HubSpot Workflow Optimisation for B2B Lead Nurturing

Phil Vallender avatar
Phil Vallender

Mar 22, 2016


These optimisation tips and tricks will ensure that your HubSpot lead nurturing workflows always operate at peak performance.

Just like any other aspect of inbound marketing, your lead nurturing workflows need continual optimisation in order to generate the best results.

Optimising your workflows is a multi-faceted project calling for you to regularly look at what triggers your workflows, who is enrolled in them, what actions are scheduled and how effective they are.

We've built hundreds of HubSpot workflows for a wide range of applications. When it comes to lead nurturing we learned a few things, from both successes and mistakes. Here are our top tips for building and optimising effective lead nurturing workflows in your HubSpot portal.

Read our Introduction to B2B Inbound Marketing here and learn all about this  powerful approach to generating leads and sales.


1. Use the minimum number of workflows

More workflows doesn’t mean more leads, it means the opposite. Creating a bunch of workflows to follow-up from a wide range of actions results in diluted results, inconclusive feedback and complicated management. Passing larger groups of leads through fewer workflows, on the other hand, gives you clearer insight into what works more quickly. This enables faster, more confident iterations and continuous improvement of results. It’s also easier to debug when something goes wrong, to manage when everything is going right and explain to stakeholders when they ask questions.


2. Use simple starting conditions

While HubSpot workflows are powerful enough to let you craft intricate starting conditions, for lead nurturing purposes you really want to keep these as simple as possible. When we are building out lead nurturing for a new client we enrol either ‘all leads’ or ‘all contacts’ depending on the circumstances - this way, no one gets missed. As time goes by and we introduce more workflows, we use simple criteria to segment leads properly among them.

BLD_workflow_optimisation_starting_cond.png Simple starting conditions, exluding email opt-outs, plus a date window.


3. Exclude email opt-outs

Since people who have opted-out of email will not receive your automated workflow emails, excluding them may seem odd at first. But people who have opted-out before being enrolled in your lead nurturing workflow will still count towards its results, even though they can never be nurtured by it, artificially reducing the conversion rate.

4. Use a date window to facilitate revisions

Workflows need optimising over time. When launching a new version, however, you don’t want to switch off the old one while it still has active leads going through the steps.

The way to do this is by adding a date window to the starting criteria based on the lead creation date. Specify that leads only created between now and a date at some point in the future, say three months, will be enrolled. That way, when the three months are up and you are building a new workflow, you can be sure that new leads will be enrolled in your new workflow while active leads in the old one will still continue to be nurtured.


5. Make your goal list an actual list

Just as with the starting conditions, HubSpot's powerful workflow tools can support the creation of sophisticated goal criteria, which can be used to both measure success and stop leads receiving workflow emails. Resist the urge to build these criteria into the workflow tool itself, however, and create a custom list instead. This way, when you view the goal section of your workflow to analyse performance, you will actually be able to see which contacts have met the goal criteria by simply clicking through to the list.

BLD_workflow_optimisation_goal_list.png Make your goal list an actual list.


6. Keep branches to an absolute minimum

If/then branches can be a powerful tool in workflow land, but they can also cover up a number of sins. Branches in workflows make it very hard to view results and therefore to make improvements. While they are essential in some scenarios, if you find yourself using them often you might need to give your workflows more thought. Perhaps the same job could be performed by creating a new workflow, which would be easier to analyse and improve, or by restructuring your existing workflow slightly.


7. Send highly personalised (aka contextualised) emails

If you have access to HubSpot's workflows, then you have access to smart emails as well. So why stop at inserting your prospects first name? Use the power of smart content to completely personalise email subjects and content to each recipient, using the segmentation data that you have been gathering though your forms. Relevance and recall are what get emails opened and clicked, so contextualising your emails will directly lead to better results.


8. Review and improve regularly

Workflows should not be ‘set and forget’. Using the date-window we talked about in point 4, commit to a regular schedule for reviewing and improving your workflows. As the end of the date window approaches, review the results of the current workflow to identify a candidate for improvement. You will probably want to look at the lowest performing link in the chain. Come up with a hypothesis for how to improve results, then implement and test it in the next date window. You can try changing the frequency, subject, content or context of the emails you send as well as a range of other settings. If the test fails, put back the original and try again.


9. Land and expand

Although you should resist the temptation to build multiple workflows in the beginning, with improving results and a growing library of content, the time will come when you should branch out. When you do, follow all the above principles again to ensure that you maximise manageability and performance.


10. Start with your strategy

I've put this point last, even though it should come first, because you didn’t find this post looking for someone to tell you how important strategy is. But now that we've covered some highly actionable stuff, let's talk about strategy.

The importance of beginning with the end is mind is well documented and its no different with lead nurturing. If you are clear about who will enter your workflow, under what circumstances and, most importantly, what you want them to do as a result, then everything else will become far easier.

When crafting your lead nurturing workflows remember to map the actions, and the content you offer, to the funnel. Leads entering are probably early in their buying process but by the end of the workflow you want them to be thinking about engaging you.


Reap the rewards

Employing these strategies in your lead nurturing workflows will position you to achieve the best possible results right from the outset, letting you create a healthy pipeline of leads for your sales team to follow up. And by working to a schedule for revisions and improvements, you can clear your mind to focus on improving the other areas of the strategy, like the ones that actually bring leads in to your workflows in the first place.

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