Pardot (Marketing Cloud Account Engagement) has been historically standalone from the core Salesforce platform. Over the past few years, however, Pardot has been moving across to the core Salesforce platform, piece by piece.
By the “core” Salesforce platform, we’re referring to the infrastructure that Sales Cloud, Service Cloud, etc. is built on. The “Lightning” platform is the foundation for organizations to build their own apps. Just like adding building blocks to lego, you can extend your Salesforce org using pre-built blocks or create your own. This is known as “extensibility” and being able to leverage all the platform offers. Looping Pardot into the bigger picture (platform automation, apps) is the main driver for Pardot to move onto the core platform.
Why has Pardot been standalone in the past? The answer is that Pardot was a product Salesforce acquired in 2013. Pardot has always been integrated with Salesforce using the connector. Shortly after the acquisition, Salesforce retired Pardot connectors to all other CRMs, in order to double down on the Salesforce-Pardot connector.
The long-term vision is to not even have a connector. Instead, the aim is to have all Pardot functionality housed on the core Salesforce platform. After all, the connector has its limitations, and often specialists have to troubleshoot it on a daily basis.
So, how much of Pardot has moved on to the Salesforce platform? How far do we have to go – and what are the hurdles the engineering team could encounter?
Pardot Moving “On Platform” – The Challenges
Moving Pardot has been a challenging venture for a number of reasons. You could think of it as mashing together two infrastructures, each with its own:
- Field behavior.
- User Interface.
Pardot Data Model (+ Object Alignment)
Understanding Pardot’s architecture will help paint the picture. Think of the data model/product architecture as the foundations of a building that you, as a customer, use to build up your database.
The diagram below shows the objects involved in powering Pardot. There are some that are on the Salesforce side (blue patch) and some on the Pardot side (purple patch).
The objects that spread over both are objects that both Salesforce and Pardot utilize. This is known as object alignment. Salesforce and Pardot use the same Campaign record, Email, Landing Page, and User records – in other words, create the record in one place (Salesforce) and use it in another place (Pardot).
To further explain the mass of objects surrounded by the “folders” box, Email/Landing Page records can be created on either side, depending on which builder you are using (i.e. the “classic” builders vs Lightning builders). Forms are still created on the classic builder.
All of these marketing assets (Email/Landing Page/Forms) are related to Salesforce Campaigns, and are therefore visible from the Campaign record page. This is thanks to the Asset Sync Queue between Pardot and Salesforce, via the connector.
Note: The diagram is not a perfect representation. There are other data relationships that I’ve chosen not to add, such as Users to Accounts and Opportunities.
I’ve stripped out some of the objects in order to show how activities and reporting works between the two platforms.
The activities that prospects generate when interacting with your marketing assets are also aligned. While these are stored in Pardot and called “prospect activities” in Pardot, they appear on the associated Lead/Contact record as “Engagement History”.
Reporting options are explained in the summary.
Why is Object Alignment So Important?
In basic terms, using the same objects on both sides will:
- Eliminate the need for users to create the same record twice, in two different places (as was always the case with Pardot Campaigns, before Connected Campaigns were introduced).
- Eliminate the need for data to sync across two platforms. The Salesforce-Pardot connector can only handle a certain number of syncing records at a time (grouped into batches of 200).
Pardot vs Salesforce Automation
We’ve covered the objects involved (the building blocks of your database), now there are the different types of automation. Automation enables data to be updated and/or transferred between records, objects, and integrated systems – plus other actions, such as sending email alerts, etc.
There is no shared automation across Pardot and Salesforce. You can, however, use one type of automation to tap into another automation, for example, a field update that a Pardot Automation Rule makes, after syncing to the Salesforce record, could trigger a Salesforce Flow to run.
Pardot vs Salesforce Field Behavior
Pardot data syncs with Salesforce to keep the data between Pardot prospect records and their associated Lead/Contact record aligned. To enable the connector to send the right data to the right destination, you’re required to map fields between the two systems.
In most cases, the field types between both Pardot and Salesforce marry-up fine, even if they have different names (e.g. “picklist” vs “dropdown”). There are other field types that don’t function in the same way:
- Checkboxes: A checkbox field in Salesforce is True/False, whereas Pardot checkboxes function as multi-selects. Salesforce checkbox fields need to be mapped to Pardot radio button fields, which function more like Salesforce checkboxes.
- Formula fields: Salesforce formulas and Pardot are not friendly (here’s why) and you can’t create formula fields in Pardot.
Pardot vs Salesforce User Interface
Chances are that you are using the Pardot Lightning App within Salesforce. This was a huge step in gluing together Salesforce and Pardot – removing the need for users to switch between different apps, get accustomed to different navigation, and also alleviated a few bugs.
