Developing an Inbound Email Strategy

Academy Team

Hi, I'm Courtney the Inbound Professor for Email Marketing on the HubSpot Academy team. 


In a recent Inbound Learning Broadcast, we discussed the foundations of developing an inbound email strategy. We discussed things around where is email today and where is it going in 2018, how to use the AIDA model to create an email and the importance of email optimization. 


We will be using this space to continue this conversation and to discuss how you send strategic email that delights. 


For any questions post them here and let's have an email-tastic discussion. 


-Courtney Sembler 


11 Replies 11
HubSpot Employee

Happy Friday everyone! My name is Aidan McGrath and I'm a Customer Training Specialist at HubSpot. This year I'll be leading the Nurturing Your Leads in HubSpot session at HubSpot Training Day at Inbound.


A question I get repeatedly is "How many emails am I supposed to send throughout a lead nurturing campaign and how often do I send them?"


So, I want to hear from the community:

-What email cadence works for your audience?

-How do you decide on the number of emails you'll send when you create a new nurturing campaign?

-What information do you look at to help make this decision?



To get us started, I'll share some of the biggest factors that typically go into making this decision: 

  • the duration of your lead nurturing campaign,
  • how often you are currently emailing your audience AND
  • the goal of your campaign (for ex. get new webinar registrants vs. Lead to MQL nurturing).

What else comes to mind?

Community Manager


Thanks for sharing this @AidanMcGrath! Looking forward to hearing more about this as we get closer to Inbound! 


@pina@shearn@tymagnin@eileen I thought this might be something you'd be interested in taking a look at or contributing to. 



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Key Advisor

@jennysowyrda thanks for the mention!


Personally, I think designing a lead nurturing program is heavily dependent on a number of factors such as the industry you work in, the length of your sales cycle, the expected length of the campaign, whether you're B2C or B2B, and the resources you have to create/promote content. I also think it's unique to each company, so at the end of the day, you have to find out what works best for you.


I've worked mostly with small-to-mid-sized and enterprise-level software solution companies in the B2B space, so I've encountered lengthy sales cycles (9-12+ months). The targets in these spaces are also vastly different from one another so understanding the needs of different target audiences is a must. The last thing you want to do in annoy your potential customers with unwanted and irrelevant emails. You could lose months and months worth of nurturing in an instant.


I believe B2C has a bit more flexibility in what you can do because sales cycles tend to be shorter, therefore lead nurturing campaigns don't have to be as complex (of course this isn't true for all).


I've experimented with a different number of emails and send frequencies for campaigns, and honestly, I can't provide an answer on which combination performed the best. There are some many factors such that go into it...The theme and length of the campaign, the audience, the resources we had available to research, create and promote campaign assets, even the time of year. 


Overall, you can look at industry standards and that might be a good starting point, but I think it's all about experimenting and analyzing the data to come up with a benchmark for what works best for you. 



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HubSpot Product Team

Hey @AidanMcGrath I came accross this thread and thought it was a great question to add to @cbsembler's discussion r.e. Inbound Email strategies. 

@cbsembler what would you advise @AidanMcGrath?


I would love some recommendations on how to problem solve for this. I have yet to run an A/B test that actually produced results. Thank you!

Academy Team

Hello @NicoleG


Thank you for attending yesterday! 


A/B Tests when they come up inconclusive can mean a few different things. When HubSpot runs the test for you it is based on three factors:

  • The overall difference in rates (opened, clicked, etc.)
  • The rates themselves need to be high enough to be significant.
  • The overall total sample size

When the test is inconclusive you will want to look at the two key factors: 

  • The time you tested for 
  • A number of contacts included 

If you are continually seeing inconclusive results it could mean you need to run the test for longer (we recommend at least an hour but bumping it up to 2-3 could help you determine why you are not getting results). 


The second is going to be the contacts you are included. If you are sending to fewer than 1000 contacts then you will need to run a 50/50 test instead of selecting different winning versions. If you are sending to over 1,000 then you will want to focus on the time. I have also included a detailed article here on looking at your contacts. 


We do have a Guide that walks through running A/B Tests and includes: 

  • 10 guidelines for effective A/B testing
  • What variables you should test

In addition, there are some examples of A/B Tests in there as well that I suggest you take a look at. 


Please let me know if I can help in any other ways with your A/B Testing. 




Courtney Sembler 


Thank you for this information! I'll definitely start implementing this and see how it goes. 🙂

Most Valuable Member | Diamond Partner

Hi @cbsembler


Was the broadcast recorded so that those of us who missed it can catch it on demand? I'm keen to watch it before asking you too many questions. 


I do have one though. In an inbound marketing context, outside of new content promotion, event promotion, and good old fashion nurturing, have you identified any other reliable triggers that stimulate the creation of effective email campaigns? 

Thanks, Phil.

Phil Vallender | Inbound marketing for B2B technology companies
Academy Team

Hello @Phil_Vallender


The Facebook Live was recorded and you can watch it here


As for your question about what types of triggers will stimulate an effective email campaign outside of the traditional (new content, events etc.) there are some other things that you might want to consider. 


Educational lead nurturing that is focused on a specific area is always an area you want to explore to continue to educate your contacts or to nurture your leads. 


Also, when looking at the traditional pieces of content there can be a lot of different ways that you can think about organizing it and presenting it through your nurture campaign. 

I have included some resources below to help guide you in your next nurture campaign when looking for some inspiration: 

  1. 19 Lead Nurturing Email Examples 
  2. 7 Effective Lead Nurturing Tactics 

If you have a specific idea in mind please let me know.


Courtney Sembler 


My questions is this:


If a contact becomes a lead via a form on our website, but then never responds, reaches out, or engages in any way, ever, should I keep them in our contact database or delete them? 


What are some of your guys' methods? 


Should I create a list for low engagement contacts and send them things every once in a while? 


Any thoughts or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Key Advisor

If you're finding that contacts are not engaging with your content and never have beyond their first interaction, I would set predefined dates where you assess the data quality of your database and perform data cleanses. Having contacts that are not engaged in your content, yet you still send them communications affects your overall analytics. Campaigns may be performing better than what's shown. 


We have pre-defined dates where we send an email to a contact that isn't engaged and ask them if they wish to continue receiving communications from us. If we receive no response we remove them. This not only helps us learn more about those who are engaged with us but also helps us refine our content and other efforts.


Also, having all those contacts in your database incurs additional costs as you are billing based on contact thresholds. 


Just as a side note. Here in the EU, there is a new Data Privacy regulation being rolled out next year that states that companies can only keep contact data for a set period of time before it has to be removed from all systems (unless the contact is engaging with the company on a semi-regular basis and is deemed vital to the company-customer relationship).  This will further help us keep our database clean of those, 'but what if?' contacts that we know full well are not interested in hearing from us.



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