Marketing automation

The definitive guide to lead nurturing, lead scoring and email marketing in HubSpot

This guide is for those who want to get more out of your contact database using lead scoring, smarter segmentation and email marketing.

In this guide you will learn about:

  • Lead and customer nurturing in HubSpot
  • How to automate parts of your sales process
  • Lifecycles, lead status and segmentation
  • Smart segmentation of your contact database


The goal of this guide is to teach you the principles behind how to segment, score and mature leads that you can implement this in your own business.


Part 1: Lead and customer nurturing

1.1 What lead and customer nurturing?

The definition of nurturing is to take care of, encourage growth, or support something that is under development or training.

In marketing, sales and customer service, we constantly communicate with people and companies in our target group throughout their customer journey.

Lead nurturing is a way to communicate with a person who increases the likelihood that they will become a customer in the future.

The most common mechanism for maturing leads today is email, but tactics like retargeting or building a follower base on YouTube can also fall into the lead maturity category.

The marketing department is primarily responsible for lead maturation, where the goal is to communicate with a person over an extended period so that this person wants to be contacted.

A sales department can also mature a lead from being a sales qualified lead to becoming a customer. Once a contact has signed, customer service will take over further process.

Customer service matures the customer by offering them exclusive content, training or events to get the customer to upgrade their license or buy more services.


1.2 Why is the nurturing of leads and customers important?

Maturing leads and customers is nothing new. Companies have for many decades defined their target groups and followed these up over time with the help of traditional advertising.

The difference is that we now live in a "Googleised" world where a sale is more initiated by the buyer rather than the seller, and companies are involved much later in the buying process.

The purchasing process is also not linear, and your company must therefore design customer journeys that will make potential customers want to hear from you over a longer period.

If you have not defined such a journey, the buyer will easily be able to seek relevant information from another player and you will lose a potentially valuable customer.

A good customer journey means that you have thought through all the contact points a buyer should have with your company, and make sure they get the information they need to feel safe buying from you.

This means that you have to produce a lot of relevant content in the form of articles, videos, e-books, webinars, physical events, customer stories etc. that the buyer receives over time.


1.3 What are lifecycle stages?

Life cycles are the various steps a HubSpot CRM contact goes through in the sales and marketing process for your business. You use this feature to easily communicate with each person in a way that is perceived as valuable and relevant to them.

Lifecycle stages in HubSpot

In HubSpot you have some standardised life cycles:

Subscriber: These are people who have signed up for your newsletter and want to receive professional content. They have low engagement on your site and are usually not ready to buy from you. However, these are people who can become customers in the future.

Lead: These are people who have downloaded a content offer from your website. This can be an e-book, white paper or a checklist. They have shown interest in a particular topic related to the services you sell.

Marketing qualified lead (MQL): QualifiedThese contacts are eligible to be sent for sale for a first call, and you have more information about them. You should have information such as job title, company name, industry, etc. that allows the sales department to easily disqualify these contacts rather than qualify them.

Sales qualified lead (SQL): SalesThese are contacts that a sales department can begin a sales process with. Here it is valuable to know what lead status the contact has, as this gives you insight into whether a SQL is being followed up by a vendor or not.

Opportunity: These are qualified people, you have had one or more meetings, and they have been presented with your products or services. In HubSpot you can automatically create a deal (Deal) when a contact becomes an Opportunity.

Customer: A contact has bought your solution and you notice a deal in HubSpot CRM that won. Hurray!

Evangelist: These are people who are ambassadors for your company. They are not necessarily customers who give you positive reviews, but also people who like and share their content.

Other: Contacts that do not fit into other categories and are often used to categorize competitors, job seekers, and partners.

The great thing about HubSpot is that by setting up a series of workflows, you can automatically move a contact through these phases in the buying process.


1.4 What is lead status?

A productive seller prioritises his or her time to sell as much as possible, and HubSpot's lead status automates the job of prioritising which contacts the seller should reach.

Lead status serves as a subcategory for life cycles and provides the seller with valuable information on how a sales qualified lead is handled internally.

Lifecycles do not always provide enough context, and lead status lets you understand where in the sales process an SQL is located, so that potential customers can easily be segmented and prioritised.

This information is also used to quickly understand which contacts can make an appointment and who is disqualified and who can be deleted from the CRM system.

Lifecycle stages and lead status in HubSpot

In HubSpot you can customise lead status according to your business needs. There are a number of existing statuses, but these are the ones we use for most of our customers:

Open: A contact has entered the system, but the lead status is blank. No one has taken ownership of the contact and should be assigned sales manager for further qualification.

New: A contact has just been turned into a sales qualified lead, but is not routed to a seller. The contact is routed to the sales manager or sales manager, who in turn routes the contact to the seller.

Attempted to contact: This is a SQL a seller has tried to contact without success.

