10 Rules of AMPSEA: How Pardot Matches Same Email Address Prospect Activities

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Since it was rolled out late 2016, Allow Multiple Prospects with Same Email Address (AMPSEA) has pleased some Pardot Admins, but frustrated and alluded many others. Before we go any further, I am in the pro-AMPSEA camp, part of the group that were clamouring for the ability to add multiple prospects that use the same email address because I was working with organisations that needed this model desperately.

A year or so later, I thought AMPSEA was getting a hard time. Wind forward to 2020, and AMPSEA still gets a hard time.

Here’s the crux: there are both pros and cons to AMPSEA, and pros and cons to no AMPSEA. In my time as a Pardot Consultant, I have taken note of when frustration arises, then whittled that down to things those scenarios all have in common – a lack of understanding of how Pardot matches prospect activity to prospect records where more than one prospect exists.

This post will guide you through 10 aspects of AMPSEA behaviour – the ‘what happens when’ – so you are clued up on how AMPSEA will affect your marketing automation when put into practice.

Why Anti-AMPSEA? Read the backstory.

Unique Identifier

The first thing to understand is the change in unique identifier. Now that AMPSEA is the norm for Pardot accounts*, the unique identifier for prospects is CRM ID.

The unique identifier is what identifies one prospect from another in your Pardot database. CRM ID is the Lead or a Contact record ID in Salesforce. As Pardot prospects are associated to Lead/Contact record, that ID becomes the Prospect’s ID, too.

*AMPSEA was enabled by default if you purchased Pardot after June 2016. If you have an old account, and have escaped ever enabling it, you are now in a small minority.

We can flip that on its own head, and say that each Lead/Contact can exist in Pardot as a prospect regardless of whether two Lead records have the same email address.

Contrast this to how a typical marketing automation platform functions. The unique identifier across the marketplace is email address – each person has one record in the system, and any marketing activities using that email address are assumed to belong to that record in the system.

Making these assumptions, the system effectively deduplicates on your behalf, regardless of whether there was a legitimate reason two records. Some businesses ‘deliberately duplicate’ records for to cater to complex sales cycles, such as separating records by business unit or re-qualifying old or lost opportunities as leads.

What happens when two Lead records with the same email address sync to Pardot?

Two Prospect records will be created, one with Lead A’s CRM ID, and the other taking Lead B’s CRM ID.

Note: unique identifier is the core principle, and the easiest to grasp. The CRM ID is a clear instruction when Salesforce and Pardot sync data between each other. The remainder of the points will dig into situations where you won’t have the benefit of a known CRM ID, and have to fall back on email address instead. Let’s look at the ‘what happens when’ for the 10 following scenarios.

1. Prospect Import

When using the Pardot import function, you have two options for how you would like to match records in your import file with records in Pardot:

  • CRM ID
  • Email address

The golden rule: use CRM ID whenever you have it. Using CRM ID gets rid of any ambiguity over which Prospect record you are looking to update. Like hitting the bullseye.

Side note: there is something quirky when exporting Prospect data to CSV. Pardot will produce a file with Lead and Contact IDs in two separate columns. You will need to combine these two columns into one before you can reimport.

However, there are times where you:

  • Are importing new records (eg. Leads from a trade show list),
  • or, don’t have the luxury of CRM ID for whatever reason (a colleague deleted the column).

This means you will need to use email address to match by.

I will take the example of the list you have received from a trade show. This list could contain new prospects, existing prospects and customers – you can’t be sure (unless you want to do a VLOOKUP on the whole of your CRM database).

When the import starts, Pardot begins matching the records in the import file to the Prospect records in Pardot.

What happens when Pardot comes across an email address in the import file that two Prospect records use? Which does it choose?

Answer: the Prospect record with the most recent activity.

2. Form Submissions

When it comes to Pardot form activities, it all depends on whether the Prospect has been cookied already. If a Pardot cookie association exists between the individual’s browser and their Prospect record, that tie will win, and the activity saved to that Prospect record – simple.

What happens when there’s no cookie, and there are more than Prospect records that use that email address? Which does it choose?

Answer: Email is a required field on all forms, so Pardot will use email address to match to existing Prospects. When there are more than one possible match, Pardot chooses the Prospect record with the most recent activity.

The story continues in point #4…

3. Recycle Bin

What happens when there are no active Prospect records?

Answer: Pardot searches the recycle bin next. If it finds a match, it undeletes the Prospect record. If it finds more than one match, it undeletes the Prospect record with the most recent activity.

4. Engagement Studio

Prospects enter an Engagement Studio program based on list membership; if the list is the send list to a program, the prospect enters the program’s automated campaign steps.

What happens when an Engagement Studio list contains more than one prospect with the same email address?

Engagement Studio programs only allow one prospect per email address per program.

What happens when there are multiple Engagement Studio lists containing more than one prospect with the same email address?

Again, Engagement Studio programs only allow one prospect per email address per program, regardless of whether the prospects are being sent to the Engagement Studio program from by multiple lists.

5. Email Send Lists

Now let’s turn our attention to list emails.

What happens when there are two prospects with the same email address on an email send list?

Pardot sends one email to the prospect with the most recent activity. The email send activity will only be recorded on that prospect record.

(Another way to phrase this, is that Pardot deduplicates the send list before the email is sent, using ‘most recent activity’ as the criteria for selecting the master record).

