Pardot Specialist Certification Guide & Tips [Updated 2020]

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  • Entry Level
  • 6-12 months
  • No Prerequisites
  • 200

The credential for day-to-day Pardot mastery.

A feature-focused credential, including lead scoring, email marketing, and lead generation.

Topic Breakdown

The exam will test your knowledge on:
    • The Prospect lifecycle: visitors vs. prospects, plus Prospect Audits,
    • Relationship between Pardot and Salesforce,
    • Emails: vs. Email Templates, and reporting metrics (Engagement History),
    • Pardot forms & landing pages: use cases and reporting metrics (Engagement History),
    • Lists and differences between both types,
    • Engagement Studio: components, how to update a program,
    • Scoring and Grading,
    • Automation: completion actions, segmentation rules, page actions, custom redirects,
    • B2B Marketing Analytics: interpret standard dashboards.
    • Pardot Einstein: feature overview, vs. standard Pardot score.
    • Pardot fields: create, edit, and map to Salesforce fields,
    • Pardot Recycle Bin.

Table of Contents

Introduction

The Pardot Specialist Exam is a key milestone in your Marketing Automation career, designed to get you up to speed as a Pardot Power user. That’s what we mean by ‘day-to-day Pardot mastery’.

Before we go any further, here’s some context.

The certification exam was updated in 2019 to: 

  • Reference the newer Pardot Lightning App interface and navigation,
  • Include new features (eg. Engagement History)
  • Include new related (add-on) products: B2B Marketing Analytics, Pardot Einstein,
  • Make the exam somewhat more challenging…as we will revisit later.  

Bearing the above in mind, beware when you are researching online resources. Ensure that you are covering the recent additions. Even in this guide, I will reference resources that are still highly valuable, but may not cover everything and potentially reference the legacy Pardot Classic app navigation. 

My Story

It is quite funny to look back on our original certification resources. Ben and I both took the Pardot Specialist exam in 2016, back when the exam itself had just been released. We both passed first time having no prior experience with Pardot (apart from selling a handful of ‘quick start’ implementation projects). Our tried-and-tested study strategy earned us the credential. Ironically, I then went on to specialise in Pardot, now in my 3rd year as a Marketing Automation Consultant – a key part of my job is to assist clients to prepare for the exam themselves.  

Believe me, the exam has certainly become more challenging to pass. I can testify to this because I had to retake the exam after I accidentally let my certification expire (oops). The upside, was that saw how the exam content had changed from one year to the next. The exam was noticeably harder – even with a year’s worth of consulting experience under my belt! 

Moral of the story: don’t underestimate this exam.  

Who's the Ideal Candidate?

You should take this exam if you have used Pardot day-to-day. You know how to navigate Pardot like the back of your hand. You are well-versed in what each of the main features and add-on products (refer to ‘Exam Topics’).  

Don’t worry about any of the below – these are things you are not expected to know: 

  • Salesforce for Pardot Connector setup, configuring Pardot within Salesforce (eg. how to embed components in page layouts),
  • Custom HTML, JavaScript or CSS,
  • Salesforce automation eg. Process Builder, Custom APEX, custom triggers, 
  • Customising B2B Marketing Analytics,
  • 3rd party integrations or working with the Pardot API.

Phew!

Key Topics

Automation

Pardot Automation covers a sizeable chunk of the exam (around 15%). It may not sound like a large part, but automation finds its way into many questions on the other topics. Automation is like blood that pumps through the veins of the other questions!

Know which automation to use when. I have written about this topic extensively, but it all boils down to the diagram below. Memorise this, and write it down on paper as soon as you get into the exam! 

Emails vs. Email Templates

Ah, the age-old question. Of course, there are obvious differences between emails and their templates, but Pardot has some exceptions that you should familiarise yourself with.

For example, which types of sends they can be used for (Engagement, Autoresponder, to a list etc.), what automation you can set on them, how to find the reporting. 

Don’t get caught out by making assumptions based on other marketing automation platforms you may have worked with. 

Engagement Studio

Engagement Studio is a feature Pardot are proud of, so it’s no surprise they are dedicating a number of questions to this feature. 

Aside from learning the obvious components (eg. rule steps, actions, triggers), get to grips with the trickier parts – wait times come to mind. 

Question Format

As I said before, the exam has become more challenging to pass over time. Previously, all questions were short questions about functionality, with straight-forward answer options to choose from. 

Now, you will find more scenario-based questions alongside the shorter questions. As with any Salesforce exam, the question wording or answers may try to catch you out. 

Example of a short question: 

Which of the following is a B2B Marketing Analytics out-of-the-box dashboard?

Example of a longer question: 

How would you ensure that an autoresponse email is sent each time a prospect submits a form?