Connected: Contact has been established, but the contact is not necessarily ready for a sales process because they eg. do not have a budget or they must have a colleague in the meeting.

Unqualified: The contact is not qualified to buy your solutions and can therefore be deleted or matured with newsletters and relevant professional content depending on the quality of the contact.

In progress: Activity has been recorded on the contact card by the seller sending an email, calling, or booking a meeting with the contact.

Bad timing: Your solution sounds interesting, but it's not applicable right now. These contacts can be further matured with relevant content over a given period of time.

Nurturing: The contact does not need your solutions right now, but it may be relevant in the future. They want more information, and you can for example. sign up for a newsletter.

Open deal: The contact has shown interest in your solutions, they are qualified and it is time to make an appointment for them in HubSpot CRM. The sales process has now started.


1.5 Visualise your sales process in HubSpot CRM

Lifecycles and lead status can be automated in HubSpot so that contacts that are to be followed up on sales, that is, they are sales qualified, are automatically routed and assigned to a seller.

After a sales qualified lead has been contacted and the seller decides to create a deal for this contact, the contact is labeled as Opportunity in HubSpot CRM.

The sales process has now started, and the seller creates a Deal, or a deal, in HubSpot CRM. This is where all of the communication and information is gathered in one place:




In HubSpot CRM you can define all the steps of your sales process in the form of columns. These columns represent the steps a potential customer must go through in order to become a customer.




This helps your sales department visualise all the agreements in their sales process, rather than having this information spread across various Excel sheets, Post it tags and emails.

HubSpot lifecycle and lead status becomes extra useful when the seller is keeping track of current tasks and informs them exactly which contacts to follow up:




Depending on who owns the contact, lifecycle, lead score and lead status, HubSpot can automatically create tasks (Tasks) inside the CRM system, giving you a "queue system" for the tasks to be done:




The question is: how do we set up a system in practice?


Part 2: Lead scoring in HubSpot


2.1 What is lead scoring?

Lead scoring is the process that gives contacts points based on how interested they are in your business and how relevant a contact is to you and the solutions your company offers.

In HubSpot you can score a contact based on criteria you value. This can be either the actions the contact performs or the contact has a specific position.

In the CRM system, both the contact information (explicit data) and the actions (implicit data) of the contact are collected on a timeline, which gives you information that you can score on:


Lead scoring in HubSpot lets you score a contact from 0 to 100. In other words, a contact is scored progressively and linearly based on the rules you set for your company.

Where lead nurturing is the process of continuously communicating with a contact to increase the likelihood of purchase, lead scoring helps you prioritise leads to be followed up first.




The result of implementing a lead scoring model is that the sales department can automate the process of prioritising leads, thereby reducing lead time and closing more customers.


2.2 How to use lead scoring based on the size of your company

Lead scoring is a process that you will never fully finish, and companies need to have different approaches to lead scoring based on size, number of products, and how many sales and marketing activities that being conducted.

We can usually divide companies into three levels:

  • Beginner
  • Advanced
  • Advanced



The company has been working with inbound marketing for less than 12 months, and you generate approx. 20-50 leads per month. Here you must first understand what actually leads to sales.

Here you do not need a sophisticated lead scoring model, and all incoming leads should be followed up. At this stage, a seller will be able to manually qualify this amount of leads.

However, it is valuable to implement lead scoring at this stage, because you gain valuable insights about your contacts that are valuable when you need to streamline and scale up.

Beginner lead nurturing



The company generates more than 50 leads a month, and you do you have a need for more efficient and scalable processes to increase demand for their solutions.

At this stage, segmentation becomes even more important as you want your salespeople to spend their time most efficiently, namely selling products and services.

The goal is no longer just to generate as many leads as possible, but to quickly qualify or disqualify contacts and find those closest to a purchase.

With lead scoring, contacts are automatically scored and then segmented and distributed to the right salesperson in the company. In addition, sellers can receive automatic alerts about new leads.

Communication with contacts more segmented and pointed. At this stage, you will start to create different communication courses based on, for example, role and industry.

Intermediate lead nurturing



Advanced HubSpot users who have worked with inbound marketing for a long time and have built a system that attracts a high volume of visitors, leads and customers every month.

At this stage, you will have large amounts of data from your inbound marketing activities and you will sell your products and services to many different roles and industries.

This opens up the opportunity to be able to segment your contacts to a much greater extent than before so that the recipient perceives your message and value proposition as highly relevant.


Advanced lead nurturing


This requires many different campaigns that have different value propositions based on the recipient's position and industry, and different segments receive different articles, customer stories and offers.


2.3 FIT and PAIN show who your best leads are

According to a study by Accenture, salespeople spend only 36% of their work week actually selling, and a lot of time goes to prospecting and administrative work like updating the CRM system.

Lead scoring can therefore be a useful tool to help sellers focus on the contacts closest to a purchase so that available sales time is used most efficiently.

