What are Pardot Business Units? An Overview [Updated]

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Pardot Business Units are separate databases within a single Pardot account that allow you to partition prospects, campaigns and assets. A common example is an enterprise organisations that serves multiple geographies.

With strong competition from players such as Marketo “Partitions” and “Workspaces”, Pardot strived forward to fulfil the needs of enterprise-level B2B marketers, who have multiple teams that serve a different purpose or client base to the rest of the teams in the group.

I’ve been working with Pardot now for 2+ years, which includes 10+ Pardot implementations. I have implemented Pardot Business Units (BUs). Using what I’ve learned so far, I’m going to share what Business Units in Pardot are, how they work, and what you should do to get the most out of them.

What are Pardot Business Units?

Pardot Business Units are separate databases within a Pardot account that allow Pardot customers to partition their prospects, campaigns and assets. A common example is an enterprise organisations that serves multiple geographies.

Typically, each region would have it’s own assets, it’s own subscribers and own way of working, which makes sense to keep it separate from the other regions within the group. What each region doesn’t want is to share assets unnecessarily with other regions.

This structure doesn’t have to be geographic – other organisations use Business Units to partition Pardot by product line (example: Apple with iPhones vs iPads) or by brands in your group (example: Volkswagen vs Audi).

Why You Should Use Pardot Business Units

  • Restrict access to prospect data: Before Pardot Business Units, anyone who had access to Pardot (with user role other than Sales), had access to all the prospect records.
  • Eliminates selective sharing rules: Marketing Data Sharing criteria eliminates the need for Consultants/Pardot Admins to set the Salesforce Organisation-wide Sharing settings (Org-wide Default) to private, just so they could then open up particular records to the Connector User using Sharing Rules (more detail later in the guide).
  • Pardot Business Unit Switcher: Navigate between BUs without having to login and out of individual Pardot accounts (more detail later in the guide).
  • Multiple Email Sending Domains: use multiple email sending domains and Tracker domains across their BUs. Whilst you need to set a Primary CNAME, the additional CNAMEs will be available as an option when creating new assets; therefore, regions can have their own, unique branding.

How do Pardot Business Units Work?

We know that Business Units give each ‘team’ their own area of Pardot. What does this mean in practice? Each Business Unit comes with it’s own:

  • Tracker and email sending domains (it’s possible to share email sending domains with other units),
    Reports,
  • Assets: files and images,
  • Prospect database,
  • Account limits, such as the number of Automation Rules and forms you can have.

When using the Lightning Email Builder to create these assets, they can be saved to a shared folder for all Business Units to access. This centralised repository will keep teams aligned to the organisation’s core branding and messaging, not having tore-creating similar assets, and keeping engagement reporting assigned to the single asset.

Marketing Data Sharing Rules

Marketing Data Sharing rules define the criteria for which Business Unit should receive which prospects (via the Salesforce-Pardot connector) – in other words, to restrict the data syncing to each Pardot Business Unit.

Navigate to: Pardot Settings → Salesforce connector. Here is the tab “Marketing Data Sharing”.

I suggest keeping criteria simple. Picklist fields are a good idea because with defined values, they keep segmentation tight, with very little room for error, such as using a text field that could have a misspelt value.

It’s worth noting that the field you choose can’t be mapped to a field in Pardot.

Moving Prospects Between Business Units

The field included in the criteria ultimately controls where that prospect belongs, even after they’ve been assigned to a Business Unit. For example, if you’ve incorrectly assigned someone to EMEA, and then change the field value to be APAC, you’ll archive them in the EMEA Business Unit and they’ll appear as a prospect in APAC.

Pardot Business Unit Switcher

How do I know which Business Unit I’m in?

