November 2, 2022

What is Lifecycle Marketing? + Strategies for 2024

Lifecycle stages allow you to curate information for each stage in a contact's buyer's journey and help guide them toward the next step. Monitoring these stages and the transitions between them can help you identify gaps in your marketing-sales funnel and make data-informed decisions to grow your company.

What is lifecycle marketing?

Lifecycle marketing is a strategy designed to move buyers through the different stages in the buying process, from initial awareness and education to consideration and purchase. It involves creating and delivering content that resonates with prospects at each stage of their journey, helping them move closer to making a decision.

Central to this strategy is the "Trigger, Message, Channel" structure:

1. Trigger: This refers to specific actions or behaviors a prospect or customer exhibits that indicate they are transitioning from one stage of the buying process to another. Triggers can be anything from a first website visit (signaling awareness) to repeated product views (indicating consideration), or even post-purchase feedback (suggesting a move into the loyalty phase). 

Examples of trigger events include:

    • First Website Visit: Indicates initial awareness or interest.
    • Downloading a Whitepaper or E-book: Shows a deeper interest in the content, suggesting a move from awareness to consideration.
    • Repeated Website Visits: Suggests increasing interest and movement towards a purchase decision.
    • Clicking on a Specific Link in an Email: Interest in particular content or products is useful for further personalization.
    • Not Opening Emails for a Prolonged Period: May indicate disengagement, triggering re-engagement strategies.

2. Message: Once a trigger is recognized, a customized message is carefully constructed to align with the prospect's specific stage in their journey. For example, educational content for those in the awareness phase, detailed product comparisons for those in the consideration phase, and exclusive offers or loyalty programs for existing customers.

3. Channel: This is the medium through which the message is delivered. Different channels are more effective at different stages of the lifecycle. For example, social media and blogs are great for building awareness, while email marketing might be more effective for nurturing leads and maintaining customer relationships.

By understanding and implementing the above structure in lifecycle marketing, you can more effectively guide prospects through the buying process, delivering the right message, at the right time, through the right channel, thus significantly enhancing the chances of conversion and fostering long-term customer loyalty.

How does lifecycle marketing differ from demand generation?

While both aim to nurture leads and increase conversions, lifecycle marketing takes a more targeted approach. It focuses on managing each stage of the funnel and the transitions between them, while demand generation takes a wider, more holistic view.

Additionally, you might have demand generation marketers overseeing a company’s efforts, but you typically don’t have “lifecycle marketers.” Instead, you have people who focus on specific transition points within the funnel. For example, the person responsible for optimizing the visitor-to-lead conversion is probably not also responsible for the customer-to-evangelist conversion.

Disclaimer: Lifecycle marketing better applies to companies with a long, complex sales cycle than companies with a frictionless funnel. If your company leverages product-led growth, you should check out these posts on product-qualified leads and the impact of freemium on content strategy.

What are lifecycle marketing channels?

Lifecycle marketing channels refer to the various platforms and methods through which businesses communicate with their customers at different stages of the customer lifecycle. These channels are chosen based on their effectiveness in reaching and engaging customers at each specific stage.

Here's a breakdown of common lifecycle marketing channels:

  • Email Marketing: An effective channel for personalized communication throughout various stages, nurturing leads and engaging existing customers with updates, offers, and educational content.
  • Social Media: Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are essential for brand awareness, audience engagement, community building, customer service, and encouraging customer advocacy through user-generated content and sharing.
  • Content Marketing: Blogs, videos, webinars, and infographics help in educating and engaging potential and existing customers. This channel is key for establishing thought leadership and keeping customers informed and engaged throughout their lifecycle.
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising: These channels help in driving awareness and acquisition. SEO improves organic search visibility, while PPC can target specific customer segments at different lifecycle stages.
  • Retargeting Ads: Used to re-engage visitors who have shown interest in a product or service but have not yet converted. These ads are often personalized based on the user's previous interactions with the brand.
  • Mobile Marketing: Including SMS and in-app notifications, this channel is effective for immediate, direct communication, especially for time-sensitive offers or reminders.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): These are not channels per se but essential tools for managing customer interactions across different channels. CRMs help segment customers, personalize messages, and track customer interactions throughout their lifecycle.
  • Events and Webinars: Both in-person and virtual events can effectively deepen relationships with existing customers and engage potential ones. They provide opportunities for direct interaction and can be tailored to different stages of the customer lifecycle.
  • Referral Programs: Encouraging current customers to refer new ones, often with incentives for both the referrer and the referee. This channel leverages the advocacy stage of the lifecycle.

