Monthly reporting and analysis comprise an integral part of any marketing strategy. One of the most interesting and useful methods of reporting is done by breaking down your contacts by lifecycle stage and the date they converted to that particular lifecycle stage.
Lifecycle stages are a contact property that demonstrates where your contacts are in the marketing funnel. They are an important part of segmentation, as lifecycle stages allow you to tailor content specific to each contact by which stage they are in.
Different Lifecycle Stages
There are several different lifecycle stages, but for the purpose of this article, we will only be focusing on three. While the exact definition of a lead, marketing qualified lead (MQL), and sales qualified lead (SQL) can change from organization to organization, HubSpot defines them in relatively universal terms:
These contacts have only provided you with the most basic information, typically for a blog subscription or newsletter.
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.
Marketing Qualified Leads
MQLs are those people who have raised their hands (metaphorically speaking) and identified themselves as sales-ready and more deeply engaged than your usual leads, but who have not yet become full-fledged opportunities. A good rule of thumb for MQLs is “Are these leads you would invest another dollar marketing to?”
Sales Qualified Leads
SQLs are those whom 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 customer relationship management system.
Need we say more? This is an actual paying customer.
These are your biggest supporters. They promote your company and bring in business by talking, blogging, tweeting, or otherwise praising your product or services.
(If you need help with how to use HubSpot to define your lifecycle stages, see here.)
How to Use HubSpot to Show Lifecycle Stages by Month
After defining your lifecycle stages, you might be asking yourself how to use HubSpot to show your leads, MQLs, and SQLs on a monthly basis. This is an important step for analyzing your inbound marketing strategy and its performance.
Here at SmartBug, we review the number of leads, MQLs, and SQLs created every month. We look at month-over-month growth and use this information to help plan our inbound efforts.
For example, if March had a particularly high amount of MQLs compared to other months, we might want to look back at what campaigns we executed in March to see what resonated well with our audience. If we have a large amount of leads coming in, but if none of them is converting to MQLs or SQLs, then we might have to make sure we’re producing content aligned with middle- and bottom-of-the-funnel needs.
There are a couple different methods when it comes to how to use HubSpot in this manner. The first of which is using Smart Lists.
To create a Smart List of contacts with a specific lifecycle stage set during a specific period of time, you simply create a new list and set enrollment criteria to “became a ____ date” with the selection “in between _____ and _____” checked off. For example, if you wanted to see all MQLs created in March, it would read: “became a Marketing Qualified Lead in between 03/01/2016 and 03/31/2016.”
This is a real-life example of how that list would look. You can change the lifecycle stage and dates to suit your reporting needs. Simply save the list and it will generate a list of contacts that meet your specified criteria.
The other method you can use to show lifecycle stages by month is by creating a custom report. While contacts reporting is only available through HubSpot to enterprise-level accounts, it provides slightly easier access to your data. The process is relatively similar to creating a Smart List—only, this time, you’re creating a new contacts report from scratch. You would then select the reporting criteria and set the date range.
When you create the report, it will then show you an easy-to-read graph displaying all contacts who converted to that lifecycle stage during the specified time period.
This is also useful for viewing a month-over-month comparison to discover trends over time and gain better insight into your marketing efforts.
While there are numerous ways to view and analyze your data, breaking down your contacts by lifecycle stage and date is one method that any HubSpot user should have in his or her marketing arsenal. It will provide you valuable information about your inbound efforts, including your campaign and content performance and how that resonates with your contacts.
Are there any other methods of reporting that you find invaluable to your inbound efforts? Do you want to see any other articles talking about how to use HubSpot? Let us know!
This post was originally published in 2016—it has been updated since.