Managing Orphaned Contacts: Pardot Creates Salesforce Contacts Without Accounts (Private Contacts)

Share this article...

When a Prospect first syncs to Salesforce, the Pardot Salesforce Connector will create a Lead, which then continues through your organisation’s lead lifecycle. Sometimes, this isn’t always suitable.

Some organisations don’t use the Lead object for a number of reasons – maybe you are one of them? The Pardot Salesforce Connector settings can be changed to create Contacts instead of Leads. This is known as “Pardot Reverse Syncing”. While this may fit a specific Salesforce use case, it creates an additional challenge: ‘Orphaned’ Contacts, also known as ‘Private’ Contacts.

What are Orphaned Contacts? What Happens when Pardot Reverse Syncing is Enabled?

When the Pardot Salesforce Connector is changed to create Contacts instead of Leads, which account will these Contacts be connected to?

Contacts can be created without being associated to an account. Extending the parent-child metaphor used when describing data relationships*, these Contacts without a ‘Parent’ can be described as orphaned.

*This Parent-Child relationship is Account = Parent, Contact = Child.

This happens because Pardot cannot create Accounts. Salesforce Accounts are synced to Pardot, and are called ‘Prospect Accounts’ – these are read-only, so Pardot cannot create, edit, or delete Prospect Accounts. This is why the Connector will send the contact to Salesforce and just hope for the best.

On a side note: we know that when the Connector creates Leads without a value in the ‘Company’ field, it appears as [[Unknown]].

How to Manage Orphaned Contacts

There’s the challenge: you will have many Contacts floating around your org without being properly connected to their correct account.

What’s even scarier, is that the go-to Contact report in Salesforce is the standard ‘Contacts and Accounts’. I’m going to call upon my friend, Stacy, who explained the ‘Contacts and Accounts’ report type limitations so well:

“What if you have Contacts where there is no Account? And I hear you! “But Stacy!” you say, “The Account field is required on the page layout, of course, the Account field is filled out on all Contacts!” But, are you really sure? You should probably run a report on the Contact object, where Accounts = Blank to check out your data. You may be surprised…

Oh wait – you can’t! There is no report for just the Contacts object, only Contacts & Accounts, or Contacts & something else! Oh, the horror!”

As seen in: 5 Salesforce Lead & Contact Hacks Every Admin Should Know

So, here are the steps you need to follow:

Step 1: Create Custom Report Type

The first step is to create the custom report type that will show Contacts.

Step 2: Create Salesforce Report

Create the Salesforce Report, and use a filter:

Account name — equals — [leave blank]

Add any other columns you may find useful, such as contact owner or created date.

Step 3: Schedule the Salesforce Report

You can schedule the Salesforce Report to be sent via email to users on a day and time you specify (note: you need to switch back to Salesforce Classic to do this). The right frequency for your situation will depend on the volume of new Contacts being created by your Pardot Salesforce Connector; for a moderate volume, you could perhaps have the report emailed to the Admin’s inbox once a week. That weekly task would involve manually associating the Orphaned Contacts/Private Contacts to their account.

Bonus Tip: Capture Company

You can put preventative measures in place to help the situation. Ask for ‘Company’ on forms, so that Salesforce has something to match on; however, it’s not a fail-safe policy, because variations in the company name will put a wedge in the process running smoothly.


The reality is that many organisations don’t follow the standard Lead conversion process that Parodt is designed to handle, which means that enabling ‘reverse syncing’ is a good option to create Contacts instead of Leads. However, you need to have a process for managing the Orphaned Contacts/Private Contacts, and be able to reunite them with the correct account. Of course, this solution requires ownership – for someone, likely your Salesforce Admin – to take charge of reuniting Orphaned Contacts/Private to their Accounts. This is the advice I would give clients for managing this challenge in the long term.

4 thoughts on “Managing Orphaned Contacts: Pardot Creates Salesforce Contacts Without Accounts (Private Contacts)

  1. This is SO handy. I have had this issue in the past and never thought to add a report type to identify them. Thank you!

  2. Thank you Lucy, for sharing this insightful article. I would like to fix this issue, please let me know a way as I have 1000’s of Orphan record. I have to spend time to check for duplicate record & then merge these. I ending up doing more with Marketing Automation.

    1. Hi Sharad, thank you for your note on this – unfortunately there’s no fast way to deal with duplicates if there’s no specific criteria you are basing the master record on 🙁 you can use a de-duplication tool on the AppExchange to help with the matching, but if it requires a human eye, then you will need to be patient going through them

  3. Hi Lucy, I have these orphan contacts which are created via Chat functionality (Embedded Services). I created a Dummy account, and created a process to move these contacts to dummy accounts upon creation using some filters. However, this is not a very scalable solution. We also use Marketo for prospecting purposes, so these contacts do not work well there. What is the best approach to deal with these contacts?

Add Comment