Each of these channels plays a distinct role in lifecycle marketing, and the most effective strategies often involve a mix of several channels, tailored to the specific needs and behaviors of the target audience at each stage of the customer journey.

7 Stages of Lifecycle Marketing Strategy

By leveraging effective lifecycle management techniques, companies can develop strategies that address their customers' needs at each stage of their journey. This helps to create an engaging and personalized user experience, leading to higher conversion rates and increased ROI. By monitoring the progress of buyers through the lifecycle stages and responding with targeted content, companies can effectively nurture leads into customers.

Here are the seven stages a lifecycle marketing strategy should focus on:

  1. Visitor
  2. Lead
  3. Marketing-qualified lead (MQL)
  4. Sales-qualified lead (SQL)
  5. Opportunity
  6. Customer
  7. Evangelist


A visitor is anyone who has visited your website but hasn’t provided any information about themself.

To get visitors to become leads, you need to collect information from them through a form or conversational marketing chat. A marketer’s goal at this stage is to get visitors to a place on their website where that can happen.

You can do this by setting up your navigation in a way that guides visitors towards conversion points, by including CTAs to relevant gated offers throughout your content, and by providing opportunities for visitors to convert directly within your content. For example, pop-up forms can be used to convert a visitor right where they are, and conversational marketing can be a more engaging, user-driven way to do the same thing.

The majority of visitors won’t convert, but the people who do have demonstrated interest that indicates they could become customers later down the line. Plus, once someone does convert, you’ll get their contact information and be able to continue the conversation and nurture them.

Metrics to measure the impact of Visitors: Measure website traffic, bounce rate, time spent on the site, and pages per visit to gauge visitor engagement and interest. 

  1. Marketing-Qualified Lead (MQL): Monitor the rate at which leads become MQLs, the engagement levels with targeted marketing content, and the lead score threshold that MQLs reach.

  2. Sales-Qualified Lead (SQL): Measure the conversion rate of MQLs to SQLs, the time taken for this transition, and the effectiveness of lead nurturing campaigns.

  3. Opportunity: Track the number of SQLs that turn into opportunities, the conversion rate of opportunities to sales, and the average deal size or value.

  4. Customer: Measure customer acquisition costs, the rate of repeat purchases, customer satisfaction scores, and customer lifetime value.

  5. Evangelist: Evaluate the impact of evangelists through referral tracking, social media engagement metrics, conversion rates of referred leads, and Net Promoter Scores.


Leads are people who have provided you with some information about themselves so you know who they are and how to contact them. 

In order to convert leads into MQLs, you need to increase their interest in your company while identifying if they’d be a good fit customer.

Once someone knows who you are, you further stimulate their interest with contextually-relevant educational content. Every time a visitor returns to your website, they should have a slightly more personalized experience. Use smart content to ensure they’re not seeing promotions for offers they’ve already downloaded. Additionally, use conversational marketing to greet them personally or recommend content based on what they’ve expressed an interest in.

Since you have leads’ contact information, you can also engage them through email marketing. Your email outreach should be contextual but also scalable. Automation can be particularly useful in making that happen. You can use lists and workflows to send emails that are tailored to industries, personas, interests, etc. without having to invest time in creating one-to-one emails.

To determine a lead’s fit, you’ll need to be able to determine how closely they align with your ideal customer profile (ICP). Based on criteria like industry, company size, revenue, location, tech stack and funding, will this lead benefit from your company’s offering?

If you don’t have all that information, you’ll need to guide the lead toward filling out more forms or use enrichment tools to provide the missing information.

