Why Use Pardot Form Handlers? Reasons to Connect Third-Party Forms With Pardot

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Pardot Form handlers allow you to integrate an existing form on your website or another platform with Pardot. In the backend of Pardot, you generate a snippet of code that gets pasted into the external form’s code. In this sense, it works in a similar way to a web-to-lead forms. In Pardot, the Form Handler acts as a bucket that will record successful prospect submissions.

Pardot Form Handlers are known to not be the best option when you have Pardot because you miss out on the additional advantages of using Pardot Forms vs. Form Handlers. I certainly advocate using Pardot Forms, especially if you have a ‘cookie-cutter’ setup and requirements.

“Validity”

However, some organisations will find themselves in a situation where they need to leverage Form Handlers. There are use cases for where choosing a Form Handler vs. Pardot Form is the right option. This post will cover 6 of those reasons and the common tools that teams look to integrate with Form Handlers.

Quick Overview of Pardot Form Handlers

Here’s a quick run-down on how Form Handlers work.

Pardot Form handlers allow you to integrate an existing form on your website/another platform with Pardot – as opposed to a Pardot Form, which is hosted by Pardot and embedded on a website (like an external window from Pardot).

Form handlers act as a bucket that will record successful prospect submissions. As a Form Handler can ‘post’ the data to more than one location, multiple systems can have processes running simultaneously, independent of each other. I will come to some examples soon, namely e-commerce and portals.

In the backend of Pardot, you add the fields to the Form Handler which maps them to Pardot fields. Then generate a snippet of code (Form Handler Endpoint URL) that gets pasted into the external form’s code. The Form Handler acts as a bucket that will record successful prospect submissions.

Another key point is that you don’t have to add all the fields on your form to the Form Handler in Pardot. This means that you can capture the data that is relevant/appropriate to have in Pardot, and the rest sent to the other location where it’s required. The best example to illustrate when you would use this is passwords and other sensitive information – let’s take a look.

1. Passwords and Sensitive Information

It’s not a good idea to store passwords or sensitive information such as credit card information in Pardot. Firstly, it’s not necessary. If the password is for a portal, the portal such handle the password/login flow itself, never touching Pardot. The same applies to credit card information for e-commerce payment gateways (eg. Stripe, Paypal). More importantly, there’s no option to encrypt and decrypt data with Pardot.

2. Portals and e-commerce Platforms

I just mentioned both of these in relation to the types of data they are collecting – but it’s not only the type of data but their processes, too.

Taking e-commerce, for example, these platforms will manage the bulk of the transaction: handling the payment, processing the order, fulfilment etc. That end-to-end process needs to happen uninterrupted, and you will need to use the forms that come with your e-commerce solution.

A Form Handler will record what you want to see in Pardot without creating a diversion in the e-commerce process. You will be able to see that a Prospect made an e-commerce purchase, or logged into the portal etc.

3. Uploading Attachments

There’s no way to upload documents or images as attachments with Pardot forms, so you would need to use a third-party platform.

4. Form Interface

Some form builders provide an interactive form fill experience that marketers swoon over. Typeform is the example that springs to my mind because I’ve worked with it in the past.

5. Existing Form Infrastructure

When you migrated to Pardot, there’s a chance you didn’t migrate every asset that you have on your website. When you consider that migrating a gated asset involves recreating the file, form and landing page, the effort can quickly mount up.

One client I worked with had 200+ ebooks and reports on their website, gated by forms built on their CMS. While they waited for their new website project to progress, using Form Handlers became the best middle ground to not disrupt the website while passing data to Pardot.

6. Complex Validation Requirements

Pardot Forms offer some basic data validation, such as number, dropdowns, date, and business email address check (not from a free provider eg. gmail). However, advanced validation will need additional Javascript.

If you prefer to add validation declaratively (not coding), then you may look to other platforms (especially if your organisation has a license for another form platform.

Popular Examples of Third-party Form Platforms

As I mentioned before, the best option is to use Pardot Forms (where you can reap plenty of benefits vs. Form Handlers). However, we’ve just seen the reasons why you may find yourself in a situation where you need to leverage Form Handlers. Here are some of the most popular tools that come up:

  • FormAssembly: a very advanced form platform that covers every data collection you can imagine. Popular with Salesforce customers that need a tight integration with Salesforce, including custom objects.
  • Typeform (for its interactive form fill experience)
  • Uberflip
  • Instapage (as an example of a third-party landing page design tool you may have used previously)
  • BrightTALK
  • Splash
  • WordPress Form Plugins

Summary

Pardot Form Handlers are usually not the best option when you have Pardot, especially if you have a ‘cookie-cutter’ setup and requirements. However, some organisations will find themselves in a situation where they need to leverage Form Handlers. After all, it’s better to have the form integrated with Pardot than not at all! This post covered 6 of those reasons and the common tools that teams look to integrate with Form Handlers when that appears the right option.

4 thoughts on “Why Use Pardot Form Handlers? Reasons to Connect Third-Party Forms With Pardot

    1. Lucy Mazalon

      Hi Melissa, maybe someone needs to send an image of some decor they want for their event to an events management company. They may need to send proof of address/ID to a provider in order to sign up to their service. There are a few more – it’s not as common a requirement as uploading PDFs and documents, but it still comes up occasionally!

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    Hi Lucy, Pardot uses validation for all email addresses (even for the data format ‘Email’) that we want to match so that we can prevent form handler errors before they happen (on the front end). Do you know of any documentation for the validation rules for the various data formats (Email | Email with valid mail server, etc.)?

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