Lead Lifecycle Explained: What It Is (& Why It Matters)

8 min read

Lead Lifecycle Explained: What It Is (& Why It Matters)

Have you heard the term “lead lifecycle,” but you’re not 100% clear on what it is (or how to use it)?

If so, then you’re definitely in the right place. Because today, we’re going to take a look at lead lifecycles, what they are, and why they matter.

Then, at the end of this post, we’ll teach you the easiest way to track your lead lifecycles so you can get higher conversions and drive more sales.

Let’s dive in by getting clear on what we mean by the term “lead lifecycle.”

What Is the Lead Lifecycle?

what is a lead lifecycle

Your lead lifecycle is the process that a person goes through from their first engagement with your business to the point where they part with their cash.

Each person who interacts with your brand is a potential lead. But only a small percentage will end up converting to become customers.

Depending on your product, that might be a speedy process, or it might be a long one. If your products or services are on the more expensive side, it will likely take longer to move people through the stages of your lead lifecycle.

And each lead will move through the stages at their own speed.

What is more predictable is the stages themselves. Of course, there are always outliers who do things in an unexpected order.

But for most people, the stages in the lead lifecycle will look like this:

1. Subscribers

This first stage in the journey is when a lead becomes interested in your business. They might subscribe to your newsletter or your blog, for example.

In some cases, you might count social media followers in here too, although some brands won’t include them, as you don’t yet have their details in your customer relationship management (CRM) database. It depends on how you and your target audience use social media and how you track leads.

2. Leads

Leads are a step up from subscribers. Their interaction with your company is more active. Rather than passively reading your content, they have taken some action that indicates they are potentially interested in your products or services.

Often this will be people who have downloaded marketing content from your website.

3. Marketing-Qualified Leads

A marketing-qualified lead (MQL) is someone who the marketing team deems to be a solid enough lead to pass to the sales team.

The criteria you use to determine who is an MQL will depend on your brand – there are no hard and fast rules. You’ll need to draw on data from past customer lifecycles to help you decide who falls into this category.

But some examples include:

  • Downloading a buyers’ guide, prospectus, or customer case studies
  • Visiting your products page frequently
  • Downloading several of your awareness-raising content offers
  • Watching a demo video

This is an important step in the lead lifecycle because it is when a prospective customer is passed from the marketing team to the sales team.

4. Sales-Qualified Leads

Once a contact is with your sales team, they’ll decide who has become a sales-qualified lead (SQL). Again, the criteria they use will vary depending on your unique setup.

This stage usually involves some kind of direct contact with your sales team. That might be a discovery call, a demo, or a request for a quote.

5. Opportunities

If that initial contact with your sales team goes well and it seems likely that the contact will convert to become a customer, they move further along the lead lifecycle and are deemed an opportunity.

They might still have some final questions or reservations, but they are well on their way to making a purchase. Your sales team will be actively engaging the contact at this point.

6. Customers

You’ve made it to the last stage… Congrats! This point in the lead lifecycle is when your carefully nurtured contact finally puts their hand in their wallet and makes a purchase.

Of course, the relationship doesn’t stop there. But at this point, the contact is usually handed off to the customer service team for support and retention.

If you are familiar with how sales funnels work, you’ll probably notice some similarities between lead lifecycles and sales funnels.

The difference is one of focus. A sales funnel approach concentrates on the sale itself, so it tends to be more about processes.

The lead lifecycle focuses on the customer instead of the sale.

That makes it a good fit for companies whose strategy is based on connecting with their customers. It helps you to put quality content and genuine engagement at the heart of your marketing and sales strategy.

Why Is the Lead Lifecycle Important?

why is a lead lifecycle important

One reason that the lead lifecycle is worth tracking is that it gives a clear process for deciding when potential customers should be handed from the marketing team to the sales team. It ensures that no one falls through the gaps.

It also makes this process measurable. By analyzing what percentage of your MQLs progress to become SQLs, you’ll have a way of tracking the success of your criteria in identifying useful leads.

With this data in hand, you can refine your processes so that only the best leads make it to your sales team. That gives them time to focus on nurturing prospects who are likely to convert, without wasting time on people who are never going to become customers.

And the lead lifecycle also helps you plan your content and marketing activities. You can segment your audiences based on where they are in the lifecycle, then create targeted campaigns specifically aimed at moving them to the next stage.

As you build more data, you can measure your success rate for each stage in the process. This helps you to tweak and optimize your communications to get the best possible conversion rates.

How to Use Lead Lifecycles to Improve ROI from Marketing Strategies

how to use a lead lifecycle

The lead lifecycle acts as a roadmap to help you plan your marketing. You have a clear aim – to move each person to the next stage of the lifecycle.

You also have an agreed process for segmenting your audiences based on where they are in the lead lifecycle.

Having these two things in hand gives you an easy way to assess the success of your marketing activities. Does this help to move people to the next stage in the lifecycle? If the answer is yes, keep doing it.

If the answer is no, you can safely put it on the back burner and focus your time on something else.

You’ll also have a clear idea of what content is needed for contacts at each stage. Subscribers need good-quality blog posts and email content that will get them interested in what else you can offer.

Leads are ready to take the next step and find out more about you. For them, you might offer educational content that positions you as a source of authority, such as eBooks, guides, or white-papers.

MQLs are actively researching your offer. So, they need clear, compelling guides that demonstrate how your company’s products or services will add value to their lives, such as case studies or video demos.

From there, your sales team can develop their own approach that fits with the feel of your marketing content and helps the potential customer continue to move through the stages.

Because you have a defined journey for your customers, you can easily analyze the success of each piece of content you create. This gives you a clear way to measure your ROI and optimize your content to improve your results.

How to Track KPIs to Improve Your Lead Lifecycle

The easiest way to track your KPIs to make improvements to your lead lifecycle status is with Metrics Watch:

metrics watch homepage

Metrics Watch is the most frictionless marketing report builder on the market. It allows you to quickly and easily pull data from your favorite marketing sources, such as:

  • Google Analytics
  • Google Search Console
  • AdWords
  • Facebook (paid and organic)
  • Instagram (paid and organic)
  • And much more…

With this data, you can look for strengths and weaknesses in your sales funnel. That way, you can more efficiently (and effectively) plan your content marketing campaigns to meet your leads wherever they are in their customer journey.

And the best part is that there is ZERO friction with report sharing. That’s because unlike most report builders available, Metrics Watch sends the data to directly to your recipients’ inbox.

This makes life easier for everyone as there are no PDF attachments to organize or 3rd-party URLs that require unique login information.

Instead, your recipient gets the data they need in a format they know–sent automatically daily, weekly, or monthly.

Ready to give it a shot? Click below to start your risk-FREE Metrics Watch trial today (no credit card needed):

Start Your Free Metrics Watch Trial Today

And that’s all for today! I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, you might also want to check out the following resources:

These articles will have everything you need to create smarter, more profitable marketing reports that you can use to drive more sales.

Start sending automated reports today

Start your free trial, no credit card required!