Despite all the new channels available to digital marketers, email marketing remains the most effective way to reach your target audience. To be a successful digital marketer, it is essential to master email marketing. To a large extent, mastering email marketing means sending email to people only at the right times and only with content that is relevant. Long gone are the days when you could simply mass mail large lists indiscriminately with generic content. Today, tactics like that will only get you unsubscribes and spam reports. In this post, we show you how to automate your emails with HubSpot so you generate more conversions and fewer unsubscribes.
Sending emails at the right time means using automation to detect when your contacts are ready to receive messages from you, and following up on a well-defined schedule. Almost as important as sending the emails is knowing when to stop. Every automated email campaign should have a goal defined (e.g., signing the prospect up for a free trial). When that goal is reached, no further emails should be sent relating to that goal. For example, once the person signs up for a free trial, you must stop sending them emails promoting the free trial.
An automated campaign consists of a series of emails designed to nurture a segment of your contacts, over a defined period of time, and encourage them to take a particular action. Once the action is taken, no further emails with CTAs for that action are sent. An automated email campaign starts with a defined behavior on the part of the recipient. For example, prospects who have signed up for a free trial could be entered into an automated email campaign encouraging them to start a paid subscription. An automated campaign might also be triggered by a lack of activity. For example, prospects who have not engaged with any of your website content, blog posts, or emails in the last 6 months are candidates to be deleted from your CRM database because they are no longer interested. But, before deleting them, it is wise to enroll them in a re-engagement campaign where you send them a series of emails to determine if they still have interest in your product or service. At the end of such a campaign, only those contacts who either unsubscribed or made no response actually get deleted.
Automation Means Workflows
When running an automated campaign, you want the contacts to respond to specific calls-to-action in your email like ‘make a purchase’ or ‘schedule a free trial’. You are going to want to send multiple emails - one every few days - because many emails go unopened or ignored and it often takes some repetition to get a response. Now, if a contact takes action in the first email that’s sent, fantastic! You won’t send them the rest, but probably will enroll them in a different campaign which focuses on the next goal. Or possibly, you connect them with a sales person. On the other hand, for the majority of the contacts that do not convert on the first email, you continue sending subsequent emails in the campaign.
To manage these different outcomes, you use logic and if/then statements to tailor the emails that your contacts receive. Automation isn’t one size fits all, and if you don’t use logic, your emails appear unpersonalized and spammy. Workflow logic enables you to tailor content to the behavior of your prospects, so that when they take a particular action, you can begin treating them as leads for a particular product or service and begin “warming them up” with personalized content designed to convert them into customers.
Creating custom workflows and personalized content may seem like an overwhelming amount of work. But, the truth is, with powerful email marketing tools like HubSpot, it can be easy once you get the hang of it.
Setting the Goal of your Email Campaign
Like with any form of marketing, to succeed with email automation, you need to have clear goals. So, before you begin drafting your emails and creating workflows, take the necessary time to define the goal of your campaign and the action that you want your prospects to take in order to move them toward that goal.
Let’s say, for instance, that you are a SaaS company, like our client Megalytic, with a HubSpot CRM database containing a large number of inactive contacts. You want to re-engage as many of those inactive contacts as possible and convert them into customers. In this case, you really have two goals. The first is re-engagement. And the second is conversion into customers.
Once their goals are defined, you can plan the workflows. For the re-engagement goal, you want to enter the inactive contacts in a workflow with various calls-to-action like requesting a demo of the software, reactivating an old trial account, or subscribing to the blog. You also want to give them the option to unsubscribe from your emails completely. And the unsubscribe option should be prominent, not buried in the footer in a 6pt font. After all, if the contact is not interested in your product, it is in both of your best interests to remove them from your contacts database.
Contacts who request a demo or re-activate a trial should enter a new process - focused on converting them into customers. This probably starts by moving them over to the sales organization. As a marketer, you would them work with sales to define an automated email campaign to encourage engagement with the trial account and ultimately purchase a subscription.
