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Video: Introduction to Marketing and Sales Automation (6:17)

An introductory video on what marketing and sales automation is and why workflows are important to achive inbound success.

Hi, welcome to an introduction to marketing and sales automation. I’m Courtney with HubSpot Academy.

Why are workflows important to how you achieve inbound success? That’s a big question, and together we are going to find the answer.

First off, what is marketing and sales automation?

Automation refers to the software that exists to help you automate your marketing and sales actions. Many businesses automate repetitive tasks, such as email follow-up, social media, and other website actions in order to nurture contacts through their lifecycle.

Automation is also used to assist with deal creation and internal notifications.

In the HubSpot software, we call this process of automation “workflows”. Workflows are a set of actions that automatically execute in the software based on a starting condition and rules set by the user.

But why are workflows important to your business? Are they just a time saver? Or are they something more?

Here’s a hint: They’re something MUCH more.

In recent years, automation has become an industry buzzword and a staple for many marketers and sales professionals. Any business can use workflows to help accomplish specific goals.

You may think “But Courtney, don’t I need lots of content for workflows to work? I just started with inbound, and I don’t have this library built up yet.” You don’t need lots of content to start using workflows. You can use them for just about anything. You can even begin with operational workflows that support internal communication and transparency.

Automation software is a powerful tool, but all that power and flexibility can sometimes translate into complexity and a lack of focus in your inbound efforts. To avoid this lack of focus, it’s crucial to understand how your leads are making their way through your workflows and set goals to help you get them there.

We, as inbound professionals, know the truth: our contacts aren't going through our lead nurturing campaigns in isolation. Successful automation relies on triggering relevant and timely actions, based on context. This is what makes inbound special — the idea that how our contacts interact with our content matters.

In other words, our contacts aren’t just reading the emails we send them; they're also reading our blogs posts, visiting our website, and engaging with us on social media.

To make sure your workflows are working for your contacts, they must be closely aligned with your lead nurturing strategy. To give you a little more context, lead nurturing is the practice of engaging and building relationships with your contacts via automated touches with the end goal of closing more educated and qualified customers faster.

Workflows allow you to use the data you have on your contacts' behavior to create personalized, relevant marketing with context. For example, the information you collect on a form submission or in your contact’s behavior with your emails is perfect information to create personalized marketing for them.

Workflows are built using contact properties. And, simply put, a contact property stores specific information about an individual contact. Examples of this are first name, last name, and email address.

Any contact property can be used as an action in a workflow. This could be a contact property like a lifecycle stage switching from a lead to a marketing qualified lead, for example. This kind of automation helps you keep your marketing relevant and up to date for your contacts.

One example of a workflow action you might use is sending out a follow-up email with your promised offer when a contact fills out a certain form. Another might be sending out reminder emails for your upcoming webinar AND a follow-up email after the event.

Workflows are primarily used in the close stage of the inbound methodology to help support a contact move into the customer stage. But workflows can also be used continuously throughout a customer's lifecycle to delight them or re-engage them.

By understanding the value of using workflows for marketing AND sales automation, you can use your automation process as the foundation of your inbound strategy.

Workflows help you execute multiple actions at desired intervals throughout a contact’s lifecycle. You can also use branching logic to set specific actions based on how a contact has interacted with your content or website.

Branching logic means you can have your contacts follow one path or another based on an action in your workflow. For example, if you send someone an email, you can have that contact receive different content depending on which option they click, A or B.

Not only are workflows powerful enough to automate your lead nurturing, they can help your team complete internal tasks. Some examples of this could be notifying a sales rep when a contact submits a free trial form, or automatically setting an internal contact property, such as Trial Start Date.

But workflows don’t do all the heavy work for you. Many businesses still use this tool as simply glorified email distribution, HOWEVER, the most successful inbound companies use their automation systems for a variety of different goals. This means discussing and defining what your business’ lead nurturing and automation goals are. Just like anything in your inbound strategy, you need to set goals of what you wish to accomplish with these tasks.

Like most things in life, communication is key with automation, and both the marketing and sales teams should understand the value of and the actions inside your workflows.

Now you can start to see the importance of understanding how automation works and the advantages it can bring to your business.

Quiz: Introduction to Marketing and Sales Automation


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  • Transcripts

Video: Workflows and Lead Nurturing (5:45)

This video covers and explains how you can use workflows for your lead nurturing campaigns. As well as the five best practices of workflows. 

Hi, I’m Courtney with HubSpot Academy. Let’s learn about how you can use workflows for your lead nurturing campaigns.

Let’s start by defining what exactly lead nurturing means for your business.

