Pardot review: Top takeaways
To add some confusion to your life, I wanted to share that Pardot has a different name. It is now Marketing Cloud Account Engagement.
The rebrand hasn’t affected the existing features, login or pricing tiers of Pardot. The changes are more related to the Pardot branding and product positioning.
This change brings several positives and some drawbacks. As someone with a soft spot for the snappy, two-syllable name – Pardot – I’ve been slow to adjust. (Transitions can be hard.)
Pardot/Marketing Cloud Account Engagement makes digital marketing easy, letting you segment your audience, send emails, create forms, build landing pages and design automated email series. It has robust, user-friendly features for drip campaigns and integrates closely with Salesforce CRM. (Fun fact: Pardot is Latvian for “to market,” – apt for a marketing automation platform geared towards B2B.)
Pardot’s default email and landing page templates look a little outdated, and they often require HTML skills to customize. Their support resources can be limited in detail and engaging with their technical support can take time.
My two cents:
In my experience as a Pardot consultant, I’ve learned the good and the bad. Pardot is a good fit for B2B organizations or nonprofits using Salesforce CRM. Since acquiring Pardot in 2013, Salesforce has worked to closely align it with their CRM, but investing in Salesforce can be costly.
If you’re using a different CRM, have a limited budget, or have simple needs for digital marketing, Pardot may not be the right platform. On the other hand, if you already have a complex workflow between an existing automation platform and your CRM, I wouldn’t recommend this one either. Choosing the right tool depends on your needs, budget and goals.
Easy like Sunday morning? Pardot ease of use
The good: User interface & navigation
In 2018, Pardot released its Lightning App (ooooh…lightning). The Lightning App can be accessed from within Salesforce CRM. But don’t worry, the Classic version of Pardot is still available if you’re not ready to let go just yet.
Your experience navigating Pardot changes whether you use the Lightning App or Pardot Classic. The Lightning App organizes features into tabs along the top of the screen (e.g., Content, Automations, Prospects). Within each tab, there are subcategories on the left side of the screen. If you use Salesforce CRM, this will be a smooth transition as the interfaces are alike.
Pardot Classic organizes all features within a menu on the left side of the screen. It can take some time to get used to finding certain features (like remembering to look under Marketing > Segmentation > Lists for Dynamic Lists). But, in my experience, after some practice, you can navigate around the Pardot interface with ease.
The good: Integrations
As mentioned, Salesforce and Pardot share a strong integration. When syncing Prospects, Pardot lets you “use Salesforce’s active assignment rules.” If you have lead assignment rules in Salesforce, Pardot references them when assigning new Leads (handy!). You can also sync custom objects with Pardot. (Note: This is included in the Advanced and Premium tiers. It can be purchased as an add-on in Plus.)
If you use custom objects in the CRM, you can leverage these for audience segmentation and triggering automation. This is helpful because a lot of other CRMs make custom objects tricky, so if you use custom objects for your processes and workflows, syncing them to other platforms can be a challenge.
A recently-added feature, Connected Campaigns, combines Pardot and Salesforce campaigns (they used to be separate, with different reporting). Combining them lets you manage and view all Campaigns in one place and provides more details on Pardot’s effectiveness with your audience. Pardot email and landing page statistics are visible right on the CRM campaign alongside opportunity revenue.
The Salesforce integration also provides options for tracking forms, emails and social posts through Salesforce Campaigns. On each Pardot email, you can include automation to add anyone who opens the email to your Salesforce Campaign automatically. Similarly, with the form’s Completion Actions, you can configure automation to add campaign members once the form is submitted. Pardot also integrates with other marketing-y platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Wistia and Olark.
The good: Engagement Studio automation & workflows
Pardot offers a user-friendly drip nurturing tool that has a lot of useful functions. Engagement Studio allows you to create multiple-email sequences for lead nurturing, customer onboarding or periodic check-ins. You can easily add more steps to further segment your audience. You can even zoom out to view all the steps in your program and test in advance to ensure the end result matches your expectations (which, as we know, doesn’t always happen…damn if/then logic!).
