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What Is a HubSpot Workflow? (+Why You Should Use One)

In any modern business, automation is an incredibly important tool. When you think of automation, you might picture the machinery used to mass-produce all kinds of products for global consumption. But machinery isn’t the only kind of automation there is.

There’s also process automation for all kinds of common business processes. HubSpot workflows are one example of software-based tools that businesses can use to automate key marketing, sales, and service processes to streamline operations, improve efficiency, and maximize results.

What Is a HubSpot Workflow?

A HubSpot workflow is a tool on the HubSpot platform that enables businesses to automate repetitive tasks using a set of enrollment triggers followed by a series of actions.

For example, users could create a workflow with a contact enrollment trigger based on membership in a list, the completion of a HubSpot form on their website, visits to a specific website page, and more—or even a combination of multiple enrollment triggers. Once enrolled, contacts would then be sent a series of emails one at a time until they complete the workflow.

Other workflows might send sales, service, or marketing team members task reminders when contacts meet certain criteria like having a week until their next subscription renewal or their last support request being more than two days old.

Benefits of Using HubSpot Workflows

So, what are the benefits of using workflows in your business? How do they offset the time investment in learning how to use the HubSpot tool? Here are a few of the basic benefits of using workflows in HubSpot:

Saving Time

The most obvious benefit of using any form of automation is how it helps you save time. By automating key processes such as lead qualification and outreach, you can reduce the amount of work your marketing and sales teams need to perform manually—helping them save time on repetitive tasks.

Improving Conversion Rates

In marketing and sales, response time can be an enormous advantage. As noted by Vendasta, “78% of customers buy from the first responder.” So, if you aren’t the first organization to respond to a prospect’s requests, your likelihood of closing with that prospect drops a lot.

Part of this could be explained by an increasing expectation of instant gratification. Consumers are now used to being able to order products from various apps and online stores and have their orders arrive within a couple of business days—or even on the same day for certain items. As such, speed of response is crucial for meeting customer expectations.

HubSpot workflows can help businesses improve their time-to-first-response by automatically sending communications to engaged leads shortly after they take critical actions on your website.

Making Lead Nurturing Consistent

One of the challenges of lead nurturing is making sure that all leads are followed up with when they meet your lead nurturing criteria. HubSpot workflows can help make your lead nurturing campaigns more consistent than ever by automating the process of enrolling leads in a nurturing campaign (and unenrolling them when they meet your unenrollment criteria).

This helps you improve your conversions from your lead nurturing campaigns by ensuring that every lead gets a follow-up.

Saving Money

Workflows can be useful for more than just communicating with prospects and leads. One of the actions that you can automate in a HubSpot workflow is setting a lead’s marketing contact status—changing them from a marketing contact to a non-marketing contact (or vice versa).

This particular use case can help you keep your HubSpot costs down by changing marketing contacts who have gone cold or who have been marked as “closed/lost” deals to non-marketing contacts.

How does this save you money on HubSpot? In the HubSpot platform, you have a limit on the number of marketing contacts you can have at any given time. The base limit is determined by your current HubSpot subscription. For example, a Marketing Hub Starter subscription gives you a limit of 1,000 marketing contacts. Meanwhile, a Professional subscription gives you 2,000 marketing contacts and an Enterprise subscription provides you with 10,000 marketing contacts.

If you exceed your marketing contacts limit, your account will automatically be charged for a marketing contacts increase add-on (the cost of the add-on and the number of marketing contacts added scales with your subscription tier). Meanwhile, non-marketing contacts do not count against your contacts limit.

For example, say you’re on a Marketing Hub Professional subscription and you have 2,000 marketing contacts exactly. If you add just one more marketing contact, your account will be upgraded to have a marketing contacts add-on adding 5,000 to your limit and costing an additional $250/month. You pay for the 5,000 marketing contacts even if you’re only using the one.

By setting up a workflow that takes marketing contacts that have gone cold and changing them to non-marketing contacts, you can avoid going over limit and saving that $250/month while still keeping the leads in your HubSpot database so, if they ever do re-engage with your brand and become marketing contacts again, you don’t lose out on all of the historical data you have about those leads.

How to Create a Workflow in HubSpot

So, how do you create a new workflow in HubSpot? Here’s a simple, step-by-step process to help you get started:

Step 1: Set a Goal for Your Workflow

What is it that you want to accomplish? The workflows tool in HubSpot is incredibly flexible and can accomplish all manner of tasks by using a combination of enrollment triggers, actions, unenrollment criteria, and if/then logic branches.

Knowing what you want to accomplish informs how you set up your workflow. It will help you choose the right triggers and actions to get to your goal.

