Salesforce Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (formerly Pardot) is a go-to choice for Salesforce customers looking for a B2B marketing automation tool. Not only is it tightly integrated into Salesforce’s core objects, Pardot’s reasonable price point makes it accessible to many organizations, and is appealing to new users as an intuitive tool with a minimal learning curve.
In April 2022, Pardot was renamed to Marketing Cloud Account Engagement; throughout this guide, I will refer to the tool as “Pardot/MCAE”.
While working as a Pardot/Salesforce Consultant, I was geared up to answer questions about Pardot/MCAE – what I noticed, is that the same questions were asked by marketing or IT professionals who were curious about Pardot/MCAE. That’s why I’ve compiled answers to the most frequently asked Pardot questions, explained by someone who has “on the ground” experience.
What is Pardot and how does it work?
Pardot is a marketing automation solution that enables marketers to identify prospective customers that are most likely to convert. Marketers discover this by communicating with prospects in the right way, at the right time. Marketing automation aims to treat each prospect as an individual, as they make their way through getting familiar with your product or service, at their own pace.
Pardot/MCAE works by leveraging:
- What you know about a prospect: the data they’ve submitted through forms, data from your Salesforce CRM, or other platforms.
- What the prospect does: how they interact with your digital marketing assets, such as your website, social media presence, or offline interactions.
What is Pardot used for?
Depending on the type of business, Pardot/MCAE can be used for some (or all) of the following:
- Email marketing: one-off emails to lists of prospects, automated email journeys. Email automation can be based on specific actions, triggers, or ‘wait’ periods. This is suited especially well to lead nurturing.
- Forms: capture data from new prospects, or enrich existing prospect records (also, you can specifically request data for the blank fields on the prospect’s record)
- Engagement History: compile a log of all activity prospects make across your online assets (website, landing pages, etc).
- Segmentation: multiple options are available to split your prospect database into audiences for more targeted marketing.
- Scoring: score prospects based on their engagement behavior.
- Grading: grade prospects based on how closely their data aligns with your ideal customer profile (demographic and/or firmographic data).
- Lead qualification: Pardot score and grade combined identifies prospects your sales team should focus on.
- Social media marketing: post to LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook – then track post engagement. If a prospect is known and tracked in your Pardot database, activity will appear on their Engagement History.
- Search marketing: add keywords to track, view keyword SEO metrics, track competitor SEO performance.
- Marketing analytics: report on campaign performance, and marketing influenced pipeline (with Campaign Influence).
- Multi-channel marketing: thanks to Salesforce’s expansive marketing product suite, Able to link it with others, such as digital advertising (eg Google Ads), advanced website analytics (eg. GA)
What is the difference between Pardot and Salesforce?
Salesforce is the central hub for all customer interactions. This means that not only are the bulk of sales and service interactions happening in Salesforce, but integrated systems also feed information into Salesforce – all to form a single, comprehensive view on what’s happening.
Pardot is a marketing automation solution that is an add-on to Salesforce’s core platform. This tool acts as a middleman between unknown visitors (who have been captured and converted to known prospects), and your Salesforce CRM. You could say that Pardot protects your CRM from prospects that are not indicating they are ‘ready to buy’.
Salesforce takes care of lead and opportunity lifecycles, account and contact data, support case management, etc., and for this reason, is mostly geared towards salespeople. Pardot takes care of email marketing, prospect data capture, prospect behavior tracking and scoring, etc. so, it’s geared towards marketers.
How does Pardot work with Salesforce?
Pardot and Salesforce work closely together to leverage all of the data the two platforms gather. While you hear that “Pardot works closely with Salesforce”, here are some specific examples:
- Bidirectional data sync: thanks to the Salesforce-Pardot connector, Pardot data is synced to Salesforce and vice versa. The two platforms exchange multiple types of data. In a typical organization’s setup, Pardot gives Salesforce new lead information and engagement data, whereas Salesforce feeds Pardot with all that the sales teams are doing – whether leads are qualified/disqualified, how opportunities are progressing, and which products or services the prospect purchased.
Most organizations’ funnels are split neatly into ‘top of funnel’, ‘middle’, and ‘bottom of funnel’.
- Top of funnel: attract and acquire leads using tactics that will drive traffic to your website (SEO, PPC, social media, content marketing.
- Middle of funnel: engage, nurture and qualify leads using tactics that will get the data you need to qualify prospects.
- Bottom of funnel: Opportunity lifecycle, where the deal goes through multiple stages in the run up to becoming a new customer.
Traditionally, each team would typically play a distinct role with little overlap (left funnel); however, the funnel is now more blurred, where the marketing team supports further down the funnel (right funnel).