Lead nurturing is the practice of engaging and building relationships with your contacts via automated touches with the end goal of closing more educated and qualified customers, faster.

One thing to note is that to nurture leads in any workflow, a contact will need to be entered into your database with a valid email address.

To create a successful lead nurturing workflow, you’ll want to focus on three key aspects. First, your goal should be to grow and nurture relationships. Second, provide educational content to your contacts. And last, use personalization to provide a delightful experience.

These three aspects will help guide the creation and execution of your workflows. Setting a goal for your workflow will help you focus on what you want your contacts to accomplish, such as moving through the lifecycle stages or registering for a webinar.

Providing your contacts with educational content will be what supports your goal. This could be something like passing along information about a webinar or nurturing them with more content that addresses the problem they wish to solve. Lastly, make sure all this content that’s going out to your contacts is personalized to them and the stage they’re currently in in their lifecycle.

But wait! Before you start putting together your workflow, let’s take a step back and look at the best practices of planning your workflow logic.

Before attempting to build your workflow and its associated lists and emails, it’s critical you map out the steps that will guide your contacts toward your intended goal.

The five best practices of creating a workflow are first, define the goal of the workflow. Second, identify which contacts should be enrolled. Third, select the appropriate number and types of emails to send. Fourth, choose time delays between the emails, and last, identify contacts to suppress from your workflow.

Let’s take a look at those best practices individually.

The first best practice is to define a goal for your workflow. Workflows can be built with many different purposes in mind. Some of the most common goals for an effective lead nurturing campaign are moving leads further through the buyer’s journey or setting a custom contact property to identify a contact’s specific persona.

Each lead nurturing workflow you build should have a specific goal focused on some kind of meaningful action the contact takes.

The goal you set for a workflow should have ONE outcome, and it should be trackable. There should never be any gray area around whether the goal was completed or not.

The second best practice of building a lead nurturing workflow is to identify which contacts should be enrolled in the workflow.

It’s important to clearly define the group of contacts you’ll be communicating with to make sure you’re getting the right information to the right people at the right time. When it comes to building a relationship around context to properly educate your contacts, this is important.

After defining the correct segment of contacts, you’ll want to look at the type of content you’ll be delivering to them and the appropriate number of emails to send. This is best practice number three.

Depending on the personas that are included in your workflow, the number of emails you send them will vary. The best practices for selecting the right type of emails will be to keep them short and relevant. Make sure the subject line is relevant to the action the contact took to get enrolled in the workflow. Personalize the content of the email based on their enrollment criteria.

The types of emails you might send out in a workflow vary. The goal of your first email will likely be to build trust or condition. The second might be an additional download. The third might be an action-based email. And lastly, either the contact will take the end action you were hoping for, or you send them a breakup email.

Now that you know the goal of your workflow, the contacts who will be enrolled, and the type of emails you’ll be sending, you’ll need to look at the fifth best practice: deciding on the delays to add between each workflow email.

Timing is always important when nurturing leads. You can easily upset people by emailing them too much or too little.

When deciding on time delays, remember who will be enrolled in the workflow and if you have any information on their email habits with your business.

Experiment! You’ll need to base this decision on what suits your personas best, and this means testing things.

Lastly, look at the contacts that need to be suppressed from entering your workflow. This could include contacts that don’t find your specific product or service relevant, competitors in your database, or anyone you identify as a group to not include.

There you have it — the five best practices of creating a workflow.

Using workflows to nurture your business’ leads can not only be a time saver but can help you provide a delightful experience to your contacts and keep them coming back for more.

Quiz: Workflows and Lead Nurturing

Customer Examples
  • Med School Tutuors

Med School Tutuors

This example from Med School Tutors shows how to automate the process of nurturing leads who requested pricing information about a specific medical school exam to sign up for a free consultation with one of our tutors.

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Tool Walk-through: How to Build a Lead Nurturing Workflow in HubSpot (4:09)

This video walks through a HubSpot workflow to display how to build a lead nurturing workflow inside of HubSpot. 


Quiz: How to Build a Lead Nurturing Workflow in HubSpot

User Guide

User Guide: Workflows


Successful marketing automation relies on triggering relevant and timely actions, based on a user's context. HubSpot's Workflows combine the power with the context required to effectively scale your marketing efforts. In this user guide, you will not only learn about the features of Workflows, but also about how to set up contextual, focused, and measurable automation.


WorkSheet: Brainstorming Your Workflow Logic

This worksheet will guide you through mapping out your workflow and answer questions about what you should include in your workflow.

Project Template

Project Template: Setting Up a Lead Nurturing Workflow

This project will walk you through how to set up a lead nurturing workflow.
Completing these steps will allow you to automate your lead follow-up.