In this post, we are going to focus on the re-engagement workflow. In our example, the client - Megalytic - decides that they want to send a series of three emails to their inactive contacts. If a contact clicks any link in any of these three emails, that is considered an engagement, and no further emails are sent. Contacts who do not engage with any of the emails are removed from the CRM. In the following sections, we illustrate how to implement this workflow using HubSpot.
Creating the Emails to be Used for Automation
In order to set up Megalytic’s automated email campaign, you first need to create the individual emails in order to use them in a marketing workflow. In HubSpot, to create a marketing email, navigate to Marketing > Email and click Create Email.
A pop-up will open where you can choose from one of three email types to create your email. Your options are either a Regular, Automated or Blog/RSS email. A Regular email is a one-off email that you can personalize and send to a designated contact list, like a promotional email or newsletter. An Automated email is triggered by an action that a contact takes (e.g., completing a form, visiting the pricing web page, etc.). The third and final email type is a Blog/RSS email is an email that’s automatically sent when you publish new content. For example, you can create an instant notification email that is sent to your blog subscribers every time a new post is published.
Since this is a re-engagement campaign, you select Automated form the Megalytic email.
Once you have selected the email type, you are then prompted to select a template that defines the styling of your email. Here you can either choose a Custom template or a Drag and drop template.
The drag and drop template option allows you to create a layout by dragging various components onto the page. Hubspot provides components for images, rich text, dividers, buttons, etc. In contrast, the custom option enables you to select a previously designed email template. These are your existing templates that may have been created by a designer in your HubSpot design manager tool. Or, you may have purchased them from the HubSpot marketplace. Many people find it easier to use the drag and drop templates because that approach does not require knowledge of HTML or CSS coding.
Once Megalytic selects a template, you can begin designing their emails for automation. As we mentioned earlier, they are sending a series of three emails. Therefore, three separate emails must be created. Each email can easily use the same template for the look and feel, but they need to be saved separately. Once you have finished designing the emails under the Edit tab, and have configured the additional settings in the Settings tab (like subject line, to/from email address,etc.), you will click “save for automation” in the Recipients tab and click Next.
Next, you need to head over to the Review tab. Here is where you’ll see an overview of your email and get a bird’s eye view of things like your subject line and preview text. If everything looks OK, hit Save for Automation again to finish your email.
Developing your Campaign of Automated Emails
As we discussed earlier in the post, the purpose of this campaign is to re-engage old contacts that haven’t interacted with Megalytic in quite some time. There are a multitude of reasons why these contacts have become unresponsive and the purpose of the re-engagement campaign is to give these contacts a sort of “last hoorah” - an opportunity to demonstrate some interest in Megalytic before they are removed from the contacts database.
Nowadays, most of our inboxes are flooded with promotional emails, so sending more than one is a necessity when giving the inactive contacts an opportunity to re-engage. We also recommend spacing out your campaign to allow time for your user to actually see the email. For example, say someone is out on vacation and haven’t had a chance to open the email yet?
Megalytic decided to send three emails in their re-engagement campaign. But, what should these emails say? The goal is to remind the contact about Megalytic, what initially interested them in the company, and give them a new opportunity to engage. Megalytic is a data reporting tool that customers use to create and distribute corporate reports. These reports are designed to look great and many customers use Megalytic to generate impressive looking reports. That’s a key benefit of the product.
More on that when we set up the actual workflow of your automated campaign. For now, let’s discuss the nuts and bolts of Megalytic’s three emails by walking through the content in each. Since their buyer persona includes digital agencies, like Rare Karma, who need to put out monthly reports to their client, and quickly, they start the campaign with an email titled “Impress Your Clients with Megalytic Reports”:
Email #1: Impress Your Clients with Megalytic Reports
The second email that will automatically send, is an email that introduces the new features Megalytic has rolled out over the past year. These may be of interest to older contacts who are most likely unaware of these announcements and updates. By highlighting these new features in an email to unengaged contacts, like a YouTube integration, those contacts may be urged to reactivate a trial or request more information -- re-engaging with the brand.
