Marketing Automation on Pardot

This post summarizes and explains common issues, use cases, and terminology for marketing automation on Pardot and Salesforce. I have included several links to Pardot help pages for further information.

Syncing Pardot and Salesforce

Only one CRM connector can be active simultaneously in Pardot, and for most clients that's Salesforce. The Pardot integration user is an automatically provisioned user that connects to Salesforce to sync data. Pardot is the only app that can log in to Salesforce via the integration user, and only after a Salesforce admin has finished the Pardot setup.

Pardot checks for changes in Salesforce in almost real time - every two minutes to be exact. There are default activities that trigger a sync from Pardot to Salesforce, but you can override them manually or disable syncs if you'd prefer to keep some data only in Pardot. By default, Pardot creates new contacts in Salesforce as Leads, but Pardot Support can change this setting for you and enable the reverse sync feature.

Many of my clients are using the Salesforce-Pardot connector (Salesforce connector), with the marketing team using Pardot to manage their pipeline, and once the leads are warm enough, moving them to Salesforce for the sales team. You can connect Pardot to a Salesforce sandbox or production environment, using email as the unique identifier unless "allow multiple prospects with same email address" is enabled.

Custom objects are useful for syncing Salesforce contacts or leads to Pardot, so you can use that data in segmentation and automations. You can create and sync a custom object from anything that is linked to a contact, lead, or account in Salesforce, to Pardot. Most fields including formula fields, dependent fields, and picklists can be synced bidirectionally in Pardot and Salesforce, but there are some exceptions such as lookups.

Sandboxes create copies of your Salesforce org in separate environments. Use them for development, testing, and training, without compromising the data and applications in your production org.

Lead Qualification

Pardot offers three main ways to qualify your leads: scoring, grading, and Pardot Einstein. The method that I see being used most often is lead scoring, which measures the buying intent of your prospects. The scores will increase or decrease depending on the prospects' interactions on your site. Here is the default scoring system, but this can be customized at Pardot Settings > Automation Settings > Scoring. Depending on your marketing and sales strategy, you might want to give higher scores for certain interactions such as webinar signups or specific page views. Then, you can come back and focus on the prospects with highest scores, which are your warmest leads. For example, you can use an automation rule to create a Salesforce task when a prospect submits a form and has a score above a certain threshold. To reset the score for a select group of prospects, create an automation rule with the desired criteria, and add the rule action to adjust the scores to 0, which is the lowest possible score.

Lead grading is based on prospect profiles. Set your desired letter grade adjustments (1, 2/3, or 1/3) at Home > Marketing > Segmentation > Profiles, then create automation rules to match each criteria. Letter grades range from F to A+

Automation rules allow you to perform certain marketing and sales actions based on criteria that you specify. For example, you may set the system to automatically assign all prospects with a country value of Canada, the United States, or Mexico to your North American sales representative. Although similar to segmentation rules, completion actions and prospect table actions, automation rules have unique functionality and are best used in certain scenarios.

Pardot Advanced and Premium users have access to Einstein lead scoring, an AI tool that provides insights on your most engaged prospects and effective campaigns. Einstein creates a predictive model that refreshes lead data and scores every 10 days, so you won't miss new trends as they occur.

Pardot Forms and Form Handlers

Note on the difference between Pardot forms and form handlers. Pardot forms are built and managed directly on Pardot. For example, you can build a Pardot form on a Pardot landing page.

Form handlers integrate with third-party platforms such as Wix or WordPress, and funnel the form submission data into Pardot. This is the recommended method if you need to maintain the current lead flow from an existing lead generation strategy. Regardless of whether you use Pardot forms or form handlers, the other features are still available. For example, you can create a completion action on the form to notify sales reps via email or send an autoresponder email using email template.

Completion actions allow you automatically trigger actions (assign to queue, set profile, increment prospect field value, etc.) after another action is completed - for example, when a prospect completes a form, visits a page or downloads a file. Completion actions are available within forms, form handlers, files, custom redirects, emails and page actions.

Completion action notes:

  • Completion actions are not retroactive.

  • Completion actions cannot be applied directly on a landing page.

  • Most completion actions execute every time they are triggered. However, completion actions based on email link clicks only execute once per prospect.

  • "Adjust score” completion action executes once per prospect per unique custom redirect in a 24 hour period.

  • Completion actions only execute for prospects, not visitors.

  • Completion actions don’t execute on image file downloads or on filtered activities.

PPC Conversion Tracking

If you haven't already done so, find the Pardot tracking code from campaigns > your campaign name > view tracking code in Pardot, and implement it on your pages. The Pardot tracking code is pretty much like any other tracking codes for analytics or paid ads - just copy and paste it into your web page html before the </body> tag. Back in Pardot, the tracking code is also useful for seeing prospect's click path through your website's content, and triggering page actions to occur when a prospect visits a certain URL.

To track where a prospect originates when they visit your website, create a custom redirect for each ad, and select a Pardot campaign for each custom redirect.

Custom redirects allow you to track when your prospects click on those pages. This can be integrated with Google Analytics parameters as well during setup. The custom redirect statistics table, located in the custom redirects tab and within the content report, is where you can find the results such as how many unique clicks the redirect has generated.

Generally, prospects are assigned to the Pardot campaign associated with their first touchpoint, and that does not change going forward. However, you can set the completion action for the custom redirect to change the campaign.

UTM Parameters in Pardot Form Submissions

There are several different ways to pass UTM parameters from your PPC campaigns and landing pages, and capture them in Pardot form submissions. All of them are basically doing the same thing - add custom code to your webpage that will get the UTM parameters and submit them as hidden fields in the form.

Probably the most common method is adding the scripts directly in the body html of your webpages. You'll need to implement two scripts to get the UTM parameters from your PPC campaigns and pass them through Pardot form submissions. The first script should be added to every page, to grab the query parameter and push it into sessionStorage. The sessionStorage object stores key/value pairs in the browser, such as the following example.

sessionStorage.setItem("lastname", "Smith");

The second script should be placed only on the or page, to grab the sessionStorage value and insert a hidden field with it into the form.

Note on combining this method with auto-tagging in Google Ads. This method still works even if you are using auto-tagging to sync Google Ads and Analytics. Just make sure that UTM override is not turned on in Analytics. That way, Google Analytics will continue to prioritize auto-tagging by default, while Pardot and Salesforce will have the UTM parameters.

Other Solutions to Pass UTM Parameters to Pardot

However, GTM can be blocked by some ad blockers or other third-party extensions, so using the custom JavaScript variable is not widely recommended.