Permission-based email marketing ROI is the highest of any digital marketing method, generating $38 for every $1 spent on average. But when we say this, we're not talking about someone sitting at a computer crafting and sending emails to the list one by one.
Email sequences are one of the vital email marketing and sales tactics that make this unbelievable ROI possible. And this requires understanding why aligned sales and marketing automation is so important and how to use HubSpot Sequences to get these kinds of results.
What Are Email Sequences?
An email sequence is a series of sequential emails you send using email marketing automation such as HubSpot. The emails go out based on pre-determined criteria, such as:
- Location, demographics, or other segmentation criteria
- A designated behavior, such as signing up
- Time delay
- Time of day/Day of week
Why HubSpot Sequences Are So Effective
Of course, a tool is only as effective as how you use it. But here are some of the ways HubSpot makes using email sequences effectively easier.
Build HubSpot sequences in advance and set up these criteria based on data you've collected about your buyer personas and previous email sequence performance.
Use HubSpot's library of data-backed templates to speed up the email creation process while also creating sequences with a high probability of success.
You can then automatically send them to a targeted audience within your email list. For email sequences, this targeted group is generally individuals at the bottom of the funnel and ready for hand-off to sales.
When the time is right, the ideal email sequence campaign launches, achieving perfect timing— the right message, time, and person.
Then, collect, analyze, and use first-party data to optimize timing, message, headlines, template usage, CTAs, landing pages, team follow-up, and other testable elements of an effective email campaign.
This is where email marketing ROI comes from.
But HubSpot Sequences support you in another way too!
They allow you to create tasks related to each email sequence and deliver alerts to the responsible team members so that automation and team members (in both sales and marketing) work together to optimize timing and maximize results.
- Follow-up calls
- LinkedIn messaging
- Automatically unenrolling someone from a sequence once they move into the next stage of the buyer's journey
- Starting a new sequence for an email group based on the sequence results and related follow-up. You're limited to 5 emails in one sequence to avoid spamming.
Ultimately, automation maximizes the return on your investment by making everything you do more impactful.
HubSpot Email Sequence Vs. HubSpot Workflow
Marketing and Sales Sequences/Workflows sound similar, especially if you're not currently using HubSpot, so before we go further, we want to distinguish between the two with this HubSpot Email Sequence Vs. HubSpot Workflow Chart.
Who Uses It?
What's It Do?
Helps sales close a deal on a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL)
Nurtures leads early-to-mid-buyer's journey to turn MQLs into SQLs.
Very personalized. At this stage, Sales knows a lot about the contact, actions they've taken, and what they need to sign on the dotted line.
Content is segmented based on buyer personas and sometimes individual behavioral triggers. But it is still speaking to a broader audience.
Contacts are manually enrolled in a sequence when they become a SQL. This hand-off can be automated through the use of lead-scoring technology.
Contacts enter a workflow automatically after a behavior like filling out a lead generation form. While signed up for the email list, they get regular content, such as a newsletter.
How the Sequence
Sales systematically answer a contact's final pre-sale questions and objections. You'll help them confirm they're making the right decision.
You may run marketing campaigns where you send out sequential emails to target segments to move leads to the next stage, but we're still distinguishing this from an email sequence.
Number of people getting a specific email
Typically small at any given time
Many people (maybe 1000s) are signed up for your email list.
Once the sequence starts, it completes automatically and doesn't stop or shift course unless the status changes. Once the sequence is complete, the lead may be automatically unsubscribed. But they may remain subscribed to the marketing email list.
Emails start upon sign-up. Email lists are segmented. Leads receive emails automatically. Unsubscription is typically a manual choice by either the recipient or the marketing team.
How It Ends
The contact is unenrolled once they respond to an email in the sequence or book a meeting in the sender's calendar via the HubSpot Meetings tool. Depending on the status, a Sales Representative may take over for 1-on-1 communication with the recipient.
When the workflow ends, the contact remains subscribed to the email list. If the lead progresses to the next stage of the buyer's journey (becoming a SQL), the workflow may end, and the appropriate email sequence or sales outreach may begin.
Yes. At this point, the sales leader and an assigned salesperson are notified so they can complete more individualized research and establish a 1-1 relationship.
Contacts are earlier in the buyer's journey, so it's not time- or cost-effective for a salesperson to get involved.
Who Creates Content
Often a mix of sales content created by the Sales Team and Sales Enablement Content created by the Marketing Team.
So, ultimately, HubSpot Marketing Workflows lead seamlessly into Sales Sequences through email marketing automation. It's a team effort!
Using these together, you're promoting Sales-Marketing Alignment that can achieve that high marketing ROI.
What You'll Need to Get Started
You'll need specific tools to set up effective email sequences.
- Lead Generation Form - A form where you collect emails to build a permission-based email list at the early buyer's journey/top of the funnel. You'll use inbound marketing and content marketing strategies to encourage your target audience to fill out this form. That's a whole separate topic.
- Email Automation Software - This tool helps you build email sequences, generate related tasks, and automate as much as possible to optimize timing and close the deal. Ideally, it will include data-driven templates to save you time and help you start using sequences off on the right foot and tracking and analytics that allow you to test, improve performance, and increase ROI continually. It's no secret we prefer HubSpot Marketing and Sales Hubs for this.
