Strategy & Lead Gen

The Ultimate Guide to HubSpot Workflows

Read the Ultimate Guide to HubSpot Workflows to learn what it takes to market online successfully.

Marketing software is essential in today's competitive online world. It allows a marketer to save time and scale marketing campaigns with relative ease. However, using the software alone will not generate new leads or guarantee existing customers coming back. Successful online marketing requires taking timely, relevant actions based on what a lead or customer is doing. 

The Ultimate Guide to HubSpot Workflows

Workflows can make that happen.

What is a Workflow?

A workflow is a set of automated actions that execute based on well-defined starting conditions. The starting condition is a rule that triggers when a lead enters a workflow. The trigger can go off when a contact joins a list, submits a form, visits a page, completes an event, sets a property, or when manually triggered by you.

Let's look at an example.

What is a Workflow?


 You send out an email with a link to a particular landing page.


What is a Workflow?A lead on your email list clicks on the link and brings up your landing page.


What is a Workflow?On that page, you have an offer for a free eBook if the lead signs up for your newsletter.


What is a Workflow?The lead fills out the form and clicks 'submit.'


This triggers the workflow via your marketing software.

What is a Workflow?

It can send out the free eBook, enroll the lead in your newsletter, and send an email to the sales person assigned to that lead. 

Types of HubSpot Workflows

Possibilities for utilizing workflows in your marketing are nearly endless. Especially with the rich depth of information available in modern marketing software and the option to trigger any number of workflows based on lead actions.

1. Ongoing contact engagement 

Goal: Stay top of mind
Method: Nurturing contacts by reusing content
Metrics: Conversions

Using conditional logic, marketers can smartly reuse and promote content to folks who’ve never seen it before by creating actions around this content, like link clicks, page views, and form submissions.

For example...

If you have one main offer you are working with (and you should really create some more!), you can perform a few checks around it.

Let’s say you have an ebook for Top Marketing Quotes that you send to all new contacts. If they don’t download it after five days, you can change up the language of the email, and wait for five more days. If they don’t download it again, you send them one last message that is also using new language.

This is an example of reusing the same content, but just switching up the language in order to optimize around a specific conversion. The goal of this would be to see how many contacts convert on the offer over time.

Types of HubSpot Workflows ongoing-engagement.png

2. Drive More Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs)

Goal: Qualify more contacts faster
Method: Nurturing contacts by educating them with middle­-of-­the-­funnel content
Metrics: Number of MQLs, lead-­to-­MQL conversion rate

In order to qualify existing leads in your database, you should be nurturing them with information that applies to their specific stage in the buyer’s journey. At this point, they are in the consideration stage, so any product videos, case studies, and comparisons would serve this role well. How do you find the best format they would rather engage with?

For example....

Send your leads a top case study first ­ you probably have one of these already created. If they view the case study, you can send them an invite for a demo because they have clearly engaged with the initial piece of content.

However, if they haven’t visited the case study, you may want to send them an offer that is more light­weight than a demo ­ for example, a product video.

Types of HubSpot Workflows drive-qualified-leads.png

3. Increase Sales Efficiency

Goal: Improve lead assignment to make sales more productive
Method: Assigning leads to sales based on specific information
Metrics: Sales efficiency

If you have a sales team, workflows can help with lead distribution when new folks come into your funnel. Conditional logic will allow you to more effectively assign leads to reps based on specific information, like geography.

For example.... 

This example shows how three separate sales reps are receiving leads based on a specific territory. If a lead is from MA, they get assigned to Dimitri. If they are from NY, they get assigned to Maggie. If they are from NH, they get assigned to Mike. If they are from neither of these locations, they will get assigned to the queue.

Types of HubSpot Workflows Increase-Sales-Efficiency.png

4. Re­-engage Dormant Contacts

Goal:     Re­-engage contacts that haven’t been interacting with you
Method: Nurture a list of un-engaged contacts & offer them a way out
Metrics: Growth of engaged list, reduction in un-engaged lists

But they can be dangerous, not only because they pull back your average metrics, but also because they can be unhappy in your marketing database. Launch a re-engagement workflow that can rekindle their interest in your product/service or give them a way out.