Step 2: Start Building Your Workflow

Once you know the basic goal of your workflow, you can start building it out. The mechanical steps of the process include:

  • Go to your main HubSpot navigation menu and click on “workflows”
    • Note: This may be under the “Automation” dropdown if you have access to both workflows and sequences
  • In the upper right of the workflows index, click on the orange “Create workflow” button
  • Choose a workflow type—the options include
    • From scratch
    • From a template
  • Set up a workflow trigger
  • Add actions and if/then logic branches as necessary
  • Go to the “Settings and notifications” tab to choose when workflow actions can execute, unenrollment criteria for the workflow, and who should receive notifications related to the workflow (among other settings)
  • Give your workflow a name

Step 3: Test Your Workflow

Before taking your workflow live, it’s important to test it. Just click on the “test” button below the “Review” button in the upper right of the screen. This will open a slide-in menu from the right where you will see the workflow in action as a particular contact. Choose a contact (or other record type depending on the enrollment trigger used) from the dropdown list and click on the checkbox next to the “Send me the HubSpot emails this workflow would deliver.” Then click the “Test” button.

A dialog box will appear and let you know if the record can be enrolled in the workflow. It will also provide a simulated outcome for the workflow. If you have If/Then branches in the workflow, a branch dropdown will appear where you can select a branch and test the results.

Step 4: Launch Your Workflow

Once you’re satisfied that your workflow is complete, it’s time to turn it on by clicking on the toggle in the upper right of the screen. If there’s a critical deficiency in the workflow—such as a “send email” action not having an email to send—then the toggle will not appear. Instead, a “Review” button will be in the toggle’s place. Clicking this button will show you what the deficiency is.

Step 5: Check Workflow Performance and Revise as Necessary

After you’ve launched your workflow, go back and review it. How did the workflow perform? In the case of a lead nurturing email workflow, which emails performed well and which ones didn’t? What unintended consequences occurred because of the actions or logic used in the workflow?

Taking the time to study your workflows after they’ve been launched can provide you insights into how they can be improved and how you can structure similar workflows in the future to increase their performance.

Best Practices for Creating HubSpot Workflows

When creating workflows, it can help to follow a few simple “best practice” guidelines to make your workflow more effective and to avoid redundancy or conflicts in your workflows. Here are a few examples of workflow best practices to follow:

1. Before Making a New Workflow, Check for Similar Existing Workflows

When you’re creating a workflow, it’s important to verify that the new workflow is necessary and doesn’t conflict with an existing workflow. So, before creating a new workflow, check your existing active (and even inactive) workflows to see if there’s another workflow that already does the thing you’re looking to achieve.

If there is already a workflow that does what you’re looking to do, consider revising that workflow instead of creating a whole new one from scratch—or checking to see why that workflow was turned off so you can avoid similar problems.

2. Use a Clear and Consistent Workflow Naming Structure

Odds are that your team will create a lot of different workflows. The more workflows you have, the more processes you can automate. However, this can also make it harder to find the workflow you want when you need to clone or edit a workflow—especially if they all have names like “Unnamed workflow – 2024-3-31 16:56:14 GMT+0000” (the default naming structure for if you don’t give your workflow a name uses date/time to distinguish the workflow).

So, when creating workflows, it’s important to give them an easy-to-remember, searchable name that follows simple logic. For example, if you’re creating a lead nurturing workflow with emails meant to go out to leads that downloaded a specific content offer, you might name the workflow “Lead Nurturing Email for [Content Offer Name]” or something similar to that. This way, when you’re looking for that workflow in the future, you can either type in the name of the content offer or “Lead Nurturing” in the workflows search bar to find it.

3. Use Folders to Sort Workflows

You can further enhance the searchability of your workflows in HubSpot by adding them to specific folders in the workflows index.

To add a workflow to a folder, simply click on the “More” dropdown that appears when you mouse over a workflow’s name. Then, click on the “Move to folder” option and pick an existing folder from the list.

You can create folders by clicking on the “Folders” tab of the workflows index and clicking on the “Create folder” option above the folder list.

The folders you create might vary depending on your business practices. For example, if you want to make it easier to find workflows made for specific teams, you might create folders using that team’s name. Alternatively, you could create folders based on specific campaigns, who created the workflow, or based on target audience.

4. Segment Your Audience When Creating Workflows

When creating a new workflow, be sure to divide your intended audience into segments so that any messaging or actions in a workflow are tailored to their needs/pain points and interests as precisely as possible.

For example, say you’re a software company that sells video editing software. Part of your audience might include professional businesses who need the software for putting together product demo videos. Meanwhile, another segment of your audience might use the software to create videos for their YouTube channels.

While the purpose of the software remains the same, both of these audiences have different priorities and would respond differently to the same messaging. The business audience might want to focus on creating a professional video to impress investors or the C-suite in their organization. Meanwhile, a YouTube content creator might be more concerned with ease of use and the ability to create videos quickly so they can keep up with their audience’s need for a consistent stream of content.

Need Help Managing HubSpot Workflows?

Bluleadz has years of experience in helping clients across a bevy of industries create and manage workflows to automate key marketing, sales, and service processes. We work with clients to review their workflows, identify key opportunities to improve business processes using workflows, and streamline their operations.

Book a meeting with the HubSpot experts to get started!

Douglas Phillips

Douglas Phillips

Former military brat, graduated from Leilehua High School in Wahiawa, Hawaii in 2001. After earning my Bachelor's in English/Professional Writing, took on a job as a writer here at Bluleadz.