Episode 278: Building a Campaign in HubSpot from Start to Finish (Best Practices)
By XEN Systems
Published: Monday 09 May 2022 | Last updated: Monday 30 May 2022
Welcome to HubShots Episode 278: Building a Campaign in HubSpot from Start to Finish (Best Practices)
This edition we dive into:
- How to build a marketing campaign in HubSpot from start to finish, including
- HubSpot Lists, files, Landing pages, CTAs and emails
- HubSpot Workflows and Campaigns
- HubSpot Reports and Dashboards
- PLUS: A Google doc with all the key details of a campaign end-to-end for you to copy (see Shot 2)
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Recorded: Wednesday 04 May 2022 | Published: Friday 06 May 2022
A word of warning…
This is a massive episode - the show notes for this episode alone is approximately 5000 words. So feel free to bookmark this or flag it to return to later.
🌱 Shot 1: Growth Thought of the Week
What is a campaign?
If you look up the general definition of a campaign you’ll be greeted with things like:
- An organised course of action to achieve a goal.
- A series of military operations intended to achieve a particular objective, confined to a particular area, or involving a specified type of fighting.
The key point is about achieving an objective.
Which is actually quite helpful.
However, using the term in marketing circles can be confusing.
That’s because the word ‘campaign’ can mean many things in the marketing world, including:
- A ‘campaign’ in Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads or Facebook Ads
- A social ‘campaign’ that is shared on social channels (ie think #hashtags)
- An email campaign that is blasted out
- The utm_campaign parameter that gets added to URLs
- A general descriptor that a marketing team uses eg
- our ‘Product V4 launch’ campaign
- our ‘Tradeshow X’ campaign
- our ‘Back to office’ campaign
- A ‘campaign’ in HubSpot
Which means things can get confusing if we don’t specify what ‘campaign’ means when we’re discussing things.
Otherwise it just feels like a campaign is:
For this episode we’re going to walk through setting up a ‘campaign’ in HubSpot, which will include:
- a HubSpot ‘campaign’ (in the campaign tool)
- a HubSpot landing page that has
- a HubSpot form, and triggers
- a HubSpot workflow, that sends
- a HubSpot marketing email(s), linking to
- a HubSpot thank you page, and notifies team members via
- a HubSpot internal email
Which is promoted via:
- a HubSpot Slide-in form/popup on the site
- a HubSpot CTA on the site
- a HubSpot email ‘campaign’ sent to a relevant segment of your contact database
- a Google Ads ‘campaign’ and a Facebook ‘campaign’
- and a social ‘campaign’
And reported via:
- a HubSpot list
- a HubSpot report and dashboard
For ease, we usually group these items into the following categories:
- Plan <= very important
- Implement <= our focus today
✨ Shot 2: Overview of a Campaign from Start to Finish
The following list gives an overview of all the key items across each of the main categories. You can access our Google doc which has these all detailed (it’s a Google doc which we are constantly updating and improving - feel free to make a copy for yourself)
- Campaign goals (what does success look like?)
- Campaign brief (audience, budget, date range)
- Assets to be created
- Graphic design
- HubSpot forms
- HubSpot lists
- HubSpot files
- HubSpot landing pages
- HubSpot CTAs
- HubSpot emails
- HubSpot workflows
- HubSpot campaign
- HubSpot site updates
- HubSpot reports
- HubSpot dashboard
- Attribution items
- Google Ads
- Facebook Ads
- LinkedIn Ads
- HubSpot email send
- Social posts
- HubSpot Report + Dashboard review
- Insights and recommendations
- HubSpot A/B testing
- Ad variations
In this episode we are going to focus on the IMPLEMENT items - all built in Hubspot.
However, it’s worth noting that you can only IMPLEMENT items after you’ve done the upfront PLANning of what you want to achieve.
It’s important that you are clear at the start about:
- Why you are running the campaign (ie what the goals? What does success look like?)
