Pardot External Activities: What’s The Big Deal?

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Pardot External Activities are prospect activities that happen outside of Pardot. Think webinars, video hosting, payment gateways – the list goes on.

Why are Pardot pros talking about this? Prospect External Activities in Pardot offer an enhanced way to work with data from the Pardot API. This taps into Pardot’s standard features – Engagement Studio, Automation Rules, Dynamic Lists, and Segmentation Rules – to enable you to blend that data into your Pardot automation.

“FormAssembly”

In this guide, I uncover how External Activities work, how Marketing App Extensions play a part, and some use cases to spark your imagination. First, let’s head ‘behind the scenes’.

Behind the Scenes: Pardot API V5 and Marketing Setup

The Pardot Product Development team have been working hard to improve the integration capabilities with Pardot. The API V5 is the result – which offers connectivity to more Pardot objects (endpoints), and follows industry standards. In the Winter ’22 release, the API got 8 new endpoints, opening up more objects for integration (and therefore, more ways to leverage the API).

Marketing Setup

There’s also an unsung hero: Marketing Setup. This administration section is accessed from Salesforce Setup, however, it grants access to all the areas a Pardot Admin needs (without the Salesforce Admin losing sleep over giving you the “System Administrator”-all-seeing-all-knowing profile).

External Activity API Endpoints

Remember when integrations required a user to act as the connection between Pardot and an external platform (with the Pardot V1 connector, now no longer the case with the V2 connector).

You may also remember that transferring user Pardot access to Salesforce SSO (single sign-on) caused a stir back in the Spring ’21 release. This is because so many organizations used dummy Pardot users as their “integration user”. The advice was to leverage “Identity Licenses” to prevent Pardot customers from spending extra money on Salesforce licenses for their integration users…

…Well, we only had to wait a few months to see their long-term vision: Marketing App Extensions.

Marketing App Extensions (Enable Pardot External Activities)

Marketing App Extensions are where you connect Pardot to external platforms, using the Pardot API.

Marketing App Extensions are available through Marketing Setup, which is part of Salesforce Setup (another step in Pardot becoming aligned to the core Salesforce platform). If you’re familiar with Salesforce Connected Apps, then you could think of Marketing App Extensions as the equivalents that tap into the Pardot API.

 

 

  • Set up a Marketing App Extension for each external app (above).
  • This enables you to create an External Activity Type. You can have multiple Activity Types per Marketing App Extension – for example, engagement data from a survey app could be “Survey completed” or “Survey abandoned”.

 

  • Relate a Pardot Business Unit (even if you only have 1 BU)

 

  • Pass the API Endpoint (code snippet that’s generated) to your developer. If you have the skills, you will need to change (any string) to the label you wish to appear on the prospect record.

How to Use External Activities in Pardot

The aim is to get prospect activity data into Pardot – and make it useable.

These have also been referred to as “custom prospect activities” in the past, ie. an admin can create an activity type to record something that happened on an external platform, just like any other prospect activity.

You’ll find “External Activities” in their own section on the prospect record:

Note: you need Pardot Plus edition and above. ‘Plus’ is the most popular edition, so it’s likely you’ll be able to take advantage.

External Activities are available with these well-used Pardot features:

  • Engagement Studio (the “External Activity” node)
  • Automation Rules
  • Dynamic Lists
  • Segmentation Rules

Pardot External Activity Examples

It’s worth repeating: you can bring engagement data into Pardot prospect records, appearing like prospect activities (in the new “External Activities” section on the prospect record).

External Activities are applicable for:

  • External platforms with no native Pardot connector, or
  • To extend the native connectors (redefining/adding activity types that aren’t provided by the native connectors).

 

Website Tracking

Extend the native Google Analytics for Pardot connector, which is limited to recording the UTM parameters for the prospect’s first touch (plus the fields are uneditable). Integrate advanced solutions too, such as Bombora, Heap.

Webinar Integrations

Record registrations and attendance from webinar platforms, from platforms such as ON24, Zoom.

Surveys

“Survey completed”, “survey abandonment”, etc. from platforms such as Survey Monkey, GetFeedback, Medallia.

Video hosting

“Video watched” “Video watched 50%” etc. from platforms such as Vidyard, Vimeo, Appinium.

Events

Pulling registrations and attendance – getting more granular into session attendance and booth check-ins eg. Bizzabo, Cvent. Add more activities for the Eventbrite connector (for the existing selection that comes with the connector, to extend/make it more flexible).

Account-based Marketing Platforms

Platforms, such as Terminus, collate information from multiple channels (both first-party and third-party).

Payment gateways/e-commerce

Pardot and e-commerce have never had a fantastic relationship. Now, those marketers interested in e-commerce transactions can create activities eg. “online purchase completed”, “cart abandonment” – and all the other stages of an e-commerce transaction!

Jaime also pointed out that you could get more specific by referencing the product name in the activity, too. If you only need the product name for your segmentation/automations, having this information at the prospect level is better than going full out with a combination of Sales Cloud/Commerce Cloud and Pardot custom objects.

Service usage

Another brainwave from Jaime. If your business runs on a subscription model, or with usage-based billing, syncing an activity that credits/time is running out can be the basis for renewal campaigns.

Final Thought

I’ve noticed that the Pardot API V5 and Marketing Setup are the key infrastructure that is going to accelerate:

  • Pardot connectivity (to other platforms), and
  • Extensibility (being able to apply/blend that data easily into your Pardot processes).

Pardot was once an app connected to Salesforce. Now, it’s a part of the Salesforce platform that is deserving of its own integration capabilities, configured more easily.

People have described this as a ‘no brainer’. The Pardot API has had a revamp (highly successful revamp), and the native connectors are inflexible.

Like Salesforce (with the Appexchange), Pardot knows it’s not in their best interest to develop solutions to every use case their customers have, knowing that other partners can do it better; that’s why integration and extensibility are so key to Pardot, to ensure Pardot customers don’t get held back, while Pardot product development teams can focus on the core Pardot features.

Let’s all investigate Marketing App Extensions to propel our marketing stack forwards!

2 thoughts on “Pardot External Activities: What’s The Big Deal?

  1. Thanks Lucy for this article, there is not much information here. Do you know if the external activities are sent to SFDC? In the 4 engagement objects like MarketingForm, MarketingLink…?

    1. I’m still yet to confirm this, it doesn’t appear like they do currently, unless you set up some custom mapping – however, that may not be a scalable solution in the long term

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