Pardot Email Unsubscribes Report: Understand Which Caused Email Opt-outs

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Opt-outs, also known as unsubscribes, are bad news for your email marketing health. Email is the backbone of Pardot marketing automation, so it’s worth keeping a close eye on unmailable prospects (and why they are unmailable).

You can report on how many prospects have opted-out in your Pardot database, and you can zoom in to see when on each individual prospect record. You’re able to see how many unsubscribes a specific email caused by looking at each email report.

The question is: which specific emails are causing unsubscribes in a specific timeframe, or within a group of prospects?

Unless you’ve asked that question, you may not realise that there’s no easy way to see opted-out prospects and the email to blame, at a high-level. Moreover, you can’t slice and dice any of this unsubscribed prospect data (eg. timeframe, prospects by industry, account rating etc.)

Enough negativity. I want to share a solution to stamp prospects with the name of the email they unsubscribed on, and when, that doesn’t require a ton of customisation (very important to not accumulate technical debt). This was offered up by Nathaniel during one of our Trailblazer Community Group meet-ups. Here’s how to make this reporting happen, step by step.

Before we begin: this solution relies on Pardot completion actions. Pardot pros will know that completion actions cannot be applied retroactively, meaning that they fire right there, in the moment. Prospects that engaged (meeting the criteria) before the completion action was set up will not have the actions applied to them – only those going forward. Bear this in mind, that your report will be very patchy at first, and will enrich itself over time.

1. Create Pardot Custom Fields

Pardot allows you to create the fields you need for great insight (like this tutorial will give you). The custom prospect fields you will need to create are:

  • Opt-out date/time: field type = date
  • Opt-out email name: field type = text

Map these custom prospect fields to Salesforce lead/contact fields (which you will need to have created on the Salesforce side). When you map, make Pardot the master when asked about data sync behaviour. You should make these fields uneditable (visible only) to Salesforce.

Note: Salesforce text fields have a maximum length of 225 characters, therefore, if you attempt to sync across longer field values from Pardot to Salesforce, it will result in a sync error.

2. Set the “When a prospect unsubscribes” Completion Action

Let’s recap what we want to do. When a prospect opts-out of an email, we would like to ‘stamp’ the name of the email into a text field (Opt-out email name).

Go to the sending step for a Pardot email. In the ‘Completion Actions’ section, switch on the option for “Take action when a prospect unsubscribes from this email’.

  • Select your custom field “Opt-out email name”, and in the next box that appears, copy and paste the name of the email.
  • Select your custom field “Opt-out date/time” and set it for today.

Note: if you change the name of the email between this stage and sending, then your completion action will be out of date. While it may seem obvious to some people, I feel it’s worth flagging.

3. Build the Salesforce Report

Head to the ‘Reports’ tab in Salesforce, and create a new report. As I’m sure you know, a Pardot prospects’ Salesforce counterpart (the record they are syncing with on the Salesforce side) can be either a lead or a contact. This means you need to create separate reports to show the data for leads and contacts.

When creating a new ‘Leads’ report:

  1. On the outline tab: add the “Opt-out email name” and “Opt-out email date” custom fields you mapped in Pardot. Add any additional fields you want for context (eg. Lead Source), and remove any you don’t need.
  2. On the filters tab: add a filter for “Opt-out email name” — not equal to — [leave the box blank]. Alternatively, you could set the same filter for only “Opt-out email date” if you wanted to show trending opt outs over time (that you may have not captured the email name for).

After you save and run the report, you can add a report chart, or add to a dashboard.

4. Document for your team

What is apparent from following this tutorial, is how much this solution relies on consistency and attention to detail when preparing and sending emails.

This is why it’s important to lay down a few ground rules for your team, and trust that they listen.

  • Always set the completion actions before sending (I think every business should have an email sending checklist).
  • If you change the name of the email, update the completion action.
  • Go through email templates that are being used in Engagement Studio, autorepsonders etc.
  • (Remember) Salesforce text fields have a maximum length of 225 characters, therefore, if you attempt to sync across longer field values from Pardot to Salesforce, it will result in a sync error.

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