6. Email Suppression Lists

Suppression list = a list of Prospects who you don’t want to send the email to (you add this list in the ‘Do not send to’ box on the ’Sending’ tab of the Email Builder).

What happens when there is a prospect with the same email address as a prospect on a suppression list?

The prospect on the send list will still receive the email.

Side note: it’s also worth mentioning at this point that if the same prospect is on both the send list and the suppression list, the prospect will not receive the email.

The diagram below shows all three rules above next to one another.

BUT there is one exception to the rule…

7. Recency & Frequency (Temporary Suppression)

Rule exception alert!

There’s a sensible limit to how many emails a prospect should receive from you in a certain period. This is referred to as Recency and Frequency. You can use dynamic lists to pull which prospects have been emailed too many times (frequency), in that period (recency).

For example:

Prospect has been emailed — at least 3 times — in the past 5 days

What happens when there is a prospect with the same email address as a prospect on a recency & frequency suppression list?

Answer: The prospect on the send list will not receive the email.

8. Opt-outs

Pardot stays on the safer side when it comes to email preferences. Opt-out behaviour aims to respect the strictest preference, which I will cover here.

What happens when a prospect unsubscribes (global opt-out)?

Prospects can use the unsubscribe link if added to our Pardot emails, or from the email preference center. This link indicates that they will be opted out of all email communications.

If a prospect clicks this (or a user does so form the Prospect record in Pardot), all prospects with the same email address also be opted out.

What happens when a prospect unsubscribes from a single list (public list opt-out)?

All prospects with the same email address also be opted out of the list.

9. Hard & Soft Bounces

A hard bounce suggests that a prospect is permanently unmailable for a number of reasons, typically that their email address has been disabled. A soft bounce does not signal the same extreme, the prospect is temporarily unmailable; in Pardot 5 soft bounces equal a hard bounce.

What happens when a prospect hard bounces (or causes 5 soft bounces)?

All prospects with the same email address are marked as ‘Do not email’ (and therefore, are unmailable)

10. Pardot Connectors

Connectors are ‘plug-in-and-play’ integrations between Pardot and third-party tools, such as GoToWebinar, Eventbrite and Google Ads.

When it comes to matching prospect activity on their platform with prospect records n Pardot, connectors have to work with email address as the unique identifier. In this way, they are similar to how form submissions work, except they don’t ever have the benefit of the Pardot cookie.

What happens when a third-party connector want to sync prospect activity to Pardot, and there are more than Prospect records that use that email address? Which does it choose?

Answer: When there are more than one possible match, Pardot chooses the Prospect record with the most recent activity. Are you surprised by this stage?

Summary

Pardot had to put some ‘hard and fast’ rules into the product when developing AMPSEA, and these were the best options to hand. It’s worth also noting that you can’t override the matching behaviour.

This guide has taken you through the 10 rules of AMPSEA to learn how Pardot matches prospect activities to prospect records when more than one prospect shares the same email address – here’s a summary table to refresh your memory:

 What happens when...Answer
Prospect ImportWhat happens when Pardot comes across an email address in the import file that two Prospect records use? Which does it choose? The Prospect record with the most recent activity.
Form SubmissionWhat happens when there’s no cookie, and there are more than Prospect records that use that email address? Which does it choose? Email is a required field on all forms, so Pardot will use email address to match to existing Prospects. When there are more than one possible match, Pardot chooses the Prospect record with the most recent activity.
Recycle BinWhat happens when there are no active Prospect records?Pardot searches the recycle bin next. If it finds a match, it undeletes the Prospect record. If it finds more than one match, it undeletes the Prospect record with the most recent activity.
Engagement Studio (one list)What happens when an Engagement Studio list contains more than one prospect with the same email address?Engagement Studio programs only allow one prospect per email address per program.
Engagement Studio (multiple lists)What happens when there are multiple Engagement Studio lists containing more than one prospect with the same email address?Again, Engagement Studio programs only allow one prospect per email address per program, regardless whether the prospects are being sent to the Engagement Studio program from by multiple lists.
Email Send ListWhat happens when there are two prospects with the same email address on an email send list? Pardot sends one email to the prospect with the most recent activity. The email send activity will only be recorded on that prospect record.
Email Suppression ListWhat happens when there is a prospect with the same email address as a prospect on a suppression list? The prospect on the send list will still receive the email.
Recency & Frequency (Temporary Suppression)What happens when there is a prospect with the same email address as a prospect on a recency & frequency suppression list? The prospect on the send list will not receive the email.
Opt-outs (global)What happens when a prospect unsubscribes (global opt-out)? If a prospect clicks the unsubscribe link (or a user does so from the Prospect record in Pardot), all prospects with the same email address also be opted out.
Opt-outs (list)What happens when a prospect unsubscribes from a single list (public list opt-out)? All prospects with the same email address also be opted out of the list.
Hard & Soft BounceWhat happens when a prospect hard bounces (or causes 5 soft bounces)? All prospects with the same email address are marked as ‘Do not email’ (and therefore, are unmailable)
Pardot ConnectorsWhat happens when a third-party connector want to sync prospect activity to Pardot, and there are more than Prospect records that use that email address? Which does it choose? When there are more than one possible match, Pardot chooses the Prospect record with the most recent activity.

Finally, here is the official Salesforce documentation for further reading/alternative explanation.

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