HubSpot Email Automation Tools: Defining the Differences Between Workflows and Sequences

Marketing Technology
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HubSpot email automation is one of the most widely used and popular inbound marketing tools available today. It’s designed to help companies grow and scale while maintaining and building high-value relationships throughout the customer journey.

HubSpot’s user-friendly interface and simple tools help marketers create highly personalized campaigns that take conversion rates to new levels. Email automation is an integral part of this effort, aligning teams, maximizing the value of your content, and ensuring you don’t miss any opportunities along the way.

A Definitive Guide to Understanding HubSpot for Marketing

HubSpot has two distinct types of email automation—Workflows and Sequences. Both tools connect to your HubSpot CRM and enable you to create and send a series of emails to your contacts. The differences lie in the types of emails sent, your objective, how the emails are created, and the HubSpot subscription you have. Depending on your subscription, you might have access to sequences only or workflows and sequences.

Workflows vs. Sequences: What’s the Difference?

One notable difference between workflows and sequences is the type of HubSpot subscription you’ll need to access the features.

Sequences are available to Sales Hub, Service Hub Enterprise, or Professional subscribers, while workflows require a Marketing Hub Professional or Enterprise subscription.

Both tools give you the analytics you need to track individual conversations and results. They connect directly to your CRM data, so insights are viewable at the individual customer level. However, the approach you choose will ultimately depend on what you hope to achieve.

So let’s dive in, break it down a little more, and look at some of the finer points of HubSpot workflows vs. sequences.

What are HubSpot Sequences?

HubSpot sequences allow you to send personalized one-to-one messages to contacts or warm leads you’ve already had some interaction with. They are great for sending out content that you know accelerates the decision-making process.

Enroll in a sequenceFor example, say you’re talking to an SQL, and they are getting close to making a decision. You’d use sequences to send them a piece of content that tends to get good results, like a pricing comparison sheet. The sequence is simple, one-to-one, and specific to the prospect’s stage in their buying journey. If they open the email, you’ll know. If they download the content, they are removed from the sequence. If they don’t download, they remain in the sequence.

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Email designs are templated and easily customized to the prospect, but they don’t contain a lot of fancy graphics or images. The result looks more like a regular email and is sent directly from the rep’s inbox to the prospect. In other words, it’s not a bulk-email approach, and it won’t look like it’s being sent to a mailing list.

Sequences automations are triggered by specific actions, and the lead is automatically unenrolled in the sequence as soon as they take that action. For example, if the object is to book a meeting and the lead takes that action, they won’t receive any more emails in that sequence.

If they don’t book (or take the desired action), they will receive a second email in 24 hours, which might ask them to share any questions they have and prompt them to schedule a follow-up. If they take action, they are opted out. If they do not, they will receive a third and final email.

As for reporting, you’ll only be able to see whether the lead opened the email or not. It’s fairly black and white, but then, so is the objective.

To round up sequences:

  • Simple, direct, and one-to-one (not bulk)
  • Emails are sent from the rep’s connected inbox
  • Customizable/personalized to the recipient
  • Automatic follow-ups to keep the lead hot
  • Good for nurturing leads that are close to closing

What are HubSpot Workflows?

HubSpot workflows are markedly different from sequences in many ways. While sequences are used at the bottom of the funnel, workflows can be used at any stage of the buying journey and are designed to keep leads moving steadily through the funnel towards a purchase decision.

Workflows are used in bulk campaigns and are typically strong on design. They are great for sales and marketing teams as you can assign specific team members to respond when a recipient takes a particular action. You can also assign leads that take these actions to a corresponding contact list, prompt specific team members to reach out, or automate other actions, tasks, or notifications.

WorkflowAutomating email with workflows saves your sales and marketing teams a lot of time and effort, especially when it comes to working warm or cool leads. If the lead takes action, the appropriate person is notified and can pick up the thread. It’s like having an extra team member that never sleeps; leads are nurtured along the buying journey, and your top performers can focus on what’s the best use of their time. By the time a lead lands on the rep’s desk, it’s fully qualified—and that’s when the magic happens.

Rounding up HubSpot workflows:

  • Saves sales and marketing time and effort
  • Nurtures warm and cool leads until they are ready to talk to a rep
  • Automatically triggered by a range of actions
  • Sent through HubSpot (with customizable from addresses)
  • Customizable intervals
  • Add as many graphics, images, and media as you feel appropriate
  • Compatible with other automated workflows
  • Robust reporting, including link clicks, open rates, other marketing metrics

However, unlike sequences, leads are not automatically unenrolled when they take action—unless you specify a goal that ends the workflow. It also should be noted that since messages are “sent” from an inbox you personalize, any replies will be received in that inbox, not in HubSpot.

Workflows can also be used to follow up after the lead converts. For example, let’s say they’ve downloaded a piece of content:

  • Immediately: they’ll receive a thank you email.
  • Three days later: a follow-up email to see if they have any questions and an invitation to download content that’s relevant to their interests.
  • If they download the second piece of content: they receive a follow-up email with an invitation to book a call.
  • If they don’t download: they receive an email urging them to get in touch if they have questions.

Workflows or Sequences? What Should You Choose?

Now that you have a better idea of what workflows and sequences do, it should be fairly easy to determine which tool is best based on the goals you are trying to achieve.

Use workflows for:

  • Groups or lists of contacts
  • To nurture warm or cool leads
  • Optimize time for your sales reps
  • Qualify leads at any stage of the funnel

Use sequences to:

  • Make one-to-one connections
  • Close a hot lead
  • Connect directly with someone your sales department has already spoken to

HubSpot email automation tools like workflows and sequences are incredible tools for marketers, helping them accelerate results and close more deals in less time.

Are You Getting the Most from HubSpot?

Gate 39 Media is a HubSpot Platinum Partner Agency. We can help with onboarding new HubSpot implementations as well as performing HubSpot portal audits for existing HubSpot customers. If you need help cleaning up your HubSpot data or optimizing processes, book a call today and let’s start a conversation.

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