By Andrew Macey

iStock_000010928496_MediumFor some time now, HubSpot has offered customers on the Professional or Enterprise version of their marketing tool the ability to use marketing automation to follow-up with and manage contacts within one’s marketing database.  Appropriately named, Workflows enables marketers to create automated tasks based on certain criteria or a contact’s behavior.  Until now, these workflows were linear, with one clear beginning and end-point.  With a recent product update, HubSpot announced a major addition to this tool: Branching Workflows.

Like many other marketing automation platforms, branching workflows gives you the opportunity to create if/then branches based on criteria and certain tasks executed previously.  This functionality helps to consolidate the work that previously required multiple workflows speaking to one another, into one easily editable workflow.

Let’s take a look at how this works:

When using branching functionality in HubSpot, you begin the same way you would to create any standard workflow.  Once you select the initial starting condition and goal, proceed as normal in setting up the first action or delay.  What you’ll notice is that in the dropdown of actions/delays, there is now an if/then branch that can be chosen, which will create the branching logic needed.

After selecting the if/then branch, you will need to choose criteria with which to evaluate the contacts enrolled in this workflow once they reach this step.  These options include:

  • Contact property
  • List membership
  • Form submission
  • Email
  • Page view
  • Workflow status

These options should look familiar as they are used as initial starting conditions used when setting up the workflow as well as list creation criteria.

After choosing your criteria, you then setup the actions associated with the Yes and No branches individually.  These will work in the same fashion as all other steps in the workflow and should be evaluated based on your ultimate goal of this workflow.  Once you’ve setup actions and next steps for both routes, you can finish building out the workflow as you normally would.  You can continue to use branching logic multiple times throughout the workflow, however with each split, the more confusing your workflow can become.

Branching workflow best practices

Make sure your workflow has a goal:  When discussing the effectiveness of a nurturing campaign, it is important to have a goal setup.  Often this goal is either moving a contact to another lifecycle stage (e.g. from a lead to an MQL) or the contact taking a particular action (e.g. filling out a particular form).  Usually, these goals are setup as part of the planning process, which helps to determine what messaging should be used and at what delays these messages should be sent at.

Keep the branches to a minimum: As mentioned earlier, too many branches can make the workflow very confusing and can lead to too many moving parts.  These workflows should be revisited from time to time and adjusted to be most effective.  With too many branches, the settings can get very complicated and will not be easy to evaluate.

Plan your workflows on paper first: Often, marketers like to jump in head first and start building right away.  What can happen, however, is that the various parts of a branching workflow can become overwhelming, therefore slowing down the creative process.  Many find that planning out the workflow on a notepad or flowchart first can break up the task into two distinct stages: creative/planning and building.  By separating and arranging your thoughts on paper beforehand, plenty of time is available to figure out the best messaging, timing and branches needed to reach your goals before you even have to build it in HubSpot.  Once the planning stage is completed, it is easy to build out the workflow based on your initial plan.

Branching workflows are a great addition to HubSpot’s marketing product as it allows for additional creativity and consolidation of their already effective nurturing tools.  Not only does this provide users the ability to further qualify and segment those already enrolled in a workflow, but it gives marketers many more options to follow-up and interact with their contacts.

How have you used branching logic to improve your lead nurturing?

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Andrew Macey

About the author

Andrew Macey is a HubSpot and SmartBug Media alumni. He has more than 5 years experience in inbound marketing and is a graduate of the University of Vermont. Read more articles by Andrew Macey.

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