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Chicago HUG Workflows Recap - April 26th Meetup

[fa icon="calendar'] May 1, 2017 7:57:48 PM / by Stephanie Casstevens

On Wednesday, April 26th, 2017 the Chicago HUG welcomed over 80 attendees to a meetup all about one of the most powerful tools for marketing automation: workflows! The meeting was full amazing inbound professionals ready to share and learn. You can download the slides from the presentation on workflows here. Here's what was covered at this second 2017 meeting: 


Fundamentals of Workflows

"Marketing automation" is a buzzword for many but good marketers know how powerful a tool automation software can be. However, the flexibility of such a powerful tool often leads to it being complex and time consuming to use. That's why successful marketing automation always needs to begin with a clear goal in mind

When building a workflow you'll need to choose a type, set starting criteria, and confirm your settings. Workflow types include standard, fixed date, and property date. For more information on choosing a workflow type check out this post by the HubSpot Academy

When setting up your workflow note that you can choose a manual or automatic workflow. If you create a manual workflow you can only enroll people via enrollment areas such as the contact timeline, other workflows, and landing pages with forms. With automatic workflows you can also enroll people manually at any time. 

A suppression list is a list of contacts you do not want to be included in your workflow regardless of whether or not they meet the criteria. Whenever a new contact is enrolled in your workflow, before any steps execute (including those with a 0 delay) the suppression list is checked to verify they should be enrolled in the workflow.

Organizing Your Workflows

To keep your workflows organized be sure to name the using specific naming conventions, associate them to campaigns when appropriate, and set goals in the workflow. A goal allows you to track the success of the workflow. Plus, when contacts meet the goal criteria they are automatically un-enrolled from the workflow. Goals may be based on form submissions, certain page views, clicks or based on volume of certain interactions. Note that contacts are only counted toward the goal statistics if they have been sent an email. This means contacts that meet the starting criteria but are pulled out by a suppression list and are never sent an email do not count against your workflow performance metrics. 

What are Workflows Used For? 

There are three main categories into which workflows can fall: external, internal, and administrative. We decided to dive into these three types and discuss them. 


External workflows are any workflows where you're communicating with or engaging with people outside of your company. From prospects to customers, anything leaving your company falls in this category. 


Internal workflows are also very useful. They can be used to notify your sales team of new inbound requests, sales qualified leads, and more. Plus, you can use them to send reminders, send text message alerts, and more. Lead nurturing workflows are a great example of internal workflows. If you have access to HubSpot projects, be sure to find the project template for creating a lead nurturing workflow.


Administrative workflows are a lot like internal workflows but typically don't include emails. Administrative workflows are great for batch data cleanup, assigning new properties as new leads come in, and more. While administrative workflows were previously the best (and sometimes only) way to make batch edits to a group of contacts based on certain criteria, HubSpot has just recently changed that!

HOT TIP: You can now skip creating a workflow to batch update contact properties! It doesn't even use a list. Now you can use the contacts "select all" and "edit" features. It's really hand and much faster than a workflow. However, if you need metrics on how many contacts were updated or want something that will run over time, a workflow may still be best. For more information on batch updating contacts and a to see how it works check out this video tutorial by George B. Thomas of The Sales Lion.  

Workflows vs. Other Options

Workflows vs. Lists and When to Use Which

Workflows are great when you need to change or update a contact property on an ongoing basis, you want to trigger events such as internal notifications, or when you want to trigger a series of events based on implicit or explicit criteria.

Lists are great when you're creating enterprise reports, you want to easily export data to manipulate it in excel, you want to quickly view a group of contacts based on multiple properties, you want a quick count of contacts in a certain segment, or when multiple actions to do not need to occur. 

Workflows vs. Sequences and When to Use Which

Workflows are when your communication is one to many. You'll want to use workflows to send image-rich emails that are triggered automatically. Workflows are good when instant follow up is required, no salesperson/owner is assigned, or your leads are just early on in the process. 