Admins or Marketing Managers will have the ability to use the Business Unit Switcher in the account settings in Pardot to navigate from one Business Unit to another:

How to Find the Pardot Business Unit ID

Each Pardot Business Unit has its own 18 digit CRM ID (much like anything else in Salesforce). If you are a System Admin (Pardot Administrator), you can find the ID for each Business Unit by navigating to:

Salesforce Setup → Pardot Account Setup. Next to each Business Unit, you will find the ID as shown in the image below:

Business Units Prerequisites

There are a few product requirements that need to be in place before you can use Pardot Business Units:

  • Uses the connector v2.
  • You need use the Pardot Lightning App.
  • Business Units are available for Pardot Advanced & Premium edition customers only.

Considerations For Using Pardot Business Units

  • Marketing Data Sharing: It’s best practice to create a custom picklist field specifically for defining Pardot Business Units criteria, on the objects for records you will to sync across (such as Leads or Contacts).
  • Connected Campaigns: Create campaign record types in Salesforce that are unique to each Business Unit. In the settings of the Business Unit (under “campaigns”), ensure this record type is selected so there’s no campaign overlap with other units.
  • Tracker Domains: These must be unique to each Business Unit.
  • Lead and Contact sync behaviour: Default model is a lead or contact will sync with a single prospect record and, ultimately, the Business Unit they are in. You can configure the setup in a way for Lead and Contacts to exist in more than one but you need to think about whether this is the correct setup, before enabling.

How to Plan for Business Units

It’s important to plan…and plan some more!

The Marketing Data Sharing setting has no two-step verification process. What I mean by this is that when a Lead/Contact records meets the criteria, they will be synced to the Business Unit. This cannot be reversed, so make sure the data that you are basing the syncing rules on is correct.

Other reasons why planning is essential are…

Summary

With Pardot Business Units, enterprise organisations are now able to partition a single Pardot instance in the ways their individual teams go to market. Any Salesforce partners can take the Pardot Business partner accreditation, which is a great way to verify your knowledge.

This does need careful planning and consideration to get right. If you need help, support and guidance, don’t worry, we’re here to help and we would love to hear from you. Reach out to the team at MarCloud and we’d be happy to share with you how we’ve done this for other clients and set you on the path to Business Unit Success!

8 thoughts on “What are Pardot Business Units? An Overview [Updated]

  1. Hi John,

    Thank you very much for such an informative article.

    I have a question as follows: “Can we specify more than 1 criteria(suppose 2 or 3 fields) on the Lead/Contact Object while configuring the Marketing Data Sharing Rule?” or for such requirements do we need to go with the older route where we set the OWD to private and then using sharing rule open it up.

    Thanks in Advance.

    Regards,
    Satish Roy

    1. Hello Satish,

      Its not possible to specify more than one field in Marketing data sharing rule. However, you can have a logic to populate single field based on other multiple fields and then use this single field in MDS

  2. Hi John,

    This is a great article.

    I was playing around with my new Pardot demo account and accidentally assigned the same user for another BU and now I am not able to login to classic interface using “Login With Salesforce” button. How can I get that option back? Is there any way I can get back into this classic interface?

    Thanks,
    Jithesh

  3. Small change requests
    1 – Pardot Business Units are available in Pardot Advanced & Premium Editions. Premium was released in Summer 2020 after this was published.
    2 – Limitations – There’s a new connector setting released in Spring ’21 aimed at allowing customers to mitigate lead/contact duplication. This requires custom configuration and has considerations. I’d recommend working with a partner for any Pardot Business Unit implementation, especially if you’re considering customizing the configuration with this single lead/contact/person account across business units.

  4. Giancarlo Silvestri

    Reply

    Just a quick note on the limitation “The BU name in Salesforce cannot be changed”

    From Spring 21′ release notes:

    Company Field in Pardot Dictates Business Unit Name in Pardot Account Setup

    To avoid confusion, the Company name field in Pardot settings now acts as the source of truth for a given Pardot business unit. If there’s a conflict with the business unit name in Salesforce setup, the Company name field in Pardot overwrites the name in Salesforce. Previously, a business unit could have a different name in Salesforce than in Pardot.

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