- What asset you are going to offer (eg PDF ebook, webinar, tool, etc)
- How much budget you have and whether it is realistic to meet the goals
We won’t be discussing the PLAN items in this episode, but do want to stress the importance of those items.
One final thing before we jump into the HubSpot implementation items.
Get this right now - thank me later.
Let’s quickly chat about naming conventions. Having a consistent naming convention to apply to files, pages, CTAs, emails, lists, reports etc will save you time (and heartache) later.
There’s no agreed format for naming items - it’s usually very specific to each business - however there’s a few common approaches we’ve used with clients over the years.
The naming usually includes:
- Brand (eg if a portal has a number of business units)
- Campaign name
- Descriptor of purpose (eg LP or TY in landing pages, Nurture or TY in emails, parent or child in workflows, details of inclusions in lists, etc)
- Version (eg if testing various versions)
We usually use pipes (ie ‘|’) or slashes (ie ‘/’) to break up the naming in items.
In the screenshots through the notes below you’ll see examples of different naming conventions we use.
OK, let’s get started.
Shot 3: HubSpot Forms
The first item to organise is the form you’ll be using on your landing page.
If you have a standard form you use for your landing pages already, great, you can skip this step, but if not:
HubSpot Embedded Form
Key things to remember:
- Using the same form on multiple pages
- Use progressive form fields
There’s some considerations to make when building out an initial form with regard to how many fields you use (and make mandatory).
A simple form will likely have a higher conversion rate, whereas a more complex set of fields will likely provide better qualified contacts. This, combined with the value of the asset you are offering will help you find the right mix.
We typically include at least the following fields on forms in B2B campaigns:
- First name
- Last name
- Company - use if you cannot get the company email address
- Job title
Depending on where the content asset is in terms of a buyer’s journey, we may add further fields to help qualify them eg:
- Timeframe related (eg when are they considering purchasing)
- Intent (are they researching versus looking for a specific solution)
What are Progressive Form Fields?
Progressive Form fields allow you to switch out a form field if it is already known.
It’s a handy way to keep your forms from being overwhelming.
All you need to do is add a ‘queue’ of other fields to your form. And then, if a non-mandatory field is already known (Eg perhaps you have Job title as an optional form field) it is switched out for the next field in your queue of fields (Eg perhaps you have Twitter handle as a progressive field).
(See also our discussion in episode 277)
HubSpot Popup Forms
- Use behavioural targeting to ensure the right people see it
- Use it to guide people if they are spending a long time on a list page where there are potentially lots of options
- Use for promoting pages
- Use for quick signups
Using Behavioural Targeting on HubSpot Forms
Behavioural Targeting allows you to ensure the form only shows where it is relevant (and not appear all the time for everyone).
Common examples include:
- Only showing on certain pages
- Only showing to contacts who are in specific lists
- Hiding from contacts who are in specific lists (Eg if they’ve already submitted a form for a particular offer, don’t show them a form about it again)
Here’s a simple example of setting the targeting on a Newsletter popup form:
- It limits the form to only show on some pages
- It hides it if the contact has already signed up for it
Shot 4: HubSpot Lists
The lists tool in HubSpot allows you to create a list of contacts or companies based on property values and other characteristics, including activities and already being part of another list (ie you can build lists of lists).
Some examples of common lists we create will make it easier to understand.
Here’s a simple example of an active list that includes contacts who have filled out a particular form:
You can then further filter based on date ranges eg: only show the form submits in the last 14 days
Here’s a simple list of existing contacts who have viewed a particular page:
Here’s a list of lists:
And just to make it even more powerful, here’s an example of a list of lists (ie the List above), used in a a new list and combined with engagement criteria:
We could even refine it further to just include those engaged subscribers who have visited in the last week:
You could also create lists based on lifecycle stage:
When setting up lists for campaigns we typically build lists for the following:
- List of form submits (Leads)
- List of MQLs
- List of SQLs
- List of Opportunities (ie they have a Deal in progress)
- List of customers
Main takeaway: Lists are your friend! They are very flexible and powerful.