Metrics to measure the impact of Leads: Track lead generation metrics like the number of leads captured, conversion rates from various lead sources, and the quality of leads based on initial engagement.

Marketing-qualified lead (MQL)

MQLs are leads that have shown a higher amount of interest and are definite fits for your company.

Once you’ve nurtured a lead into becoming an MQL, the goal is to get them to take action, like booking a meeting or requesting a demo, that indicates they’re ready to start a conversation with sales.

So the marketing that you’re doing at this stage is middle- or bottom-of-the-funnel offers that connect the higher-level concepts you’ve been teaching about to how your company specifically delivers a solution to your personas’ challenges. The goal is to generate interest not just in your company but in your offering and how you can help your customers. Webinars, checklists, and templates can be particularly effective here, followed up by communications suggesting a meeting or demo.

Metrics to measure the impact of MQLs: Monitor the rate at which leads become MQLs, the engagement levels with targeted marketing content, and the lead score threshold that MQLs reach.

Sales-qualified lead (SQL)

Once a prospect books (or for some companies, attends) a meeting, they’re an SQL. To become an opportunity, they need to show that they’re willing to move forward in the buying process.

This is also the lifecycle stage where the responsibility for a lead’s progression is transferred from marketing to sales. The marketing-to-sales handoff occurs and marketing’s role switches from guiding the prospect experience to enabling sales to do so. 

However, just because a lead is transferred to sales doesn’t mean they’ve stopped engaging with marketing content. Ensure that the content you’re serving them at this point forward relates to the offering they’re considering purchasing. 

Once a meeting does occur, sales need to determine explicitly that the data collected around a prospect’s interest, fit and pain points are accurate and estimate what the deal size could be.

Metrics to measure the impact of SQLs: Measure the conversion rate of MQLs to SQLs, the time taken for this transition, and the effectiveness of lead nurturing campaigns.


An opportunity occurs when there is agreement from both sales and the prospect that the company’s offering is a viable solution for the prospect’s challenge.

Sales will be conducting hyper-personalized outreach with prospects and marketing needs to enable sales with proof that your company’s offering can do everything you’ve said it could up until this point. Case studies and testimonials are particularly useful here because they enable prospects to hear someone outside your company verify how great you are.

Marketing-created sales enablement materials like one-sheeters and FAQs can also be utilized at this stage, and product, service, and client success teams can also be involved in the sales process to help a prospect understand what their partnership with a company will look like once a deal is closed. 

Metrics to measure the impact of Opportunities: Track the number of SQLs that turn into opportunities, the conversion rate of opportunities to sales, and the average deal size or value.


Once someone closes, they become a customer. Transforming a customer into an evangelist really comes down to setting the right expectations from the start, exceeding those expectations, and continuously going above and beyond to create a great experience and strong relationship.

Customer marketing is all about helping someone get more value out of the product or service that you’re delivering to them. If that’s software, it’s about helping them use the product (i.e., Here are some knowledge base articles with everything you need to know.).

However, keep in mind that not every customer you close will have the potential to become an evangelist just as not every lead will become an MQL. While you should aim to drive success for all your customers, focus your evangelizing efforts on those customers most aligned with your ICP.

Metrics to measure the impact of Customers: Measure customer acquisition costs, the rate of repeat purchases, customer satisfaction scores, and customer lifetime value.


Evangelists are customers who have had such a positive experience with your company that they want to help your business grow. They’ll help you throughout every stage of the funnel by bringing new people to the top and providing material for case studies and testimonials to be used near the end of the funnel.

At this stage, companies want to encourage referrals and maintain positive relationships.

Metrics to measure the impact of Evangelists: Evaluate the impact of evangelists through referral tracking, social media engagement metrics, conversion rates of referred leads, and Net Promoter Scores.

Here are 5 Proven Tips to Supercharge Your Lifecycle Marketing Strategy in 2024

1. Use AI-driven content personalization to drive more visitors

AI-driven personalization tailors the visitor experience in real time, increasing engagement and the likelihood of conversion. HubSpot's Content Optimization System can be used to personalize website content based on user interactions, and its analytics tools help in tracking and understanding visitor behavior.

