A Comprehensive Guide to Workflows (with Pictures)

By January 31, 2019 Inbound, Strategy




Workflows are the marketing automation tool in HubSpot and these babies are powerful. Like, really powerful. If you master the art of the workflow you can supercharge your marketing potential. A small agency can do the work of a mid-to-large size agency. Those bigger agencies can expand their efforts. Marketing automation technology like this is key to delivering your content to the right people, at the right time.

We believe that Inbound Marketing is the most effective way to market your company and the various services it offers. That’s why we became a HubSpot agency partner. Using tools like workflows has helped us and our clients save time and effort. In turn, you can spend more time and effort in other aspects of your company that will help you grow.

So, how do you use workflows? Check out our guide below. 

Getting Started with Workflows



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Start from scratch

This workflow will trigger when a contact meets certain enrollment triggers that you will set up. If the workflow starts with a time delay, it is relevant to when the contact was first enrolled.

Center on a date

Center on a date will have the same enrollment triggers as start from scratch. However, one of the main differences between the two is any delays you set will be relevant to a specific date. Naturally, you’ll set the date that this workflow is based around.

Center on a date property

The final option, center on a date property, resembles center on a date. The main difference: instead of a fixed date, select a date-type contact property to center the workflow around. Delays that are included in this workflow are relative to the date value listed on the enrolled contact's record; which can differ for each contact in the workflow.

After choosing a specific type, you will decide if this workflow will be triggered off contacts (contact-based), deals (deal-based), tickets (ticket-based), or companies (company-based).


Set your goal


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When setting the goal of your workflow you will want to consider one main question: What do you want (your contact) to accomplish? Your goal ultimately shapes the workflow and the tools you will use inside it. Some quick examples include nurturing leads, guiding contacts into different life cycle stages, email drip campaigns, distributing an gated piece of content, etc.

The possibilities are almost endless. A goal measures contact conversions and once a contact meets the specified goal, they are removed from the workflow. Another way to remove a contact from the workflow is to set suppression lists. These are contact lists and when a contact meets the trigger criteria they are added to the list and then automatically removed from the workflow.


Enrollment Triggers


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This means no contacts will be enrolled in the workflow unless you decide to enroll them. You will, essentially, set up a workflow with specific actions. Once you add a contact or a list of contacts, they will go through the workflow automatically.


This dynamically adds contacts as they meet the triggers you set. The great majority of your workflows will have automatic enrollment triggers. When the triggers are automatic, you turn on the workflow and let it “do its thing”.


By default, contacts can only enter a workflow the first time they meet the enrollment triggers. However, by setting re-enrollment triggers, a contact can be enrolled in a workflow multiple times. Workflows with re-enrollment are few and far between but they can exist.


Adding Actions


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Building Blocks

There are various different actions you can take in a workflow. The two most basic and oft-used actions are time delays and if/then branches. Time delays can be set to delay the next action by a specific amount of days, hours, or minutes; while if/then branches will guide your contact down a certain path based on the actions they take, contact properties, lists you add them to, or numerous other triggers.


In a workflow, you can set various marketing actions like sending certain emails or adding a contact to a specific list. Internal communication with your team or other teams at your company can also be triggered in a workflow. Other options include: creating deals, nurturing leads, change a contact/company’s properties, or transferring contacts to different life-cycle stages.

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Settings & Performance


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As you finish setting up your workflow you can have it run at specific times like only business days or 7 days a week. Likewise, you can set times during the day that it will operate or let it run 24 hours a day. As your workflow operates, you’ll also be able to track its performance. Different metrics of performance are how many contacts have been enrolled, how many are active, where they are in the workflow, contact trends, how they interact with your emails, and your goal conversion rate.

The final step is turning the workflow on and letting it hum. As you can see, the possibilities of marketing automation are vast. Time management, lead nurturing, and company growth has never been easier. Become the master of workflows and you will be a powerful asset.