How to Prevent Competitors From Receiving Your Pardot Emails

By Lucy Mazalon

You don’t want competitors receiving your emails to see your latest strategy for communicating with customers. On the other hand, there are reasons why you wouldn’t just delete their prospect records out of Pardot – one to keep your own sanity, the other to keep a close eye on their snooping.

Excluding competitors each time you send an email campaign may seem like an impossible task. The solution is actually surprisingly simple. Once you’ve identified your competitors, all it takes is creating a dynamic list and ensuring everyone in Pardot is abiding by the new rules. I will cover all of this and more in this tutorial.

Monitor Competitors (Don’t Delete Them)!

As I mentioned in the opening, there are a couple of reasons why you wouldn’t just delete their prospect records. If you did delete them (send them to the recycle bin) they will be back again as soon as they take an active action, like submitting a form – you would end up playing a game of competitor whack-a-mole! Perhaps you also want to keep their tracked prospect record to check if they’re snooping around on your website? As the saying goes: keep your friends close, but your enemies closer!

Step 1: Identify your Competitors

I would start in a spreadsheet and list your competitor domains (what follows the @ in their email addresses). I recommend you take a look at your Pardot prospect database as a whole, or leverage Salesforce reports. By filtering ‘email contains [competitor name]’ you will be able to scoop up any variations in the email domain. It’s best to double check!

Separate the domain names with a semi-colon:;;

Step 2: Build a Competitor Dynamic List

Pardot Dynamic Lists are incredibly slick, and I encourage any Pardot user to leverage them. According to criteria you define, prospects are added/removed automatically whenever they match/unmatch your set criteria.

The match criteria to use is:

Prospect default field — Email — Contains —;;

Ps. If you want more dynamic lists, read 7 Core Pardot Lists for Swifter Segmentation.

Step 3: Apply as a Suppression List

There are two main ways to send emails in Pardot:

  • List Emails
  • Engagement Studio

How you apply suppression lists (the ‘do not send to’ list) differs depending on which way you are using to send Pardot emails, so I will show you both!

List Email Suppression Lists

You can add any list as a suppression list to the ‘do not send to’ box. Find this on the ‘Sending’ tab in the Pardot Email Builder:

Note that even if a competitor is on both lists, the suppression trumps the send list meaning they won’t receive the email.

Engagement Studio Suppression Lists

When you open up the top node of any Engagement Studio program (drip icon), you will be able to add the competitor list to the ‘suppression list box’.

See, it’s very simple! Don’t underestimate the setup process, though. The hardest part is perhaps aligning everyone in your team to always add the competitors suppression list to each email send, engagement studio, and automation rule (that is sending autoresponder emails). It’s a simple, flexible solution because the list updates itself when new competitors worm their way into your Pardot database. You may even be surprised to find out just how many competitors you do have active in your Pardot account!

The Author

Lucy Mazalon

Lucy is the Operations Director at Salesforce Ben. She is a 10x certified Marketing Champion and founder of The DRIP.


    John Simpson
    June 09, 2020 3:38 pm
    While this is a good idea, why not just run an Automation Rule with the same criteria and mark them as Do Not Email. That way even if your users forget to use the Suppression there still not going to receive the emails/Engagement.
    Michelle W.
    June 09, 2020 5:01 pm
    That is exactly what I do - that way there's no chance of forgetting to suppress them. Much easier I think.
    Ahmad Rahman
    June 09, 2020 6:30 pm
    That (automation rule) is the process we use.
    Cameron C
    July 09, 2020 12:38 am
    I like this idea and can see how it would work. However, will it prevent autoresponder emails from going out? e.g. autoresponder email following a registration via a form.
    Lucy Mazalon
    July 13, 2020 10:04 am
    An autoresponder sent via a completion action or an automation rule? The first, no, the latter, yes.
    christopher cunniff
    August 03, 2020 7:43 pm
    Just curious: Is there an issue here if there are literally hundreds or possibly even thousands of competitors? Is there a limit to how many domains you can specify using this method (i.e. how many characters are allows per rule?).
    Lucy Mazalon
    August 04, 2020 5:46 pm
    Hi Christopher, hmm there is a character limit per line of the rule, but you can add multiple lines with a 'match any' rule match type. Not sure how many lines (rule entries) an automation rule is limited to! Is that something you are going to find out on our behalf :) ?
    October 04, 2021 8:11 pm
    Interesting I am trying to find a way to use a suppression list from our autoresponder email regarding a webinar form.

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