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Hubspot Sequences and Workflows: The Heart of Marketing Automation

Have you ever signed up for an ebook on a website, or reached out to customer support, and received a series of check-in emails or calls designed to make sure you make the purchase?

Have you ever appreciated (or regretted) their persistence, their precise timing? 

Even if you never ended up making that purchase, it’s difficult to forget that persistence. At least receiving those 5 memorable emails from them will ensure you never forget the name. And maybe when you’re ready to make a purchase, you’ll go back to them.

All of this is rooted in marketing automation – at the heart of which lies sequences and workflows. Their essence is simple: capture a buying journey – say, from downloading an ebook to hitting the “buy now” button – and ensure you engage that prospect as soon as he starts on that journey through a series of touch-points and check-ins. All automated. But never mass-produced.

We get it – you don’t want to spam. But imagine for a second here, the second email is triggered not randomly, but based on a precise logic. You subscribe for an ebook. If you open the email three times, signifying high interest, an automatic follow up is triggered. Maybe you visited the contact page again or spent a few minutes browsing the price list. Your every move is being watched – and scored – and just when you tip your hand, you get nudged.

There really is a little big magic involved.

Well, HubSpot is designed to make this do-able, and even effortless! HubSpot offers different methods of automating email check-ins and touch points, streamlining sales and email marketing campaigns – through sequences and workflows’. 

Which of these two tools you choose to go ahead will depend on where your prospects are at the moment in their buyer’s journey, what is your aim when it comes to your mail lists, and most importantly, your HubSpot subscription.

It’s equally important to notice that sequences versus workflows in HubSpot is never an either/or decision. Instead, Workflows and Sequences can and should work together harmoniously to maximize the potential of your mail lists, for different types of leads, and effectively drive conversions.

Now, without any further ado, let’s scroll down to understand how these two tools differ, and when, where, and how you should use sequences and workflows. 

What are workflows and Sequences?

Here’s a quick primer on this technical jargon. 

Sequences allow you to stalk and hunt your hot leads and introduce them specific incentives through a string of messages with specific delays in between. 

For example, with Sequences, instead of using daily reminders to share mails with a prospect one after the other, you can automatically share your mails with them after X number of days. In this way, you can use sequences for follow-ups that need to happen with your most engaged prospects.

On the other hand, workflows, as delineated by HubSpot, are a set of actions that takes place automatically based on certain branching logic and conditions (in HubSpot’s words, an enrolment criteria).

For example, you can use workflows to share a welcome email every time a customer engages with your service/product. In this case, signing-up with your service will meet your condition or enrollment criteria. 

Who can use HubSpot Sequences and Workflows?

Moving on, the next decisive factor to consider before you dive deeper into sequences: your HubSpot subscription. 

When do you use HubSpot Sequences and Workflows? 

Now, let’s move forward with the next important question – ‘when’ – that will easen up your process to understand sequences.  

Sequences

The best places to use sequences are when you have a specific offer that needs to be delivered to a specific lead (or a pool of different leads). 

The lead we discuss here is typically a contact who is already interested in your service or product. They are primed to make their decision, and your email sequence can be timed precisely to provide them with one final push (or two, maybe three!) they need to convert into your customer.   

In a nutshell, sequences are a better fit when

  • A 1:1 relationship is established between the sales representative and your prospect.  
  • You need to share a series of targeted, timed emails to nurture your prospects over time. 
  • You want to automatically create tasks to remind you to follow up with your prospects. 
  • The content of the message needs to be highly personalized. 

Workflows

It’s best to use workflows to lay the groundwork for leads who are relatively new to your sales funnel, or to those you are just now introducing your product/service. These leads can be imported as a contact list, or those who have shared their email address with you in return for a cheat sheet/whitepaper download or similar incentives.

Most importantly, you can use Workflows to nurture the relationship, and prepare these leads for eventual conversion. 

Workflows are a better fit when,

  • You need to automatically enroll companies, contacts,  tickets, deals, or quotes in a series of actions.
  • You want to nurture leads at the Consideration or Evaluation stage. The ones who spoke to your sales rep but failed to make a purchase. 
  • You want to automate your sales, services, and marketing processes, such as updating property values or executing a marketing email campaign.
  • You need to schedule a series of actions consisting of emails, phone calls, or even, text messages gently nudging them and staying at the top of their minds.
  • The required action can be triggered automatically.
  • An instant follow-up is required. 

How do HubSpot sequences and workflows work?

Moving on with the next question – ‘how’ – how do sequences and workflows work in HubSpot? 

Sequences

Step 1: Create A Sequence 

You can create a sequence using  task reminders and email templates. You can also customize the delay between two sequence steps. This will help you to execute mails and tasks when you want them to.

Remember sequences calls for you to enrol your contacts manually, and these contacts are used to target leads who are more likely to engage with your mails, book a meeting or consultation. 

Step 2: Track Whenever A Contact Answers

Since emails are sent from your integrated inbox, and track whenever a contact answers to your mail, it’s easy for sequences to unenroll that particular contact. 

The moment your contact answers, they are automatically ‘unenrolled’ from your email sequence. Additionally, there’s scope for manual enrollment as well, for example, if they contact you outside of your email sequence. 

Step 3: Schedule The Mails According To Your Chosen Day/Times

You can choose the emails that need to be shared at the chosen times or days of the week, including times or days that have been highlighted as having the highest open rate.

To make the entire process simpler, you also receive recommendations from HubSpot on how to better personalize or format your email for higher responses and engagement.

Here are a couple of ways in which you can use sequences, 

Automating follow-ups

This one’s quite obvious. You have just ended a conversation with a prospect who is day, weeks, or a month far from taking the next step.

