Personalised email marketing: How to use HubSpot smart content

By Doug Bolton

Personalised email marketing: How to use HubSpot smart content

You've probably heard of HubSpot's smart content tools, but you might not have used them yet. The tools, which allow you to show different versions of your content to different users, are relatively under-utilised.

That's a shame, because smart content is a powerful tool that can both improve the user's experience and make life easier for you as a marketer.

You can add smart content to your website pages, landing pages, emails, and templates, and you can use it to show specific content to different users based on a set of rules that you define.

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You can find a typical example of smart content on our homepage – if you arrive at for the first time and you're completely unknown to us, you are greeted with the message, "Get onlinified! How can we help you?"

However, if you arrive at the homepage and have already converted on our website and given us some information – for example, if you've downloaded a content offer or asked a question via a contact form – you get a different message which includes your first name.


This is achieved with smart content. We have two versions of this welcome message – a default version, for unknown users, and another version for people who are in our CRM system.

If you have a value in the 'first name' CRM field, you're automatically placed into an active list in HubSpot, and you'll see the personalised message when you go to the homepage. It's a simple use of smart content that makes the website experience slightly more welcoming and engaging.

Smart content can improve user experience, but it can also make your daily work as a marketer easier. An excellent example of this is something we recently did in our own HubSpot portal.

Our old thank you email solution

As a reader of The Onlinification Hub, you know that we produce a lot of content offers. These are particularly valuable pieces of content, typically PDFs or PowerPoint presentations, which are 'gated' behind a form on a landing page. To get access to them, you submit the form and are then sent to a thank you page to download your content offer.

You're also sent a thank you email after submitting the form which contains a link to the content offer, so that you can easily access it again in the future.

This approach works well, but there's one issue – it creates a lot of new elements in the HubSpot portal. For each content offer, you need a new, unique email, since the emails contain a link to the content offer. And for each email, you need a workflow that can send it. If you only have a few content offers, this might not be an issue, but what if you have over 100? Your list of emails and workflows grows, it becomes harder to find what you're looking for in the portal, and if you ever want to update your emails or workflows, you have to change each one individually.

We wanted to find a better way that would be easier to handle in HubSpot and improve the experience for users. Smart content turned out to be the right way of doing this.

The new solution - with smart content

Instead of having lots of thank you emails, we decided to have one – a single email that is sent after a content offer is downloaded, regardless of which one it is. Since we now have only one email, and because we always use the same form on our content offer landing pages, we only need one workflow to send it.

If someone submits this form, we know they have just accessed a content offer, and we can send the email. Hundreds of emails and workflows, reduced down to just one of each.

Even if there is only one email in the system, we use smart content to make sure that different people get different versions. The first version is a default version – it's sent to anyone in the CRM who has a contact owner who does not have a 'book a meeting' link. This link is an additional HubSpot tool linked to Zoomers' calendars – it allows users to directly book a meeting with one of us at a time that works for both of them.

If the user's contact owner doesn't have this link, they receive this email:


However, if the user's contact owner does have this link, we use a different variation – here, the generic 'contact us' link is replaced with the 'book a meeting' link, and the user can decide a time for a meeting directly:


This is all administrated with a simple active list. Contacts are entered into the list if their contact owner has a 'book a meeting' link. If they're in this list, they receive the second version of the email above. If not, they get the first version.

What are the benefits of using smart content?

There are a few benefits of using smart content like this – the most important one is that the user gets a more personalised experience when they get a content offer, and it's easier for the user to get in touch with your company if they have a question.

The second benefit is for your company – using one email and one workflow for all content offers is much easier to administrate. It's quick to find them in the system, and if you ever want to edit them or add new languages, you only need to make the changes once. You also don't need to create new emails and workflows whenever a new content offer is published. The increased visibility of the 'contact us' and 'book a meeting' links could also lead to better business results.

If you haven't previously considered using smart content, now is the time to think about how it could work for your company. Improving user experience, streamlining internal processes, and creating better business outcomes are items on the priority list of almost every marketing team, and smart content can help you on your journey.

Implement this smart content solution yourself

If you're interested in implementing a similar solution for your company, click below to download a presentation that shows how to set up this solution in HubSpot.

Get the smart content presentation

And if you want to continue learning about other aspects of email marketing, such as targeting, segmentation and privacy regulations, take a look at our in-depth email marketing guide.

And if you want Zooma to help with any other projects relating to automation or smart content, click here to get in touch.

Doug Bolton
Doug has been a Content Producer at Zooma since 2021. Originally English, he now lives in Sweden.
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