How is this possible? Marketing automation solutions with solid CRM connectors, like Pardot, can feed data on Opportunity progress or stagnation to send prospects on automated marketing journeys.
Plus, it doesn’t stop at the bottom of funnel! Marketing can go beyond, influencing renewals, upsell opportunities, or cancellation.
Is Pardot owned by Salesforce?
Yes, Pardot is owned by Salesforce. Salesforce acquired Pardot in 2013 as part of the $2.5B ExactTarget acquisition, now Salesforce Marketing Cloud (Pardot had been purchased by ExactTarget the previous year).
Salesforce made the decision to retire all Pardot connectors to other CRMs, in order to double-down on the Salesforce-Pardot connector.
Pardot is part of Salesforce due to the acquisition, but also the Pardot Lightning App.
Can Pardot be used for B2C?
Pardot was known as a B2B marketing automation solution for many years before Salesforce amended the messaging. As I mentioned in the previous answer, Pardot is best suited for organizations that have a “considered” sales cycle – which tends to be related to B2B sales – but is not exclusively B2B.
Here is a list of some Pardot customers.
Yes, Pardot can be used for B2C marketing. If B2C marketers have a high-value product or service, with a “considered” sales cycle, then they will gain value. I’ve worked with B2C organizations that have used Pardot successfully because they tick the criteria I just listed.
- Read more: Pardot vs Marketing Cloud: Key Differences
Is Pardot similar to MailChimp?
From the outside, Pardot and Mailchimp appear to have little difference. However, if you have used both tools, you will quickly get to know where they shine. Even though I made a living through Pardot consulting, I have always used MailChimp at The DRIP/Salesforceben.com.
The main differences are:
- How the connection to Salesforce works. The Pardot connector ‘talks to’ more objects, and the sync is reportedly more reliable than with the MailChimp connector.
- Analytics: MailChimp and Pardot used to be on par when it came to reporting on marketing activity; however, Pardot has surpassed this with educating their customers on Salesforce Campaign Influence, plus, releasing Engagement History and B2B Marketing Analytics.
- Segmentation: the way MailChimp works is by first creating audiences, then segmenting into groups, and tags. This means that each audience is distinct, but a contact can exist in multiple audiences (with multiple, unlinked records). Pardot, on the other hand, works as one database, where you can segment into multiple lists (like audiences) without duplicating the record.
- Unique Identifier: Pardot uses CRM ID (Salesforce Lead/Contact ID) whereas MailChimp uses email address, like most marketing automation platforms. This means that if there are two Lead records in Salesforce with the same email address for a reason (ie. deliberately duplicated) then only the first record would be acknowledged by Mailchimp (the rest considered duplicates).
- MailChimp has a generous freemium version and easy e-commerce plugins.
Read more: Pardot vs. MailChimp
Is HubSpot better than Pardot?
Is HubSpot better than Pardot?
A very tough question! When it comes to HubSpot versus Pardot each platform has its own strengths. Both organizations are innovating at speed, and comparisons become outdated with each release cycle. Yes, you can read opinions with websites like G2 and Capterra, however, here is my take.
- HubSpot has a reputation for shining at ‘top of funnel’ marketing, especially acing inbound marketing.
- Pardot focuses on sales enablement and customer journeys involving considered purchases (ie. ones that involve a sales rep).
Pardot is limited in terms of out-of-the-box integrations, but it does have some connectors. Marketing App Extensions were brought in to serve up activity data from integrations like any activity data (plus, you should tap into the Salesforce platform for much more integration capabilities which can, in turn, pass data to Pardot). HubSpot integrates with many third-party tools using connectors; their “plug-in-and-play” partner ecosystem has been a priority for them in their growth strategy.
How can I learn Pardot?
There are plenty of ways to learn Pardot including self-guided learning, instructor-led training, and official certifications that are globally recognized credentials.
Options for free Pardot training include:
- Trailhead: the first stop for anyone who wants to learn Salesforce. Pardot Trailhead trails include: Pardot Lightning App Basics, Pardot Email Sending, Pardot Email Marketing, Pardot Engagement Studio for Pardot Lightning App (and many more!)
- Pardot Bootcamps: Bootcamps are community-organized events where Pardot experts share what they know about a specific section of the certification exam guide (Pardot Specialist, Pardot Consultant). I really enjoyed presenting on the “Evaluation” section of the Pardot Consultant certification guide; I found it challenging as it’s the hardest section to study for (ie. it’s very broad). Everyone who presents on the bootcamps offers snippets from their own experiences that are immensely valuable to your long-term career.
- Pardot blogs: these sites offer insights that go into specific use cases or organizational pain points you may encounter. There’s The DRIP, The Spot for Pardot (and many more!)