Salesforce Pardot vs. Marketing Cloud: Which Should You Choose?

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If you’re new to Salesforce Marketing Automation, navigating the Salesforce platform’s offering for marketing can be daunting.

As a committed Salesforce customer or keen prospect – you have two options: Pardot or Marketing Cloud.

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You’re not alone! Here are some of the questions I have been asked before:

  • Are they the same?
  • Is Pardot part of Marketing Cloud?
  • Is one the ‘dummies’ / cheap version of the other?

The answer is no to all the above questions is no.

Typing ‘Salesforce marketing automation’ into Google is bound to confuse you even further, seeing a smattering of ‘Pardot’, ‘Marketing Cloud’ and others amongst the results:

I’m going to compare Pardot and Marketing Cloud in a straight-up way, minus the distractions. This post will cover:

  • Main differences
  • Debunking some myths
  • Some questions to ask yourself

By the way…
I don’t intend to simplify your evaluation process. You should not make brash buying decision purely based on these observations. Instead, go into the evaluation with your mind clear on the differences, and what factors you should be considering!

Marketing Cloud

Pardot

 

The Difference Between Pardot and Marketing Cloud

 Pardot Marketing Cloud 
Overarching Difference: B2B Marketing  B2C Marketing
Channels: Email, Social.

 

Email, Social, SMS, display advertising.
Industry: Non-specific. Retail, FMCG, health & beauty,
travel & leisure
Skill level & Skills: WYSIWG
Pardot Specialist Certification.
Flexibility = Complex Configuration
Additional ‘niche’ skills beneficial.
Typical Usage/Keywords: Lead generation, lead scoring,
lead assignment, sales enablement,
email nurture campaigns,
content marketing, webinar marketing
Real-time messaging,
cross-channel marketing,
mobile marketing, social media,
display advertising, e-commerce.
Price: $$ $$$
Place on the Salesforce Platform: Aligned with Sales Cloud It’s own: Marketing Cloud

Overarching Difference

…is that Pardot is suited for B2B Marketing (Business-to-business), whereas Marketing Cloud matches B2C Marketing (Business-to-consumer) needs.

What about B2B2C? you can use either, or both. I know that different teams may look after the different audiences (eg. the ‘Partner Marketing’ team, or ‘Channel Marketing’). However, I’ve worked with big multinational companies using Pardot for B2B2C, with the support of e-commerce platforms integrated with Salesforce.

Channels

  • Pardot: Email, Social.
  • Marketing Cloud: Email, Social, SMS, display advertising.

These are the channels that each product can actively manage, ie. sending/posting to. However, before you draw any conclusions, consider that there are many plugins that help connect Pardot with other marketing channels, for example, the Google Ads connector for Pardot brings Google Ads reporting to the Pardot Prospect record.

Industry

Industries using each product tend to be in line with Salesforce’s product positioning, following a B2B/B2C split. Although Pardot is non-specific, it’s popular with Professional Services where the sales cycle is long and renewals/up-sells play an important role in the pipeline.

Skills & Skill Level

This factor alone can make a decision.

Pardot is designed to be intuitive and user-friendly – ‘what you see is what you get’ (WYSIWYG). Therefore, you can become fairly proficient learning feature-by-feature and with some experience using the product. There are 2 certifications for Pardot – the Pardot Specialist is entry level, designed for marketing power users and ensure you have a solid grounding with Pardot.

Marketing Cloud, on the other hand, is harder to configure. It’s the trade-off for a more flexible marketing platform. Previous marketing automation experience is certainly recommended. Consider additional niche skills, such as AMPScript.
More on this in the ‘Debunking Myths’ section.

Pricing

  • Pardot: simple pricing model
  • Marketing Cloud: relatively higher price point, no public pricing.

Place on the Platform

Despite being marketed under the ‘Marketing Cloud’ brand, Pardot is used in conjunction with Sales Cloud (I have never come across a customer using Pardot without Salesforce Connected). Once you have purchased, implemented and connected Pardot, you will not hear any more about Marketing Cloud!
Marketing Cloud is it’s own ‘cloud’ – its own platform. Other auxiliary Marketing Cloud products include: Advertising Studio, Social Studio, Salesforce DMP. Outside of the core Marketing Cloud product, you can pretty much pick ‘n mix these additional products.

