Fact: You can send outbound emails in Hubspot if they are based on intent, so most people would consider these to be semi-cold emails. (You’ll need a specific plan and edition of HubSpot to carry this out correctly, and you’ll need to send emails on a 1-to-1 basis through your domain).
Fiction: Hubspot does not allow any outbound emails on their platform and anyone who sends outbound emails will have their account suspended.
There’s a lot of misinformation about whether you’re able to send HubSpot cold emails, so after working on go-to-market with multiple Hubspot users, we’re going to provide an overview of the details behind using Hubspot correctly alongside an outbound sales motion.
First of all, you certainly can send outbound emails through Hubspot, but there is some nuance around both the kind of email you send and the specific plan/edition you need access to for the outbound functionality. While outbound emails are possible inside Hubspot, it’s important to understand there are some key differences between how you'll send cold emails in Hubspot and other sales engagement solutions in the market.
The important point to note is that outbound emails are allowed in Hubspot. However, spamming behaviour is not, and Hubspot reserves the right to limit or suspend the account of anyone they perceive to be spamming. We, of course, can make no guarantees that this won’t happen to you and outbound emails on Hubspot are riskier than other platforms which clearly allow cold emails.
To breakdown comprehensively how you can send cold emails in HubSpot here’s the following outline:
- The Policy on HubSpot Cold Emails
- The plan + edition of HubSpot you need for outbound
- Good Use-Cases for Outbound in HubSpot
- How to keep high delivery and engagement on cold emails?
- Hubspot alternatives & integrations for Cold Emails
(*Disclaimer - None of our commentary in this article is legal advice and you are solely responsible for complying with all relevant privacy legislation and the HubSpot acceptable use policy. What we express are simply our opinions and commentary).
The Policy on HubSpot Cold Emails
Fact: Hubspot does not allow spam. Any bulk email (meaning the same message being sent to multiple recipients at once/automatically) is considered spam. While one-to-one commercial emails are still considered spam if they violate CAN-SPAM (or other relevant data protection legislation in your region e.g. GDPR), and if you do not provide data subjects with notice of your processing.
(Please read the entire policy here as the above is a snippet)
Fiction: All outbound emails are against Hubspot's policy and are not possible to send through the platform.
One important aspect of Hubspot’s policy on email actions is that they prohibit use of all bought, rented or borrowed lists on their platform. Now, this does paint a rather bleak picture if your goal is to automate all outreach operations fully and have very little manual input on the prospect selection and sending process. Therefore, if your goal-set requires prospecting in this manner you’d be better off using a sales engagement platform that integrates directly to HubSpot CRM. (we’ve outlined some options for this).
Hubspot's policy also outlines that full compliance with the CAN-SPAM act is a requirement of the platform, as well as GDPR compliance. You can expect compliance with these regulations to be mandatory on any platform you use to send emails. The FTC’s guidelines on CAN-SPAM compliance outline generally you should:
- Avoid using “From”, “To” or routing information in the headers of your emails which are in any way misleading. Therefore, the person/business which is sending an email to the recipient needs to be clearly identified.
- Pick subject lines which accurately reflect the contents of the message.
- Disclose and identify clearly that your message is an advertisement. This could be done in the footer of your email for example.
- Clearly show recipients where you/your business is located, which is done by displaying your valid postal address.
- Clearly show recipients how they can opt-out from future messages from you in a way which is easy to read and understand.
- Honor opt-out requests promptly and within the requirements the FTC describes.
The plan + edition of HubSpot you need for outbound
Currently Hubspot ‘Sequences’ is the primary functionality required to send outbound emails and is available in the ‘Sales Hub’ edition of Hubspot and included on plans which are the ‘Professional’ version and above outlined below:
(To see these plans live you can visit the Hubspot Sales Hub page here)
Keep in mind if you try to send outbound emails on Hubspot Marketing, your account is lightly to be flagged and suspended for spamming. In the use case on ‘Marketing Hub’, an outbound email means sending emails to any list which is not 100% opt-in via sign-up/webform. This means the plans in Sales Hub are really the only option for outbound emails.
On the Sales Hub Starter plan you can technically send outbound emails too! But, they will need to be relatively manual. Therefore, using the Starter plan might be difficult to reach the level of repeatability required to make an outbound approach efficient for your sales team. Therefore, unless you’re dealing with a low number of prospects each month, a Sales Hub Professional or Enterprise plan is the option you need for outbound.
Good Use-Cases for Outbound in HubSpot
As mentioned, if you're able to identify intent and avoid the practices Hubspot prohibits in their policies, then Hubspot does have functionality for you to send high-quality outbound emails. This means not every recipient needs to be a 100% inbound lead, and some examples of outbound emails that are likely to be good use-cases for your sales team inside Hubspot are the following:
- Engaged with your social media posts. If a contact/target customer has engaged with a post or reaction of yours/your brand on social media, this can be a clear signal of intent to reach out to the prospect directly over email. Engagements could include aspects like commenting or liking your Linkedin Twitter or Facebook post.
