Best practices

Pardot Best Practices: The Key to Automation Success

When time is of the essence, many are guilty of overlooking Pardot best practices. 

There may be a campaign that must go live as soon as possible, or a list of new prospects to import and email right away, so simply getting these tasks done quickly becomes the focus.

Needless to say, ignoring best practices is a big issue, regardless of how much time it might save us in the short-term. 

In the long-run, it’s going to cause us headaches, confusion and a lot more time than it would have initially.

Best practices are literally defined as;

‘commercial or professional procedures that are accepted or prescribed as being correct or most effective.’

Oxford Dictionary

When it comes to Pardot, any processes that are going to be the most effective cannot be ignored. If they are, our marketing simply cannot be as good as it should be.

So what Pardot best practices should users be following, you ask?

Given the scope of what Pardot can do and all its features, there are lots I could include here! Instead, I’ll share those that are most relevant to beginners, and the most common features.

Managing Data Between Salesforce and Pardot

Naturally, the majority of Pardot users also use Salesforce as a CRM. The way our data is synced and managed between these two platforms is crucial.

Rushing this type of activity can result in big problems, like inconsistencies between prospect records in Pardot and Salesforce, missing data and incorrect reporting.

When it comes to managing data, here are the basic best practices:

  • Pardot should be considered the entry point for all new, unqualified data. This way, Sales only have access to marketing-qualified leads that they can pursue as customers; allowing them to prioritise the hot leads, saving time and ensuring no leads are contacted prematurely.
  • Regularly check the Salesforce Connector for any sync errors and to ensure the correct permissions are in place. Keeping on top of sync errors is vital to a healthy, accurate database in Pardot.
  • Set up Salesforce Engage to easily provide the sales team with direct access to marketing-approved assets right within Salesforce and their email client.

Organising Pardot 

Maintaining a clean and organised Pardot account should always be a priority. Just like physical mess, an untidy account can distract from getting the work done and make it hard to do anything efficiently.

Keeping a tidy account means following these best practices right from the start:

  • Use Pardot Folders to keep assets and Campaigns neat and tidy. Planning and setting up a coherent folder structure means the team can easily find, edit and duplicate the right assets. 
  • Use the Recycle Bin for unneeded Lists, prospects, assets etc. Not only will this keep your account in check but it will also ensure we don’t max out any usage limits.
  • Implement a data retention policy so your Pardot and Salesforce databases are clean and contain the best data for sales.
  • Run a basic Pardot review once a quarter and a full audit at least once per year. Doing this allows us to have visibility over our setup, find errors, uncover quick wins in our approach and provide steps to improve.

Of course, there are plenty more reasons a regular Pardot audit is essential and I discuss these in more detail on the MarCloud blog.

Automating Prospect Lists

The less manual work required in managing your Pardot data, the better. After all, the purpose of investing in a premium automation platform is to save you time spent on this kind of legwork.

There are a few best practices for managing prospect Lists that you can use right off the bat:

  • Set up Dynamic Lists wherever possible. These Lists automatically segment prospects based on a set of rule-based criteria. They can be used for sending emails or suppressing from emails, or even fast reporting.
  • Pay attention to GDPR because opt-in consent and the other requirements are simply not optional. This isn’t even a best practice, it is a mandatory requirement!
  • Utilise the preference centre and let your prospects do the hard work of maintaining a clean, opted-in list. 

Sending emails

Sending emails to prospects and leads is perhaps the biggest motivation for using a full automation software like Pardot. But the investment isn’t worthwhile if we’re not taking full advantage of its capabilities.

When it comes to email sends and automations in Engagement Studio, here’s the best practices to follow:

  • Associate all email sends with the correct Campaign, or struggle to report on these as part of the overall campaign performance.
  • Use Salesforce campaigns and statuses to track multiple touchpoints.
  • Customise the preference page and provide prospects with a better experience. Also, ensure all of the Lists that a prospect could opt in to are Public. It’s even possible to use Dynamic Lists on a preference page.
  • Use custom redirects on banners and buttons as these allow us to track clicks while triggering automated completion actions.
  • A/B test, always – even the most successful companies employ testing to ensure continuous improvement and competitive advantage.
  • Use Dynamic Content as a standard, not an advanced tactic. Dynamic Content means less time spent setting up individual emails for segments of your database. Let the email do the hard work for you, simply specify the content a recipient should see based on their data points.

Scoring and Grading

Lead scoring and grading is sometimes seen as a more advanced automation feature but it doesn’t need to be overly complex or sophisticated. 

With a documented plan mapped out first, we can set up basic scoring and grading criteria in Pardot that’s customised to our business and audience. Here’s the best practices to follow:

  • Analyse the data you already have and use existing customer demographics and behaviours to understand what actions indicate interest and the most valuable outcome.
  • Work with sales to define a marketing and sales-qualified lead. Being on the same page and valuing each other’s input is essential to having team alignment and delivering results for everyone involved.
  • Remember the difference between Scoring & Grading. The latter tells us how interested in a prospect we are, whereas scoring tells us how interested a prospect is in us.
  • Review and revise regularly. Like most marketing activities, lead scoring and grading is not set and forget. Check in to see whether those scoring highly are converting and vice versa.

Reporting on Pardot performance

Reporting on what matters to the business is a must-do for any marketer, so we need to be following best practices to ensure the reports we pull from Pardot are accurate.

When reporting, we should:

  • Always include the ‘Cost’ field in a Campaign. I recommend adding your total Campaign budget here (you can always amend this if it changes) so that Pardot can calculate cost metrics for the Campaign.
  • Use the Lifecycle Report to review and inform future marketing activity using top-level metrics such as time lead time from prospect to customer.
  • Use the Campaign Report to review and compare Campaigns in more depth.

As I said at the start of this post, I could list hundreds of Pardot best practices and tips but these are the essentials to start with. I spend a lot of time on the platform in my role as a Pardot consultant so if you need more information on any of these or find yourself stuck, you can always send me a message!

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