Email #2: Check Out the New and Improved Megalytic
And lastly, email number three combines both the sentiments of email #1 and email #2 by illustrating that with Megalytic’s ahead-of-the-curve technology, your clients will get the best of the best when using their product.
Email #3 Give Clients the Monthly Reports they Deserve - with Megalytic
Setting up your Workflow
Once the Megalytic emails are designed and saved for automation, you can begin setting up the workflow in HubSpot in order to launch the campaign. Start by navigating to Automation > Workflows and clicking on the Create Workflow button.
You need to specify the Type of workflow and whether your workflow will be triggered off contacts, companies, deals, tickets or quotas. Deals, tickets and quotas are features in HubSpot Sales Hub. The most common workflows are based off of the contact record, and if you decide to build your workflow off contacts (which is how Megalytic will create their workflow) you will be prompted to select a type of workflow. HubSpot provides for three types of contact-based workflows:
- Start from scratch - “Start with a blank workflow and add your own actions and delays.” - This is the most flexible. You can add your own actions, delays, and logic to create exactly the workflow you want. This is commonly used for drip marketing.
- Center on a date - “Add actions that revolve around a specific date like a webinar, conference, or other event.” In this type of workflow, any delays or other workflow actions (like send email or create task) are triggered by one specific date for all contacts. For example, say you want to send out a series of reminder emails 1 month, 1 week and 1 day before a seminar you planned on hosting to contacts who have registered ‘yes’. In this case, you would center your workflow on the “date of the event” or the seminar.
- Center on date property - “Add actions that revolve around a contact date property, like a contact’s birthday or when they became a customer.” Unlike the “Center on a date” type of workflow, this type of workflow is triggered by a date that can vary from contact to contact. For example, this type of workflow would be used if you want to send out a promotional email to contacts with a promo code for 25% off your product in their birthday month.
Because Megalytic’s re-engagement workflow is going to be a drip marketing campaign, you would use a contact-based workflow and select “Start from scratch”.
Next, give their workflow a name, like “Re-engagement Campaign_Date”. Include the date in the name because this is a campaign that the company will run once. But, in a month or so, they may run it again, with modifications, and then you will simply copy this workflow, make modifications, and give it a new date suffix.
Since Megalytic’s workflow is based on a contact’s lack of interaction with their brand, and they decided to configure their enrollment triggers based around a list of contacts that haven’t engaged in the past year, they would choose a contact-based workflow.
Next, begin building out the workflow by setting the enrollment trigger. The enrollment trigger can be contact based, company-based, deal-based, ticket-based or quota-base and is the basis for your entire workflow. Without an enrollment trigger you have no way of drilling down to the criteria when enrolling certain set of contacts in your workflow. HubSpot allows for a multitude of triggers including contacts who’ve visited specific website page views, have certain subscription types or submitted forms.
For Megalytic’s re-engagement campaign, the trigger to enroll a contact in the workflow is being a member of a list that was created for all contacts who are not current or past customers that haven’t opened any emails in the past year. So, Megalytic will click Set enrollment triggers which open a pop-up window where your will choose List membership:
Next, you search for the list they have created titled “unengaged contacts, elect the list, and lastly click apply filter to save the enrollment trigger.
You can customize the enrollment trigger by adding additional filters with AND/OR - beyond just the “Unengaged contacts” list. For example, you can include or exclude people who have filled out a form, attended an event or who have looked at a certain number of website pages. The Megalytic enrollment trigger just used the list with no additional conditions.
Once you have your enrollment trigger set, click save. Now you will begin building out the actions. If you’ve ever used any other marketing automation software, you know that building out workflow actions can be very confusing. With HubSpot, you get a bird’s eye view of your workflow and if you’re more of a visual person this is definitely a plus. To add an action, click the orange circle containing a plus sign. This will open a pop-up on the right side of your screen that says “Choose an action.” From here, you can choose to send an email, create a task, add a delay or if/then statement.
If you have trouble finding the action you want to add to your workflow, use the search feature here:
As you can see, there are a variety of different actions you can choose from, including “Create task”, “Send email”, “Create deal”, etc. Since this is an email workflow for Megalytic, they will choose the action of “Send Email” under the Marketing section of the actions and choose the first email in their series, “Impress your Clients with Megalytic Reports” by searching for the title in the “choose an email” section:
Once you have selected the email, they will click Save. This will then bring you back to the main workflow page where they will then select New Action next to the orange + sign. As we mentioned earlier, you want to make sure to delay the action between email sends so that your recipient has time to open the email. Megalytic decides to wait 7 business days between each send, so to do so, they will then select Delay to add a new action:
Hit the up arrow to increase the time elapsed between actions to seven days:
It’s important to note that Megalytic has determined that once a contact re-engages with their email by clicking any links in the email, the goal has been achieved, and therefore the workflow ends for those contacts. So, the workflow will wait (delay) for 7 days to determine who has clicked and who hasn’t. The next email will be sent only to those contacts who have NOT clicked on any link in the previous email and this logic is implemented through another action called the If /then branch.
After they’ve added their delay, Megalytic will then click New action and choose If/then branch under the “Building Blocks” section of Actions. Here, they will be prompted to select a filter type, and since the if/then statement is contingent on the actions taken in an email, they will select Marketing Emails > search for the email title (in this case, Email #1: Impress Your Clients with Megalytic Reports) > select the email > choose ‘Contact clicked a link in email’ > select Any Link from the dropdown > click Save.
Note: if you wanted to have the if/then statement use only one specific link in an email, you can do that also. Instead of choosing “Any link” you would select the specific link from the drop menu. Additionally, you can add an AND / OR statement to even further drill down your logic in the same step.
Insert your If/then branch into your workflow after clicking save. Now, you will have to add actions to the NO and YES branch your If/then branch created:
For Megalytic’s re-engagement campaign, if someone fits the NO criteria (does not click a link in the email), they will continue on in the workflow and receive the next email. If someone fits the YES criteria (clicks a link in the email) then there journey on the workflow ends here as indicated by the black and white checkered flag.
So, the next step in this workflow will be for contacts in the NO branch to receive email #2 after a 7 day delay. To do so, Megalytic will click the plus sign under the NO branch and repeat the steps listed above:
- Add Action
- Send Email #2 “Check Out the New and Improved Megalytic”
- Add Delay (7 Days)
- Insert If/then branch
- Marketing Email Activity (clicked any link in Email #2)
- Yes (end workflow)
- No (send Email #3)
Now that the framework for their reengagement workflow is complete, they will configure their settings by selecting Settings in the workflow editor.
Here you can select whether or not you want your workflow to run on business days only or 7 days a week. You can also choose what time of the day to send emails and if you would like your workflow associated with a campaign.
You can also choose to Test your campaign before turning the workflow live by clicking here:
This is a great feature that allows you to enroll a contact (or yourself) in a test sequence so that you can see exactly how your workflow will behave and what the emails will look like. We suggest enrolling yourself in a test before setting your first workflow live.
Once you are happy with your workflow and have configured your settings, it’s time to turn the workflow on! After your first email has fired off, you can go back to the Performance and History tabs to see open rates, click rates and other statistics.
By using a tool like HubSpot to create and automate email campaigns you can take your marketing to the next level. HubSpot takes the grunt work out of workflow automation with straightforward and easy-to-use tools that can save your marketing team valuable time and effort. Automated emails can be used for any business and very effective at driving conversion. Even in today’s stuffed inboxes, email is still much more effective than social media at converting qualified leads. Unfortunately, many marketers hold back because they fear dealing with the complexity of setting up automated email campaign. But, as we have shown in this blog post, with a powerful tool like HubSpot, anybody can create effective email workflows. The first couple times, it may seem like a daunting task, but you will quickly get the hang of it, and your results will be worth it!