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3 min read

HubSpot Sequences vs. Workflows: What's the Difference?

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Everyone wants to be able to send multiple messages to prospects in a given order. Or maybe based on actions taken or not taken by the prospect. HubSpot was designed to make this very do-able, and even (gulp), easy.

Based on multiple conversations with our B2B startup clients, however there are a few key differences that get in the way of setting these up, and that’s the difference between

HubSpot Templates and Sequences


HubSpot Emails and Workflows

This is NOT an either/or discussion. They can work harmoniously together. It is a matter of understanding where each is best used. Without further ado: the unequivocal:

  • Templates are used in Sequences.
  • Emails cannot be used in Sequences
  • Emails are used in Workflows
  • Templates cannot be used in Workflows

Got it? HAHAHA. Nope. I’ll continue.

HubSpot Sequences

HubSpot Sequences

Sequences are created from a combination of places, just like workflows.

Step A - Create emails. In the CONVERSATIONS tab. NOT in Marketing Tab >Emails.

Step B - Create a Sequence, from the emails you created in Step A, in the AUTOMATIONS tab. Note that you will NOT be able to access emails created in the Marketing tab.

Sequences are a series of sales emails and tasks designed for “one to one” communication. This is ideally by a salesperson, a BDR or SDR, who is doing outreach for any number of reasons. Rebecca recently used this process for PR outreach for examples.

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Why I say it’s 1-1 is because templates are made to be personalized. The system will force you to go through them one at a time and enroll them. This is a great best practice. If you’re going to use sequences, you SHOULD do this! That’s the point.

Sequences can:

  • Include up to 5 emails (from TEMPLATES, remember, not from marketing “emails”.
  • Include as many additional tasks as needed
  • Include “custom” tasks - to-do, call, or email that can be added to a specific queue
  • Be triggered “in bulk”, meaning one at a time, but only to a list of up 150 max per day.
  • Be set for a certain amount of time in between steps, measured in DAYS or WEEKS
  • Include optout language

Sequences cannot

  • Be triggered by anything other than a human.
  • Invoke another action, other than email or task
  • Result in complex reporting. The reporting is very limited.
  • Be automatically UNenrolled. The contact will not be unenrolled unless the person replies by email, books a meeting, or YOU manually unenroll them.
  • Be sent “on behalf of” someone else. It’s YOU sending them. So unless you’re logging in as someone else, it’s not doable. Refer to the point: 1-1 communications, from YOU.
  • Cannot include unique images per person. NOTE, while you can include images in a template, there is no edit option in the sequence setup.
  • Be sent in bulk. That’s where Emails and Workflows come in!



Workflows are a MUCH hardier tool. You can create any number of combinations of activities, emails, tasks, and webhooks, among many other things. However, you cannot use the emails you create in Templates!

Workflows are meant to be real automation. You can indeed create the exact same flow as you did in a sequence (let’s say email > call > email > call,) but unless you pick the “simple” email template when creating emails in the marketing tab, they will not look the same. They may however, very much act the same!

Workflows can:

  • Be used for more than emails (templates) and tasks. For example, it can trigger a property change, a webhook to send a piece of direct mail, etc.
  • Be sent in bulk
  • Be triggered by any kind of activity you can imagine
  • Invoke other workflows
  • Be “from” anyone/email you want
  • Be set to transpire in any type of time frame with more flexible delays
  • Include emails with personalization tokens like crazy, including dynamic images and so forth

Workflows cannot:

  • Be readily used for personalization or 1-1 communications
  • Use Template emails (built in the conversations tab)
  • Um, that’s about it.

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Best Practices

Ideally you would use these automation tools the way they were intended.

  • Templates and sequences for outbound sales efforts (or where you want 1-1 communications and customization for each person, eg; new employee onboarding or whatever)
  • Emails and Workflows for your more complex marketing automation and bigger batch emails and tasks.

A word about mass emailing.

If you are GOING to send emails “from” a sales rep en masse? And I know you are - Unless you have “permission” from those contacts. Don’t do it. Going to HubSpot jail is a pain, and your domain WILL get jacked.

Some of the other things that can happen:

  • Depressed sender reputation – this could be a drop in inbox placement of 10% – 50% of your file every time you mail
  • Unsubscribes/smaller list - You should use HubSpot's “don't send to unengaged contacts” to avoid this, but if you are sending crap, you’re going to have a lot more unengaged contacts
  • Go to HubSpot jail - get locked out of sending emails until you’ve been reprimanded

If you absolutely must, there are ways to do this to avoid real brand damage. (I have seen real brands with nasty Google review comments calling them spammers.) We can refer you to people who can do it. We don’t do it. Because it’s Spam.



Fractional HubSpot Admin


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