Connect Pardot Form Handlers to Your Website & Troubleshooting Tips

By Jennifer Contino

Pardot Form Handlers are designed to connect Pardot to external forms so you can pull the data from an existing external form into Pardot. With Pardot forms being a fully native option, you’re probably wondering why you should consider using a Pardot Form Handler?

I recently wrote about how you should embed Pardot Forms on your website (the pros & cons of using iframe), but one of the biggest complaints I’ll hear from clients is that they have forms on their website and they just want to use the handler to pass the submission data to Pardot, but they really want to be able to use some of Pardot’s advanced form functionality, such as progressive profiling, so they’re forced to choose between function and design.

So, what are some of the things you should be aware of when choosing Form Handlers, and what issues could you potentially encounter?

When to Use a Pardot Form Handler

You’re probably wondering why you should consider using a Pardot Form Handler? It’s a good question, seeing as you can’t use progressive profiling or dependent fields (both major benefits of Pardot forms).

Here are a few reasons why you might want to use a Form Handler:

  • Better and complete control over the look and feel of your forms. The form design is controlled by the website not Pardot.
  • If you need to post the submission data to a database, other than Pardot.
  • If you want to integrate Pardot with your existing forms.
  • If you’re already using a third-party form tool.

Read more in this post.

Pardot Form Handler Restrictions on Your Website

These are the limitations you should be aware of when you use a Pardot Form Handler on your website:

  • Can’t recognise returning visitors/pre-populate fields: the form handler won’t be able to recognize users, which means, the form won’t be able to pre-populate fields like a traditional Pardot Form.
  • No progressive profiling: where you can use conditional logic on the form.
  • Bot protection: you will need to implement bot protection on your forms, or you could become victim to “subscription bombing” where a malicious attempt to spam your form can successfully post spam data to the form, and it will make its way to Pardot (then worse into your automation, and possibly Salesforce). If you’re going to use the Handler, talk to your IT team, they can implement a CAPTCHA or IP blocking, and if possible a confirmed opt-in process.

Create a Pardot Form Handler

Since the Form Handler is simply passing data, the setup is simpler than the Pardot form, especially since we don’t need a layout template.

    1. Inside of Pardot navigate to Content → Form Handlers → click the button +Add Form Handler.
    2. Complete the basic information, such as name, campaign, and folder.
    3. If you want the data from the form to be forwarded to another location, click on enable data forwarding to success location, then from the Success Location drop-down, select Specific URL or Referring URL. Select Referring URL if your form is on the page with content that you want the user to see after submitting the form, use a Specific URL to redirect the user after they have completed the form, or if you are forwarding the submission data to another database.

  1. Chose your Error Location, which is where the user will be redirected if there is a form error. Select the specific URL if you want to enter a URL for the redirect location.
  2. Create your completion actions.
  3. Map your form fields.
    1. Enter External Field Name. The name is specified by the ‘name=’ attribute of the input tag in the HTML of your external form.
    2. External field names are case-sensitive.
    3. If a field is required on your form handler, make the field required on your form. Otherwise, the form submission fails when a prospect leaves the field blank.

Common Issues Pardot Form Handler & Troubleshooting Tips

If you decide to use a form handler to pass data from an existing form on your website to your Pardot org, you may come across a few issues, here’s some things you should know about using form handlers on your website.

  • If you make a form field required on the form handler and the form field on your website is not required, if a user does not complete that form field the submission will not be completed. Make sure that when a form field is required, it is required in both places. Also, be sure to update your error message, to let the user know the form field is required if they should decide not to complete the entire form, they’ll know why they’re getting an error. It would be a best practice to always make the email address field required, as you will always need the email address for a Pardot prospect to be created.
  • If you delete a Form Handler in Pardot that is connected to a form on your website, the user will receive an error message when they try to complete the form.
  • If your account allows multiple prospects with the same email address, the Pardot form handler will always look for the prospect record with the most recent Last Activity and add the form completion to that prospect record. What you need to know here, is if you have two prospects with the same email address, and you delete one, it will go to the recycle bin, if that record has the most recent Last Activity date, and the prospect completes a form handler, the prospect record will be undeleted from the recycle bin, and the activity will be added to that record.
  • A Pardot form handler does not automatically create a Salesforce lead/contact record, it only creates a Pardot Prospect record, and if there is an existing Salesforce lead/contact record it will update that record with the form completion activity. If you need the lead/contact record created you need to assign the prospect completing the form to a user. You can do this via the completion actions on the form. Just note, that if they are already assigned in Salesforce, they will not be reassigned to a new user.

Forms & Form Handlers: A Hybrid Approach

Depending on your existing website and what you have in place it might be valuable for you to leverage the Pardot Form Handlers on your website for simple forms, that users might not revisit, such as a contact us form, or subscribe to a blog.

Then, leverage the Pardot forms on your landing pages for full Pardot form functionality. As I am sure you can imagine, the Pardot landing pages may have recurring visitors if you’re running campaigns such as monthly webinars, or event registrations. For this use case you can leverage the features like progressive profiling and dependent fields to gather more information about your leads/contacts who are engaging with your recurring campaigns.

If you need help with your Pardot forms, feel free to reach out to us here, for a complimentary consult, we’d love to help!

The Author

Jennifer Contino

Jennifer is a marketing automation consultant, who specializes in demand generation, at RoyCon Technologies.

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