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The Quick and Dirty of the Marketo Lead Lifecycle

January 23, 2017 | Kim Para Allen | No Comments |

What is a lifecycle? How does this work in marketing automation?

This topic could span the length of a novel like Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but let’s cover some basics here!

All the questions.

What’s the definition of a lead? What’s the length of the sales cycle? What makes a lead qualified? How are leads assigned? How are statuses handled?

These are just a few of the questions that a Lead Lifecycle can help you answer.

marketo lead lifecycle

The above diagram is a starting point. This is called the Revenue Cycle Model. I like to think of this as flow chart type software. RCM lives in Marketo and allows you to map out the stages in your cycle. It’s a great opportunity to play with the transitions between different milestones and discover all the directions one lead can take!

Lead lifecycle.

Once you’re able to chart out the lifecycle, you can easily mimic this in the program build.

marketo lead lifecycle programming

We won’t spend too much time here, but essentially the program would use a specific Lifecycle channel that has a stage per program status. Each smart campaign would use the mapped out transitions to define the criteria for leads to flow. The flows can include changes to: program status, lead status, alerts, interesting moments, ratings, etc.

How does it work?

Now that you have some background on the two main components in building a lead lifecycle (the program and the RCM), let’s talk lead movement.

The first half of your lifecycle is usually marketing driven. In fact, if you look at Marketo’s default RCM model above, through the “Sales Lead” stage is about where this cuts off. Any stages before that are usually: transitioning leads by scores and interactions, and they are leads.

The second half of your lifecycle is usually sales driven. Most of these stages are controlled via contact statuses and opportunity stages. Once sales accepts and converts the leads, these are all contacts, in contact stages.

This is where I usually get questions on HOW this works. Well, a few things to keep in mind…

marketo lead lifecycle opportunity

Marketo can read stages on the Opportunity Object.  If you’re using contact roles, you’re golden!

marketo lead lifecycle contact

blog_quick-dirty-lifecycle_steps_012317Marketo can read lead and contact statuses (make sure you’re using the appropriate triggers and filter).

When building, build all lead statuses in the channel to a lower value than contact statuses (they can’t revert back to leads). Here you can see leads have statuses with steps of 10, contacts of 20…

Don’t be afraid to duplicate stages. Need one Disqualified bucket for leads? Contacts also could be Disqualified… make two stages!

Not everyone is good for your business, they can’t all live on the ‘success path.’ Make sure you have transitions to detour stages like recycled or junk.


Now you have a visual representation of your lifecycle, the executional flows, the additional reporting, and much more. It’s time to start focusing more of your effort on stuff that moves the needle the furthest. A good understanding of the lead lifecycle is a great place to start.

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