecycle stages of your contacts, and defining a strategy to address each stage.