And as you’ll see later they form the basis of reporting about the success of your campaigns.
As well as lists of who to INCLUDE, we can also build lists of contacts we want to EXCLUDE (eg to exclude them from reports or workflows).
Here’s some of the exclusion lists we typically prepare as well:
- Competitors we don’t want to receive our content - Active List
- Contacts who have unsubscribed or bounced- Active List
- Contacts we can’t confidently email (eg perhaps based on a location that has GDPR considerations) - Active List
- Contacts that aren’t a fit (eg we’ve identified they aren’t a fit for our products due to their size, location, job title etc) - Active List (eg based on non-fit persona)
- Contacts we are planning to delete - Static List
- Contacts who spam us (eg keep coming back and filling out contact forms to promote their own products) - Static List
- Manually added (eg I might add specific contacts to the list) - Static List
- People internally that have tested submitting a form - Active/Static List depending on the control you need
Shot 5: HubSpot Files
HubSpot has a very familiar file system for uploading content assets (eg PDFs, videos, images).
A few tips:
- Naming conventions are your friend
- Ideally don’t have spaces in filenames (use dashes instead)
- You may want to create low-res and hi-res versions if the files are large (eg a 50MB version of the PDF might be worth having a smaller 4MB version as an option as well - for people with slow connections)
- If you are updating a file, use the Replace file option (ie don’t add as a separate file - otherwise you’ll need to go and update CTA links and other links in emails and TY pages)
Shot 6: HubSpot Landing Page
Typical Landing Pages in a Campaign
Most campaigns have at least two, sometimes three landing pages implemented:
- Landing page (LP) to send people to - this page has the offer and form to be submitted
- Thank you (TY) page - to thank people for submitting the form and explain next steps (eg check your Inbox)
- Download (DL) page - the page that has the actual asset to download (eg PDF, or webinar, etc)
Note: depending on your preference, you may decide to combine the Thank you page and Download page into a single page. Ie the TY page has the download on it as well.
Whether you decide to use two pages versus three pages usually depends on whether you are getting a lot of junk requests (eg people entering junk email address just to access the TY page). If that’s the case, then having a TY page that just indicates they need to check their Inbox is a good option. It means the email address has to be real in order for the contact to then access the Download (DL) page.
Aside: if you are getting a lot of junk email submissions it likely indicates a separate problem, such as having inappropriate promotion targeting, or asking for too many details on the form.
In most campaigns these days we combine the TY and DL page into one, and only have a total of two pages. But the choice is yours.
Landing Page Considerations
We won’t go through all the suggestions here, but one that I want to comment on this:
- Remove all navigation
Most articles on landing pages will recommend you keep them as simple as possible and keep navigation (ie menus) to a minimum. HubSpot certainly recommends that, as does Unbounce.
I want to challenge this a little and simply suggest you test and measure. Conventional wisdom isn’t always a global thing. So whilst it may be appropriate in some industries, that doesn’t necessarily mean it applies in yours. If you are able to test two versions of the page - one with navigation and one without - then go for it.
If you aren’t able to test, then just go with conventional wisdom and reduce navigation for now.
Why do we talk about the Thank You page first?
Well we want to start with the end in mind. But also helps us complete the process more seamlessly when you have it created and you can link it from the landing page when you create it.
HubSpot Thank You Page
- Include details of next step (eg check your email or what to expect next)
- And other CTAs if appropriate (Eg book a discovery call)
- Collect more information if appropriate
HubSpot Landing Page conversion rates
According to WordStream, the average landing page conversion rate is 2.35% across industries, with the top 25th percentile of landing pages hitting 5.31% or higher.
Shot 7: HubSpot CTAs
What are HubSpot Call To Actions (CTA)?
One of the lesser used features of HubSpot is the Call To Action (CTA) function.
Think of these as signposts and markers along the path to get users to take action.
- They are a centralised way to manage links and view the stats of whether they are working well or not.
- They are used for linking to assets (Landing pages, Download pages, PDFs).
