In this article, we would like to address CMOs on the topic of workflows and workflow automation. Their importance and plethora of benefits have long since been recognised, but there are plenty of opportunities many businesses miss out on, therefore stumping their success. We will discuss how using HubSpot CRM takes workflow management to a new level and enhances your strategy via the most influential business process automation tactics.
The word ‘workflow’ has certainly been one of the most popular buzzwords in the business world. The concept is rather simple to understand and the importance of it is easily perceived by business owners - what’s often missing, however, is seeing it in action as opposed to understanding it in theory.
To illustrate that, the numbers suggest that CEOs alone spend 20% of their time working on tasks that could be automated. Naturally, the numbers are larger across departments such as sales and customer service.
In a nutshell, workflows are the automation of repeatable tasks that enable employees to focus on tasks that require human judgement and that minimise the risk of errors. In other words, the benefit of automating workflows is building efficiency which allows businesses to save time and money.
However, while it may sound easy, creating an automated workflow that actually drives success is a difficult task that requires a lot of upfront preparation. In fact, it requires adopting a whole new mindset.
In this article, we will be talking about the creation of truly efficient workflows that will accelerate the growth of your business and enable better in-team productivity.
The Aim is to Deliver Value
The most common mistake that occurs when building workflows is misunderstanding their true purpose. As opposed to common belief, automation isn’t used solely for making life easier for your employees by reducing time spent executing manual tasks. Although it helps massively in that regard and eliminates the risk of human error, automation’s primary purpose is to build better relationships with your audience by delivering value-driven experiences.
In other words, while workflows streamline internal processes, they should be used to ensure the delivery of value to your customers. The company-based benefits such as smoother communication between the departments and time saved via automating processes are secondary. Remember, everything you do should always revolve around the client first.
Centralisation Brings Success
It is difficult to create an effective workflow process when your business is scattered across different platforms: CRM, marketing platforms, customer service platforms, etc. While it is not impossible to create streamlined workflows, they are likely to be less efficient due to naturally occurring time constraints and friction of transferring data.
Additionally, there’s a risk of losing data in the process, as well as different platforms having different approaches to digesting it. In other words, multi-platform-based workflows may work, but they wouldn’t bridge the gap between departments and would not be immune to errors.
The solution is uniting all the platforms your business uses into one centralised piece of software that could be used across all departments. The best-centralised platform currently available on the market is HubSpot CRM - it has integrated marketing tools within as well as easy access to tools widely used by customer service.
In addition, one of the prime value propositions of HubSpot is a workflow-building tool that encompasses an extended list of criteria and an easy-to-use drag-and-drop interface. With HubSpot as a workflow automation software, you can create workflows that cover very detailed scenarios, add exceptions, and take full control of the process automation.
HubSpot CRM Enables Data-Driven Mindset
In addition to a well-developed and fully customisable workflow system, HubSpot CRM also offers an equally personalisable reporting dashboard. While there are templates and modules to choose from, the CRM also allows you to create your own assets that would track the specific data your business needs.
In other words, working with HubSpot ensures the collection of vital information that can and should be used to make data-driven decisions. Such decisions often include optimisation of internal and external processes, adjusting specific tasks to adhere to business rules, routes of further business development and further application of automation. In the following sections, we want to talk about how the use of workflows in HubSpot collects and delivers actionable data.
Patterns to Identify Threats and Opportunities
The key benefit of collecting data on different interactions and the efficiency of workflows is spotting patterns. Very often insights on prospect interactions with specific areas of the website and/or lack of it highlight areas the business should improve on, as well as potentially point in the direction of new opportunities. For example, a business that’s trying to generate more leads via gated content that’s residing on a landing page can set a workflow with the following triggers and actions:
- If a prospect lands on the page but doesn’t download gated content, a follow-up email with a better-defined, individualised value proposition will be sent 2 days later;
- If a prospect fills in the information and it’s their first interaction with the website, they receive an instant email welcoming them and then inviting them to explore further, relevant pages on the website;
- If it’s a qualified lead, they’re automatically assigned to a relevant sales rep - the sales rep receives an email notification with the prospect’s information;
- If it’s a returning contact that downloads the asset, the follow-up email contains a thank you and curation of content that is relevant to the specific user based on their former interactions with the website.
From data collected through these workflows, you can evaluate the overall performance of the landing page - if it attracts few visitors, you need to optimise the on-page content and turn your focus to making it more accessible via CTAs, social media and other channels.
Alternatively, if it attracts big volumes of visitors but they don’t convert, the issue is likely to be the value proposition. If everything is performing great, this provides a hint of what type of strategy works best for your audience, allowing you to tailor further approaches to test the individual success of specific aspects.
These are just a few samples of what a workflow could look like. As you might have noticed, we have touched upon addressing past interactions of the contact to base your communication on. This is a very important component covered by automation and we would like to address it in further detail.
Creating Individual Customer Experience
Addressing each contact at a time convenient to them and in a channel they expect is at the heart of the inbound strategy. If you’re a small business with few clients, then building individual relationships may not be much of a challenge and is likely already part of your business process management strategy - but if you’re a fast-scaling start-up or a large, established organisation, an individualised approach can appear unreachable.
HubSpot CRM is a great tool to create an individual customer experience through automation, using a smart content feature that’s also known as dynamic content. Since it’s a centralised platform that already holds information on your contacts in real-time, it’s capable of building that individual approach with each of the prospects based on the currently available data regarding them, including past interactions with the website.
Simply put, when you use HubSpot CRM for building workflows, you don’t just automate processes; you also implement those processes to be highly individualised and relevant to each specific contact.
This is a very broad topic and we have covered it in detail in our previous blog post.
Improving Internal Alignment via HubSpot Workflows
We have briefly touched upon how workflows affect internal communication between the departments. The key challenge is that when different departments use different platforms and web apps, the workflows are prone to the risk of human error and different data processing capacities. Additionally, this may make the process less streamlined as it can potentially include exporting and processing data prior to passing it on to another department.
Being a centralised solution, HubSpot CRM allows different departments to work on the same platform, giving full visibility of one another’s activities. Its integration of marketing tools makes it easy for the marketing department to qualify and nurture leads prior to passing them onto sales, who can then take on right where marketing left off, creating a consistent and seamless customer experience.
Ensuring Better Communication
Finally, the use of centralised workflows massively improves internal communication. Creating visibility between the departments clears out ownership of certain processes, improving the overall quality of project management. For example, workflow automation can enable automatic lead qualification which then, instead of having a marketing executive qualify it manually, assigns it to a sales rep.
HubSpot CRM is a convenient platform that allows employees to communicate and collaborate efficiently via workflow automation. This in turn nurtures teamwork and improves productivity. Another example of that would be setting a workflow that notifies an individual group upon completion of a specific project phase, letting them know it's their turn to take over. And since HubSpot is a centralised platform - they will have full access to data collected through the former stage immediately.
The importance of workflows is widely recognised across different industries, but only a handful of businesses utilise them to their full potential. Very often, workflows are being treated as a tool aimed at improving internal processes - this is not the right approach and while it may contribute towards improving efficiency, it’s far from delivering the business success it's capable of building.
Workflows, as every element of the inbound methodology, should be built to address the needs of the customers first. The focus should be on creating seamless, individual customer experiences that deliver the right content, to the right people, at the right time, every time. But don’t get us wrong - workflows also serve your business immensely by creating better department alignment, improving communication and allowing your staff to focus on areas that need improvement based on the data collected.
If you’re looking for ways to maximise the efficiency of workflows within your company, get in touch.