Pardot vs. Marketo – What are the Differences?

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Pardot or Marketo? If you’re searching for a marketing automation platform, chances are you’ve run into these two leading players in the market.

Whether you’ve just heard that you’re migrating to Pardot from Marketo, or just completed the switch, you may be feeling a little lost.

What are the differences between Pardot and Marketo that you need to know? I’ve worked in marketing operations for half a decade, mastering Marketo, before changing jobs and finding I needed to become a Pardot super user. Speaking from experience, I’ve written this guide to help you hit the ground running with Pardot.

Differences Between Pardot and Marketo

Pardot and Marketo are similar in more ways than they are different which is why they are often compared side-by-side. They are both B2B marketing automation platforms that have been acquired by tech behemoths, and have worked towards extending their offerings in order to appeal to the enterprise-level customer base.

I picked out the main differences that stood out to me, which I will cover in this guide. To start, here’s a summary table:

Marketing activitiesEngagement History: a collection of Lightning components, related lists, objects, fields. Marketo Insights: a native sales application that surfaces “Best Bets”, “Interesting Moments”, etc. (aimed at sales users)
AutomationMultiple automation options that require the user to ‘stitch’ together: (automation rules/segmentation rules/Engagement Studio).Smart campaigns encompass the automation required for campaign automation.
FormsAll forms are one-off, unique. “Global Forms'' can be used across multiple campaigns. There is also the option for one-off forms.
Form IntegrationForm Handlers (easier to deploy)Webhooks (harder to deploy)
Tracked link clicksCustom redirects (my favorite Pardot feature!)UTM parameters
Lead ScoringScoring (based on activity data), Grading (based on demographic data)Score (activity data and demographic data is combined into one number).
Reporting & analyticsReporting on marketing activities is easier (with Engagement History), multi-touch attribution reporting has more options (additional Campaign Influence models), ‘Slice and dice data’ (with B2B Marketing Analytics).Revenue Cycle within Marketo (RCM) is customizable, and shows lead generation, conversion, and velocity reporting. Reporting on marketing activities and multi-touch attribution is also possible, just data management is not as streamlined.

User Experience (Pardot Lightning App)

Salesforce and Pardot combined is a single platform sharing the same user experience; the first step is to jump into that mindset. The Pardot Lightning app makes the transition to Pardot pretty seamless.

As a Salesforce app, Pardot can be accessed via the Salesforce App Launcher. Whether you’re in the marketing team, sales team, or other teams*, it’s easy to jump from Sales Cloud (leads, contacts, opportunities etc.) to Pardot. There’s a single login, and no fuss (plus, the legal are happy with all users and data being on one platform, with one vendor).

(*providing you have the correct permissions/permission sets granted by your Salesforce Admin)

Activities: Engagement History vs. Marketo Insights

  • Marketo Sales Insight is a native sales application that surfaces “Best Bets” (leads to prioritize), “Interesting Moments” (the key moments to monitor that matter to sales), and anonymous web activity. You can build a “Watch List”, or send an email to a list of leads (similar to Salesforce Engage, a Pardot product)
  • Engagement History is a collection of features that increases Pardot visibility across the Salesforce user experience (Lightning components, related lists, objects, fields).

We are using Engagement History on campaigns, leads, contacts, and accounts. You’re (almost) eliminating the need for people to even look at dashboards and reports if they just need a quick snapshot at a campaign-level, lead-level etc. Sales reps and BDRs come to mind; in our organization specifically, our ABM department will want to see what’s going on in an account, and so they are able to click into it to see all activity for all related contacts.

Engagement History reporting eliminates the need for me to run a bunch of reports and having to explain the contents of them (my selfish reason for loving it!)



Marketo also has a robust integration with Salesforce and allows for marketers to use Marketo Insights across different record types. Marketo Insights has the distinct feature of allowing custom activities and events to be shown on the record – something that Pardot currently doesn’t support.


Automation: smart campaigns vs. automation rules

Campaigns in Marketo are driven by ‘smart campaigns’, whereas in Pardot there are segmentation rules and automation rules.

Although they have the same purpose, we had to get used to the idea, and it felt like the biggest difference when we migrated over.

