A quick tour of workflows

Last updated: October 19, 2018

Applies to:

Marketing Hub
Professional, Enterprise
Sales Hub
Professional, Enterprise
Service Hub
Professional, Enterprise

Successful marketing and sales automation relies on triggering relevant and timely actions based on context. In other words, your contacts are not just reading the emails you send them; they're also reading your blog posts, visiting your website, and engaging with you on social media. With your workflows tool, you can use the data you have on your contacts' behavior to create personalized, relevant marketing and sales interactions with context.

In this user guide, you'll learn about the features of workflows and how to set up contextual, focused, and measurable automation.

What is a workflow?

A workflow is an automated set of marketing and/or sales 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:

  • Set contact or company properties in bulk.
  • Copy contact properties to company properties and vice-versa. 
  • Automatically set an internal contact property, such as Trial Start Date.
  • Post your contacts' data into another system via a Webhook. 
  • Send out a follow-up email with your promised offer when a contact fills out certain forms.  

Please note: only Marketing Hub Professional and Enterprise users can send emails via workflows. While workflows can be used to update company properties, only contacts can be enrolled in a workflow.

In your HubSpot account, navigate to Automation > Workflows.

Here you'll see the workflows dashboard. This dashboard displays a list of all 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 an inactive workflow, while a green dot indicates an active workflow. You can filter by various types and statuses of workflows as well as workflows tied to a particular persona.

To create a new workflow, click Create workflow in the upper right.

On this screen, you'll see a field at the top to give your workflow an internal name, and an option to select from one of the three types of workflows: Start from scratch, Center on a date, or Center on a date property. When you're done, click Create workflow in the upper right.

Below is a brief summary of the three types of workflows:
  • Start from scratch - enrollment is triggered as soon as a contact meets the enrollment triggers of the workflow, and actions and delays are executed in relation to the previous action or delay. Workflows can also be triggered by manually enrolling a contact or static list of contacts.
  • Center on a date - enrollment is triggered when contacts meet the enrollment triggers of the workflow, but actions revolve around a specific date, such as a webinar, conference, or holiday.
  • Center on a date property - enrollment is triggered when contacts meet the enrollment triggers of the workflow, but actions revolve around a contact date property, 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 also learn more about workflow types in a later section of this guide.

Set your enrollment triggers

The first step is to set enrollment triggers. 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 (only Marketing Hub Professional and Enterprise users have access to lists). If you choose Automatically, you'll be able to choose from a list of enrollment triggers, and contacts will be enrolled as soon as they meet these triggers.

Goal list and overview

The goal list is similar to a smart list, serving 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 (counting toward the met goal number is only possible for Marketing Hub Professional and Enterprise users). 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.  

Please note: if you're a Sales Hub Professional user and you don't have a Marketing Hub Professional or Enterprise subscription, while you can use goal criteria, your contacts won't count towards the goal conversion rate because you need to send marketing emails in workflows to get contacts counted towards this rate. Read more about using goal criteria for sales here.


When you click on any workflow from your workflows dashboard, you’ll see the Actions screen. This displays a snapshot of everything happening in your workflow: the number of contacts that began the workflow, the enrollment criteria 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 common examples of actions are:

  • Add delay - set a delay between workflow actions.
  • Send an email (Marketing Hub Professional and Enterprise only) - send an automated email to enrolled contacts.
  • Set contact property value - set the value of a contact property, like Trial Start Date.

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

Settings, performance, and history

In each of your workflows, you can view the workflow’s settings, performance, and history. These links are available from the top of your workflow (and will show up under the More dropdown menu 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 time frame or select a custom date range to see how the workflow has performed over an extended period. You can learn more about workflow 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), 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 see your settings divided into two sections:

  1. General: in this section, you can control the days and times your workflow executes in addition to enrollment from Salesforce. You can also specify associated campaigns.
  2. Unenrollment and suppression: here you can control how contacts are removed from other workflows and from the current workflow, in addition to selecting a suppression list if you're a Marketing Hub Professional or Enterprise user.


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