lifecycle-stageWith the rise of social media, you’d be forgiven for thinking email marketing is dead. But you’d be wrong. A 2013 study by the predictive analytics firm, Custora found that customer acquisition via email quadrupled over the four years prior, far outpacing Facebook and Twitter.

Your email contact list is the crown jewel of your company’s marketing and sales efforts. It should be constantly protected and polished ­– nurtured to grow your email list, and cleaned to update or remove inactive contacts.

In addition to collecting the names and email addresses of prospects, other data can make your email list even more powerful. The simple truth is, sending the same message to your entire contact list, is NOT email marketing. Instead, using all the information you know about your contacts to sort and segment your list and personalize your messages will make your emails more relevant to your recipients, and more successful toward achieving the goals of your email marketing campaigns.

The ways to segment your list are virtually limitless depending on the data you have available and the marketing goals you want your campaign to achieve. Assigning a lifecycle stage is one simple way to qualify the contacts in your list and send them messages that are most likely to resonate. The lifecycle stage should be continuously updated as you learn more about each contact, such as when the contact clicks your email links, downloads certain offers, or shares your social media content. Marketing automation software, like HubSpot, makes it easy to capture, and automatically update all your customer contact data, and use it to create targeted email marketing campaigns, and effectively measure the results. Here are some common lifecycle stages.


Think of subscribers as those folks who know about you and have opted in to hear from you periodically. In many cases your subscriber base is the segment of your contacts database that has only signed up for your blog or newsletter and nothing else. You should nurture a long-term relationship with subscribers and offer them content that will increase the chances that they will move forward in the customer lifecycle.


Leads have shown more interest in what you offer than subscribers have. Typically a lead has filled out a form with more than just an email address, often for some sort of content-based offer on your website. We see companies use the lead lifecycle stage for what we think of as general, broadly appealing, or top of the funnel offers. As each lead demonstrates a higher degree of sales readiness and qualification, they will move to further stages.

Marketing Qualified Lead

Marketing Qualified Leads, commonly known as MQLs are those people who have raised their hands (metaphorically speaking) and identified themselves as more deeply engaged, sales-ready contacts than your usual leads, but who have not yet become fully fledged opportunities. Ideally, you should only allow certain, designated forms to trigger the promotion of a lead to the MQL stage, specifically those that gate bottom of the funnel offers like demo requests, buying guides, and other sales-ready calls to action.

Sales Qualified Lead

Sales Qualified Leads are those that your sales team has accepted as worthy of a direct sales follow up. Using this stage will help your sales and marketing teams stay firmly on the same page in terms of the quality and volume of leads that you are handing over to your sales team.


Opportunities are contacts who have become real sales opportunities in your sales cycle, or that you have entered into your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software.


This is everybody’s favorite lifecycle stage: an actual, paying customer.


Evangelists are those contacts that are advocates from your business. They are delighted by your product and the service you provide, and sing your praises from the rooftops! They are usually a small but vocal group who will refer new business to you unsolicited. Leveraging their networks often bring in new customers and help you reach leads you may not have been able to otherwise.


Other is the wildcard lifecycle stage. Examples of what this stage has been used for include closed lost opportunities, customer renewals, and key accounts.

Using lifecycle stages to segment and organize your email contact list is simple way make your email marketing more effective, improve open and click through rates on your messages and reduce unsubscribes, and ultimately help to close new business.