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Supercharge Your Pipeline

The Ultimate Lead Nurturing Recipe to Create in HubSpot

October 21, 2015

By Amber Kemmis


What if there was one lead nurturing recipe that could do it all? When I say do it all, I mean that it can keep your contacts engaged, moving through the funnel, goals on track and employees informed - that kind of do it all. Well, it does it exist in the HubSpot platform with the addition of if/then branching. Read carefully as you learn more about the ultimate lead nurture recipe because, although it is awesome, it won’t work for everyone.

When Should I Use This?

While an ultimate lead nurture recipe sounds great, it isn’t something that just anyone should implement. As mentioned, you should use it with caution, and as always, test to ensure that it’s the most effective. The ultimate lead nurture recipe is great for HubSpot customers who don’t have workflows yet, but it is important that those using this lead nurture campaign are properly capturing lead data on forms, have clearly defined lifecycle stages that align with HubSpot’s lifecycle definitions, and that they have content or plan to develop it to fill the lead nurturing recipe. Not to mention, you should also be knowledgeable in using the HubSpot workflow tool.

The recipe for the ultimate lead nurture campaign is broken up by phases, but you’ll only need one workflow to create it. As always, content should be aligned to the target persona. Thus, if you have multiple personas, you should have a separate lead nurture campaign created for each persona. Let’s get started.

Phase 1: Subscriber to Lead

According to a survey by Forrester Research, 74 percent of business buyers say they conduct over half of their research online before contacting sales offline. The majority of your website visitors and subscribers aren’t ready to buy when they first find you, but with proper lead nurturing using a combination of emails, content and automated lifecycle transitions, you can help to convert them into qualified leads and customers.

What You’ll Need:

  • List of subscribers and/or trigger by lifecycle stage

  • Awareness content offer/s

  • 2 emails

  • If/then branching

  • 1 lifecycle change and/or list enrollment


  1. Trigger the workflow for anyone who has the lifecycle stage contact property, but immediately create an if/then branch for subscribers. You can do this by creating a list for subscribers. This step is critical, as it ensures that later phases allow enrollment for contacts who may enter your marketing lifecycle as an MQL, SQL or opportunity.

  2. After a week or two of subscription (the interval depends upon performance and length your sales cycle), send an email with a high performing Awareness content offer or develop one if you don’t have it yet.

  3. Next, you’ll use an if/then branch to segment by separating those who download the additional content, and those who did not. For those who did download the content, they can skip to the MQL steps. For those who did not download the content, they should receive a second email with a new content offer and/or test a new subject line.

  4. For those who did download the content and go to the phase 2, you’ll first want to add a step to automatically set the lifecycle stage to “Lead”.

Pro tip: If you have various subscriptions for different topics, use the if/then branch to deliver a content offer that aligns best with that subscription topic.

Phase 2: Lead to MQL

Depending upon how your company differentiates leads, you may treat leads and MQLs differently. For example, some companies define a lead as anyone who has downloaded a lead generation offer from their website, but the lead is not considered an MQL until they’ve had two conversions and fit the target persona. The second phase is outlined for those companies who do differentiate between leads and MQLS, but if you treat them the same, you can skip to Phase 3.

What you’ll need:

  • List of leads and/or trigger by lifecycle stage
  • Awareness content offer/s

  • 2 emails

  • If/then branching

  • 1 lifecycle change and/or list enrollment


  1. For the contacts who become a lead, create a yes branching and send another email 1-2 weeks later with another Awareness offer.

  2. For leads who re-convert on this offer, update the lifecycle stage to marketing qualified and branch to Phase 3.

  3. For those that don’t re-convert, branch out to send a second attempt with an Awareness offer 2 weeks later and test a new subject line if needed. If they still do not convert, consider updating their lifecycle stage to “Other” or keep in the funnel as a “Lead” for the future. If they do re-convert, use a yes branch to go to Phase 3.

Pro tip: If you’d like a sales person to review the lead before disqualifying, use an internal email in the branch to notify the lead owner.

Phase 3: MQL to SQL

When a prospect or anyone that makes contact with your brand gets a touch point, they likely, within a couple clicks or dial, could reach your sales team to make a purchase. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t going to do that because they’ll conduct product research on their own, meanwhile dealing with the thousands of other touch points they have each day with other brands, people, places and things. So, while you won’t get someone from lead to deal immediately, you will be able to leverage each touch point you have to bring that lead closer and closer to becoming a customer. You do this by educating them and providing the right content for their stage in the buyer’s journey. At this point, the lead is likely evaluating or at least aware of the solutions you have available, so you’ll now need to help them by making their evaluation and analysis of possible solutions or opportunities easier. Meanwhile, turning this MQL into an SQL.