In HubSpot you can score leads progressively from 0 to 100 points based on the behaviour and contact information you value, and then set the life cycle when a certain amount is reached.

For example, in Nettly, we use the following rules to automatically change life cycles:

  • If the contact has a lead score of between 21 and 30 points, their life cycle is automatically changed to MQL.
  • If the contact has a lead score above 30 points, their life cycle is automatically changed to SQL.


But, how do you figure out which lead scoring model to use? This is where the terms FIT and PAIN come into play.

Lead nurturing matrix

FIT and PAIN are described by Mark Roberge, former Chief Revenue Officer of HubSpot and professor at Harvard, in the book "The Sales Acceleration Formula", and will help you better understand who is interested in your business and which contacts are interesting for you.


What is FIT?

FIT tells you about a contact a good match for you. Do they have the budget and opportunity to make a decision, or do they need to involve other people to make a purchase?

Examples of criteria you can identify FIT with are:


Do you have their private address, or job address? In general, a job address is more valuable. At the same time, remember that many people use their private email addresses, especially early in the purchase process, or that addresses are filled in automatically when on mobile.

Position in the company

A person who is a decision maker will be more valuable than eg. a student. This field lets you understand what role a contact has in the company and whether they are decision makers or influencers.


Company name

Do you want to contact a company you want to reach or not? In addition, this may show you the effect of outreach sales (eg meeting booking), where you define your list before calling.



If you sell products and services worldwide, you must collect information about the location of the contact. Some areas may cause disqualification, while other areas are more profitable.


Employees, the size of a department or turnover

This may indicate how much purchasing power the company or department has, and whether the contact can make purchasing decisions on their own.


What is PAIN?

PAIN shows if a contact has a problem your product or service solves. How big is this problem compared to other problems and challenges they have in their everyday lives?

Here we score the behaviour of the contact. This is somewhat more complex than scoring on profile, as the behaviour of contacts is more dynamic and something you have less control over.

Examples of criteria you can identify PAIN with are:


You have many forms on your website (and possibly chat) where contacts can collect fill in their contact information. This can be a newsletter signup, an e-book download or a contact form. Best practice is to score forms that collect the most information the highest.


Important pages the contact has visited

You should give a contact a positive score when they visit pages on your website indicating that they are in purchase mode. These may be pages such as: The


  • Pricing page
  • Service page
  • Product page
  • Customer stories
  • Bottom of funnel articles


Note that you should not score a contact on actions and behaviours that are not very demanding. This is e.g. opening emails, clicking on links or reading an email.


2.4 Common mistakes with lead scoring

Lead scoring is something many people talk about, but most people make it completely wrong. Here are the most common mistakes we often see in Nettly:traffic


They don't track website behaviour

Most businesses have a CRM system and simple solutions like Google Analytics to analyse website. The problem is that many CRM systems do not log the activity on the website to a contact in the CRM system. This means, for example, that you cannot see which pages a contact has visited.

When you are in the setup phase with inbound marketing and HubSpot, the number of visits and leads is likely to be low, lead scoring is nevertheless useful in understanding what characterises the contacts that become customers.


Overcomplicate lead scoring

You can just forget to build the perfect lead scoring model. The reality is that you will never be completely finished and you need to adjust how you score leads over time. This depends on the size of your company, the number of business areas you have, and how many sales and marketing activities you carry out. If you are in the creation phase, start simple and perfect later.


Too many criteria to score

It is better to start with a simple lead scoring model and then perfect it over time. Keep in mind that version 1.0 of your lead scoring model is a hypothesis and there is no point in spending too much time on something that will give you a marginal gain. Instead, select 5-15 criteria that you think will signal that a contact is in purchase mode.


You have too strict rules

Be careful not to have too strict rules, as this can limit the number of sales qualified leads you get out of a system like HubSpot. If you have less than 50 leads a month, you should follow everyone up anyway.


2.5 How does a person reach SQL status?

A contact is usually more receptive to talking to a seller when they have received useful information from your company such as articles and customer stories relevant to them.

In order for contacts to become sales qualified, they must have both PAIN and FIT. That is, they both invest a lot of time in reading your content and they have the profile you want to attract.

When a contact downloads your ebooks, reads up on your product or service, and submits contact information via forms and chat, their lead score will accumulate and automated rules in HubSpot change the life cycle to SQL and notify the seller.

Note that the likelihood of associating with a SQL decreases drastically over time, and it is now important to forge when the iron is hot. Don't let it go for more than 24 hours.

A study conducted by Harvard Business Reviewfound that it was seven times more likely to get in touch and qualify for an incoming lead if the contact was followed up within an hour. In other words, it is critical to follow up quickly.