The not-so-good: Email & landing page builders
Pardot’s email builder can be a challenge if you want to customize and style your emails without coding HTML. The out-of-the-box templates are made of regions for images and text, and these regions can be duplicated or removed. But, you’re limited to the regions in the small number of responsive templates that are available. Similarly, Pardot’s default landing page template doesn’t resize for mobile and is limited to out-of-the-box regions. Many Pardot users get around this by working with a developer to create customized templates.
Pardot recently released a new drag-and-drop email builder. It’s much easier to add customizable elements like call-to-action buttons (while also making them responsive). But there are limitations with the new tool. It doesn’t offer the same advanced email sender options as the classic version, like sending from the assigned user or account owner. Want to use dynamic content? Sorry, the new builder doesn’t support dynamic content. While these will likely be addressed by Pardot in future product updates, they’re kind of a pain for now.
(Speaking of drag-and-drop, there is also a new Landing Page builder.)
The not-so-good: Email preferences
Another challenging area is managing email preferences. Pardot offers an email preferences page to let your audience opt out of specific lists (e.g., your newsletter or monthly product updates lists). This works well if you repeatedly use the same lists. But, as an innovative marketer, you’re probably creating new lists all the time. You’ll need to take additional steps to ensure your audiences’ preferences carry over from one campaign to the next.
The not-so-good: Reporting
One of the more challenging parts of Pardot is reporting. The big issue is you literally can’t build a custom report. So, if you want to see contacts from a specific campaign who also converted on a content piece, you’ll have to do that in a dynamic list.
But, if you’re familiar with Salesforce CRM, there are more in-depth reporting options available there. With Connected Campaigns, you can view conversions and overall performance of emails, forms and landing pages on campaign records. You can also track opportunity revenue and compare it to your cost for particular campaigns. Another feature, B2B Marketing Analytics, provides a series of marketing dashboards and reports. B2B Analytics is included in Pardot Plus and above.
Start me up: Getting Pardot
When getting started with Pardot, you can use Trailhead, a series of modules to teach you how to utilize the features. For more detail on getting up and running, read our Getting Started on Pardot post.
A bonus good: Form handlers
When switching automation platforms, one of the most daunting tasks is moving all of your contact forms over to a new system. With Pardot, you have the power to decide if you want to change all of your forms to native Pardot forms or use their form handlers, which are essentially backend forms that connect to your front end and capture the data. In just a few steps, you can point your web conversion data to a new platform without interrupting your site. Oh, the joy!
A little help from my friends: Support & training
If you need more support, you might get frustrated by the brevity of the articles available on Salesforce Help. They don’t have any fluff or narrative. (Although, you might already be growing tired of that in this review…) Salesforce Help often lacks in-depth guidance.
While it can be tough to find answers in Salesforce Help when you’re troubleshooting, contacting Pardot support can take time. You have to start by submitting a case through the support portal, which they often answer within a few hours. More of a phone or chat person? You can only get phone and live-chat support through the Premier Support offering (meaning…you gotta pay for it). This level of support is included in the Premium Pardot edition.
What’s it gonna run me?: Pardot pricing
Pardot offers four pricing tiers that start anywhere from $1,200/month to $15,000/month. For current pricing details, go straight to the source: Pardot pricing.
- Growth: Best for small companies with a small database, who don’t need all the fancy features. It has all the core features but doesn’t offer dynamic content, email rendering tests, custom object integration or B2B marketing analytics (advanced reporting)
- Plus: Teams with more complex campaigns. You’ll get dynamic content, email rendering tests and B2B marketing analytics at this level. You won’t get business units (separate subaccounts) and the database has a size limit (currently 10k).
- Advanced: Best for teams with multiple business lines who want features like enhanced scoring or campaign insights. It includes two business units, access to a developer sandbox environment and advanced lead scoring/campaign analysis through Einstein. Additional business units cost extra, and you won’t get Premier Support.
- Premium: This is designed for large enterprise organizations with multiple business lines. It includes Premier Support, five business units and a larger database size.