How to use the 7 life cycle stages in the buyers journey

09Apr, 2018

You shouldn’t treat all your customers, leads and evangelists the same.

People move through various stages in the buyer’s journey at completely different times and pace. Most people start off as unknown visitors and you work hard to convert them into subscribers, leads and eventually customers or evangelists.

Every person is unique and so is their customer experience with your brand should be unique as well.

So how many stages are there?

Here are the 7 most common customer lifecycle stages.

1) Subscriber

Subscribers are people who’ve opted in to hear from you periodically. Your subscribers have probably only signed up for your blog or email newsletter and nothing else.

You should have a strategy in place to nurture your subscribers over time by offering them relevant content with the goal to increase the chances that they will move forward to another stage in the customer life cycle.

2) Lead

A Lead is someone that has shown a deeper interest in what you or your business has to offer. They probably filled out a form with more than just an email address, often for some sort of content offer like an ebook or worksheet. This stage is sometimes referred to as the “top of the funnel”.  As each lead shows a higher degree of sales readiness and qualification, they will move to further stages in their journey.

3) Marketing Qualified Lead

Marketing Qualified Leads, or MQLs are people that have identified themselves as more deeply engaged in the marketing cycle and are now considered a sales-ready contact and should be engaged by a sales person. In Hubspot, we designate specific forms to trigger the stage change of a lead to the MQL stage for landing pages with offers like demo requests, buying guides, and other sales-ready offers.

4) Sales Qualified Lead

Sales Qualified Leads are leads that your sales team determined are ready for a direct sales follow up. This stage helps your sales and marketing teams stay on the same page in terms of the quality and volume of leads that you are handing over to your sales team.

5) Opportunity

Opportunities are contacts who have become real sales opportunities. This stage is generally set by a salesperson in your CRM system.

6) Customer

This one is fairly self-explanatory: an actual, paying customer.

7) Evangelist

Evangelists are important people in your marketing strategy. These are advocates for your business, usually a small but vocal group who will refer new business to you or share your content regularly. Leveraging their networks often bring in new customers and help you reach leads you may not have been able to otherwise. You should have a strategy for dealing with your evangelists.

Putting it all together

These life cycle stages are used to understand where a single contact is in the buyer’s journey. It helps you know where a contact is in your sales and marketing process so you can engage them with the right level of context and relevance.

These stages help you position the right content at the right time to the right person and keeps your entire team on the same page when it comes to each of your contacts.

Your marketing systems should be able to take advantage of these life cycle stages and automate the movement of contacts through these stages.

About The Author
Craig is one of Marketing Stream's co-founders. He's spent 15+ years working with companies to develop and implement digital products & growth strategies. Craig also blogs about online business on his personal blog at CraigCherlet.com.You can also find and follow him on these social sites.
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