2.6 How do you follow up on new SQLs?

When a seller starts moving the contact through their sales process, this can result in three different outcomes:

Outcome 1: The contact is interested and qualified

The sales process starts and ends with the agreement being either won or lost. In case the contract is lost, you can mature the contact so that they can become a customer sometime in the future. Feel free to send them a personalised mail or ask if they would like to receive your newsletter.


Outcome 2: Interested, but it doesn't fit right now

Contact is interested in what you can offer. Contact has good FIT, but low PAIN, or high PAIN and poor FIT. They have e.g. not the budget, they haven't hired the role that would have been your contact, or they have too many other activities going on that need to be prioritised.

These are contacts you should mature with relevant customer stories and professional content that will keep you visible over time, and that will address common questions and objections buyers often have.


Outcome 3: Not interested

These contacts have poor FIT and low PAIN. You should spend little time on these contacts, and it is unlikely that they will ever become a customer. You can still have some kind of lead maturity of these, as the recipient can switch jobs or be someone who shares your content with their own network.


Part 3: Email Marketing for Nurturing Leads

Email marketing is definitely not dead. According to Statista, 293.6 billion emails were sent in 2019 alone, and it is estimated that this will increase to 347.3 billion by 2023.

Both statistics and our own experience therefore indicate that emails are a channel that works excellently to continuously communicate with potential and existing customers.

At the same time, companies need to update themselves on how to utilise email better than before. You can no longer send emails that are not personalised and with little engaging topic fields.

There are still many cases of companies that do not comply with GDPR. In addition, many companies out there do not have emails tailored to mobile devices.

Email should be one of your most important marketing channels, but to get results you must first understand the interaction between life cycles, lead status and lead scoring.

This will give you far better results with email, and give recipients a better impression, and you will more easily meet GDPR.


What types of email campaigns can you use to nurture leads?

With HubSpot you can greatly automate both segmentation of contacts and the sending of relevant e-mails to the various segments in your contact database.

The campaigns we recommend all businesses to use today are:

Send a welcome message to new subscribers to your newsletter. This campaign lets you send new contacts your best content, or ask them what kind of content they want.

Send more information about a specific topic. If a contact has downloaded an ebook on a topic, send them related articles, ebooks, customer stories, etc. on the same topic.

Automatic transmission of new articles. This is a feature of HubSpot that automatically creates and sends new articles to your contacts.

Enable inactive contacts. If a contact has shown interest but has become inactive, you can send them an email campaign to start a conversation again after some time has elapsed.

Preparing for a sales interview. If a contact has reserved a call with you, you can send relevant information they should know before the sales call. Examples include a short video introduction, pricing information, or a questionnaire.


Why segmentation makes email more efficient

Many companies are sitting on large contact databases. This may be a potential gold mine, but they often do not get the value of it due to lack of segmentation.

As a result, employees are often afraid to send out emails that are perceived as spam, and they often end up not sending any relevant information at all.

You therefore need a marketing automation system like HubSpot that segments your contacts and makes email a channel that is perceived as relevant and valuable.

This does not have to be complicated.

You can start with some simple email campaigns and develop them over time. Eventually, you can further segment contacts when your company has more employees and more solutions.

Let's take an example:

Suppose you sell an LMS (Learning management system) designed for schools. The customer is Norwegian municipalities, and you want to influence IT managers in the municipality, principals and teachers.

In the initial phase, it is easiest to create a generic email campaign that hits all three:




Segmentation helps increase engagement with the recipient, and we can go one step further by creating different email mail campaigns for each person:


Now the engagement will increase further. The message becomes even more relevant and the lead score will increase faster. You can segment another step by segmenting on persona and vertical:


EX. K12, Higher Education

Remember that segmentation is a continuous process and you do not have to invest too much time to begin with. Highly advanced segmentation will not give you high returns at first.

Start easily and analyse what makes the various recipients engaged. Then you can think of how you can communicate differently across verticals and roles so that they receive different value propositions and content that are most relevant to them.



Lead nurturing and customer nurturing is the process of continuously communicating with a person who increases the likelihood of becoming a customer sometime in the future.

Your goal should not only be to generate as many leads as possible, but to quickly qualify or disqualify contacts and find the ones closest to a purchase.

You can identify what behaviour and contact information you want to emphasise when designing your own model for lead scoring and lead maturation, but keep in mind that this is a continuous process and needs to be perfected over time.

The biggest mistakes with lead scoring and lead maturation are to not track website behaviour from the start, to overcomplicate lead scoring, to have too many criteria to score, or to have too strict criteria.

The most common mechanism for maturing leads today is email, but tactics like retargeting or building a follower base on YouTube can also fall into the lead maturity category.

You can start with some simple email campaigns and develop them over time. Eventually, you can further segment contacts when your company has more employees and more solutions.

Segmentation helps to increase engagement with the recipient, and we can go a step further by creating different email campaigns for each person and vertical.



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