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Guide to Setting Up Email Workflows for Webinars

April 15, 2016

By Jessica Vionas-Singer

Email is a core component of promoting a webinar before the event and following up after it is over. To help make it easier to create email workflows for webinars using HubSpot, we’ve put together this handy-dandy guide.


Step 1: Map out the emails you want to send 

According to ON24, registrations are pretty evenly split between three timeframes: the day of, 1-7 days, and 7-14 days. More than 3 weeks out has the least number of registrations as many people aren't sure of their schedule until closer to an event. For this reason, I recommend beginning your promotion 2 weeks out.

My experience found that three emails was optimal: a pretty HTML email 2 weeks out, a text email 1 week out, and a second text email 1 day out (or the day of). You can try three HTML emails; just make sure to test the effectiveness as I have found text emails to have better open rates, better click-through rates, and more registrations.

After the webinar is over, you’ll want to follow up with your leads and customers. In general, there are five buckets people can fall in to:

  1. Customers/opportunities who attended the webinar.
  2. Customers/opportunities who didn't attend the webinar.
  3. Not-yet-qualified leads who attended the webinar.
  4. Qualified leads who attended the webinar.
  5. Leads who didn't attend the webinar. 

(A lead who didn’t attend the webinar didn’t have a chance to fill out the post-webinar survey, so we don’t know if they are qualified or not.)

You may want to combine customers/leads who didn’t attend into one bucket (#2 and #5) or qualified/not-yet-qualified leads who attended the webinar (#3 and #4). It just depends on how targeted you want your message to be.

For customers who attended the webinar, put together a simple email saying: "Thanks for coming! Here are the slides and recording." For customers who didn’t attend, offer something such as: "Our system didn’t record your being at the webinar today; we’re sorry to have missed you! Here are the slides and recording."

Your salespeople will often want to follow up with qualified leads directly. Check with them on if a post-event email or lead nurturing from marketing makes sense or if the salespeople will be handling it.

Not-yet-qualified leads who did attend and leads who didn’t attend (#3 and #5) are the best candidates for lead nurturing. The topic of your webinar and which stage of the buyer’s journey the content was focused on will help you determine what the nurturing will contain. Typical lead nurturing includes 3-5 emails over 3-10 weeks with the goal of getting the lead qualified.

Step 2: Write the emails and put them into HubSpot

Above were some tips for what goes into each email, but you’ll want to write them prior to creating the emails in HubSpot.

Each promotional email should include the title of the webinar, the presenter, the date/time, the abstract, and a link to register. A bio of the speaker is optional. 

Here’s an example of an HTML promotional email that does a lot of things right. Although it’s long, the copy is broken up with imagery and colored boxes. It also has multiple places to register for the webinar (including one above the fold in most email clients!) and multiple places where the date and time are listed. Bolding sections in the abstract also makes it skim-able, which many people do when there are blocks of text. Personalization at the top of the body is always a good idea.


As mentioned before, consider making emails #2 and #3 be just text (examples below).



When creating the emails in HubSpot, make sure to select “Save for automation” under the Recipients tab for all of your emails so that you can use them in the workflows. (You have to "Publish" the emails for them to be available for your workflows later.)


Note: If you only have 1 or 2 follow-up emails, you can just put if/then criteria in the workflow to determine who to send each follow-up email to (outlined later in this post). If you have 5 follow-up emails, it’s often easier to make the follow-up email smart based on the criteria you decided on in Step 1.

Okay, email prep work is done. You should have 3 promotion emails in HubSpot as well as 1 follow-up email (if it's smart) or 2-5 follow-up emails (if it's regular), as well as any lead nurturing emails you want to do.

Make sure the emails are all named in a way that you know what’s what. Now we can make our workflows!

Step 3: Create a list of contacts to send the promotional emails to

If you don’t have a list in HubSpot of people to send promotional emails to, you’ll want to create one. Ideas include everyone in the database, people who have downloaded something from your website in the last 6 months, people who are in the buyer’s stage your webinar content is geared to, people who are interested in the subject matter the topic is about, as well as many other options. Don’t forget to include your blog subscribers! 



Note: You can put the criteria directly into the workflow instead of creating a list, but if you already have a list or you plan to use the same criteria more than once, it’s often easier to create a list.