When looking at automation there are a some distinct differences between the systems:

Marketo automation:

Marketo smart campaigns offer a wider breadth of options and functionalities than Pardot’s automation and segmentation rules. Marketo smart campaigns are one of the unique features of their platform that truly allows it to be the “brain” of marketing departments fueling everything from lead life cycles, custom integrations, and lead routing. The main components of smart campaigns are: smart lists, flow, and scheduling – all wrapped up in one feature.

Pardot automation:

Pardot offers a different take on automation. Pardot has automation rules and segmentation rules. Automation rules are always on and listening for changes or activity, similar to trigger smart campaigns in Marketo. They also offer segmentation rules, which are based on filters and meant to be used as one off operational change. I should highlight that these are two separate features, so it’s often the case of stitching different automations together in Pardot (or using Engagement Studio where possible). While this can be challenging for some users to grasp, having multiple options offers power users flexibility.

Marketo vs. Pardot Forms

Marketo has “Global Forms” and “Local Forms”. When you create a Global Form, you can use it across multiple campaigns, and make changes from one place (vs. editing each individual Local Form).

There’s no concept of a “global form” in Pardot, which means you create a unique form for every campaign or landing page. While you may think this is a big disadvantage (spending time updating multiple, disparate forms) there are advantages to the unique form approach:

  • It allows you to tie the form directly to the Salesforce Campaign and see form fill % right within the Salesforce Campaign itself, thanks to the Engagement Metrics component.
  • It isolates the form’s design, and completion actions to only that form.

Note that Marketo also allows for unique forms but doesn’t have the Engagement Metrics component that shows form success metrics directly on Salesforce Campaigns.

Form Integration: Form Handlers vs. Webhooks

Both Pardot and Marketo have comparable form functionality and building experiences.

When it comes to integrating web forms hosted on your website or portal, there is a notable difference. Some of the coolest features when jumping over to Pardot were those that solve the ‘hacky things’ you had to do with Marketo – Pardot form handlers are a major one.

Form handlers are how web forms can be integrated to Pardot (if you don’t wish to use Pardot hosted forms). If you want to achieve this in Marketo, you need to use webhooks, or have a hidden webpage hosted somewhere. Pardot form handlers avoid this customization.

Custom Redirects

Custom redirects are one Pardot feature I really like. Although you can listen to clicks etc. in Marketo, there’s nothing that matches Pardot custom redirects.

What I love about custom redirects is setting multiple completion actions to fire when the link is clicked by a prospect (we’ve created 40+ custom redirects so far!) The custom redirects also tie directly to the Salesforce Campaign which allows for you to easily surface how many clicks there have been.

Some of the ways we use custom redirects are both external, and internal:

  • Affiliate marketing: we can track how many link clicks there have been, which is especially useful if that link is not on our website.
  • Content engagement: a cool project we worked on is an internal hub of all of our content. We can see content utilization, ie. which content our teams internally are actually viewing.
  • By using naming conventions, we are able to filter all engagement with custom redirects in Salesforce reports, to see how many people are using which of the assets we produce. It’s great intel for our marketing team to choose which content we should continue investing money and energy into refreshing.

As these insights are in Salesforce reports, our colleagues who don’t have access to Pardot can still benefit.

In Marketo, you can use UTMs/other approaches but they are not as clean or “out of the box”.

Lead Scoring

Marketo Score represents how much your prospect has been engaging with your marketing and how well they match your ideal customer profile (ICP). Activity data and demographic data is combined into one number.

Pardot has two ways to rate the quality of a prospect: Score, and Grade.

  • Score: numeric value, represents marketing activities. Shows how interested prospects are in you.
  • Grade: letter value, represents demographic data, how closely they match your ideal customer profile (ICP). Shows how interested you should be in the prospect (this has to be set up, doesn’t come enabled out of the box).

By separating activity from demographic data, Pardot makes it easier to prioritize leads.

We use the two hand-in-hand. There’s an example that’s used often that shows how to benefit from using both Score and Grade. Somebody could have a really high score, but then it turns out to be a student or a job candidate, so they would have a low grade in Pardot, alerting sales people to not pursue them further.

Building Marketing Emails and Landing Pages

In my roles, I have been tasked with the bulk of development internally for both emails and landing pages. These are my observations, after using Pardot for a few months:  


There’s the new WYSIWYG email builder that Pardot released which eliminates a lot of the development needed – which is super sweet!