Sequences are best when it's a one to one relationship. Communications in sequences are highly targeted and a reply often changes what the next step is. Sequences are for low volume but high stakes communications. When creating sequences be sure to use folders, the sequence library, and try creating custom tasks! Each sequence is limited to five emails but you can create as many task reminders as you'd like. 

Planning and Testing Workflows

Write your workflows out ahead of time. Whether you use a whiteboard, post it notes, or good old pen and paper, be sure to write out the steps of your workflow before you actually start creating it in the workflows tool. This makes it easier to iron out any details before you get too deep in the weeds.


example workflow.png

It's also important to remember that best practices are never one size fits all and don't always fit your industry or audience. As I like to say, best practices are test practices! Be sure to test to statistical significance as well. Simply testing something on 5 or 10 recipients is not enough. 

Finally, When you're trying to decide how to set up your workflow think not only about your goal but also how you want to measure your progress toward your goal. Someone once asked me if they should create 12 one-month workflows or 1 twelve-month workflow. I thought about it and realized it depended on whether they wanted to track progress over the entire span of the year or look at the differences month to month. 

Advanced Workflow Techniques

A note on delays. If you change a delay on a workflow that is already live, two things will happen. First, all contacts who have not yet reached step 2 will get that step at the new time you move it to. Second, all contacts who are already scheduled for step 2 at that point will still receive it at original time. 

Use Smart Content to tailor workflow content (such as information in the emails) based on answers to questions asked in form fields. Make each answer a smart list and tailor your content to those lists. This means you only need to create one email and add Smart Content instead of creating multiple emails. 

Create Your Own / DIY Internal Notification Emails

Creating your own internal notification emails (for sales or customer service) allows you to provide context in a way regular form submission emails don’t. This is specifically useful for when you're passing SQLs onto sales that have not asked to be contacted. You can create the email the same way you'd create any automated email and save it for automation. Then, in the workflow, choose "send internal email" and choose the email you created. You can specify the from name, from email address, the offer or page from which someone came/why the notification is triggered, and even change the CTA button in the email. You can create your own action button such as "claim this contact" or "convert to lead" if you're using Salesforce or even simply switch the focus from the "view in HubSpot" primary button to be "view in Salesforce".

My tip for doing this: set up the URL for the view in Salesforce button like this to work for both leads and contacts: 


diy sales notification.png

Breakout Groups

At this point in the meetup we split into breakout groups to discuss a time a workflow worked really well for you and a time a workflow didn't work well (and what you'd do to change it). We invited people to ask questions and share their favorite workflow tips and tricks. After that, we came back to share some learnings and raffle off some prizes! 

Marcus Sherdian was nice enough to give us two signed copies of his book They Ask You Answer to giveaway at the meetup. According to his website, "Quality content is the key to success, and you already have the ingredients in-house. This book shows you how to structure an effective content strategy using the same proven principles that have revolutionized marketing for all types of businesses, across industries." 

Hiring? Looking for a job?

We invited any HUG members in attendance who are hiring or work for a company with open positions to share them with the group. We also asked those people who are hiring to provide their contact information so we could share it with you all. To see open positions shared by HUG members check out this page

A HubSpot Speaker is Joining Us in June!

BIG NEWS! Our next meetup will be in June in the O'Hare/Rosemont Area (it will be accessible by the blue line!) and will be a content workshop hosted by Principal Inbound Professor, HubSpot Academy, Justin Champion! In this workshop you'll learn how to efficiently create a conversion-focused content resource page through a series of pre-defined topic clusters in support of one of your products or services. You'll finish the class with a mindset of how to leverage your short-term marketing calendar to achieve long term content goals and you will leave with an action plan that can be implemented immediatey.

We'll also be raffling off an Amazon Echo Dot to one lucky winner! Check your inbox soon for an invite to the next June HUG.


Topics: HUG Meeting Recaps

Stephanie Casstevens

Written by Stephanie Casstevens

One of two leaders of the Chicago HUG, Stephanie is the marketing manager at Label Insight and has been using HubSpot for 5+ years, attended 4 INBOUND events, and has 8 HubSpot certifications. Stephanie is a Carthage College graduate and photographs weddings in her spare time.

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