  • Send a scheduled list email,
  • Use an automation rule,
  • Use a completion action on the autoresponder email,
  • Use a completion action on the form.

Exam Strategy

When exam day finally hits, there are a few things you can do to give yourself the best chance of passing with flying colours.

Firstly, if there are any concepts that you are struggling to get to grips with, then print off a cheat sheet and memorize just before the exam, so they are fresh in your memory.

When taking the exam, pay particular attention to the question, and read it through a few times. 

When deciding on the answer, be sure to use the process of elimination to get rid of the answers that are definitely incorrect. Salesforce likes to throw in answers that are made up! They also like to throw in curveballs, of features that appear to be correct but aren’t best practice. You can often worm these out.

You also have a the “Mark for review” feature at your disposal. On each question, it’s a checkbox that you can mark if you cannot think of an answer right at that moment, or if you doubt your answer. At the end of the exam, you will have a chance to review these questions. Depending on the amount you have selected, this will give you a good idea of how likely you are to have passed the test! Regardless of the questions marked for review, I would always recommend to go through every question again. 

Tips

  • Download the study guide. Always your first port of call! Prioritise the topics with heavier weightings (see 'Topic Breakdown' at the top of this page). 
  • Trailmix: complete "Prepare for your Pardot Specialist Credential" - a mix of modules, quizzes, and links to further reading. The gamification takes the strain out of studying - plus, it's FREE (link below).
  • Spend time in Pardot. Really understand where features are, how to create things, what you can do with them - and what you can't do! Noticing differences between features will really help you distinguish between answer options. Pardot Training Accounts are available for customers (link below); with these you will be able to safely play around, but do make sure you spend time in Pardot Lightning too. As a partner, you can find the link to request a Pardot Developer Account on the Pardot Pardot Community Chatter group. 
  • Mock exams: you can find practice questions online, written by people that have sat the exams themselves. Again, just be aware that not every question publisher will have had the chance to update their questions for the new exam! 

Although the Trailmix is a wonderful resource, don’t just rely on this to pass. Without getting hands-on with Pardot, you’re likely to get caught out by the questions! 

Request a Training Environment

Resources

  • These are Study Notes from the amazing Ben Edwards. Although these notes are dated, the information is laid out in a simple way - take what is relevant.

Final Thoughts

The Pardot Specialist Exam is a key milestone in your Marketing Automation career, designed to get you up to speed as a Pardot Power user. Following a study strategy, getting hands-on with the features, and nailing the key topics, you will be well on your way to passing! 

Finally, I will say it again – the exam has been recently updated to include Pardot Lightning and more. Be aware that many online resources won’t reflect this at the moment, and take responsibility to fill in those gaps yourself. 

12 thoughts on “Pardot Specialist Certification Guide & Tips [Updated 2020]

  1. Avatar

    Hi Ben,

    This is a FANTASTIC resource! Thank you for putting this together.

    I have several questions about the study group you organised and the exam preparation:
    1. How often did you meet?
    2. How many sessions did you run before the exam?
    3. How many hours on average did you and others dedicate to the exam preparation?
    4. What was the success rate of passing the exam?

    Thank you and regards,
    Maria

    1. Ben McCarthy

      My pleasure!

      We constantly shared resources on our Slack channel group. We only met about twice to go through some features that some of us didn’t understand. In terms of hours I would maybe say 20? I couldn’t give you an average success rate as not everyone has taken it yet.

      Hope this helps,

      Ben

  2. Avatar

    Hi,
    Ben thanks for the great overview how to get pardot certified. Would you recommend to pass the pardot specialist certification before the pardot consultant?

    By the way it’s not possible to subscribe you newsletter any more… 😉

    1. Ben McCarthy

      Hi Thorsten,

      Definitely. This is the approach that I am taking and have been advised by others to take it as well. The specialist is more getting certified on using the platform, and the consultant is based around implementing the platform.

      Hope this helps!

      By the way did you receive an error for the newsletter when you posted the comment?

  3. Avatar

    HI Ben,

    Is there a completed third party Study Guide, like what Ben Edwards created for the Pardot Specialist?

    Thanks,
    Bob

    P.S. You are going to Dreamforce 16 next week, yes? If so, maybe we’ll bump into one another.

  4. Pingback: Preparing for the Pardot Specialist Certification Exam – Site Title

  5. Pingback: Salesforce Certified Pardot Specialist notes: Scoring

  6. Avatar

    I’m trying to decide whether or not to pursue this certification. Our organization has used Pardot for 4 years, mostly for email and web forms. We’ve hired a consultant for most of the automation features. We might want to learn these ourselves. How many hours would you estimate for going through the study guides and other resources to prepare for this exam?

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