What You’ll Need:

  • List of MQLs and SQLs and/or trigger by lifecycle stage
  • Consideration content offer

  • Intent content offer

  • 3-5 emails

  • If/then branching
  • 1 lifecycle change 


  1. Trigger this phase of the workflow for anyone who’s gone through Phase 3 or becomes an MQL. At this point, the lead should have downloaded more than one of your Awareness offers and has become an MQL but also knows that a problem or opportunity exists.

  2. In this branch, add a 1-2 week delay and then send an email with a Consideration content offer. This offer should begin to get the MQL thinking about solutions to the problem.

  3. For MQLs who convert on the Consideration offer, send an Intent offer a few days later. If they convert on the Intent offer, skip to Phase 4.

  4. For MQLs who do not convert on the Consideration offer, send another attempt 2 weeks later. If there they still don’t engage (use email clicks or form submissions in the if/then branching), set the lifecycle stage to “Other” or notify your sales team to transition the lifecycle stage based on their analyses.

Pro tip: Lifecycle stages and the buyer’s journey are not synonymous; however, assuming most of your MQLs have consumed your Awareness content, they are likely moving into the Consideration stage of the buyer’s journey.

Phase 4: SQL to Opportunity and Customer

When a lead reaches your Intent offers like a demo request, free trial or consultation through your website or through a lead nurturing campaign, it is critical to respond that request in a timely manner. Actually, companies who respond to an inquiry within an hour are 7 times more likely to have meaningful conversations with key decision makers than firms who went outside that hour mark (HubSpot Blog, 2015). So, in this phase of the workflow, it’s all about getting your sales team to respond as quickly as possible to SQLs to increase the odds of their engagement turning into an opportunity.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 emails

  • If/then branching
  • 1 sales rep/CRM notification


  1. In this step, you’ll send an internal email immediately to the lead owner to follow up with anyone that converts on the Intent offer and/or meets your SQL criteria. At this point, it will be up to your sales team to work to create an opportunity and close the sale.

  2. The next step you’ll take, however, is to create a branch for SQLs and opportunities who have remained in the funnel for more than 30 days(the interval will vary depending upon your sales cycle) and have not become a customer. The yes branch will include those who have remained in the funnel, while the no branch will have no secondary actions.

  3. In the yes branch, notify sales with an internal email of the SQLs and opportunities who are lingering. At this point, your sales team should either transition the lifecycle stage to a closed lost opportunity or continue to work the SQL.

  4. The next action you’ll create with this branch is to add a “break up” email for anyone who has had their lifecycle stage transitioned to a closed lost opportunity or “Other”. This is an email that lets the lead know that you are there if they need you, but you’ll take them off your follow up list for now.

Phase 5: Customer Satisfaction

After your sales team has converted an SQL into a customer, should your email communication suddenly stop? Definitely not, as it is your customers who bring you repeat business and new customer referrals. Thus, you need to keep your customers happy by showing them you appreciate their business, encourage them to spread the word and make them want to buy more.

What you’ll need:  

  • 2-3 emails

  • If/then branching


  1. First, create a yes branch for new customers.

  2. To these contacts, you’ll want to send the first email immediately that thanks the customer for their business and also provides any customer support information they may need.

  3. Delay the next action at least one week and then send another email. This time the email should ask the customer to spread the news about your business if they love it. If they don’t, make sure they can let you know by providing contact information for the appropriate contact.

  4. Finally, delay another week and add an if/then branch based on the customer’s blog subscription. If they are not enrolled in your blog subscription, send an email with some juicy bits of content from your blog and ask them to subscribe.

Before You Get Started

You’ve read the recipe, you’ve gathered the ingredients but not too fast! Every good chef knows that they must taste their creation first, so I strongly suggest that you setup the workflow and test before rolling out to your contacts. The ultimate lead nurture recipe may not work for every company’s lifecycle stage and may also need to be modified to work for your company. Testing it yourself will reveal any gaps that the recipe has for your company’s lifecycle stages. If you aren’t sure where to get started, make sure to contact the team at SmartBug Media for an Inbound Marketing Consultation.


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Topics: HubSpot, Inbound Marketing, Lead Nurturing, Marketing Automation