While it looks like everything Pardot is on the Salesforce Lightning platform, the connector is still required to communicate with the Pardot infrastructure for those objects and functionality not on the Salesforce platform.
When Pardot updated its user authentication (login) policies, the ability to create Pardot-only users was disabled, and the Pardot Classic app (https://pi.pardot.com/) is scheduled for retirement in all Salesforce orgs by October 17, 2022.
As you can imagine, the codebase (i.e. the body of source code the entire application is developed on) is between the two platforms.
When it comes to this aspect, there are really only a few aspects you, as a Pardot admin/developer/user, would interact with – the rest is hidden and only accessible to the Pardot/Salesforce engineering teams.
- Personalization: Merge tags tell Pardot which data points to display when prospects view an asset (e.g. an email) according to the prospect’s record data. Pardot used its own scripting language in the past (PML), but now HML is used across Salesforce and Pardot.
- APIs: To integrate external platforms into Pardot objects, there are a number of endpoints you can use with the Pardot API V5. Salesforce has a multitude of integration architectures, capabilities, and patterns to choose from.
What’s on the Salesforce Platform – And What’s Left?
Let’s start to summarize all this background information into something more digestible. While this may not be a complete list of “what’s on” and “what’s not”, I hope it enhances your understanding of Pardot (Marketing Cloud Account Engagement) while it’s partway through the long migration journey.
What’s on Platform:
The following features and functionality have been migrated or aligned with the core Salesforce platform:
- Pardot Lightning App (but not everything that you see or interact with in the app!)
- Campaigns: Thanks to Connected Campaigns, Salesforce Campaigns are used across both Salesforce and Pardot.
- Lightning emails and landing pages: Assets created using the Lightning builders are stored on the Salesforce platform, and can be “injected” into Pardot automation, such as Engagement Studio.
- Classic emails, landing pages, forms: Assets created using the legacy builders are stored on Pardot, but are synced as records to Salesforce Campaigns.
- Personalization: HML is used across both Salesforce and Pardot to add merge tags to marketing assets.
- Campaign Metrics: The related lists visible on the Campaign record show how each related asset has performed. The data driving this is stored in Salesforce.
- Engagement Metrics: The set of fields you see on marketing asset records, e.g. the total submissions on a form. The data driving this is stored in Salesforce.
- User sync: Salesforce user records are used to grant access to the Pardot Lightning App (and therefore, the Pardot architecture).
- User authentication and single sign-on (SSO).
- Reporting: As Pardot marketing asset objects are records in Salesforce, you can create reports using standard Salesforce reports. These have their limitations, as “overview” reports (like this email, or landing page example) which are not breakdowns of prospect engagement. If you’re looking for a detailed breakdown per asset or a group of assets, then you will need to use B2B Marketing Analytics (B2B MA). B2B MA is the app within Salesforce CRM Analytics with pre-built dashboards for B2B marketers, which gives you datasets, such as the ‘Prospect and Activity’ dataset. Data flows from Pardot, via the Salesforce connector, to B2B MA – therefore, this is another piece that’s on the Salesforce platform.
What’s Left on Pardot’s Architecture:
- Prospects: The prospect object is arguably the major legacy of Pardot remaining. In time, it would make sense to do away with the prospect object and have Pardot work with the lead/contact record instead – but a move this big is all TBD, lots to consider in terms of the architecture, no doubt!
- Prospect activities: While the activities that prospects generate when interacting with your marketing assets are stored in Pardot (called “prospect activities”), they also appear on the associated Lead/Contact record as “Engagement History”.
- Mapped field types and field behavior: In some cases, the field types between Pardot and Salesforce don’t function in the same way i.e. checkbox fields in Salesforce, which are True/False (and need to be mapped to Pardot radio button fields), vs Pardot checkboxes which are multi-selects.
- Lists: Lists of prospects that are used to segment and send campaigns are stored in Pardot. Inevitably, there’s confusion because a Salesforce Campaign is also a list of people (Campaign Members) you wish to engage. There are ways to push one to the other, but Lists still remain in Pardot.
- Automation rules: Pardot-only automation that can tap into Salesforce actions, such as creating Salesforce Tasks, and assigning prospects (Lead assignment rules).
- Engagement Studio
- Email authentication: When you send an email from Pardot, it is sent from Pardot’s servers on your behalf (unless you have a dedicated IP). Email authentication, and other domain-related settings, remain hosted on Pardot’s infrastructure.
- Pardot API: To integrate external platforms into Pardot objects, there are a number of endpoints you can use with the Pardot API V5, which is different from the APIs that the core Salesforce platform uses.