- Subject Line Optimizer - The subject line is the most critical part of email anatomy and can make or break your campaign. You must understand what this headline looks like on devices.
To create and edit HubSpot Sequences precisely, you'll need:
- A seat in one of the following: Sales Hub Professional or Enterprise -OR- Service Hub Professional or Enterprise
- A personal email address. Because a personal touch is so important in sales, email sequences come from an individual, not a team email in HubSpot.
- Permission to create sequences in HubSpot
HubSpot Sequence Example: What Does an Email Sequence Look Like?
Here are some automated, behaviorally-triggered email sequences you can steal now to increase your email marketing ROI.
Sales Hand-off Sequence
Picture this: Based on your lead scoring (which also works best with marketing automation), a marketing lead has just hit a milestone in the buyer's journey. They're ready for marketing to sales hand-off.
Use marketing automation to launch an email sequence that effectively hands the lead off to sales with an email sequence like this.
- Email 1 Welcome email: Email recipients open a welcome email 50% of the time, making this the highest open rate you'll typically achieve. So, be smart. Make sure it delivers on the promise you made to move them into this decision-making phase. Give it clear CTAs, make an overall good brand impression.
- In inbound marketing strategy, this will be late buyer's journey (bottom of the funnel) content like a downloadable case study, vendor comparisons, free trial access, or live demo.
- To make this email even more powerful, sign the name of the sales professional to whom marketing is handing off the lead if you have a robust hand-off in place.
- Task 1 LinkedIn Contact Attempt: Set up a task reminder for the responsible salesperson to attempt to connect with the prospect on LinkedIn. Deepen their connection to you and expand the number of channels through which you can communicate with this lead.
- Email 2: Send them helpful segmented content that supports them based on where they are in the buyer's journey.
- Task 1 Phone call: Set up a task for a sales rep to reach out after email three based on your analyzed ideal timing.
- Email 3 Social Proof: Send the lead a testimonial, allowing them to hear through someone else's words how you've helped them meet their business goals. Invite them to chat with you. Give them options. Some people are phone call adverse.
- Task 3 Change Lead Status: Change the status based on what you find out about this lead during this sequence. Some lead status options include: Open Deal, Unqualified, Attempted to Contact, Connected, and Bad Timing.
- Email 4 Follow-up: The email the lead gets depends on the status.
- Email 5 Break up: If the lead doesn't proceed, then the timing isn't right or they're unqualified.
- Task 4 Analyze: Analyze your email data to optimize performance and continually improve your email marketing ROI.
Check out this view of a sample sequence, with tasks and emails spread out over time:
Cart Abandonment Sequence
77% of carts get abandoned. In most cases, this is not because they decided not to buy. More often than not, something distracted them. Research shows you can recover approximately 63% of cart abandonment lost revenue by guiding them back to the process.
- Email 1 Reminder: Remind them that they abandoned their cart after 24 hours
- Email 2 Address Objections: Specifically address common objections after 48 hours.
- Email 3 Offer a Discount: Incentivize them to act now with free shipping, a cart discount, an extended trial period, add-on service, or other extras after 72 hours.
For B2B marketing, you may also find it advantageous to add a 4th email (before the discount email) that offers social proof, a short case study, or other similar trust-building content.
Depending on your email marketing strategy, you may also add a salesperson's name to make these more personal and set up tasks for that person to attempt to connect on LinkedIn.
None of these emails should be pushy. You'll get better results by focusing on helpfulness in follow-up. What does this prospect need from you right now? What barrier did they encounter? Put yourself in their shoes (using email analytics)
Pro Tip: Be sure to collect their email early in the check-out process or earlier in the buyer's journey to make this possible.
New Customer Onboarding Sequence
Retaining accounts is valuable to B2B companies as it can equal repeat business, referrals, and other online promoter activity. 65% of the typical company's revenues come from people who have bought before.
- Email 1 Are You Delighted? Do you need anything from us?: Check in with the customer after a set period to confirm they can access and use what they purchased. Ask if they have questions. Provide them with customer support contact and self-service troubleshooting resources.
- Email 2 Personalized Recommendations: Wait about a week from email one, and send them personalized recommendations and free resources that may help them get more out of their existing purchase.
Ongoing Customer Upsell / Increase CLV Sequence
- Email 1 Loyal Customer "hand-picked" Special Offer
- Email 2 Reminder: remind them about the special offer you've "hand-picked" for them
Tracking Sequence Success
Your email sequences are only as powerful as your ability to track, measure, and optimize. So, be sure you have tools to track:
- Number of contacts in a sequence
- Open rate
- Click through rate
- Reply rate
- Meeting rate
- No response
- Unsubscribe rate
The best part? You can track all of this on your HubSpot dashboard.
If these are HubSpot tools you'd love to start using but aren't sure where to start, PLUS you think your HubSpot portal needs a once-over, turn to our team of experts. We can assess your portal and give you complimentary optimization ideas to get started on the right foot. Click below to learn more: