Managing Communication at Scale: Max Cohen and Andy Steuer Discussion
Managing communication with leads in different phases of their buyers' journey or in the sales cycle process can be challenging. Especially, if you have a huge number of leads you are communicating with and you need to share some information with one set of leads as compared to another information piece with another set at different stages in their buyers’ journey process.
Managing communications without mixing up the different workflows while keeping it personal and effective is a challenge.
Max Cohen from Hubspot and Andy Steuer from WriteForMe discuss how you can manage communications at scale while keeping each buyer's journey unique.
Andy: Yeah. So let's talk a little bit about managing communication at scale in HubSpot. So let me frame it up for you. The situation is that we want to communicate with people on our newsletter, or in certain cases in our workflows, but there are certain people that we want to exclude from that communication.
Max: For sure.
Andy: And that becomes a fluid process. Sometimes it's people who are, they're okay to communicate with. And other people in the sales team say, wait, wait, don't send them anything. I'm working on that.
Max: I'm working with them. Yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure.
Andy: And so what are some best practices to manage that?
Max: Yeah. Okay. So that's actually a really good topic. So let's talk about the most basic version of that, I guess. I think the first one that a lot of people get worried about is this whole idea of managing unsubscribes and people who don't want to hear from you. That's the most basic version of that conversation. I think for anyone watching this, the good thing to know about HubSpot is that HubSpot takes care of that for you automatically. When someone goes and unsubscribes from your email, or unsubscribes even from a type of email that you send if you accidentally trigger something like a workflow, or you go and still have them on a list that you send an email to, HubSpot will make sure they don't get that email, which is wonderful.
Max: So as long as they're going through and unsubscribing to all, or unsubscribing from a certain subscription type, maybe they want to get other emails from you, but not your newsletter specifically. If you accidentally send it, HubSpot's going to take care of that. So everyone rests assured that HubSpot does that.
Max: Also though, if you were using other email systems in the past, it's important to make sure that you import your unsubscribed lists as well so HubSpot can properly mark the folks who were unsubscribed in your previous system as unsubscribed in your new system if you do bring those contacts over. So that's one thing you want to think about. I have a lot of customers I've seen in the past that had my email in their system and then brought it over to a new system because they left HubSpot or added some other email marketing tool and definitely forgot to do that. So it's just something you want to be careful of because your customers don't know that you're using a different email system. They just remember that they unsubscribed from you.
Max: But I think in your case, what we're mentioning here is, all right, so we've got, let's say we've got sales reps that are currently working with prospects. And your company is sending out different email marketing campaigns to them, as you normally would as a business. So I think just to regurgitate it back, the situation is, would you want to create some sort of mechanism that says, hey, if we're actively involved in the sales process with someone, we do not want them to currently get any emails from us. Is that a kind of a good base layer to start with?
Andy: Yeah. Yeah. So like the base case scenario, and then we can add complications.
Max: Sure, totally. So there's a number of different ways that you can accomplish this. And just like anything in HubSpot, there's always, there's more than one way to skin a cat with anything that you're doing. The biggest thing that I think I would just kind of suggest everyone does, is getting really, really smart with your list and your segmentation strategy. So how are you using that lists tool? And how are you setting up these different active lists to really only have the people on those lists that should be receiving stuff no matter what sort of life cycle stage they're in?
Max: So for example, if you use life cycle stages in HubSpot, which are subscriber, lead, marketing qualified leads, sales qualified lead, opportunity, customer, and evangelist. Those are the eight ones that are… That's seven. There's also one called other at the end. So those are those eight ones, yeah, we all love each other. There are those eight that are kind of built-in by default. Usually, the sales process where someone's actually speaking to a sales rep comes in at either marketing qualified, sales qualified, or opportunity. It really depends on how your business defines those. But think of which one of those life cycle stages would you get to that point where you want to say, okay, we shouldn't be sending any promotional material to this person because they're actively engaged in talking to a sales rep.
Max: So what I'd recommend there is when you set up these different workflows that are sending people these marketing emails, or it's sending emails to people on a list, or whatever it may be, have that list only have people that go up until that certain life cycle stage. That's one thing you can do. So it's only being sent to people who are lead, marketing qualified lead, maybe sales qualified lead if an opportunity is where your sales process or that conversation with the human starts. You could do that just by being really smart with your lists.
Max: The other thing that you could do too, is within your workflows, there are these little workflows unsubscribe options that you can add in. So when someone meets the criteria of a workflow, they'll start to go through it. But by default, if, while they're in the workflow, so maybe inside of your email drip campaign, if they're in that workflow and they, all of a sudden don't meet those original criteria anymore, they still keep going through the workflow. However, you can turn a setting on that basically says, if at any point during this workflow, they no longer meet the criteria, do you want to unenroll them? And you can say, yes.
Max: So in our example, let's say for instance, as soon as a sales rep starts talking to someone, maybe they… What's the word? They signify that in HubSpot by opening up a deal for somebody. When you open up a deal in HubSpot, it moves that life cycle stage to opportunity. So you could have your starting criteria for that workflow set up say, if they are any of lead, marketing qualified lead, sales qualified lead, and they do whatever trigger you set up to get them into the marketing workflow, maybe they join a list or something like that, have them go through the workflow. The second one of those salespeople opens up a deal for them, they automatically aren't qualified for it, and they get ripped out in real-time. That's one smart way to do it. You just have to make sure that your sales reps know, okay, as soon as you open up a deal, some magic stuff is going to happen in the background, and they're not going to get marketing emails anymore. That's one way to do it.
Max: The other thing that you can do too is these things called suppression lists, I believe that's what they're called, where you can when you set up your workflows in that same area where you were looking at those settings, you can basically say, here's a list that I have, and if anyone is on this list and meets the criteria of the workflow, don't put them on the workflow.
Max: So for example, that suppression list could basically have anyone who has an open deal currently. So if they're currently talking to a sales rep, and that's signified either by an open deal being made or however else you want to do it, that list picks those people up. And that workflow then knows, if they hit the workflow, and they're on the list, don't send them through the workflow. And it just automatically doesn't happen.
Max: So again, it just automatically doesn't happen. So again, there's a myriad of different ways that you can accomplish that, but it is very easy. The tricky part is coordinating between your marketing and your sales team, and understanding the actions that the sales team or making sure the sales team understands the actions that they have to take in order for those emails to stop.
Max: Do you want them to go back on for any reason? Are you building any sort of contingency plan? Do you want to have a checkbox on the contact record that says re-enroll in marketing emails and you click it and they go back into it? You can set that up through workflows too, as well. There are a million different things. You just have to communicate. That's the big
Andy: That's great. This is all fascinating because this is always such a universal problem. Sales and marketing are always kind of like, "Hey, you're not doing this right. I need more of this or I need more of these." So then they get a qualified prospect, got my MQL now, and I made a deal out of them and I don't want them to get the marketing emails anymore. Let's start there. Can we, can we get tactical about it?
Max: Yeah, totally. Hang on. Let me fire my portal here.
Andy: Yeah, go ahead.
Max: Let me get rid of this.
Andy: This will be so helpful to a step-through that, I think. Be really useful-
Max: I understand.
Andy: For anybody watching.
Max: Let's go to my personal portal here, I'm going to be sharing my screen. All right. Sweet. So where should we start? You tell me, Andy, where do you want to start with that?
Andy: So let's just start a clean slate. So we have the list of our contacts. And we have a workflow where we have anybody whose contact starts getting a newsletter, let's say. Something really simple.
Max: So I'm going to create a list here. And we're going to call this our newsletter list. All right? And I'm going to set this up so if the contact property equals let's do the lifecycle stage. The contact property of the lifecycle stage equals subscribers and leads. Those would be the people who I want to have this. So I'm going to apply this filter, and then I'm going to save this list. And we got a good chunk of folks in this list. 238, there you go. Crushing it.
Max: Here's like the list that we're sending our newsletter to. Now, when we think of sending out a newsletter, or any sort of marketing email, you typically approach it in two ways. One, you do them as you build them. So this week, we'll build a new marketing email and send it out, or maybe you build a whole bunch in advance and you do it with a workflow. So sometimes you're sending just directly to a list manually, or other times you're using that list as a way to enroll people in a workflow. So this conversation we're having though actually happens both ways. When it comes to making sure people who shouldn't be getting these emails aren't getting it. So let's actually create another list here. And I'm going to call this list, open deal, don't email. I'm sure you could come up with a much better name.
Andy: Really simple. Actually, that's a good one.
Max: Really descriptive. When you see this, you know what it is. Do not email these folks. Now, one way we could see if there's an open deal for this person is we could again, look at their contact property of lifecycle stage and say, is it any of opportunity, right? Maybe we also want to cut this off at marketing qualified leads, sales, qualified leads, whatever it may be. You set your criteria in this list for people who you want to suppress from getting these emails however you're sending them. So I'm going to go ahead and apply this filter here and save that. Cool. So we've got one list that we're sending emails to. We have another list that we just want to make sure no one gets emails if they're on this list.
Max: The way that I set it up, we're not going to have any crossover between them just because I was using the lifecycle stage for both. But just to show you another way you can do this. You can look at deal properties and then … actually, no. I'm wrong. Hold on. Contact properties, deals. You could look at like associated deals are equal to one, that's one that you could do. But that's going to show you any sort of deals that you have open. So usually, I recommend doing the lifecycle stage one, but again, depending on how your system is set up, there are other ways that you can-
Andy: Lifecycle seems like the best way to me, because-
Max: Because it's automatic when the deal gets opened up.
Andy: Exactly. And then they can float in and out of these groups, based on where they are in their life cycle.
Max: Oh yes, absolutely.
Andy: That's kind of usually how communication is
Max: Yeah. And in our situation, we're assuming the sales reps start talking at that marketing qualified lead stage. Which is actually kind of normal. Because the way that I look at life cycle stages is marketing qualified lead basically means marketing has qualified this lead to talk to sales. So they've hit some sort of call to action or fill out some sort of … sorry, they've filled out some sort of form or done some sort of hand raised to say, "Hey, yes, I'd like to speak with a salesperson." So hopefully you have something set up in the background that gets those people connected. Whether it's an automated email or someone books time in a calendar. Either way, they've said, "Hey, I want to talk to sales." Marketing folks, that's one of their big key performance indicators.
Max: How many of the leads that you're getting are you getting to give that hand raise to actually want to talk to sales? Because that's a great indicator that you're building trust and convincing these folks that they have some sort of problem that you have the ability to solve, which is what we're trying to do when we story-tell with marketing. So cool. So we have these two lists. So that first example, let's say you're one of those folks that you have a newsletter, and maybe you just manually send it every week to everybody who's on this list. But you want to make sure you don't send it to anyone who shouldn't get it. Because maybe they could be on that list, maybe not. What we're going to do here is we're going to go to Marketing.
Max: We're going to go to email and I'm going to go ahead and create an email here. I'm just going to do a regular one. So a regular one is when we're just sending it to a list we're manually pulling the trigger on it. An automated one is if we're using it in a workflow and a blog and RSS one is basically if you're setting up an automated blog email. We're going to do a regular one here for now. Cool. So I'm going to go ahead and just choose any random template here, here we go. Newsletter test. I'm going to create an email. All right, so we're going to go in here, we're going to pretend I wrote out a beautiful content-based newsletter. It's the best one you've ever seen.
Andy: Highest click-through rate ever.
Max: Yeah. You've never seen so many CTS.
Andy: 100% open rate. Yeah.
Max: You got it. So when we go to recipients, what we can do is we can add this newsletter list to send
Max: What we can do is we can add this newsletter list to send to, but if we think there's a possibility that there could be some people on this list that we do not want to get the email, we can also add this exclusion list right here. So when you're doing this individual email, or like an individual email, it's called an exclusion list.
Max: So basically what it's going to say, is it's going to say, "Okay. Send it to everyone on here, unless they are a member of this list."
Max: And what's great is if this is an active list, which means it's updating all the time if it's going off of when your reps are opening deals or when people are moving through to a certain life cycle stage, whatever it is, right, it's going to be automatically working. It's always going to be up to date. Right?
Max: Again, you don't have to do this if you set up your original lists very cleanly and very organized. Right?
Andy: Which always happens, right?
Max: But this is a nice … exactly, Yeah. Yeah. We always make perfect lists no matter what. Right? But what I always tell people is this is a good security blanket.
Andy: This is great. This is really helpful because again, people flow in and out of these deal cycles and lifecycle. Yeah.
Max: 100%. Yeah, totally. So you want to make sure that you look at this as a security blanket. Hopefully, your lists are set up in a good way where you don't need this, but sometimes it's helpful just to reduce human error. Okay.
Max: So at this point, I would then go and send this email, all right, because it's the best newsletter of all time, so I would go hit review, sender schedule, and I would zip that up. All right.
Max: That's if you're doing a one on one, like a one-to-many sort of just manual email send, whether it's immediate or scheduled.
Max: Now let's go look at that in terms of a workflow though. So let's go to workflows, under automation, go to workflows here. Okay. So I'm going to create just a very basic email drip campaign workflow here. Right? So I'm going to start from scratch. Hit next. All right. So we call this test marketing email thing. Right?
Max: Now, what you'd want to do here is you'd want to set some sort of criteria. Okay. So what we'll do is we'll set an enrollment trigger here and we'll say for instance, we'll base it on a list membership so we can use that list that we did before. So we'll say if anyone joins the newsletter list, all right, I'm going to apply this as a filter, and is not a member. So let's go look at list membership again. Let's look for don't email, open deal, don't email.
Max: And they're not a member of this list.
Andy: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Max: Save. They'll start going through the workflow. Now again, usually with newsletters, newsletters are generally curated every week. Right? You don't plan out a million newsletters in advance, right?
Max: It's usually the news of what's going on around the company or new content that comes up. So typically you're not using a workflow for that, but you would be using this for your marketing drip campaigns, your lead nurturing campaigns, all that kind of stuff. So the same theory applies to all this. Don't let the word newsletter freak you out here.
Andy: Good point.
Max: We'll go ahead and just add a couple of if-then branches and some emails so I'll send an email. I'll choose this one. Boom. I'll go ahead and get a little, Nope. I don't know if then. I'll go ahead and do like a little delay here, a delay for a set amount of time, a delay of two days. Cool. And we'll throw one more email in there. Wonderful. Sweet.
Max: So this is tuhe most basic version of a lead nurturing campaign. Email, wait, email, done. Right.
Max: Obviously, you'd have something more robust like this built out.
Max: But what we're going to do here is show you a couple of things that we talked about earlier. So if you go and take a look at settings, there is this unsubscribe and suppression option on the left. Okay. And you have, again, there are two different ways we talked about the way that you can do this.
Max: So this first one, when a contact no longer meets the enrollment conditions, do you want to remove them from the workflow? Note that by default, this is set to no. So you have to say yes if that's the case. So if we were to say yes, and we look back at our workflow here, if someone joins this list and they don't have an open deal, they'll keep going, but the second they are a member of that open deal, don’t email. They no longer meet the criteria.
Max: So let's say, for instance, they get the first email, but in this delay here, they no longer meet the starting criteria because they moved around because the deal got opened for them. They're going to get ripped out and they're not going to receive the other workflows. They'll get unenrolled.
Max: So that's one way. The other thing that we could do here too, we could keep it as, we could keep it like this, but we can also choose a suppression list. So basically here, let's go find that don't email lists that we did. Open, open the email, don't.
Max: Now, what this is going to do, it's a little different. What it's basically going to say is it's going to say at the point of enrollment if someone is not a member of, I mean, sorry, if someone is a member of this list, we will not let them go through the workflow. Right. So this works so it catches those folks at the beginning. But the thing is, is we set pretty good criteria for the starting conditions so they shouldn't get on anyway. Right?
Max: So again, there are three different ways we could have done this. Right. We could have just had really smart starting criteria. We could have turned on when they no longer meet the criteria, unenroll them. Or we could have a suppression list so people on that list don't get in there in the first place. Right.
Max: So you really just have to think about your timing and what the easiest way to do it is for you and for your situation because while that sounds like any, the scenario we're working with of someone starts talking to sales and we don't want them to get an email. That problem can be manifested in a thousand different variations. Right?
Max: So the good thing, like you may be sitting here being like, Oh, well, there are three different ways to do it. Like not you Andy, but like someone at home, right. They might be like, Hey, there are three different ways to do it. Well, like what's just the one way that's best?
Andy: What's best? Yeah. Yeah. Right.
Max: There is no one way. There is no one way and that's the beauty of it. It's very flexible. You can approach it from many different angles and I'm sure there are even other ways to do it beyond what we just mentioned here. Right. Getting really creative with other contact properties that you're using, adding other stuff to like the deal record so like a sales rep can basically turn off or on the marketing email drip. Right? Like you could easily have a deal, for example, and have a little check box on the left-hand side of the deal under the about section that says like turn off marketing emails, question mark, and have it be a checkbox.
Max: You could click that. That would add that person that's associated with the deal to a list via a workflow. They wouldn't get them. And then maybe you could take it off when they uncheck that box. Right. So there are a million different ways that you could approach it, which is pretty sweet.
Andy: That's cool. That's really cool. It seems like the first way that we had this set up with our exclusions and the way that we had the initial step of enrolling them into the workflow, you set it up so that we have your include and exclude list, to begin with. That just keeps it really clean.
Andy: Right. Now, if you …
Andy: … that just keeps it really clean.
Andy: Now, let's say that you add in "When contact no longer meets the enrollment conditions, remove them from this workflow." If you have that selected, yes, and even still you added the suppression list, is that triple wrapped in for sure that they're not going to get communicated to?
Max: It is, yeah, yeah, 100%. I mean, what's going to happen-
Andy: They're not going to cancel each other out?
Max: No, they shouldn't cancel each other out. I'm sure in the back end, there's an order and operations in which it prioritizes these different settings. I'm just not 100% sure which one it looks for first. But yeah, I mean, if you think about it, they are kind of different. So the suppression is basically going to say… It's looking at the time of enrollment. So it's saying… The one thing I don't know is that if that also means if they join the list while they're in the workflow, after getting enrolled, I don't know if it's going to rip them out, which is why I recommend using this setting right here. What I know for a fact is that it will not let them actually join the workflow, but you know what? Looking at this little help text here, it says, "Contacts on these lists will be removed from the workflow." So it's likely going to kind of work the same way.
Max: But here, we're just looking at enrollment criteria. Here we're looking at people that join lists. So it's using two different ways of identifying it, essentially.
Andy: Right, right.
Max: Right, yeah. No, because again, sometimes it's easier for just people to work off of their lists, versus having super complex enrollment criteria on your workflow. Sometimes it's easier to build a list that has all the criteria in it, and then when you go and do your workflow, instead of saying, "All right, here's all the criteria again to join the workflow." You just say, "They're a member of that list." That way you know they met that criteria.
Andy: That seems cleaner to me, that just seems like an object-oriented way to think about things.
Max: For sure. Yeah.
Andy: Yeah. This is really great. This is so helpful. I love the tactical approach and it's not just this theoretical kind of thing. It's like, "Here's how you do it." useful.
Max: Yeah. Can we do one more little thing that I just want to mention, when we're talking about sales and marketing teams working together?
Andy: Please, yeah, let's do it.
Max: I would highly encourage… When it comes to your sales team being aware of the content that's being sent to your prospects, we need to remember when prospects consume content, that is a great relevant conversation starter for your sales teams. Here, I'll take myself off the screen share.
Andy: It's a really good point. Yeah, they're engaging.
