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What Are Email Sequences?   |   Sequence vs Workflow   |   Get Started With Sequences   |  
HubSpot Sequence Examples   |   Tracking Success


Permission-based email marketing return on investment (ROI) is the highest of any digital marketing method, generating $36 for every $1 spent on average.

When we say this, we're not talking about someone sitting at a computer, crafting and sending emails to a list of contacts one by one. This unbelievable ROI is only made possible through email sequences — a type of aligned sales and marketing automation you can employ via HubSpot.


What Are Email Sequences?

An email sequence is a series of sequential emails you send using a marketing automation platform like HubSpot. These emails go out based on pre-determined criteria, such as:

  • Location, demographics, or other segmentation criteria
  • A designated behavior, such as a sign-up
  • Time delay
  • Time of day
  • Day of the week


How HubSpot Simplifies the Use of Email Sequences

One way HubSpot makes using email sequences easier is by allowing you to build sequences in advance and set up the criteria based on data you've collected about your buyer personas and previous email sequence performance.

Alternatively, you can 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, calls to action (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. These automated alerts and actions may include:

  • Tasking the appropriate sales team member with making a follow-up call or sending a LinkedIn message
  • 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 (Note that you're limited to five emails in one sequence to avoid spamming.)

Looking For Unbelievable Email Marketing ROI? Try HubSpot Sequences


HubSpot Email Sequence vs HubSpot Workflow

Email sequences and workflows sound similar, especially if you're not currently using HubSpot. So before we go further, we want to distinguish between the two:




Who Uses It?



What Does It Do?

Helps sales close a deal on a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL).

Nurtures leads early-to-mid-buyer's journey to turn Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) into SQLs.


Very personalized. At this stage, the sales team knows a lot about the contact, the 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's still speaking to a broader audience.

Entered By

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. After signing up for the email list, they get regular content, such as newsletters.

How the Sequence
Is Used

Sales reps systematically answer a contact's final pre-sale questions and objections to 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 thousands) 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 one-on-one 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 an SQL), the workflow may end, and the appropriate email sequence or sales outreach may begin.

Sales Involvement?

Yes. At this point, the sales leader and an assigned salesperson are notified so they can complete more individualized research and establish a one-on-one 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.

Marketing Team


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 high marketing ROI.


What You'll Need to Get Started With Email Sequences

To set up effective email sequences, you'll need specific tools, including:

  • A Lead Generation Form: A form where you collect emails to build a permission-based email list early in the buyer's journey. You'll use inbound and content marketing strategies to encourage your target audience to fill out this form.
  • Email Automation Software: This tool helps you build email sequences, generate related tasks, and automate processes to optimize timing and close deals. It includes data-driven templates to save time and tracking analytics to continually test, improve performance, and increase ROI. 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 various devices.

To create and edit email sequences in HubSpot specifically, 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 Email Sequence Examples

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 and 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.

Vector Marketing Pro Tip

To make your welcome email even more powerful, sign the name of the sales rep to whom marketing is handing off the lead.

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: Curated Content

Send them helpful, segmented content that supports them based on where they are in the buyer's journey.

Task 2: 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
  • 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:

Sales Sequence Screenshot

Cart Abandonment Sequence

Over 70% of carts get abandoned. In most cases, this is not because the potential customer decided not to buy. More often than not, something distracted them. Research shows you can recover cart abandonment lost revenue by guiding them back to the process.

  1. Email 1 - Reminder: Remind them that they abandoned their cart after 24 hours.
  2. Email 2 - Address Objections: Specifically address common objections after 48 hours.
  3. 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.

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.

Marketing Pro Tip Marketing Pro Tip

For B2B marketing, your sequence may benefit from an email that offers social proof, a short case study, or other similar trust-building content.

Be sure to collect leads’ email addresses 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 revenue comes from people who have bought before.

  1. Email 1 - Are You Delighted?: 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 a customer support contact and self-service troubleshooting resources.
  2. 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.


Tracking Email Sequence Success

Your email sequences are only as powerful as your ability to track, measure, and optimize. Be sure you have tools to track the:

  • Number of contacts in a sequence
  • Open rate
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • 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 — or if you think your HubSpot portal needs a once-over — turn to our team of experts. We’ll assess your portal and give you complimentary optimization ideas to get started on the right foot.

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Todd Laire

Todd Laire

B2B Sales and Marketing Leader | CEO at LAIRE, a Digital Growth Agency - Co-Founder, Entrepreneur, Public Speaker, Marketer, Sales Team Builder, and Change Advocate.