Step 4: Create the promotional emails workflow

While you could combine both the promotion and follow-up workflows into one, the goals are different, so I would recommend having at least two, possibly three (we’ll get to goals in a moment).

Most email workflows send emails at variable times, depending on when the contact enrolled, which is a Standard workflow. For webinars, though, we want to trigger on a Fixed Date (e.g. one week out from the webinar), which is the second option when you “Create a new workflow”. 


The first thing is to indicate your goal. (I find if I don’t do this first, I forget.) The goal of your promotional emails is for someone to register for your event! Once they do that, they shouldn’t get any more promotional emails. A goal in HubSpot does just that – it indicates the success of your workflow and it un-enrolls people once they reach the goal.

Click “Set a goal” in the top right. Choose “Form submission” (if you are using a landing page) or “List” (if you are uploading them by hand). Click “Set goal”.


Note: If you decide not to set a goal, make sure to filter out registrations before each email step. It is super annoying to get emails about signing up for an event you already registered for.

Okay, now you'll define how people are enrolled in the workflow. If you leave the “Automatically enroll contacts when they meet these criteria:” selected, then people can be added to the workflow mid-way through if they download content on your website, for example, one week away from the webinar. 

Select “List membership”. 


Choose your promotion list. Then click the checkbox next to “Enroll contacts who already meet these criteria.” Click "Save".


(Here is where you can put your criteria instead of using a list.)

A pink box reminds you to center the workflow around a date. Click on the pencil icon (or anywhere in the box) and then choose your webinar date in this box and click "Save".


The next box that appears automatically is “Perform the next action on…” Click on the box to edit it. Change “Perform the next action on” to “before” and choose 14 days. Click "Save". 


Hover over the “Perform” box (or the end box or anywhere in between) and “Add action or delay” appears in blue.


Click on this link to add your first promotional email. Under “Select an action”, choose “Send an email”. Under “Select an email”, choose your first promotional email. Click "Save". (As mentioned before, the email can’t be in draft form; it has to be published for use.)


Hover on this email and choose “Add action or delay” that appears below it. This time choose “Delay” and this time select 7 days for your 2nd email promotion. Add another action and send them email #2. Add another delay (this time only 1 day) and send them email #3.

Your completed workflow should look something like this:


At the top of the screen is a link to Test the workflow. This will allow you to send all workflow emails immediately (regardless of delays in the workflow) to a Contact. (You’ll need to make yourself a Contact in HubSpot if you aren’t already.)

Note: The default setting for a new workflow is that a person can only be enrolled once, which means you can only test the workflow once on the same contact (yourself). To test it multiple times, click the blue “Change” link next to “Contacts will be enrolled the first time they meet the criteria above” in the top enrollment section. Check the box next to “Allow contacts who meet the starting conditions to reenroll when any one of the following occurs” and check the “They are manually enrolled” box.

Finally, after you’ve tested, you can activate the workflow by clicking the toggle switch at the top of the workflow that says “OFF” next to “Workflow is inactive. Click to review and activate.” You’ll get a confirmation screen and then click “Activate workflow now”.

Step 5: Create the follow-up workflow

GTW-as-an-option.jpg Note: If you are using GoToWebinar, you will be able to base the workflow criteria on attended, or registered and didn’t attend, without any additional steps. (GoToWebinar becomes one of the options, see image at right.) You can also create lists and goals based on this criteria.

Prior to making the follow-up workflow, there's an additional step depending on the software you are using. If you are using GoToWebinar and have the integration set up, you are good to go (see box at right). If you are using another software, you'll need to make a list that corresponds with each of the various groups you want to customize the email to. If you are importing the contacts from Excel, you can make a blank list for now and update it after the webinar.

To create the follow-up workflow, you’ll create a Fixed Date workflow again and "Automatically enroll contacts" who fill out the registration page for your webinar. The workflow will again center around the webinar date. The first delay will be “Perform the next action 1 day after…” Don’t forget to set your goal of viewing the recording page.

To segment your list, we’ll use if/then criteria. Hover over the delay box and click “Add action or delay”. Under “Select an action”, choose “If/then branch”. Choose "List membership" and pick your list. 

Here’s a simple example with one if/then statement that checks if they attended. The image at left has the "Yes" branch and the image at right has the "No" branch with the corresponding emails selected.



(If you use "GoToWebinar webinar status" instead of "List membership", pick your webinar and the status of "Attended". The "Yes" branch would be the same as above. Under the "No" branch, you would add a second if/then statement with a GoToWebinar status of [your webinar] "Registered" AND GoToWebinar status of [your webinar] "Not Attended". The "Yes" branch of this division would be an email to those who didn't attend, and the "No" branch would just end the workflow without an additional step.)

And here’s an example of a follow-up email workflow with two sets of if/then statements. (Again, this is usually simpler using smart email content, but this is what the workflow would look like, for your reference.)

Both of the images below show the "Yes" branch of contacts who are Customers. The image on the left is those who attended the webinar and the ones on the right are those that didn't (the second if/then statement in each image).



The two images below are the remaining steps of this workflow, demonstrating the "No" branch for "Customers" (i.e. leads). The image at left are those who attended the webinar and the one at right is those who didn't.



Step 6: Create the lead nurturing workflow for leads 

The lead nurturing workflow will have its own goal (to qualify the lead or to download another offer), so you’ll want to make it separate. When you create this workflow, choose “Standard” as the type, set the goal, and then change “Automatically enroll contacts" to “Manually enroll contacts". 

The steps are similar to the promotion workflow above, except instead of indicating a date to center around, you will choose to delay the action in between each email, so that it looks something like this:


After you have created this workflow and "Activated" it, you’ll want to go back to your follow-up workflow and add one additional step to the lead branch where you want contacts to be enrolled in lead nurturing. 

Just before the Send email step, add an action and choose “Enroll in workflow” and then pick your lead nurturing workflow. You want this step before you send the email, because if the leads view the recording, they will reach the goal and be un-enrolled from the remaining steps. If you do it before, this is no longer an issue.


Note: There are several other ways to accomplish the lead nurturing workflow. One of them is to build the lead nurturing into the follow-up workflow and not designate a goal. (If the goal is to view the recording, and a lead views it, they would be un-enrolled from the rest of the workflow and wouldn’t get the lead nurturing. If you delete the goal, this is no longer the case.)

A second option would be to have the lead nurturing workflow be a Fixed Date workflow (like the follow-up workflow). In this case, it would occur simultaneously with the follow-up workflow. The follow-up email to leads could be part of either workflow:

Follow-up Email in the Follow-up Workflow

  • Add criteria to the Lead Nurturing workflow in the top section that indicates to enroll only leads.
  • Center the Lead Nurturing workflow around the date of the webinar and have the first delay be 8 days out.
  • First email in the Lead Nurturing workflow is lead nurturing email #1.
  • The Follow-up workflow will send the follow-up email to everyone, including leads, 1 day after the webinar. The Lead Nurturing workflow will just send to leads, starting at 8 days out.
  • Follow-up emails can be smart and include all options.

Follow-up Email in the Lead Nurturing Workflow

  • Add criteria to the Lead Nurturing workflow in the top section that indicates to enroll only leads.
  • Center the Lead Nurturing workflow around the date of the webinar and have the first delay be 1 day out.
  • First email in the Lead Nurturing workflow is to send the follow-up email.
  • Add criteria to the Follow-Up workflow in the top section that indicates to enroll everyone but leads (so the two lists are mutually exclusive).
  • Follow-up emails can still be smart and include all options.

The third option, demonstrated at the beginning of Step 6 (and my personal favorite, which is why I recommended it), whereby you enroll leads as the last step in the follow-up workflow, allows you to have accurate goals and measurement tracking and prevents any sort of criteria confusion the second option might bring.

Additionally, if the lead nurturing is generic, you could use the same lead nurturing workflow for multiple webinars. Or if it is specific to each webinar, you could use the same workflow and simply update the emails if your webinar timeframes don't overlap. If you are using it multiple times, remember to check the box to allow contacts to enroll multiple times, if you want them to receive lead nurturing more than once.


Setting up email workflows for a webinar ahead of time can save a great deal of stress and craziness to get out each email the day it is due. By spending a little time up front, your webinar emails are taken care of and you can focus on other details (like if the technology will work).


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Topics: Inbound Marketing, Email Marketing, Marketing Automation