For example...

 Send your list of unengaged contacts a top offer, one that has performed well traditionally. If they don’t download it or convert on any form within seven days, you can ask them whether they want to opt out.


5. Trial Engagement

Goal: Engage trial leads and qualify them further
Method: Driving new trial sign­-ups to use the trial
Metrics: Event completion, trial-­to-­customer conversion rate

Making sure your leads are getting the best trial experience possible with your product is a great way to further qualify these folks for your sales team. This will ensure they are on the path to success with your product with a better chance of converting to a customer. If there are key actions someone can take in a trial ­ for example, completing setup ­ you can check if these actions are performed in the desired order to move your leads through your trial.

For example, your workflow can send a Welcome to Trial email that also invites the contact to complete their setup. Five days later, if the contact hasn’t completed setup, you can remind them about that. If the contact has completed the setup, you could send them more resources to help them be even more successful.


HubSpot workflows for internal use and organization

HubSpot's workflow tool is typically primarily used for lead nurturing with automated emails. But at SparkReaction, we love taking HubSpot's tools and flipping them on their head when we can! This is how we're able to use HubSpot workflows for internal use and organization.

Changing contact properties

There will inevitably come a day where you'll want to change the contact properties of your contact database. Maybe you've learned you've classified your personas wrong, and now you need to change dozens or hundreds of your contacts to a new persona you've created.

Once you get to your workflows dashboard, proceed to make a workflow like you normally would.

  • Click New workflow
  • Name your new workflow, choose the type (standard will likely be your choice), and click Create new workflow.

When you need to set your enrollment criteria for changing a persona, you want to enroll contacts based off the property you want to change.

For example, if you want to change all your contacts who are "Marketer Mary" to "Millennial Michael," your enrollment criteria will be based on the persona.

  • Click the plus icon and select Set contact property value

HubSpot workflows for internal use and organization

  • Now select the the property you want to change for all enrolled contacts, or create a new property value.
  • Click Save.
  • Turn your workfow on, and voila, you've changed their contact property.

"Lead scoring" with lists and workflows.

While a form submission can tell you a lot about where your visitors are in their buyer's journey, sometimes their activity on your website can tell us more. Just because they don't fill out a form for your official MQL offer, doesn't necessarily mean they're not marketing qualified.

For example, if a current visitor on your website has filled out the form for your awareness offer, but has come back to your website 15 times, visiting the "about us" page and "pricing" page, you may consider them more of an MQL.

If you have HubSpot enterprise, you'll be able to create a list based off page visits. Once you've created your list, you can create a workflow to enroll everyone in that list and change their contact property.

  • Navigate to your Lists tool and click New list and give it a name.
  • Hit Save.
  • Click Page view and determine your criteria. For this specific example, we're going to use "Contact has visited URL containing" a certain number of times.

HubSpot workflows for internal use and organization

  • Click Save. Now, we have a list of contacts who have visited SparkReaction's website at least 20 times.

Now we will use your new list to enroll contacts into a workflow that will change their lifecycle stage. For this example, we want to change these contacts to MQLs, if they're not already.

  • Click New workflow
  • Name your new workflow, choose the type (standard will likely be your choice), and click Create new workflow.
  • Enroll contacts from your new list.
  • Click the plus icon and select Set contact property value.
  • Select Lifecycle stage in the first dropdown menu. Select the new lifecycle stage these people in your new list will be changed to.
  • Hit Save. Turn your workflow on.

Internal notifications

Email automation isn't exclusive to visitors to your website—automated emails via workflows can be very helpful with sending internal notifications, too.

For example, if your sales person has too many SQLs to keep track of (ain't that the dream?), she might appreciate a few email reminders about some of their activity.

Does your business offer a free trial? Your sales person may want to know that a contact's free trial will be ending soon, and they'll want to prepare a conversation with them when the trial has expired.
Workflows are the perfect way to send automatic internal notifications.

For this particular example, this is an example email I would send to an internal sales person:

HubSpot workflows for internal use and organization

Once you've finished making your email...