- Interacted with you on LinkedIn. When a target customer directly interacts with you on Linkedin (for example, by responding to a message you send them), a great next step to take based on that intent is to email them directly.
- Engaged with you during an outbound call. If you have a conversation with a prospect during an outbound phone call, and they do not actively ask you to remove them from your list - then you are able to build on this engagement over email in an outbound manner.
- Used your product in a past role and changed jobs. A great signal of intent in the B2B world is end users of your product changing jobs and using this as a trigger to reach out to them via email at their new gig. (For example, if your end users are SDRs you can track job changes and when prior users get a new role as an AE or SDR at a new company - reach out to ask them if they think your use-case is relevant to their new job)
- Met you at a conference. Now we’re starting to attend tech conferences again; if you meet at or attend conferences with someone, this can be a clear intent signal that you have a mutual area of interest. Therefore, as long as the way you conduct this process isn’t spammy, it can be a great way to conduct outbound prospecting from Hubspot.
It’s important to note that Hubspot mainly monitors bounces, general engagement and spam reports to identify users who are not following best practices through the sequence functionality. Therefore, keeping engagement and delivery high on your campaigns is the best way to avoid having your functionality suspended or limited in Hubspot.
How to keep high delivery and engagement on cold emails?
The bar for reaching high levels of engagement on cold emails has drastically increased in recent years due to the amount of competition for attention in prospects' inboxes. Now, seeing as the main characteristic all spammers have in common is low engagement - the easiest way to avoid issues in your outreach approach is to optimize for engagement. Ensuring the 3 following points are incorporated into your outbound approach will help you avoid emails landing in spam folders due to engagement-based filtering:
`1. High relevance. Consider what makes each and every prospect a great fit for your solution - and no, this can’t just be based on job titles and industry anymore…. As an example, if a prospect has recently hired for a specific job role, and you have a relevant case study on how you helped one of their peers in the same role at a different business - this could be a highly relevant trigger to you to reach out to the key decision maker.
2. Deliverability and domain reputation. Ensure emails you send are fully authenticated and have DMARC, SPF and DKIM working correctly. These authentication protocols are like having a driver's license for sending emails - if you’re sending without them, inboxes won’t trust you and are likely to filter your emails into spam. Then, warming your inbox up, so you maintain a high sender reputation is a core component of the most advanced go-to-market stacks nowadays. Finally, validating every email address you are going to send is important to avoid lots of bounces, as a high number of bounces is a signal of spamming.
3.Content best practices. These best practices for outbound emails generally involve having a short ‘ask’ / call to action which makes it easy for the prospect to understand what you’re asking, and respond. You should also look to address the prospect and talk about THEM and their issues more than ‘me, myself and I’(meaning you should mention ‘you’ and ‘your’ more than ‘I’, ‘our’, ‘my’). From a technical perspective, make sure to A/B test your content in a vacuum BEFORE you use a template, as you don’t want to be practicing on prospects. Remember, the cold email is about establishing if the prospect has a problem, not your solution yet!
Hubspot alternatives & integrations for Cold Emails
As you might have expected if your sales motion does require sending a high volume of cold emails, Hubspot is probably not the best platform for you to use - especially when you start to scale the approach. But, don’t worry - there are some great alternatives, which even have integrations with Hubspot so you can use dedicated outbound platforms alongside all the great inbound functionality Hubspot has to offer:
Close - This sales engagement platform focuses on reps at companies of any size being empowered to reach prospects at scale through multiple channels (SMS, Phone and Email) using automation. Close has a No Coding required integration with Hubspot and integrates to awesome inbox placement platforms to keep your open and reply rates high. (like Allegrow for example :) Pricing starts at $29 per user/month.
SalesLoft - Provides sales engagement sequences for roles across various departments and functions (AE, SDR and CSM), with comprehensive forecasting and reporting and conversational intelligence functionality. Cadences in SalesLoft are multi-channel and can be optimized for both inbound and outbound playbooks. SalesLoft has a Hubspot integration available, and pricing is available on request.
Outreach - As sales engagement vendors go, Outreach is also one of the most well-known in the space and provides a solution with multi-channel capabilities, conversational intelligence and reporting as well as role-specific account set-ups. Outreach has a Hubspot integration available, with pricing available from outreach on request.
As an overview on the key points when it comes to sending cold emails with Hubspot it’s worth re-capping:
- You can send outbound emails in HubSpot, but not 100% cold emails.
- Make sure to brush up on Hubspot's specific policy and understand that pushing the envelope with outbound emails does carry some risk of suspension in their platform.
- In order to send outbound emails in HubSpot you’ll need to specifically use the right plan and edition.
- There are some good use-cases for outbound emails in Hubspot.
- To keep engagement and deliverability high on outbound emails you can follow these principles.
- 3 Great options of platforms you can use on top of Hubspot for 100% cold emails without any issue are available.