Last updated 11 January, 2023.
Lifecycle Stage in HubSpot's standard classification (i.e. property) gives the information on the current situation or customer journey of a contact or a company. Lifecycle stage is set for both contacts and companies, and as the name suggests, it tells whether the contact/company is, for example, a current customer or an open sales opportunity.
Tracking the customer journey and using contact lifecycle stages in HubSpot CRM can help companies better understand and meet the needs of their customers. By analyzing customer interactions and behaviors at different stages of the lifecycle, companies can identify opportunities to improve the customer experience, increase customer loyalty, and drive business growth.
For example, a company might use a CRM to track customer interactions from the initial point of contact through the sales process and beyond. By analyzing this data, they can identify areas where the customer experience can be improved by, for example, providing additional resources or support during the onboarding process or by proactively reaching out to customers to address potential issues before they become problems.
Lifecycle stage values can be:
- Subscriber: A contact who has subscribed to, for example, a blog or a newsletter.
- Lead: A contact who has shown interest in your company, for example at a marketing event.
- Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL): A contact who has consumed your company's marketing content, for example, downloaded a guide from the website.
- Sales Qualified Lead (SQL): A contact that meets the criteria for sales potential.
- Opportunity: A contact with an open sales opportunity.
- Customer: A current customer of your company.
- Evangelist: A contact who is ready to recommend your company.
Other: Other use cases, e.g. partners, own personnel, or former customers.
The Lifecycle stage options offered by HubSpot don't fit our approach. Can we build our own lifecycle stages?
Yes! Lifecycle stage is a drop-down menu among other properties, and you can make your own classifications if needed.
However, it's good to remember that the default rules mentioned in the next paragraph only apply when you use HubSpot's own default Lifecycle stage.
Lifecycle stage default rules
Lifecycle stage changes in HubSpot in the following cases:
- When creating a new contact
- During the sales process
Lifecycle stage change when creating a new contact
By default, the contact gets the Lifecycle stage value subscriber, if the contact is created in HubSpot in one of these ways:
- Manually added by the user
- Manually imported from a CSV file
- As a result of a conversation with a contact (e.g. chat or messenger).
- When the contact joins the newsletter list or subscribes to the blog feed
By default, the contact gets the value Lifecycle stage value lead if the contact is created in HubSpot:
- When the contact fills out the form
- When the contact fills out the pop-up form
- When the user selects "create a new contact" when sending an email to a contact from their own Gmail or Outlook connected to HubSpot
- Through Salesforce integration
Lifecycle stage change during the sales process
When a contact or company moves to the sales process in HubSpot, (i.e. we go to the pipeline and create a deal), the Lifecycle stage for both the company and the contact becomes Opportunity (=sales opportunity) by default.
The value remains an opportunity in all other cases, except if the sales opportunity is won. Then the lifecycle stage automatically changes to Customer (=current customer).
If the sales opportunity is lost, the Lifecycle stage remains as an opportunity by default.
Exceptions to Lifecycle stage default rules 👹
A few exceptions to the default rules sometimes make it difficult to understand the Lifecycle stage logic, but we promise it's not so complicated:
- Lifecycle stage is automatically updated only forward. If, for example, a contact in the MQL, Opportunity, or Customer phase subscribes to the blog, they do not become a subscriber, but the current value remains the same. HubSpot will never update the Lifecycle stage backward unless you set it to do so using a workflow for example.
- The Customer value does not change. If the customer or company is labeled as Customer, the value does not change to Opportunity, even if a new deal is opened for the same customer. On the other hand, even if the customer relationship ends, the change must be done manually.
How can the Lifecycle stage be updated backward?
Updating the Lifecycle stage to the value of the previous stage takes place either:
- manually, or
- with a little help from a workflow.
When updating manually, you can give the desired value either to a single contact or to several contacts at the same time.
When updating the Lifecycle stage backward using a workflow, one extra step has to be done: the current value must first be deleted before a new value can be entered.
Example 1: Assigning a specific Lifecycle stage value with a workflow
In the workflow example below, after filling out the form, the Lifecycle stage value of the contact became marketing qualified lead.
- If a contact whose current Lifecycle stage value is subscriber or lead enters the workflow, the new value for them will be marketing qualified lead.
- If a contact whose current Lifecycle stage value is sales qualified lead, opportunity, customer, evangelist, or other enters the workflow, the current Lifecycle stage value will not change.
Example 2: Clearing the lifecycle stage and updating it to a certain value with a workflow
This example is quite similar to Example 1, but the clear Lifecycle stage is included in the workflow.
- Regardless of the contact's Lifecycle stage value when logging into the workflow, the contact becomes an MQL in this case.
Do the Lifecycle stage of the contact and the company have to be the same?
Not necessarily, but apart from individual exceptions, it usually makes sense, and with the basic settings, the contact's Lifecycle stage is always automatically set to the same as the company's Lifecycle stage. If you want to follow a different method, you have to manually turn off the setting shown below (company settings > Lifecycle stage sync).
If the deal is won, and the company connected to the deal becomes a customer, all contacts that are associated with the company also become customers.
In some cases, it makes sense that the contact's Lifecycle stage has a different value than the company's Lifecycle stage. For example, contacts marked with the values Evangelist and Other might have a different Lifecycle stage than the associated Company. As the name suggests, these are special cases, so no matter what stage of their company's lifecycle they are in, these contacts can use the Lifecycle stage to have a different status than other employees.
What are the different use cases for Lifecycle stage?
Lifecycle stage is an excellent tool for connecting marketing and sales processes. It can be used, for example, to define that contacts from the subscriber to the MQL stage are primarily the responsibility of marketing. In this way, SQLs and Opportunities are in the sales account.
Lead’s change, therefore, takes place when the stage changes from MQL to SQL. There can be different models, but Lifecycle stage makes it easy to manage different processes during the customer journey.
Lifecycle stage is often used also
- In automations
- As a hidden field in forms, where you can directly define a specific value for the Lifecycle stage
- In reporting, to give an overall picture of the distribution of contacts according to the Lifecycle stage, or as a funnel to show the transition of contacts from one stage to another.
Tracking the customer journey can help a company identify trends and patterns in customer behavior, which can inform marketing and sales strategies. For example, a company might use data from its CRM to identify common pain points or challenges that customers face at different stages of the lifecycle, and then develop targeted marketing campaigns or sales strategies to address those issues.
Overall, using contact lifecycle stages and tracking the customer journey can help a company build stronger relationships with its customers and drive business growth.
If you don’t know where to start or would like us to look at your martech stack, give us a shout-out, and we’ll send our tech wizards your way! 🧙🏼