Strategies for driving visitors:

    • Integrate AI tools for dynamic content customization.
    • Analyze visitor data for personalized website experiences.
    • Use A/B testing to refine content personalization strategies.

Is content personalization GDPR compliant? Content personalization must comply with strict data protection and privacy regulations under GDPR. This includes obtaining explicit consent, ensuring transparency in data usage, and providing opt-out options. It's important to use privacy-respecting techniques and consult legal experts to ensure GDPR compliance.

2. Capture Leads through dynamic forms and interactive content

Dynamic forms and interactive content engage users more effectively, enhancing lead capture and data quality. Use HubSpot’s dynamic forms and interactive landing page tools to engage and capture more detailed lead information. These tools adapt to user interactions, offering a more engaging experience and valuable insights.

Strategies for capturing leads:

    • Implement adaptive web forms that respond to user inputs.
    • Create interactive content like quizzes and calculators.
    • Employ analytics to optimize these elements for higher user engagement.

3. Implement predictive lead scoring to identify MQLs

Predictive lead scoring uses data analysis to identify leads most likely to convert, improving marketing efforts. HubSpot’s lead scoring tool allows for predictive scoring based on interaction, helping to prioritize leads most likely to convert. This can be set up and automated within HubSpot’s Marketing Hub.

Strategies for identifying MQLs:

    • Develop a scoring system based on customer interaction.
    • Utilize machine learning for scoring criteria refinement.
    • Regularly adjust scoring models for improved accuracy.

4. Automate the transition from MQL to SQL

Automating this transition streamlines the lead management process, ensuring timely sales engagement. Automate the MQL to SQL transition using HubSpot's workflow tools. Define triggers for sales readiness and set up HubSpot’s sales tools to notify sales teams automatically for efficient follow-up.

Strategies for automating MQL-SQL handoff:

    • Define behavioral triggers that indicate sales readiness.
    • Set up automated notifications to sales teams based on these triggers.
    • Ensure marketing and sales platform integration for seamless data flow.

5. Leverage advanced CRM analytics for targeting opportunities

CRM analytics provide deep insights into lead behavior, enabling personalized sales approaches. Automate the MQL to SQL transition using HubSpot's workflow tools. Define triggers for sales readiness and set up HubSpot’s sales tools to notify sales teams automatically for efficient follow-up.

Strategies for targeting opportunities:

    • Utilize CRM tools for detailed lead analysis.
    • Equip sales teams with data-driven insights.
    • Conduct regular training on CRM data application.

6. Enhance Customer experience with data-driven post-purchase communication

Tailoring communication based on customer data post-purchase can enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.  Segment customers and tailor post-purchase communication using HubSpot CRM and email marketing tools. This personalized approach enhances customer satisfaction and encourages repeat business.

Strategies for improving customer experience:

    • Segment customers based on their interaction and purchase history.
    • Develop targeted communication strategies for different segments.
    • Analyze feedback to continually improve customer communications.

7. Cultivate brand Evangelists through an Advocate Marketing Program

A structured program to identify and nurture brand advocates can significantly amplify marketing efforts. Use HubSpot’s CRM and marketing tools to identify potential brand advocates. Develop referral programs and targeted campaigns using HubSpot’s email and campaign management features to incentivize and reward advocacy.

Strategies for cultivating brand evangelists:

    • Identify potential advocates based on engagement levels.
    • Implement referral programs with incentives for sharing and promoting the brand.
    • Offer exclusive benefits to active brand advocates.

The Takeaway

Once you understand what needs to happen at each lifecycle stage individually, the next step is to ensure that the entire journey through the funnel functions properly as a whole. To do so, you should take a step back from the stage-by-stage oriented lifecycle marketing and start to use a demand generation mindset instead.

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Guido Bartolacci

Guido is Head of Product and Growth Strategy for New Breed. He specializes in running in-depth demand generation programs internally while assisting account managers in running them for our clients.


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