Introduction to Pardot Tracker Domains and Vanity URLs

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Tracker domains enable any landing pages, forms, and files hosted in Pardot (renamed Marketing Cloud Account Engagement) i.e. that you create there to have links that appear as your own brand – without compromising on the prospect activity tracking that Pardot-hosted assets provide.

Vanity URLs take this one step further enabling you to write your asset URLs to your liking (ie. the piece of the link after the ‘/’).

Every marketers’ goal is to create a seamless transition between assets for prospects, which tracker domains (and vanity URLs) help to achieve.

With the new security implications around tracker domains and enhancements now available, I thought it would be a prime opportunity to refresh what tracker domains are, what purpose they serve and how they relate to vanity URLs.

What is a Tracker Domain in Pardot?

Every Pardot (Marketing Cloud Account Engagement) account comes with a default tracker domain: go.pardot.com.

In a fresh Pardot account, if you create a marketing asset, (eg. a Pardot form) the link generated would look something like: go.pardot.com/XYZ/ABC.

The purpose of tracker domains – you guessed it – is to track engagement (prospect activity) on assets. Pardot is able to tie that specific prospect’s engagement with the specific asset (that’s how the reports are produced!)

Back to the form I created above, using the default go.pardot.com. It would be problematic if everyone had to use the default go.pardot.com domain. Likely, it would lead to prospects not trusting the marketing assets they are interacting with actually belong to you (go.pardot.com being unfamiliar).

I’ve mentioned that go.pardot.com is the “default”, which will be the only option available to you unless you set up a custom tracker domain.

What is a Custom Tracker Domain in Pardot?

A custom tracker domain is a variation of your own website domain – like an alias. I describe it an alias because the marketing assets you create in Pardot, are still hosted by Pardot – their URL makes them appear as hosted by your own brand.

If The DRIP wanted to set up a tracker domain for any Pardot-hosted content we had, we would consider using one of the popular formats below:

  • go.thedrip.tech
  • www2.thedrip.tech
  • info.thedrip.tech

Just to recap the benefits of using a custom tracker domain/s:

  • Credibility (a trustworthy link).
  • ‘Seamless transition’ from your hosted pages to Pardot-hosted assets.
  • Able to use vanity URLs (we’ll get to that later!)
  • Avoids interfering negatively with your website’s SEO ranking.

 

Do you have a custom tracker domain set up?

With the new Pardot security enhancements, having a custom tracker domain has gone from ‘vanity’ to essential.

I will outline a more “technical” setup process later in the guide – these questions are for you to discover any tracker domains in place already.

  • Navigate to: Pardot Settings → Domain Management

This is the hub for tracker domains, and email authentication (Pardot SPF and DKIM). Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Do you have a custom tracker domain set up? This means that in the Tracker Domains list, you will see more than just go.pardot.com.


2. Is your custom tracker domain set as primary? This is indicated in the first column on the tracker domain list; you’ll see a “PRIMARY” label by that selected domain.

To select a new primary domain: click on the cog icon → Set as primary (this will replace the previous primary domain).
Now, whenever you/your team go to create a new asset, the primary domain will be automatically selected as the domain that should “serve” this content.

Although one is selected automatically, you can change it*. Using the selector on any asset means you can choose any validated tracker domains in your “Domain Management” section. The tracker domain in use is shown clearly on the overview screen.

*Previously, all marketing assets had to use the tracker domain set as ‘primary’ which caused challenges for marketers managing multiple brands in one Pardot account!

Pardot Tracker Domain Setup

The first thing to note – this is an advanced topic that I’m not going to cover in full detail in this guide. Instead, I will describe the steps high-level, and point to the best resource that you, or your website team, can use.

  1. Access Domain Management (Pardot Settings → Domain Management).
  2. Click + Add Tracker Domain and fill in your desired tracker domain, the variation of your main website domain (examples bullet-pointed previously, image below).
  3. Then you will need to find who’s responsible for managing your website domain (access to the hosting panel). This person will need to add records (DNS) to the domain. This will “point” to go.pardot.com.
  4. After those records are added to the domain, in Pardot, click on the cog icon, then validate. You could wait up to 24 hours for these to propagate. This is when the ‘fun’ (frustration) troubleshooting begins if the validation doesn’t work after 24 hours.
  5. Once validated, remember to set the tracker domain as “Primary” (using the cog icon) if it’s the one that will be used most often for marketing assets.

The official documentation will be the best resource for you, or your website team, to use during this setup. 

What are Vanity URLs in Pardot?

You can think of vanity URLs as extended use of tracker domains. Vanity URLs enables you to write the endings to your asset URLs, ie. the piece of the link after the ‘/’ for example, go.thedrip.tech/contactus

Note: you must have set up tracker domains (the technical CNAME configuration outlined above) before you can take advantage of vanity URLs.

 

Summary

Every marketers’ goal is to create a seamless transition between assets, which tracker domains (and vanity URLs) achieve.

With the new security implications around tracker domains and enhancements now available, it’s a prime opportunity for you to check out what tracker domains you have set up in your Pardot account, which is set to primary, and which of your assets could use a vanity URL to improve their look.

10 thoughts on “Introduction to Pardot Tracker Domains and Vanity URLs

  1. What about custom URLs to track opens to a landing page? In Hubspot we could create custom tracking URLs. I have a landing page in Pardot that I want to use for multiple sources, but I want to be able to know how many came from an email, 3rd party paid, etc. Suggestions?

    1. I think the equivalent feature you’re looking for are Custom redirects (aka. Marketing Links). Hav you recently moved over from Hubspot?

  2. Our company will stop using Pardot soon in favor of Sales Force Marketing Cloud. Couldn’t we take over hosting and set up directs from Pardot URLs to SFMC URLs?

    1. Thank you Sarah!

      Sorry, I’m unable to replicate what you’re seeing, however, I think I can add some colour. Are you using connected campaigns?

      As you likely know, Pardot comes out-of-the-box with a “Website Tracking” campaign. The tracking code will attribute visitors to that campaign. Personally, I’ve never used the setting in question (with any of my clients).

      I can do some more digging on your behalf as the documentation is sparse 🙂

  3. This is much better documentation than Pardot. I love this blog.. Could you please let me know if Pardot have any inbuilt functionality for the below requirement.
    1. Does Pardot have built in functionality to generate one time links to files?

    1. Hi Harry,

      Thank you for the positive feedback, really appreciate it.
      It depends what you need the unique link for. If it’s in an email, then the links are automatically rewritten to be unique to each prospect. If it’s for a landing page, I would use custom redirects – while they won’t be rewritten per prospect, Pardot will track clicks to the prospect record.
      https://www.salesforceben.com/the-drip/pardot-custom-redirects-marketing-links/

      You could also explore utm tracking:
      https://www.salesforceben.com/the-drip/lets-talk-about-salesforce-lead-source/
      https://www.salesforceben.com/the-drip/how-to-attribute-utm-parameters-to-salesforce-campaigns/

      That’s all I can think of at this stage!

      Thanks,
      Lucy

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