A surprise lay in wait for the Salesforce marketing community. News broke in April 2022 that a set of Marketing Cloud products were receiving a new name – including the much-loved Pardot.
Pardot was renamed Marketing Cloud Account Engagement in line with the move to make Salesforce’s ballooning product suite easier to understand, and also to make Salesforce’s marketing products more cohesive. The motivations are valid – they make sense from a commercial standpoint – but does this mean that Pardot will become part of Marketing Cloud?
A name is one thing but there are countless other factors that determine whether two products can be mashed together, including how the product is:
- Designed (its data architecture)
- Used (ideal use cases)
- Licensed (how it’s sold)
- Implemented and administered (the specialist skills required)
We’ll touch on each of these in this guide, as well as discussing why we should never forget history.
Note: What you’re about to read is my opinions and speculation.
Why Marketing Cloud’s History Matters
Salesforce Marketing Cloud (formerly ExactTarget) and Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (formerly Pardot) have both been standalone platforms, in their own right.
This is because Salesforce acquired both ExactTarget and Pardot – yet neither were Salesforce-native. (You have to give it to Salesforce, though, for scooping up a couple of fantastic front-runners!)
ExactTarget (which became Salesforce Marketing Cloud) and Pardot both remained independent from the core Salesforce platform. Data sync happens via connectors (i.e. pre-built integrations) namely Marketing Cloud Connect and the Salesforce Connector for Pardot.
1. How SFMC Account Engagement is Designed
Moving Pardot (SFMC Account Engagement) or Marketing Cloud onto the core platform would be a challenging venture for a number of reasons. You could think of it as mashing together two infrastructures, each with their own objects, automation, field behavior, user Interface, and codebase.
As I mentioned, Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot both remained independent from the core Salesforce platform, with data sync happening via connectors.
Over the past few years, however, Pardot has been moving across to the core Salesforce platform, piece by piece.
There are now Pardot objects that are spread over both Salesforce and Pardot. This is known as object alignment. For example, Salesforce and Pardot use the same Campaign record, Email, Landing Page, and User records – in other words, create the record in one place (Salesforce) and use it in another place (Pardot).
This makes sense, as the way Pardot is used means that it needs to hook into more Salesforce objects than Marketing Cloud, for example, Salesforce Opportunities.
As Pardot is moving towards the core Salesforce platform, my guess is that it won’t be going in the direction of the standalone Marketing Cloud platform. Having said that, Salesforce have continually expressed that Pardot can be used with Marketing Cloud products, such as Advertising (formerly Advertising Studio).
Product combinations like this are still only possible through the use of connectors. Pardot to Marketing Cloud products connections are possible via Sales Cloud, i.e. Pardot → Salesforce Connector for Pardot → Marketing Cloud Connect → [Destination Marketing Cloud module]
Obviously, Salesforce want to offer customers multi-channel marketing capabilities, but I can’t see a future where Pardot’s functionality is moved to the Marketing Cloud platform, even if it would be a smoother admin/data experience when using combinations of marketing products.
Finally, there were rumors circulating that Salesforce plan to rebuild the Marketing Cloud platform to better underpin all of its acquired technologies. We shall have to wait and see what unfolds.
2. How SFMC Account Engagement is Used
Pardot (SFMC Account Engagement) is used for ‘considered purchases’ where there are long sales cycles and multiple decision-makers. That’s why Pardot is considered a B2B marketing tool.
Marketing Cloud is best suited to transactional purchases across multiple marketing channels. That’s why Marketing Cloud is considered a B2C marketing tool.
While you can use Pardot for B2C marketing, it’s less common. You don’t want to ‘shoehorn’ processes that should be handled by the other platform into the less suitable platform.
3. How SFMC Account Engagement is Licensed
Pardot (SFMC Account Engagement) and Marketing Cloud are sold separately. Pardot has three editions, whereas Marketing Cloud pricing is broken down into five separate bundles (which encompass 20+ “builders” and “studios”).
You can purchase both Marketing Cloud and Pardot, and use them together. The main reason why this isn’t common is budget restrictions (it gets expensive, quickly!)
4. How SFMC Account Engagement is Implemented and Administered
Pardot (SFMC Account Engagement) and Marketing Cloud require specialist skill sets to set up and maintain. While there are professionals out there who are proficient in both, it’s not common.
Learning both technologies (and keeping your knowledge up to date) is a big ask. Especially Marketing Cloud, with its sprawling modules and complexity. It makes more sense for a Pardot specialist to learn Salesforce Sales Cloud to be able to work more effectively with the aligned objects and support the typical Pardot use cases.
Plus, there are multiple roles within each technology – for example, within Marketing Cloud you will find Marketing Cloud Consultants, Marketing Cloud Developers, and more.
There are different certification paths for Pardot and Marketing Cloud, which proves how extensive one’s knowledge must be to truly master either technology.
This guide has been my thoughts and speculation. Pardot was renamed Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, in line with the move to make Salesforce’s marketing products more cohesive. Sure, the names make sense from a commercial standpoint but that doesn’t mean that Pardot will become part of Marketing Cloud. A few reasons include the way it’s designed (its data architecture), how it’s used (ideal use cases, how it’s licensed, and least but not least, specialist skills required to implement and administer.
Whether Pardot becomes a part of Marketing Cloud goes beyond will go beyond just slapping on a name, and wishing for cohesiveness. I have no doubts that there are exciting developments that the Salesforce engineering teams are cooking up that we don’t know about. We’ll have to wait and see…
Meanwhile, I wanted to impart what context I have to those who may have been confused by Pardot’s name change (to Marketing Cloud Account Engagement), I do not work for Salesforce (and I don’t have an insight into their roadmap, either).