If you still prefer to do the development (code your own emails), one thing I really like, right within the Lightning email builder, is that you can drop in your code and make sure there are no errors. Test emails right there, across any email client – Outlook, Gmail, and many others.

You’re not having to use another product to test how your email will render once sent to your prospects. I’ve found that it catches a lot of the errors, which is awesome.

Landing pages

I’ve built many landing pages within Pardot since I’ve been using it – and it’s pretty fun. If you can do development you can do all kinds of crazy stuff, one example was the dynamic images we did using Pardot’s dynamic content feature. From a developer’s point of view, the syntax is pretty easy to understand.

For the marketers out there that don’t have much confidence in manipulating code, I think it’s easier for people to jump in and start making changes to landing pages. When I walk through how to make landing pages with the marketing team, usually in 30 minutes they are able to spin up their own landing pages. It’s less painful and much more scalable for our operations.

Reporting & Analytics

Now for the meat of marketing automation: analytics. Our organization is very focused on revenue generation, so it was paramount we could have top-tier reporting.

I’ve split this section into…

  • Reporting on Marketing ROI
  • Reporting on Marketing Activities
  • Multi-touch attribution
  • ‘Slice and dice data’ (B2B Marketing Analytics)

Remember that to set the best foundation for reporting, you’re trying to eliminate data silos as possible (read on, and this will become clearer).

Reporting on Marketing ROI

Comparing Marketo’s Revenue Cycle Modeler to the Pardot Lifecycle report was surprising.

The Revenue Cycle Modeler within Marketo (RCM) is one of its core features. It’s extremely customizable and allows marketers to map out their entire lead to revenue process. The RCM analytics enables marketers to see how many leads are generated and which of those converted, plus their time spent in each stage (velocity reporting). Once you go into Pardot, you have a predefined one that can feel limiting.


The key piece of advice when choosing Pardot is to lean into Salesforce to do ROI reporting. Although Marketo’s “Revenue Cycle” module is superior to Pardot’s equivalent, you can sync data to Salesforce and leverage Salesforce to do all velocity reporting, and to tie together marketing and revenue in Salesforce.

‘Influenced opportunities’ is the key report for us. This is part of Salesforce Campaign Influence and shows the business revenue that our marketing campaigns have influenced.

‘Multi-touch attribution’ enables us to tie back every single one of our marketing campaigns into revenue. This is where Pardot has a winning differentiator against competitors. When you purchase Pardot, Campaign Influence models come ‘out of the box’, which in short, means you get dashboards that show which marketing touchpoint, by campaign, are ultimately driving ROI. It’s all baked in! You’re using the campaign object with Campaign Influence, which means you can reach marketing attribution!

Of all the Campaign Influence models, I really like ‘even touch’ which splits the opportunity amount equally across all the campaigns a prospect engaged with in the buying process.
Not only do you get to see which campaigns are winning revenue for the business, but you also get to start to see what the ideal ‘journey’ of marketing touchpoints are. There could be a typical journey that many prospects have been taking, but is that leading to closed won opportunities?

Reporting on Marketing Activities

Pardot has cool reporting capabilities when it comes to engagement with marketing assets (eg. landing pages, emails) all within Salesforce using Engagement History (point #2).

Anyone who’s not a Marketo power user will come across some friction in getting the reports they need, which will result in many requests for marketing ops/the admin. I’ve seen this most common from management teams; I found it best to have reports where they log in everyday (Salesforce).

With Engagement History, Pardot reporting becomes native to Salesforce reporting, which results in multiple departments gaining visibility into Pardot activity.

Engagement History Dashboards at the lead/contact, or account level, means that anybody with access to those objects can dive in and see all the campaigns they’ve been a member of, and their engagement over time. We’re an account-based focused marketing organization, so the view at the account level is very important to us (which I will dive into more in a later section).

‘Slice and dice data’ (B2B Marketing Analytics)

With B2B Marketing Analytics, you can slice and dice Pardot data any way you want. With other tools, you have to buy an additional product, such as Bizible or CaliberMind. However, this further fragments the reality of what your team wants to look at, and where they need their reports to ‘live’.


While this guide has covered the main differences between Pardot and Marketo that stood out to me, remember that these two B2B marketing automation platforms similar in more ways than they are different, which makes the comparison challenging when you first get started. I hope this guide has given you some helpful insight!

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