Using HubSpot’s sequences, you can game up your follow-up for the right day and time. 

Eliciting a response

It’s for the cases when you hope to get in touch with a prospect and plan to reach out a number of times in the upcoming weeks. 

Sequences make it easy to start this process, and not have to keep track of where many different prospects are in your process. If someone replies, the sequence comes to an end. Quite simple. 

Scheduling messages when the details are most fresh in your memory:

Chances are that if you schedule a follow up when the details are freshest in your memory, the result is going to be more targeted than it would be if you are writing a follow up from memory months later, or operating off notes you had to dig up.

A shared library of approaches

It’s imperative to keep your team on the same page, and sharing a sequence is a phenomenal way to make sure everyone on the team benefits when someone finds how an approach that actually works.

Workflows

Step 1: Choose A Workflow Type

Like sequences, workflows can be shared with both automatically and manually enrolled contacts. These mails are crafted to keep your customers engaged by following up with them until they convert. 

To begin with workflows, you can choose whether you want to commence your or from a template, or from scratch.

To start from scratch, you can select Company-based, Contact-based, Deal-based,  Quote-based, or Ticket-based as the workflow type.

If you choose templates, you can start with a default set of enrollment triggers and actions.

Step 2: Decide Your Enrollment Criteria

After freezing your workflow type, you need to set the enrollment criteria. Any contact that meets specified parameters like visiting certain webpages, performing a specific action. For example, downloading an ebook offer, will ‘trigger’ contact enrolment. 

Additionally, you can manually enroll a contact within your workflows series. 

Step 3: Add The Right ‘Action’

The final step involves ‘choosing the right action’. ‘Actions’ can be understood as functions that the workflow will execute for an enrolled contact. 

You can choose four actions in your workflow. They can be,

  • Add delay
  • Add if/then branch
  • Enroll in another workflow
  • Trigger a webhook
Add Delay

‘Add delay’ is used to fix an amount of time between the next and the last action, and your enrolled contacts will wait the specified period before they get to their next action. You can set the period in hours, minutes, or even, hours. 

Add if/then branch

With the if/then branch, you can direct your enrolled contact down a specific path based on the conditions. 

For example, in this image if a company contact has the value Accounting in the property Industry, it will follow the YES path. If not, it will follow the NO path.

Enroll in another workflow

This action will let you enroll the contact in the current workflow into a different workflow, but remember you can enroll a contact into a workflow of the same type.

For example, deals can only be enrolled into another deal-based workflow.

Trigger a webhook

Quite simple. This action allows your workflow to interact with external applications. 

For instance, webhooks can share a company’s information, that’s in JSON, to an external CRM.

Unlike sequences, workflows do not unenroll contacts automatically. Instead whenever a contact engages with one of your workflows emails, their reply gets redirected to the inbox set as the “reply to” email address. However, you can exercise the goal criteria to trigger contacts to stop executing the workflow. 

For example, if your recipient interacts with the CTA button, you can exercise that as a criterion to prompt unenrollment. Further, you can also use a meeting link (it can be found under ‘form submissions in HubSpot) to trigger contact unenrollment once the form is complete. 

For successful unenrollment, make sure your goal criteria are set as ‘either-or’ and not as ‘both,’ so your recipient has only one condition to be unenrolled. 

Here are a couple of ways in which you can use HubSpot workflows,

Assign or change HubSpot owners

This is exceptionally useful when you need to assign a particular type of leads to a team member based on factors like company size, geographical location, industry, etc. 

If you follow a two-part sales process, you can design a workflow that assigns all leads to sales representative A, but once a lead has taken a particular action. Then, the workflow will change the HubSpot owner to sales representative B. 

If you follow a sales process that includes several sales reps at different stages, you can use workflows with the appropriate conditions to update HubSpot owners. 

In this image, the workflow automatically updates a contact’s lifecycle stage to ‘Opportunity’ and updates the contact’s HubSpot Owner to ‘Alyssa Yap,’ based on certain enrolment criteria.

Although, we understand, you can do this manually. However, by leveraging workflows you can put your time into more revenue-driving areas. 

 Abandoned shopping cart workflow
[Main Trigger: Shopping Cart Abandonment]

The truth is most of your customers never make it to the checkout page, and you’re not alone. According to SalesCycle, roughly 76% of customers abandoned their carts, which means that you’re losing about half of your revenue to customers simply changing their minds. 


The workflow here is simple: When a visitor adds an item to their online cart but leaves your site without making a purchase, you can trigger an abandoned cart message to your visitors within a day of their visit to remind them to resume their purchase. 

A Bonus Tip!

Working around the enrollment limitations is the best way to use workflows to send sales emails; this means that you can share emails that look like sales emails to leads automatically, and without even enrolling them.

How do I do that, you may be wondering? 

It’s straightforward. Use one of the many email templates to draft your own ‘sales’ template. Use plain formatting in this email, just like you would do for sending mails from your inbox. Once done, set a call to action to trigger unenrollment once the goal criteria are met.

This will provide a smooth sequence-like functionality with workflows, and you can use it to send occasional sales emails. In this way, you won’t even have to use both sequences and workflows! 

Whether you have access to both these features or not is dependent on your HubSpot subscription. Regardless, these two automation tools will make your email sales and marketing much more accessible and smoother. 

In a nutshell, 

If you’re doing this manually, you know you can do better. If you’re doing this – but not with Hubspot – it’s okay, we still like you. If you’re not doing it AT ALL – well, we all start somewhere! 

Let this be your start. Set up a consultation today! 

Author avatar
Pratyush

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