- They are used in emails, on pages and in navigation.
- Personalised CTAs Perform 202% Better
- The Average Click-Through Rate of CTAs is 4.23%
- Multivariate CTAs allow you to easily test multiple versions (eg of a button) to see what works the best
Here is what a Multivariate Test on a CTA looks like in HubSpot.
Strictly speaking you don’t need to use HubSpot CTAs in your campaigns - you can easily just use links and buttons.
The benefits of using CTAs include:
- Quickly testing variations of CTA messaging
- Viewing stats on the results
- Easily updating actions (eg update a link that the CTA points to) in a single central place, rather than having to find all the different places on pages and in emails and updating them individually
Shot 8: HubSpot Emails
HubSpot Thank You Email
The first email you’ll need to build for your campaign is a simple ‘thank you’ email.
The goal of the Thank You email email is to:
- Let the contact know next steps (eg ‘Click here to access your download’)
- Give them confidence that it was worth their time filling in the form
Here’s a simple example of a TY email we send when you sign up for our show notes:
You’ll find a lot of advice on how to prepare emails, so we won’t go through any details here. Instead, just some simple recommendations:
- Use single column layout (most emails are viewed on mobile, so make it simple to view on devices)
- Keep it simple (don’t write a novel - just keep it to the basics)
- Aim for a clean, well-spaced layout (again, most are read on mobile devices)
HubSpot Internal Notification Email
Include key properties that aren’t part of standard form submit notification eg
- Original source properties
- IP location properties
- Engagement properties (Eg number of sessions, pageviews, emails opened etc)
HubSpot Nurture Emails
A lead nurture email sequence is a series of emails that is automatically triggered when a contact (lead/customer) takes a certain action. Here are some examples of nurture sequences:
- Following a download
- Adding a product to a cart
- Indicating where they are in their journey and helping them move along to the next stage
- Educating people once they have purchased a product
- A quick action training delivered over seven days
Here are some best practices from HubSpot:
- Provide valuable content with expert insights.
- Focus on one relevant topic per email.
- Keep it short.
- Ensure the emails progress naturally.
- Test your emails and track key metrics.
- Personalise the emails.
- Stay consistent to your brand.
You are probably wondering how many emails should be in the sequence? This really depends and can vary from 3+ email based on different time frames.
Shot 9: HubSpot Workflows
Workflows are the key to scalability in your business, so getting them set up correctly is important for future growth.
Workflows - as you likely know - allow a series of ‘actions’ to be initiated automatically. Actions can include things like:
- Sending emails
- Creating tasks
- Creating new objects (Eg deals, tickets)
- Call other workflows
There’s three main parts to a workflow that you need to be aware of:
- Entry criteria (ie what causes the workflow to happen)
- Actions (the things that happen)
- Settings (for unenrollment and specific times to run)
There’s other considerations such as the different types of workflows (Eg date based, deal based, ticket based, etc) but in this episode we are only going to focus on a standard contact workflow.
Here’s an example of possibly the simplest contact workflow you could build:
It has simple entry criteria:
- Filling out a form
- Or part of a list (in this case we might have a list of contacts who have previously signed up to receive future resources)
and two simple actions:
- Send a TY email to the contact
- Send an internal notification
HubSpot Workflow Trigger criteria tips
The criteria for initiating the workflow is important to think through - especially if you are just getting started.
Through experience we’ve learned that the more specific you can be when setting criteria, the less hassles you have in the future.
Here’s a recent example: a customer had some old workflows set up years ago that had a trigger of ANY form being submitted on ANY page, and then a list of exclusions (eg but NOT this form, and NOT that form etc).
For the first few years this was fine - their list of forms and landing pages was small and manageable. But when they rapidly grew it became a problem. When we started working with them they had more than 100 forms in their portal across 100s of landing pages. The old workflow had a massive set of exclusions that were unwieldy. The solution was reasonably simple: completely rework the entry criteria to only trigger on a select set of the forms and landing pages.
