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A quick tour of Workflows

Last updated: December 13, 2016

Available For:

Marketing: Pro, Enterprise
Sales: N/A

In recent years, "marketing automation" has become an industry buzzword and a staple for many marketers. Marketing automation software is a powerful tool, but all that power and flexibility sometimes translates into complexity and a lack of focus in your marketing efforts. Trying to save time and scale your marketing campaigns using complicated software can often lead to an abundance of "middle-of-the-funnel" marketing that fails to generate qualified leads and customers.

We (us inbound marketers) know the truth: our contacts aren't going through our lead nurturing campaigns in isolation. Successful marketing automation relies on triggering relevant and timely actions, based on context. In other words, our contacts are not just reading the emails we send them; they're also reading our blogs posts, visiting our website, and engaging with us on social media. This is what makes inbound marketing special, the idea that how our contacts interact with our content matters. HubSpot's Workflows allow you to use the data you have on your contacts' behavior to create personalized, relevant marketing with context.

HubSpot’s tools are highly interconnected, which can help you build a pipeline of engaged contacts, nurture them with timely content, and empower your sales team by giving them integral information for closing the sale. In this user guide, you will not only learn about the features of Workflows, but also about how to set up contextual, focused, and measurable automation.

What is a workflow?

A workflow is an automated set of marketing actions that execute based on a starting condition. You can use workflows to automate your lead nurturing tasks, complete internal functions, and much more. The tool allows for multiple actions to execute at desired intervals and also includes the ability to use branching logic to perform specific actions based on how a contact has interacted with your content or website.

Some examples of workflow actions include:

  • Sending out a follow-up email with your promised offer when a contact fills out certain forms.
  • Sending out reminder emails for your upcoming webinar or conference and follow-up emails after the event.
  • Sending different emails based on how a contact fills out a form.
  • Dynamically updating a contact property so that the contact sees a different version of your page's Smart Content (Professional and Enterprise accounts only).

Not only are workflows powerful enough to automate your lead nurturing, but they also help you complete internal tasks such as:

  • Notifying a sales rep when a contact submits a free trial form.
  • Automatically setting an internal contact property, such as Trial Start Date.
  • Adding your contacts to a static list of conference registrants for historic viewing.
  • Posting your contact's data into another system via a Webhook when that contact fills out a form.

A unique advantage of HubSpot's Workflows tool is its ability to track your workflow’s performance towards a focused goal. Setting a goal list will be key to many of your workflows as you’ll be able to see at a quick glance how the workflow measures up.

A quick tour of Workflows

To access the Workflows tool from your HubSpot Marketing account, navigate to Contacts > Workflows.

Here you'll see the Workflows dashboard. This dashboard displays a list all of your workflows, the total number of contacts that have been enrolled in each workflow, the current number of active contacts (those who have not yet completed the workflow), and the date each workflow was last modified.

gray dot indicates a workflow that is not active, while a green dot indicates an active workflow.The Workflows dashboard allows you filter by various types and statuses of workflows, as well as workflows tied to a particular persona.

To create a new workflow, click the New workflow button. The first thing you’ll see when you create a new workflow is a field to give your workflow an internal name and an option to select from one of the three types of workflows: standardfixed date, and property-based. Below is a brief summary of the three types of workflows. You can also learn more about workflow types in a later section of this guide.

Types of workflows

  • Standard - enrollment is triggered as soon as a contact meets the starting condition(s) of the workflow and steps are executed in relation to the previous step/delay. Standard workflows can also be triggered by manually enrolling a contact or static list of contacts.
  • Fixed Date - enrollment is triggered when contacts meet the starting condition(s) of the workflow, but its step timing is relative to a set calendar date, such as a webinar, conference, or holiday.
  • Property Based - enrollment is triggered when contacts meet the starting condition(s) of the workflow and step timing is similar to the fixed date workflow in that it is centered around a date; however its timing is relative to a custom date property on a Contact's record, such as a trial expiration date, renewal date, or birthday/anniversary. To learn more about creating custom properties in HubSpot, check out this article.

You can learn more about workflow types here.

Set your enrollment criteria

The first step is to set enrollment criteria. You'll want to choose whether you want to enroll your contacts manually or automatically within your workflow. If you choose manually, contacts will only be enrolled by clicking the Enroll button at the top of the workflow and adding individual contacts or lists.  If you choose automatically, you'll be able to choose from a list of criteria and contacts will be enrolled as soon as they meet this criteria.

Goal List & Overview

The goal list is a smart list that serves as the objective of your workflow. Contacts who meet the criteria of your goal list will be unenrolled from your workflow and counted toward the met goal number at the top of your workflow. This allows you to gauge the success of your workflow and help you focus automation on a unified objective. To learn more about goal lists, check out this article


When you click on any workflow from the Workflows Dashboard, you’ll see the Actions screen. This displays a snapshot of everything that is happening in your workflow: the number of contacts that began the workflow, the starting condition of the workflow, all of the steps you've set up, and how many contacts are currently in each step.

Workflows are made up of actions. Actions are individual functions that execute in a workflow. A few of the most utilized examples of actions are:

  • Add delayset a delay between workflow actions.
  • Send an email - send an automated email to enrolled contacts.
  • Set contact property value - set the value of a contact property, like "Trial Start Date."

You will learn more about the actions you can use in your workflows in a later section of this guide.

Settings, Performance, & History

In each of your workflows, you can view the workflow’s email settings, performance, and history. These links are available from the top of your workflow (and will show up under More depending on your screen size.)


This area displays the email performance for your workflows. You'll see a quick overview of your workflow's conversion rate.

Below that, you'll see multiple reporting modules, including the Contact Performance section, which shows you how many contacts enrolled in your workflow, completed your workflow, were lost, and met the goal during any given time period.

You can select the date filter at the top-right of this section to see a very specific timeframe or select a custom date range to see how the workflow has performed over an extended period. You can learn more about Workflows Performance here.


Here you will find the chronological history of your workflow. This shows when a contact was enrolled, when steps are scheduled to execute, successful actions (such as a contact property being set or an email being sent), when a contact completes a workflow, and if any errors occurred along the way (such as an email not sending to a contact because it was ineligible).


This area controls certain rules about how your workflows will execute. On this screen, you’ll find settings that control if contacts can enroll more than once, attach your workflow to a campaign, suppression lists, and more. Workflow settings will be covered in detail, in a later section of this guide.

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