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Get Your Stamp On - The Importance of Date Stamping

Anonymous
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When you deposit a check at the bank, a teller stamps your check as it gets deposited (OK, I am assuming you actually go to a bank). The teller’s job is to stamp the check to ensure it gets deposited and tracked properly.


DateDollarollarphotoclub_61959548_200px.jpgIn the Marketo world, date stamping is essential for tracking the progress of important actions like lifecycle status changes. By default, you can’t rely on Marketo to track the dates when things happen. Sure, you can use filters like last 7 days but that doesn’t help your organization when you want to expose those insights within your CRM.

In this article, I’ll cover why it’s important to use date stamping and walk through some simple steps to get you started.

Leverage Date Stamping to Gain Insight into Your Lead Lifecycle

The goal of a lead funnel is to bring leads through the funnel quickly and efficiently to maximize revenue.

It’s a pretty easy concept to grasp but streamlined funnel management is one the top challenges organizations face today. According to the CMO Council, only 30% of CMOs have a clear process or program to make marketing and sales alignment a priority. Date stamping helps organizations put order to their lifecycle process chaos.

Why Date Stamp

Knowing the dates of your leads’ lifecycle events is key to gaining insight into your funnel process. If there is one tip to take away, date stamp everything related to your funnel. You know all the important dates in your life like your mom’s birthday and anniversary (hopefully). You should know when a lead hits an important milestone.

Ideal for Marketing

Date stamping offers marketers the ability to find aging leads that are stuck in the system and develop campaigns to move leads through the funnel.

You don’t eat stale bread–treat your leads the same way. By date stamping, organizations can see if leads are stagnating by running reports like below.

stagnatingleadsexample.jpg

Sales Intelligence

From a Sales perspective, lifecycle dates offer intelligence into the age of a lead. For example, Sales Management can create Salesforce.com lead queues based on the MQL Date equaling greater than two days.

Advanced Analysis

Dates also provide organizations with the ability to perform advanced analytics and cohort analysis. These reports also help organizations find operational gaps to ensure that Sales follows up with leads on a timely basis.

- How many SQLs were created last month?

- How many of last month’s MQLs converted to Opportunities?

- Last year, what was the conversion rates of each of our lead sources?

- Are leads stagnating in a certain stage?

Three Marketo Steps to Get Started

OK, enough strategy. Let’s dive into how to make this work.

The key to measuring success is to begin date stamping when the lead moves from one stage to another. I’ve seen that stamping occur on either the CRM side or on the Marketo side. Personally, I like to see the stamping occur on the automation side so it can tie into other lifecycle workflows. Plus, it provides the marketing ops team with the control so it doesn’t have to rely in Sales Ops.

1. Create date fields.

Create a Date formatted field for every status you want to track. If using Salesforce, make sure to map the fields on the lead and contact level. If you want to get granular, use the Date-Time format.

       Example: MQL Date, SQL Date, Won Date, etc.

2. Create separate lifecycle campaigns.

These campaigns listen for the status change.

       Example: If status becomes Open, then populate MQL Date with the current date.

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3. Time stamp the appropriate field using the date token.

If you haven’t used a date token before, welcome to the world of system tokens. The simple rule….when the lead status changes, use that data change as a trigger.

In the flow, populate the stage’s date with today’s date using the system token {{system.date}}. Don’t overwrite the existing date if a date already exists. These lifecycle dates should be treated as a first touch just like going through a turn style at a sporting event. If you want to get more complex, create a second set of overwritable date fields.

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Fast Tracked Leads

One last thing to consider is how to deal with leads that skip stages and fast track through the lifecycle. For example, if John becomes an MQL and then jumps to an Opportunity after a Sales call, he will have skipped the stages in between.

There are numerous ways to handle fast tracked leads. The high level answer–like a daisy chain, give credit (date stamp) to all the stages in between at the time they are skipped.

Summary

Understanding when leads move from one stage to another is essential to gaining insight into the success of your lead lifecycle model.

Good luck with your stamping.

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11 Comments

Couldn't agree more Jeff. I'd say this is probably the most important thing to add to your lead lifecycle stages that most people do not. The reporting that it unlocks is amazing. Not to mention the dashboards you can make in SFDC when you have this data there as well.

Date stamping MQL, SAL, and SQL is critical to my lifecyle reporting.  I train my sales reps to disposition an MQL within 24 hours OR ELSE. This means I can't run an MQL report on everyone with a lead status = MQL as typically only 3 or 4 show up in the report.

I've also put the stamps on contacts as I want them to be able to MQL as well.

Anonymous
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So it looks like you have a a model that treat Contacts like Leads so you can capture MQL activity of Contacts just like leads? Nice.

This is a great topic, Jeff. On more than one occasion people have mentioned attribution to me without considering the timeline. For example, "Five people clicked our ad and are customers!" Yes, but, were they already a customer before they clicked the ad?

Date stamping drives all of our marketing attribution. We've segmented SQLs (behind the scenes so as not to confuse others) so that we can see all SQLs vs Marketing SQLs (those who responded to marketing BEFORE they hit the SQL stage). Using this model we have never had marketing take accidental credit for SQLs when leads are engaged after sales is already working with them.

Anonymous
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This article came at the perfect time - I had just come to the community to see what others were doing.  Jeff  - could you explain more what you mean by "give credit (date stamp) to all the stages in between at the time they are skipped." ?

Anonymous
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Hi Chantelle. Ahhh, you are on the right track with your next level of thinking. This is a screen of the type of fast tracking rule to setup. Basically, whenever a lead changes stages, the lead gets date stamped. The campaign will look at the dates of previous stages. If a previous stage’s date is BLANK, the campaign will stamp it with today’s date. In effect, each stage gets credit for passing through as it skips.

TAL Example

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The strategy is outlined in detail in the following article.....How to Fast Track Your Lead Lifecycle - The Monopoly Approach

Level 6 - Champion

This is great! We use date stamps. Unfortunately, Anti Spam clicks falsely inflated the MQL number. I've tried to empty the MQL Date Stamp field we have by using a flow step "change data value" and marking the date "NULL", but that didn't work.  Jeff Coveney​, do you know how to clear out a date stamp field?

Level 3

Hi Jeff Coveney - do you have any insights on how recycled leads should be time stamped? For example, someone reached MQL status but was rejected by sales for nurturing. I'd like to update the MQL date when the lead becomes MQL again. But if we run a report on MQL created each month, this would skew the numbers if someone's MQL date is changing.

Amanda Thomas on your issue with the anti-spam clicks, there is a long thread on the topic that may help with scoring your MQLs more accurately here: Spam filters registering clicks?

Level 6 - Champion

Thanks, Venus Wills​. I have it set up correctly now. I'm just trying to take off the anti spam click MQLs from an  MQL added report. I need to clear the date in order to do that.

Anonymous
Not applicable

Hi Amanda. Ahhh, Recycled leads, now you are talking. Never overwrite the original MQL date because that will throw off your waterfall funnel analysis as you noted. Depending on your needs, you could add an overwritable MQL Requalified Date to get an idea of how many leads are coming back to Sales from Recycling.

Separately, you might want to consider adding a Recycle Last Date and Recycle Count (a scoring field). This will help you gain insight on if the same leads keep recycling through. If the count gets high over time, this help identify the reps who keep place leads into recycle without proper communication.