So here’s the tips for your entry criteria:
- Be specific about the forms used
- And/Or limit the form submits to select pages (if you use global forms throughout your site)
This is one of the most overlooked items we see on workflows.
Re-enrollment is a very useful setting for letting contacts go through the workflow again. A common example might be if a person fills out the form again in the future. We want to send them the download details again.
Here’s a very simple example for our HubShots Subscribe workflow. If you subscribe again in the future (perhaps you had unsubscribed previously) we’ll send you our TY email again:
The other benefit of enabling re-enrollment settings is the Manually enrolled setting - we suggest you always have this ticked on - it means you can easily manually enroll a contact into a workflow right from their contact record.
Should I use Lists as Workflow Trigger Criteria?
Yes, you can definitely use lists as Workflow Trigger criteria (and we often do).
However, there is a potential trap you can fall into (I did early on). Let’s assume you’ve created Active lists for the people who have submitted the appropriate form(s) related to this campaign, so why not just use that list as the trigger criteria?
It makes sense right?
Here’s the issue: re-enrollment criteria won’t fire if they come back and fill in the form again later.
Although it is less common, we’ve probably all had that experience where we fill out a form for an ebook and get the TY email, which we promptly forget about.
A week or two later we return to the landing page (perhaps we had it bookmarked, or saw a social post about it) and fill out the form again. We expect to get the TY email again with the link to the PDF.
If the workflow criteria is based only on a list, that TY email won’t be sent again, because the contact was already part of the list (and thus didn’t trigger the entry criteria)
Which is why for workflows based on a form submit we always use the form submit as trigger criteria. But we will often ALSO use Lists as well.
Suppression settings - unenrollment
The final item to mention is the Unenrollment settings on workflows.
For most of the portals we manage we set up a global suppression list of contacts. This usually includes:
- Competitors we don’t want to receive our content
- Contacts who have unsubscribed or bounced
- Contacts we can’t confidently email (eg perhaps based on a location that has GDPR considerations)
- Contacts that aren’t a fit (eg we’ve identified they aren’t a fit for our products due to their size, location, job title etc)
- Contacts we are planning to delete
- Contacts who spam us (eg keep coming back and filling out contact forms to promote their own products)
- Manually added (eg I might add specific contacts to the list)
We then use these global suppression lists in some of our campaign workflows:
Why Use Workflow Goals
Goals are feature in contact workflows (they don’t appear in Deal workflows for example) that serve two purposes:
- If a goal is met the contact is removed from the workflow (eg a goal might be to encourage a contact to book in for a demo - if that goal is met you might remove them from a standard nurture email series)
- When a goal is met it is noted on the workflow ‘map’ so you can easily gather insights on which part of the workflow is achieving the goal. This is very handy in a nurture workflow for determining which emails are working well in converting contacts to the next stage of their journey with you
Common HubSpot Workflow actions
Here’s the common actions we use in workflows that are used in campaigns:
- Send a thank you (TY) email to the contact
- Send an internal notification email (eg to key people in your company to let them know)
- Create task (eg for a sales rep to follow up with the contact)
- Create deal (eg if appropriate for this campaign - depends on whether the offer is close to purchase intent)
- Enroll in other workflows (eg a nurture sequence)
Workflow Naming Convention Tips
Since workflows can be used to call other workflows, we often use the words PARENT or CHILD in workflow names. If a workflow is only being called from other workflows (Eg it has no entry criteria of its own) we will often name it as a CHILD workflow so that it is obvious to anyone viewing a list of workflows. It also makes it easier to search and find just the workflows that are called from other workflows.
Further reading/listening on HubSpot Workflows
Workflows are one of our favourite topics to chat about on the show. For more tips, check out:
- HubSpot Conversations Workflows
- Our favourite HubSpot Workflow Actions
- Using Child Workflows
- HubSpot Workflows versus Sequences
Shot 10: HubSpot Campaign
Why use the HubSpot Campaigns tool?
