In the early days of my consultancy career, I started working on multiple projects that required a fully mirrored production environment, known as a sandbox. However, Pardot (Account Engagement) Sandboxes are a relatively new feature, and so, the documentation is somewhat lacking. There are definitely some limitations that you need to be aware of before using a Pardot (Account Engagement) Sandbox.
What I needed at that point was the answer to a straightforward question: what can I build in Sandbox? In this article, I will give you the answer…
What are Pardot Sandboxes?
Sandboxes are a copy of your ‘live’ Pardot account (production) and function as test ‘staging’ environments. You can build and test configuration and its impact on data without risking anything going horribly wrong and disrupting business operations!
Some examples of things you may want to check before launching them live:
- New automation (eg. Salesforce Flows or Pardot Automation Rules)
- Integrations using the Pardot API
- User access based on permissions
- Feature updates (eg. Salesforce User Sync)
Pardot Sandbox Features
Online, all I could find was a list of pros and cons for what you should or shouldn’t test in Sandbox. So I started making a list:
What You Can Do in a Pardot Sandbox
- Build a copy of our Pardot instance including:
- Automation Rules and Engagement Studio nurtures.
- Fields and their mapping to Salesforce Sandbox fields (including what field sync behavior works best for our needs)
- Scoring and Grading Rules
- Folder structure
- Test solutions in a safe environment
- Testing Lead/Contact <> Prospect sync behavior
- Test how the data flows between the two platforms
- Test user sync.
What You Can’t Do in a Pardot Sandbox
- Send emails
- Test emails
- Understand the deliverability of emails
- Promote solutions to production
- Test B2B Marketing Analytics
- Test Salesforce Engage
Who Can Get a Pardot Sandbox?
While this is a great feature for development, don’t get carried away until you’ve read the small print. You will require the following licenses:
- Pardot: Pardot Advanced edition (or Pardot Premium with the v2 connector).
- Salesforce: Unlimited or Performance edition (note: full Sandboxes are available at an additional cost with any Salesforce edition).
Find the considerations here.
Pardot Sandbox Setup
- Login to a Salesforce Full sandbox
- Uninstall and delete the B2BMA managed package
- Install a Pardot Sandbox managed package
- Configure the Connected App and Integration User permissions
Find the full instructions here.
Note: Because emails can’t be sent from a Sandbox, setting up email authentication is irrelevant.
If you’re reading this article, you may know that nothing can be promoted from Pardot Sandbox to production, and instead it has to be replicated. For this reason, I was very reluctant to build in a Sandbox environment.
However, as I started working on various elements, I realized that creating an entire solution without fear of making mistakes would become transformative to my career.
Here are some additional Pardot Sandbox ‘gotchas’ I learnt from my experience:
- Advanced or Premium Salesforce Edition customers can have Pardot Sandboxes. One Salesforce Sandbox for each Pardot Sandbox.
- A Salesforce Sandbox refresh deletes your Pardot Sandbox. Make sure your Salesforce team is well aware of this as it cannot be reversed.
- Pardot Sandboxes can’t connect directly to a Salesforce Production environment.
- Pardot assets and fields can’t be shared between Sandboxes and Production accounts; all must be recreated manually in production (however, this is likely to become available in the future).
- Don’t make promises about email deliverability until your domains are set up in production.
- Before installing the Pardot Sandbox package, B2BMA must be uninstalled and deleted.
- Sandboxes are slow! Hang in there and understand that you have to wait for your outcomes.
Although the concept behind Pardot Sandboxes is far from perfect, they allow users to experiment and learn. The connection to the Salesforce Sandbox environment means that users can test Pardot solutions which rely on Salesforce setup, flows, and other automation.
I love learning on the job and there are very few things you can’t do in a Sandbox that you can do in production. Pardot Sandboxes have allowed me to actively work on improving solutions before they go live, while also enabling me to continue experimenting with new ideas using the foundations of an existing solution.