Dispatch Day: 10 Pardot Email Prep Checks Before Sending

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Dispatch day is the day you press ‘send’ and release your email campaign to the world. Whether the email campaign build has been a sprint, or a long slog – either way, you don’t want to fall down at the last hurdle.

Particularly if you’re under pressure, there are many things that often don’t get a second thought in the rush to send; plus, it’s hard to get into a routine with email checking – even harder if you’ve been receiving the content for the email in pieces with multiple amends, as opposed to all in one go.

With this email sending checklist specific to Pardot, you won’t have to be in a state of blind panic any longer. Capturing the things that easily slip our mind, these are the 10 things I make sure I do before pressing on the big green send button!

#1: The Subject Line

The subject line appears in the sidebar when you first open up the Email Wizard to edit. As soon as you click to edit the email content, however, it disappears.

Don’t let this be something you forget! The recipient’s first impression is critical, and these few words determine whether your email gets opened, or not. For some good stats on the subject, you can take a quick look here.

You can set the subject line:

  • On the ‘Building’ tab, ‘Editor’ subtab, and by clicking the big green arrow on the sidebar.
  • On the ‘Sending’ tab (but, scroll down to the bottom of the page!)

#2: Variable Tags

You’ve added that personalised touch to your email with Variable Tags, but did you look deeper past the surface? Pardot can’t populate the variable tag if there is no data in that field!

UPDATE: Pardot has moved to merge tags (HML) to align with Salesforce Lightning email templates. Find out more about here: What is Handlebars Merge Language (HML) for Pardot?

So, how is the data completedness for this field? There’s two ways to check if there’s data in this field:

    • Option 1: Using a dynamic list

    • Option 2: Exporting list into CSV and analysing outside of Pardot (eg. in Excel).


    NB: quicker if you have more than 1 field to analyse.


It’s best practice to set a default merge value which will display whenever there is no value available (a blank prospect field) for the variable tag to pull in.

#3: Images

If images are the wrong size, disfigured (stretched) or just simply incorrect, it’s tough for the recipient to forgive you.

Of course, this is an extreme example, but do use your eye to assess what generally looks good. Back up your instinct by doubling clicking on each image and ensuring:

      • Correct size: needs to fill the frames. For this, make sure the image is 600px wide.

Correct proportions: ‘lock’ in the aspect ratio with the padlock icon. Means that your images won’t get all stretched.

See also: Rendering Tests section.

#4: Links

It sounds obvious, but test your links are going to the right pages when you click on them.

Next, answer these:

  • UTMs: Do you want to use UTM parameters? These are tags you add to your URLs, so that when the link in the email is clicked, the tag values are sent back to Google Analytics. Examples of tags are ‘source’, ‘medium’, ‘campaign’ amongst others.
  • Custom Redirects: Should any links be custom redirects instead? By converting links into custom redirects, you can set additional actions that will automatically fire each time.
  • Social Buttons: These need to be pointing to the correct social accounts, especially when you have multiple brand accounts per social channel.


#5: Plain Text Version

Naturally, your energy goes into the HTML version, but forgetting to generate the plain text version can hurt your email deliverability.

Why is that?
Email service providers that scan incoming mail, will be friendlier to your email because they can ‘read’ the content of the text version easier. Another reason is that your message will get across, even if your recipient’s inbox can’t support HTML.

Click on the ‘Sync from HTML’ button under the ‘Building’ –> ‘Text’ tabs to check how it looks. Tidy up the text and messy indents by deleting the spaces as necessary. Do not delete the unsubscribe links!



#6: Rendering Tests

It’s testing time!

This is a very cool feature, putting you in the seat of the recipient.

You’ll find this on the ‘Testing’ tab:

Shown like this:

By clicking ‘New Render’, you’re able to generate realistic previews of how the email will display in different email clients. Explore each through the menu:

Expand each thumbnail preview and use the drop-down menu to quickly switch between the different views.

Be sure to check 2 types of renders in particular:

  • Outlook: Outlook is the bane of any email developer’s life. There are many design elements that don’t work well with Outlook, so it’s best to pick these up now to fix.
  • Mobile: sometimes images aren’t responsive, so check that your images are not distorted on mobile devices.

#7: Suppression Lists

Now we’ve moved into the ‘Sending’ tab, where there’s lots to do!

First: we know who we want to send to, but have you ever skimmed past who not to send to?

#8: ‘From’ – Sender Information

Although Pardot does force you to fill this in to even save a draft email, the sender details are so important to double check. You may have copied the email template, or stuck in a placeholder sender to initially save your draft in a hurry!
Here are the different options you have to choose from, including a general user (free to type), a specific user (a user in your Pardot account), assigned user and account owner:


#9: Completion Actions

Completion Actions are not retroactive. I repeat, not retroactive.

This means that if you forget to set them, then go back to put them in, any prospects that have been processed will not have the action applied to them – only opens/clicks going forward from then will.
An example: you want to add a prospect to a Salesforce campaign when they open the email, but you set the completion action 5 hours after the email is sent. The prospects that opened the email in the first 5 hours will not be added to the Salesforce campaign.

This is the Completion Action I use most commonly, the only way to tie Pardot email interaction with Salesforce Campaign multi-touch attribution reporting.


#10: Communicate Internally

Follow-up – the final piece of a successful campaign. However, follow-up can only be done if the people responsible have been informed, typically your sales team.

You can use Pardot for internal mailings too – the added bonus is that you can have an eagle eye on who has and hasn’t read your email about the upcoming email campaign and follow-up steps.


Dispatch day is the day you press ‘send’ and release your email campaign to the world, and by using this Pardot email sending checklist, you will save yourself from falling at the final hurdle. If there are any other items you have on your own email sending checklist, we want to know!


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