HubSpot lifecycle stages are incredible — when you know how to set them up and use them well. This can be challenging when you’re still figuring out the CRM and its tremendous functionalities.
To help you make the right decisions and optimize ROI from lifecycle stages, we’ve compiled a list of best practices that cover key areas like funnel reports, automation with workflows, smart content, and custom lifecycle stages.
Ready? Let’s get started.
Setting up HubSpot lifecycle stages the right way
Defining lifecycle stages on HubSpot is easier said than done. Many businesses fall into the trap of making their lifecycles too complex or creating ‘ideal’ lifecycles that are incompatible with how things really work. Here’s how you can avoid making these rookie mistakes.
1. Understand your existing processes first
Before you even touch the HubSpot CRM to set your lifecycle stages, stop! Take a step back. Evaluate your existing funnel and processes first.
Why do this? To save yourself the heartburn of having HubSpot lifecycle stages that are far from the reality of how your funnel actually works.
Before setting up lifecycle stages on HubSpot, map out exactly how you win customers. Talk to your revenue teams, go deep into the buyer’s journey, and define the goals and metrics for every stage of the lifecycle.
Seems like a lot of hard work? We know. But it’s worth it.
2. Don’t make your custom lifecycle too complex
HubSpot’s default stages too basic for you? You can now create your own stages! Despite the exclamation mark, that’s not necessarily a good thing.
Just because you can customize lifecycle stages doesn’t mean you should.
HubSpot’s done a pretty good job of defining typical lifecycle stages. Now, if you add layers that aren’t really needed, you’re defeating the purpose of having lifecycle stages in the first place—making ops simpler.
Our advice? Keep it simple. Unless you have a solid case for customization, stick to the default lifecycle stages.
If you’re still not convinced that the default configuration is right for you, ask yourself these questions before adding a new stage.
- How will this stage differ from the previous or the next one?
- Will renaming this stage eliminate the need to add a new one?
- What will be the goals of this stage?
- What will be the criteria for this stage?
Once you have definitive answers to these questions and are convinced you need to change things up, go ahead and do it. (Or let us do it for you!)
Getting more value from HubSpot lifecycle stages
Lifecycle stages are of more value than just tracking funnel progression. They also help you automate repetitive tasks, nurture leads, personalize content, and understand funnel performance. Here’s how.
3. Automate to save time and effort
Lifecycle stages change constantly. Unless you have a ton of free time, there’s no way you’re manually updating stages. So, automate!
Update lifecycle stages with hidden form fields
One way to automatically update a contact’s lifecycle stage is to set hidden fields in your forms.
A hidden form field with Lifecycle stage as the property ensures that you assign a stage as soon as a contact fills your form.
Hidden form fields also come in handy if you have different forms for different funnel stages.
For example, say you have a form targeting contacts that are sales qualified. A hidden form field will assign the SQL stage once the form is filled. Pretty neat, isn’t it?
Update lifecycle stages with workflows
Another way to update lifecycle stages automatically is to create workflows that constantly assign stages to contacts.
You can set up and test a relevant enrollment trigger to update contact information. Here’s how you do it:
- Go to ‘Automations’ in the main navigation bar and click ‘Workflows’ from the dropdown.
- Click on ‘Create a workflow’ at the top right, and select ‘From scratch.’
- Select the option that says ‘Contact-based’ and choose a blank workflow. Name your workflow and click ‘Next.’
- Click on ‘Set up triggers’ and select the appropriate trigger from the list of options. E.g., form filled on a specific page.
- Click the ‘+’ icon on your workflow, and scroll down to the ‘Property management’ section. Click ‘Set property value.’
- Under the ‘Property to set’ tab, search for ‘Lifecycle stage’ and click on it. Then select the relevant lifecycle stage and click ‘Save.’
4. Set up kickass lead nurturing workflows
Besides defining lead journeys, you can also use HubSpot lifecycle stages as a property for lead nurturing workflows. Such workflows help you:
- Automate lead nurturing
- Engage buyers with targeted communication
- Nudge prospects further down the funnel
Here’s how you automate lead nurturing with workflows.
1. Segment your contacts
First, create active contact lists based on different lifecycle stages and other relevant variables. An active list will stay updated as you keep adding new contacts.
2. Create targeted content
Next, create targeted content for funnel-specific offerings. For instance, you could offer your segmented audience a downloadable ebook, a product guide, or a whitepaper.
Here’s an example of what your content offering could look like.
Then, create email content for different stages of the lead nurturing program. The content needs to be personalized to the audience’s interests and requirements and should link to a relevant content offering.
3. Build and test your workflow
Finally, create your lead nurturing workflow and set your segmented list as an enrollment trigger. Refer to this straightforward guide to building lead nurturing workflows. Don’t forget to test your workflow before taking it live.
Pro tip: Lead nurturing workflows are exciting but try not to overengineer them with too many branch actions. Keep things simple.
5. Use smart rules for targeted content
HubSpot has a super cool smart content feature, which tracks cookie data so you can show different types of content to different audience segments.
One of the smart rule categories is HubSpot lifecycle stages, which means content can be targeted to contacts at different stages of the funnel.
For instance, someone at the Lead stage can be shown website content different from what someone at the ‘Opportunity’ stage might want to see.
Smart content can be valuable for your lead nurturing efforts. Imagine showing new site visitors top-funnel content and product demos to bottom-funnel prospects.
6. Create funnel reports to become smarter
If you need a quick look at how your funnel is performing, try building a funnel report on HubSpot. This report will tell you how many contacts or deals move through selected lifecycle or deal stages.
Funnel report data can help you:
- Get an overview of how your funnel is performing
- Find out how individual deal owners are performing
- Find out how various marketing channels are performing
- Understand the quality of your lead nurturing efforts
- Identify stages that aren’t being used
There are two ways you can create your funnel reports.
This report gives you data about contacts or deals that have moved through every stage of the specified funnel.
Don’t forget that in this report format, contacts should have gone through all of the stages in the selected sequence. If they skip a stage, that data won’t appear in the final count.
For example, say your described funnel is Lead > MQL > SQL. But typically, your contacts go directly from Leads to SQL and skip the MQL stage, HubSpot will show you inaccurate conversion data. Comprende?
This report format is similar to the ‘All Stages’ report. The critical difference is that you’ll see the count of contacts that have gone through any of these stages; they don’t need to go through every specified stage.
Don’t forget to keep your data updated
HubSpot lifecycle stages can be very valuable not just for tracking funnel performance but also for automating processes and nurturing leads. For this to happen effectively, your lifecycle data needs to be regularly updated.
We recommend reviewing your funnel performance frequently and auditing your lifecycle data to keep your CRM data clean and useful.