Max: Yeah, let me stop sharing here. So the thing that I'm going to encourage everybody to do is educate your salespeople on how to talk about this content that people are consuming, because wouldn't it be great if instead of your salespeople reaching out saying, "Hey, I saw you downloaded an ebook on X, X, Y, Z. Would you like to book a call with my friend Dave or something like that to talk about our products?" Wouldn't it be much better if that sales rep could reach out and say, "Oh, hey, I saw that you downloaded the 10 Step Guide on how to Streamline Your Project Management Process. How's that been going? Has that been helpful? Do you want to talk about that a little bit more?" Before just jumping into a sales conversation, that's a lot more refreshing
Andy: and helpful. They're already thinking about it, so pick up the conversation from there, yeah that's a really
Max: Yeah, exactly. People Can smell that right off the bat. They're smart enough to know when a piece of content is just made to capture their information and they're smart enough to know when that sales rep is reaching out, just trying to sell something and they don't care anything at all about what that problem was that that person was initially doing that research on. Take the second to care. They downloaded that piece of content for a reason, which means they probably had a problem that that piece of content was hopefully giving them a light at the end of the tunnel to solve for. Why don't you follow up on that first, versus going right for the sale all right?
Andy: That's such an important point, man. That is like the most important point of selling, I think, is that so many people just lose sight of the fact of what they're actually doing. You're providing a solution to people. So in order to bridge that gap, they're already showing interest and they're engaging with you. So pick up the conversation from that point and then start the sales process.
Max: Yeah. You know what? Here's the thing, it's not just on the onus of the marketing teams to go out and educate the salespeople. Salespeople, go take a look at the content your marketing team is sending out and educate yourself on it. Don't wait for them to come and bring it to you and say you have to. A lot of times they're going to be scared to have that conversation. That's just the nature of marketing and sales relationships. A lot of times it's siloed and you could try to spend all this time trying to get everybody aligned and kumbaya and everything. Or if you, as a sales rep, just do a little bit of digging, maybe talk to the marketing folks, I'm sure they would share the content that they're sending out. That way you could be more educated on it.
Max: If you can identify what sort of content your prospects are downloading and be able to say, "Hey, I know how to have a good conversation about that ebook they just got, or that checklist they just got, or that video they watch, or that course that they just took. I know how to continue that conversation, so they know I genuinely care about solving the problem that they have, versus just talking about buying stuff." I think it's a huge competitive advantage for you. It also just lets you be more human. You know what I mean? Just be more human, help people out, your quota will come from being helpful.
Andy: That's right.
Max: Yeah. I don't know. Sorry, I went on a little bit of a tear there.
Andy: Good. No, no, no, that was on point. Happens all the time.
Max: Yeah, especially in our conversations.
Andy: I talked about this with one of our clients about… We were talking about how to spot inbound marketing and they were asking if, when sending out newsletters or sending out emails at all, marketing emails, should they be sending out on a different domain than their core domain? If they're on a .com, should they send it out on a .net? Is there risk in getting into spam or any kind of risks
Max: Oh yeah. Yeah. Because for me, as a recipient, when I know I've given my email address to Travelocity.com and then I get an email from travelocity.net, I'm like, "Wait a minute. This looks a little sketchy." So for savvy internet users, that might be something that is a little weird. And you got to remember when you sign up to receive… Well, it's a little bit different with the domain names and things. But when people sign up to receive emails, they sign up to receive emails from your company. So when it looks like it's coming from someone else, because it's a different domain, they don't know that you have a different domain. They don't know that you're using this other one to send emails or blah, blah, blah.
Max: So that's not necessarily a great thing just for the perception of the recipient, because a lot of people can be keen on that and see it, and it kind of freaks them out. So I would always recommend sending it from the domain that they actually signed up to receive something from you on. So whatever your site is .com. If you're a site's a .net, send from .net, if your site's a .com, send from .com. I just think it's better. There's no benefit of using another one. If anything, it just introduces a lot of little weird reasons why certain things could go wrong. So send it from your actual domain.
Andy: Good call. Yeah. Great.
Andy: Good stuff, man.
Max: Cool. Yeah. That was a fun one.
Andy: Really helpful, yeah.