Why Order of Operations Matters When Updating Prospect Scoring

In a previous post I talked about the importance of following order of operations in Pardot when creating net new Prospects and adding them to campaigns in Salesforce. 

This is another cautionary tale about order of operations. This time it involves prospect scoring and automation rules. 

The Issue

The client decided that they wanted to re-set the scores for a specific group of prospects back to zero.  This was achieved using the prospect import and an automation rule that ran for a short amount of time, and only on the group of prospects identified. 

Fast forward a few weeks and it is noticed that there are many prospects in the database with large negative scores, some with scores of more than -1,000 points. That is a very odd thing, so it warranted some investigation. 

That investigation came up mostly empty. Using the Prospect Audit on a few of the records I was able to identify that the Automation Rule that re-set the scores to zero was showing that the scores were re-set not to zero but to a large negative number. 

What I was seeing in the Prospect Audit suggested that instead of re-setting the scores to zero, the Automation Rule inverted the score: If a prospect had 1,200 points, then after the Automation Rule ran, they now had -1,200 points. That is not how Automation Rules are meant to work!

Subsequent actions after the Automation Rule run added positive points to the record, but it still sat at a large negative number. Stilll, that was not the right score. 

After running through several possible scenarios for why this could have happened, I turned to Partner Support. 

After several messages exchanged and even a call, the support person was also confused! What was happening should not have happened. Nothing in the record that we could see suggested that what we were seeing on the records was right. 

The support person reached out to his team in product to get their insights. After a few days they had figured it out. 

What Actually Happened

The product team identified that two things happened within days of eachother: 

  1. The Automation Rule re-set the scores to zero
  2. The scoring rules for email opens were changed. Instead of adding three points for each email open, the rule now was set to only awards three points on the first open. 

When the change was made and the OK button was hit, it set off a recalculation of the entire database. Because the database had some age on it, there were thousands of prospects who had opened and re-opened many emails. 

Example: A prospect who had opened one email 10 times and earned 30 points for it, had 27 points deducted. Multiply that by the number of emails received and the number of times those emails were opened, and you find yourself with a massive point deduction from zero. 

When the Automation Rule re-set the total score to zero, it did not erase the scores that were accumulated for previous actions. So even thought the total was zero, all of the email opens recorded three points in the Prospect Record. 

After the scoring change was set in motion and the database re-calculated the scores, the prospects with zero total score, now had all of the recorded prospect actions deducted from the zero score. This left the prospects with large negative scores.

Lesson Learned

What I took away from this experience is a reinforcement of the importance of order of operations in Pardot. 

It is possible to achieve the desired effect without sending prospect scores plunging. Here’s what should have happened, in this order:

  1. Modify the Scoring Rules for the Email Open: This would run a recalculation on the entire database. The activity scores would be re-set to zeros for subsequent email opens, while the first email open would get three points. The score totals may be in the negatives. 
  2. Create and Run the Automation Rule to Reset Scores: This would run on the new score totals after the recalculation. Total scores in the negatives would be re-set to zero. The Automation Rule would continue to run and set the appropriate scores. 

Ways to Solve

Resetting the scores from the large negatives that why have now will require some creative problem solving. Ultimately it will come down to how the client wants to proceed. 

One option is to to an mass export of all prospects and invert their current scores from negative to positive. The re-import the prospects and map the Score field on the CSV file to the Pardot Score field in Pardot.

Another option is to run an automation rule looking for Prospect Scores less than 0 and re-set them to zero. Once it runs through the entire database of negatives you could turn off the Automation Rule.

My recommendation is to save yourself the trouble and follow the order of operations outline above. It will save you a lot of time and effort fixing the mistake.

Ben LaMothe

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