It allows you to tag related marketing assets (Ad Campaigns, CTAs, lists to name a few) and content (landing pages, website pages) so you can easily measure the effectiveness of your collective marketing efforts.
This then unlocks the ability to view attribution for the campaign across all those items.
Why wait until the end to create the HubSpot Campaign?
You may be wondering why the HubSpot Campaign is created towards the end of the list of items.
Previously we used to create this early, however now that HubSpot has added the option to easily add Assets (when in the campaign tool) it’s fine to leave creating the campaign till the end. And then add all the assets at once:
Add assets across items and ad campaigns:
Some often overlooked advantages of using HubSpot Campaigns Tool
- You can manage all your marketing channels from one, central place
- A single place to get a birds eye view of your campaign workload
- Assign and track tasks to keep your campaign on track
- Commenting feature so everyone is on the same page
Shot 11: HubSpot Site Updates
Once the campaign assets are implemented, it can be added to various places around the site to aid in promotion.
If the campaign is a time constrained one (eg you are running a webinar next month), you may only have some CTAs showing in a few places temporarily. For longer term, evergreen campaigns (eg an industry study whitepaper), you might want to add references in menus, footers and sidebars.
Sidebars (eg blog sidebar)
Probably the simplest way to promote widely across your site is a banner or CTA in the blog sidebar (if you have one). Here’s a simple example of a sidebar banner:
Other places to update include:
- Navigation (eg add to Menu)
- Home page: eg add a banner promoting the offer (and linking through to the landing page)
- Resources page: add the offer to a library of other offers
You can also look to include mentions of the offer in:
- Add to regular newsletter
- Add to personal email signatures
- Update social banners
Shot 12: HubSpot Report
One of the benefits of setting up a number of Lists (see Shot 4 above) is you can use these lists in HubSpot Reports.
HubSpot includes a ton of pre-prepared reports you can use - simply find them in the Report library.
You can also create your own Custom reports.
When creating Custom reports, you can easily pull from your Lists:
Add it to your Filters criteria:
The beauty of this approach is that you can easily update criteria in a list and it will flow through to any reports based on the list.
Typical reports you can create (or customise from the Report Library) include:
- Contacts per month, broken down by
- By Original source
- By Lifecycle stage
- Deals from the contacts (ie attributed revenue)
- Influenced contacts, deals and revenue
HubSpot’s Custom Report functionality is getting more powerful each month, and worth taking the time to get up-to-speed (even though it can be a bit overwhelming at first).
HubSpot Campaign Properties in HubSpot Custom Reports
You also now have Campaign properties available to add in custom reports
Example of a default report that you can customise, Campaigns by contacts created:
Plus here are some of the options to narrow down the report, by asset types, campaign, interactions and the importance that lists could play to get what you want:
Schedule Your Reports
You can schedule individual reports to be emailed to users.
Shot 13: HubSpot Dashboard
Why Use HubSpot Dashboards?
Dashboards are simply a collection of HubSpot reports. Plus the ability to:
- Apply filters across all the reports on the dashboard (eg set a date range to apply across all the reports)
- Setup scheduled emailing of the dashboard (note: you can also schedule individual reports - see earlier shot)
- Share to Slack
- You can also add external content (eg you can Embed a YouTube video or a Databox board into a HubSpot Dashboard)
Add reports to dashboards with data that is relevant to you & your organization from the report library:
Set up Scheduled Dashboard Emails
Schedule weekly dashboard emails
✍️ Shot 14: Quote of the Week
“Many companies have forgotten they sell to actual people. Humans care about the entire experience, not just the marketing or sales or service. To really win in the modern age, you must solve for humans.” — Dharmesh Shah, CTO & Co-Founder, HubSpot
🏋️ Shot 15: Training of the Week
- Creating a Campaign in HubSpot
- Analyzing Your HubSpot Campaigns
- Developing a Lead Generation Campaign With HubSpot
🧲 Shot 16: Follow Us on the Socials
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Published: Monday 09 May 2022 | Last updated: Monday 30 May 2022