Segmenting Prospects From Customers in Pardot

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Segmentation is an important part of Marketing Automation, and I bet it’s one of the primary reasons you purchased Pardot – even if you don’t see it immediately.

How do I segment Prospects from Customers in Pardot’ is one of the most frequently asked questions on the Trailblazer Community Chatter Group. Regardless, it often goes unanswered.

Why? Because there are many, many options for how you define a ‘prospect’ vs. a ‘customer’. I’ve seen how it varies from business to business in my time as a consultant. Organisations follow different business models, Salesforce data models, and terminology. It doesn’t help matters when the term ‘prospect’ is used in multiple contexts across Salesforce and Pardot, plus the age-old confusion that prospects can be either Leads or Contacts in Salesforce.

Start asking questions about your CRM, instead of seeking a simple answer from a stranger. It’s up to you to do the groundwork, which I will hopefully lead you through in this post. Hopefully by the end, you will understand it’s not a simple question, or answer.

Step 1: Define ’Customer’

What is a ‘Customer’ to you?

Without getting this straight, you risk missing out large segments of your true customer database.

Now, I’m not talking about buyer personas or ideal customer profile mapping etc. What I am referring to is how ‘customer’ records are stored in Salesforce.

There’s an organisation called ‘DRIP Ventures’. Let’s assume that they use Salesforce in a neat, cookie-cutter way that Salesforce imagined when they developed their out-of-the-box product.

  • A new Prospect is captured with a Pardot form. A Pardot Prospect is created.
  • The Pardot Prospect is assigned to a user. It syncs to Salesforce, a Lead record is created.
  • The Lead is converted into a Contact. An Opportunity is also created (optional).
  • The Contact is now associated to an Account. The Account ’type’ field is set to ‘Prospect’ as default.
  • The Opportunity is ‘closed won’. The Account ’type’ field is changed to ‘Customer’ as a result.

I find it’s much easier to work backwards asking first what defines a customer data-wise, then segmenting ‘prospects’ from there.

A customer could be:

  • A contact associated to an Account, where the Account ’type’ field is ‘Customer’
  • A contact associated to a ‘closed won’ Opportunity as a Contact Role (ie. showing they had an active participation/influence in that opportunity).
  • A contact associated to an Account, with an active Contract/Asset

Typically, organisations opt for #1 to keep things simpler, but if you are targeting large organisations with many departments (and especially if you are identifying ‘whitespace’), then #2 is your definition. Some businesses with subscription-based products or services will need to dive deeper into option #3.

Step 2: Define ’Prospect’

As I mentioned, I find it’s much easier to work backwards by defining a customer first, then segmenting the remainder ‘prospects’ from there.

You will be left with a number of sub-groups that could all be classified as ‘Prospects’; it’s then up to you which fits your organisation’s definition of a Prospect.

  • A ‘Prospect’ record in Pardot, at the very top of the Lead funnel, not ready the lead qualification cycle just yet.
  • (All the above) + Lead records
  • (All the above) + Contact records, where the Account ’type’ field is ‘Prospect’
  • (All the above) + Contact records, where the Account ’type’ field is ‘Customer’, but are not related to a ‘closed won’ Opportunity.

Step 3: Define Customer Segmentation Criteria

For the purposes of this post, I am going to use Pardot segmentation tools (Dynamic Lists/Automation Rules) to run the data segmentation.

Side note: You will know by this point if your definition of customer is more complicated (ie. active Contracts/Assets with subscription-based products or services); if this applies to you, it’s highly likely you will run into limitations using Pardot segmentation, and will end up using Salesforce reports to filter data.

DescriptionCriteria nameField Value
A contact associated to an Account, where the Account ’type’ field is ‘Customer’Prospect account field -- Type -- is --‘Customer’ (or similar)
A contact associated to a ‘closed won’ Opportunity as a Contact Role Prospect opportunity status -- Opportunity Won

This is how it will look in Pardot, when you build your Dynamic List (Step #5):

Step 4: Define Prospect Segmentation Criteria

Same as step #3, but for Prospects:

DescriptionCriteria nameField Value
A ‘Prospect' record in Pardot (at the very top of the Lead funnel, not ready the lead qualification cycle. No Salesforce record).Prospect assignment status -- is not assigned
Lead recordsProspect CRM status -- is --Lead
Contact records, where the Account ’type’ field is ‘Prospect’Prospect account field -- Type -- is --‘Prospect’ (or similar)
Contact records, where the Account ’type’ field is ‘Customer’, but are not related to a ‘closed won’ Opportunity - the simplest! Prospect opportunity -- not related toOpportunity

Step 5: Build the Dynamic List

In the example screenshots, I included all the criteria mentioned throughout the post, but you should pick and choose which are relevant to you.

 

! Read up on rule groups and match types with Dynamic Lists!

Tips

! Keep it simple: instead of building vast lists of what you do want included, how about you reverse the logic and define what you want excluded instead? For finding Prospects, you could simply exclude your customer criteria (ie. using ‘is not’ instead of ‘is).

! Core Lists: to keep the definition water-tight across the whole marketing team (and beyond), set up template dynamic lists for other users to leverage. They can copy them and add further criteria to segment further, eg. by a specific industry.

Summary

‘How do I segment Prospects from Customers in Pardot’ is one of the most frequently asked questions, but it often goes unanswered because there are many, many options for how you define a ‘prospect’ vs. A ‘customer’.

Hopefully, this post has lead you through the questions you should start asking about your CRM, instead of seeking a simple answer from a stranger. It’s up to you to do the groundwork!

2 thoughts on “Segmenting Prospects From Customers in Pardot

  1. Hi – one questions – but first, i find the Drip very useful – so thank you.

    In your dynamic list example above you have used “And” as the operator (you are looking for prospects that are not assigned AND that are leads AND that have account type = Prospect…) my understanding is that this would get you Zero results – and to get results a combination of AND and OR logic would be needed – please clarify and the example seems incorrect to get the results you are indicating.

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