  • Click New workflow
  • Name your new workflow, choose the type (standard will likely be your choice), and click Create new workflow.
  • Set your criteria (if it's the trial, you can make your criteria the form submission on your trial landing page)
  • Click the plus icon and select Sent internal email. Select your email to send to your sales team.
  • Hit Save. Turn your workflow on.

Now What? Don’t Let Your Workflows Fall Flat!

How To Maintain Your Workflows

Many marketers will spend hours preparing the workflow, turn it on, just let it flow, and move on to the next one — without ever looking back.

But in reality, that’s just the beginning.


Why you can’t forget your workflows

Like any other channel in your inbound marketing strategy, workflows are never done. They need to be continually improved until they meet your goal.

Key word there: goal.

It’s like the New Year's resolution-setters at the gym. Those who have a vague goal (i.e. “work out more”) are the ones who will cancel their gym membership by March.

On the other hand, if those who set a SMART goal (i.e., run 30 minutes 3 times a week for 3 months or lose 15 pounds by June) are likely to maintain their resolution all year long.

Your workflows should have equally measurable and attainable goals

The goals you set for each workflow should relate to the next step the recipient should take. Let’s say a contact is enrolled in a workflow after downloading a top-of-the-funnel offer. The next step you want them to take could be to download a middle-of-the-funnel offer. Set up your measurable goal around that: Maybe you want 30% of workflow enrollees to take that next step.

If you set lofty goals (which is a great motivator), simply letting your workflows roll just won’t help you get there. The workflow might only get 10% of those enrollees to take the next step — and if you don’t do anything about it, you’ll fall flat.

How to maintain those workflows

Clearly the best practice is to continually analyze the workflow you’ve created, checking in on key metrics to see where it’s succeeding and if it’s coming up short anywhere. Every month or so (set a recurring calendar reminder so you never forget to check in), take a deep dive into the workflow’s analytics.

What metrics should you be looking at? Well, there’s no one-size-fits-all metric, because the metrics you’ll care about will depend on your goal.

Regardless of your goal, a few other metrics that will likely interest you are:
The conversion rate on the workflow as a whole. This high-level metrics tells you, overall, if the workflow is effective.

  • Email open rates. If nobody opens your emails, there’s a good chance something is off with the email timing, the subject line or something else.
  • Click through rates. Even if the reader doesn’t take the next step you intended, click-through rates can tell you about what’s piquing their interest or if a landing page isn’t performing well.
  • Unsubscribe rates. Lots of opt outs could mean that your emails are coming too frequently or that they’re not relevant to the audience.

Don’t just look at these numbers individually, either — they’re all interconnected. If you have a low open rate but a high conversion rate, it could be the subject line that’s throwing off your goal. A high open rate but low conversion rate could be a sign that you’re not delivering relevant content.

Finally, remember to look at both individual emails in the workflow and the sequence as a whole. If your workflow teases a bottom of the funnel offer has high engagement but no conversions on the offer, maybe that signals the prospect is interested, but still not ready to convert--so, the entire workflow might need to be longer.

Analyze, then act

And, of course, after analyzing the metrics, you need to make adjustments to remedy the problems. You could simply change whatever you’ve identified as the problem (like the subject line or the offer), but you could also get more creative with your workflow approach.

  • Use A/B testing. If you can’t figure out what’s really hindering the workflow, run a few A/B tests to figure it out. Or, if you’ve determined the problem but you’re not sure how to fix it, run a test with multiple options to help you figure out the best approach.
  • Use smart content. HubSpot customers can create workflows that customize the message based on contact’s characteristics or responses to form questions. This targeted messaging can address a variety of issues and can speak more directly to the recipients.

Every lead nurture workflow has (or should have) a specific goal in mind, and to meet those goals, you need to do more than simply writing the emails and setting up the flow. After all that hard work, you need to frequently monitor each sequence’s successes and failures until you’re meeting the objective consistently.


So, there you have it the Ultimate Guide to HubSpot Workflows. The options are endless with what you can do with them. My best advice is to start with your goals. Then prioritize what workflows to do and knock them out one by one.  

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