5 Key Marketing Automation Workflows to Build in Pardot

By Lucy Mazalon

Workflows are the automation in ‘marketing automation’, a set of actions that Pardot will make based on some trigger. A trigger could be criteria based on data, prospect activity, or a time-based trigger.

You can see how a trigger and action mix n’ match opens up the possibility to get creative! However, you may be wondering where to start? Which Pardot automation is essential, and which are popular with other Pardot customers?

I thought back on my experience working with organisations using Pardot of all sizes and industries, and found the top Pardot automation I would recommend you activate. First, let’s outline the anatomy of an automation sequence.

How Pardot Automation Works

There are multiple options for automation in Pardot. All options comprise of ‘criteria’ (named triggers or rules depending on the feature) and actions; however, only Engagement Studio allows you to set wait times.

Side note: if you are considering becoming certified on Pardot, then knowing when to use which automation option is essential!

Think of automation as ‘if this, then do that’

  • Criteria (triggers or rules): ‘if this’
  • Actions: ‘then do that’
  • Wait: you can tell Pardot to wait between the criteria being met and the action being fired.

Examples of Pardot Automation Triggers:

  • Criteria-based on data: eg. If the prospect product interest updates to ‘hot tubs’.
    Criteria-based on prospect activity: eg. If the prospect submits the contact us form.
    Time-based: eg. 10 days after the prospect was created.

Examples of Pardot Automation Actions:

  • Data changes: eg. Update the prospect product interest field to ‘hot tubs’
    Activity: eg. Send the prospect the ‘welcome’ email.

1. Welcome Journey

This is a natural starting point for fresh, new Pardot accounts. Depending on your business, you may want to send a prospect on the welcome journey as soon as they are created as a prospect record in Pardot, when they submit a specific form, or other data or activity-based criteria.

The best way to run a welcome journey is by using Engagement Studio.

You may know that prospects start on an Engagement Studio program when they are added to a specific list. Read up on the different types of Pardot automation to find out how you can add prospects to a list that sends them through the sequence.

You can also send one-time autoresponder emails using automation rules, but these are not designed for a series of emails.

Building a double opt-in (AKA confirmed opt-in process) into your welcome journey is an important checkpoint. Your first email could be the prompt for prospects to confirm they consent to receiving marketing communications, and it allows you to filter out dummy email addresses, too.

2. Prospect Assignment

When a prospect is ‘sales-ready’, it’s your job, as a marketer, to ensure that these prospects are getting picked up by the assignment workflow.

Again, there are multiple ways to assign a prospect to a user in Pardot. First, find out if your Salesforce org has an active assignment rule; if that’s the case, you can leverage that to keep aligned with any existing lead assignment processes. Other options for assigning prospects include:

  • Assigning a prospect to a specific user
  • Assigning a prospect to a user group (Pardot feature, functions like a Salesforce queue)
  • Assigning a prospect to a Salesforce queue
  • Assigning a prospect using the Salesforce active assignment rule (as I noted as the most popular).

Use completion actions, automation rules or Engagement Studio actions to automate lead assignment in Pardot. All that’s left to figure out is the criteria that prospects must meet to be assigned.

3. Email Nurture Based on Product Interest

Setting up Pardot automation to send relevant emails based on a prospect’s product interest gives you a great foundation for lead nurture.

First, set up a custom prospect field to populate with product interest. You can capture product interest through:

  • Explicit ways: the prospect telling you/your organisation they are interested in a product. eg, they select the value from a dropdown field on a form, or they are related to an open opportunity in Salesforce.
  • Implicit ways: the prospect makes signals that they are interested in a product. eg, they complete a whitepaper download form on a topic related to the product, or they have visited a specific website page multiple times.

Dynamic lists are favourites for savvy marketers. These lists automatically add or remove prospects when they match/unmatch the criteria you have defined on the list. There are plenty of examples in this post.

Set up dynamic lists for each of your product interest categories, and use these as the start lists for Engagement Studio programs.

4. Customer Onboarding

While the top-of-funnel is a logical place to start (remember, that’s the ‘welcome’ and first touch points with a prospect), don’t be guilty of fizzling out on your prospects once they become customers!

The best organisations are offering ‘customer journeys’. Buzzwords aside, this means that the attention to give your prospects at the start should continue; one phase that is ripe for this interaction is customer onboarding. First impressions are everything for your new customers!

An onboarding series is typically intended to improve customer engagement in the initial weeks after a sale. It’s a chance to introduce customers to new features and answer their questions by sending content such as product tips, best practices, case studies, how-to videos or support articles.

Read this tutorial to see how to build yours in Engagement Studio.

5. Pardot Score Decay

As a prospect engages with your marketing content, their score will increase over time. When things are good, they appear good; however, when a prospect is uninterested and doesn’t make any new activity for a period of time, judging by their score, things still appear good. What’s the deal here?

Pardot will increase prospect score based on activity but it won’t decrease scores due to inactivity.

Prospect score decay, as it’s commonly known, requires intervention using automation. Using an automation rule, you can set criteria that looks for prospects who have not made an activity in a certain period of time, such as 1, 3, or 6 months, and with an action to set the score to 0. The time period you choose will depend on the level of activity you expect from an engaged prospect, and how many campaigns you have ongoing; a marketing team sending less emails gives their prospects less chance to increase their score through email opens and clicks.

So, there is little advice I can give to you without knowing your Pardot account context.

From my experience, you may want to treat certain prospects differently from others, for example, being more lenient with prospects that are already customers. Maybe you want to include a final attempt to engage high-value prospects (high grades) before they’re sent back to zero?

Then, Lydia commented: “I once got some good advice surrounding Decay — Instead of setting the score back to zero, we set it instead to a number really close to zero (like 3)”. Scroll down to the comments to read the reason why! 

This is where you can begin to branch off into different automated workflows for score decay.


The Author

Lucy Mazalon

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


    Lydia Fine
    October 01, 2020 4:08 pm
    I once got some good advice surrounding Decay -- Instead of setting the score back to zero, we set it instead to a number really close to zero (like 3). Then we can distinguish prospects who have never been active from those who are now inactive. We also apply a tag at the same time we set their score to 3, which helps us distinguish further between people with little activity and inactives who've dropped to 3. Then we use an automation rule to look for individuals with that "deactivated" tag who have reactivated -- they came back on the website and as a result, their score increased past a certain threshold. When that happens, we remove the "deactivated" tag and alert the salesperson assigned to that prospect to reach out. But like you said, there are a lot of use cases, but this is ours. I do wish we could use automation to set not just the overall score, but category scores as well. Hoping for that enhancement someday.
    Lucy Mazalon
    October 05, 2020 10:06 am
    Amazing advice, Lydia! Thanks for sharing that with everyone. I will add a note in the main post body to point people down to your comment!
    Michelle Norris
    December 14, 2022 2:30 am

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