Another cause for confusion is mixing Pardot with auxiliary Marketing Cloud products, namely Advertising Studio and Social Studio. Yes, it is possible to do this, but these Marketing Cloud modules will not be connected directly to Pardot, but instead use Sales Cloud as the intermediary.

Debunking Myths

Here are some of the myths I hear when selling and implementing Pardot:

‘Pardot is a part of Marketing Cloud’:

Being both Marketing Automation tools, it’s forgivable to think that Pardot is a Marketing Cloud product, a module of the whole Marketing Cloud package. It’s not the case: they coexist as two separate products, with different sales, development and support teams. See ‘Place on the Platform’ above for more details.

‘Pardot is an email marketing tool’:

Pardot is not (only) an email marketing tool, offering more than mass mailing. It’s designed to intelligently segment your database, and only send emails when relevant – that’s where you will get value out of the tool, and justify its price tag.

‘Pardot is for organisations with smaller budgets’:

It’s not as simple as that! While it’s true that Pardot has a lower license price point, organisations of all sizes and budget pots use the tool. Companies that get tempted by the price difference, and thereby opt for Pardot on a price factor (vs. Marketing Cloud), may spend more time and money in the long run on customisations and integrations.

‘Pardot is the ‘dummies’ version for when you don’t have technical in-house resource’:

As I mentioned in the ‘Skills & Skill Level’ section, Pardot is WYSIWYG, built in a way to keep users from delving ‘under the hood’; in this way, Pardot is hard to ‘break’. However, to truly maximise Pardot, you do need specialists with both technical marketing skills and strategic campaign mindsets.
When purchasing Marketing Cloud, be prepared to do one of two things: either look externally for Marketing Cloud resource and factor this cost into your budget, or upskill internally (! a steep learning curve for any team members with no previous experience!).

‘It’s a choice between Pardot or Marketing Cloud’:

Not necessarily! Of course, this is something that Salesforce themselves refute, but it’s true – it doesn’t have to be a choice. The obvious reasons why businesses don’t have both are budget and resource strain – but also, simply, they don’t need both to satisfy their sales cycles! Salesforce say that don’t map products to customers; instead, they map their products to a customer’s project.

Questions to Ask

Hopefully, the information so far has started to ‘lift the fog’ and bring clarity to which product would best suit your business. You can ask these questions to further point you in the right direction.

Are you a B2C business?
Yes = use Marketing Cloud

Is your business highly transactional? Or driven by e-commerce?
Yes = use Marketing Cloud

Is your sales process highly influenced by sales representatives, also known as ‘high-touch’?
Yes = use Pardot

Is your sales process managed through Salesforce Opportunities?
Yes = use Pardot

Summary 

Hope you find this information useful. There are plenty of Salesforce consultancies that will be able to advise you further, and least you can go into the evaluation with your mind clear on the differences, and what factors you should be considering.

 

4 thoughts on “Salesforce Pardot vs. Marketing Cloud: Which Should You Choose?

    1. Lucy Mazalon

      In my day job as a Pardot Consultant, I go on contracts that last a few months/quarters at a time to ‘stretch’ Pardot to cater to large companies. I would say, yes it can be, but with solid knowledge of both Pardot and Salesforce (Salesforce will support Pardot a lot in this instance). Not to mention with Business Units for Pardot being released – Pardot consider themselves a serious Enterprise contender and have the Enterprise level customer base to back them up!

  1. Avatar

    I am trying to build a lead scoring structure w/i Marketing Cloud — but am positing that maybe this can’t be done without Pardot connected to Sf. I’m curious if you have any thoughts or resources on Marketing Cloud for B2B lead scoring…thanks!

    1. Lucy Mazalon

      Hi Jared, yep you’re right – Marketing Cloud doesn’t offer that lead scoring capability! But there are 3rd party partners that exist to fill this gap, such as Saleswings. The founder wrote a great post a couple of years back on the topic: How to Implement Lead Scoring and Lead Activity Tracking in Salesforce and Salesforce Marketing Cloud for the B2B Industry https://www.salesforceben.com/how-to-implement-lead-scoring-and-lead-activity-tracking-in-salesforce-and-salesforce-marketing-cloud-for-the-b2b-industry/

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