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Adopt these top Pardot Best Practices to improve marketing result

May 10, 2024

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Best practices. What are they? The way you make a perfect cuppa joe. And as you know, a million details go in there, so that in the end, all you do is you pour in your hot water and out comes perfect liquid gold. So, now that we thought about this for a minute, let me explain the top Pardot Best Practices.

These are defined as in the best ways to configure your Pardot (and Salesforce) to optimise and grow your business. But… as MC Account Engagement, or Pardot for short, is a multi-dimensional marketing platform, it won’t be a matter of just ‘take these ‘7 steps and you’re good to go’ – formula for success. There are best practices for each element on the platform, and what constitute as ‘best’ depends to some degree on the specific needs of your business. — Kind of like how you like you coffee … Tastes and needs vary.

Top Pardot Best Practices – The infinite guide

Having said that, here are some of the most important factors to get right, no matter what kind of business you’re operating.

Table of Content

1. Top Pardot Implementation Best Practices

I have a couple of things here that would fall under this heading. Let’s start with data.

  • Plan data integration: Most notably, ensure seamless sync with Salesforce for unified lead management. Map Pardot fields to Salesforce fields to maintain data consistency across platforms, and be sure to consider for each field where your ‘center of truth’ is: Salesforce or Pardot.
  • Manage Users efficiently. In 2024, you will want to have users connected between Pardot and Salesforce. And you’ll want to have SSO and MFA set up both. if you’re working with an agency, you can ask your consultants to create invididual licenses, and have your agency only see Pardot data, but not yours Salesforce Sales and Service cloud information. Contact us if you want help with that.

2. Top Pardot Campaign Best Practices

In 2024, Pardot campaigns are no longer ‘just first touch’ campaigns, but are tied to the much more versatile Salesforce campaign functionality. Great! Three things to get right.

a) Connected Campaigns. You used to need to turn this feature on, and then connect the campaigns properly. Today, this is partially configured for you, but walk over this set up to ensure it is both right and complete. Some things that are meant to be out-of-the-box aren’t in the box.

If your company has not used Salesforce Campaigns before, be sure to get some training in this regards. Working with campaigns in Salesforce has far reaching benefits, for Sales and Marketing alike.

Two more concepts to consider so that you will adopt campaign best practices for your company and its use cases:

b)  Establish Campaign Hierarchy. This functionality has a 1: many relationship, meaning for every 1 parent campaign, you can have many child campaigns. But every child has just 1 parent, although a grand-parent is possible also, as the hierarchy can have 3 layers. Parent campaigns have limitations in Salesforce reporting, however the B2B Marketing Analytics app – if you have purchased it – allows you to create a range of reports based on Salesforce and Pardot Campaigns.

c) Get Campaign Attribution set up while you’re at it, so that you’ll get your reporting straight from the start. Campaign attribution is a mechanism that will help you determine which campaign(s) contributed to a closed-won opportunity, i.e. a sale.

3. Pardot marketing: Keep it organised!

I think one of the most important pieces of advice we can give you is not technical but practical. And it is to keep your Pardot org tidy! There are several ways for you to keep things organised.

  • Adopt a Naming Convention. Sign up to work with our naming convention widget here: Pardot naming convention widget . Use naming conventions like “Product Launch – Q2 2024” for clear campaign identification.
  • Create a sound Folder Hierarchy as part of that naming convention and order. Folders allow you to find last year’s campaigns with ease. Use folders to group related campaigns, making it easy to locate and manage them. Tags are another wonderful tools to stay organised. We have configured this in so many ways for different client. I personally like to use these in process steps the best, so you can know exactly where each and every prospect is in the buying journey.
  • Systemise your Tagging Usage. Yes, tags are an ‘out of the box’ feature, but to set these up in meaningful ways, does take time. And a plan. Don’t gloss over this. To get meaningful benefits out of features such as tags, work with CloudAnalysts as your Pardot consultants on an ongoing basis. (See our Pardot Services).

4. The Marketing Best Practices: Automate the Customer Journey

This Best Practice suggests that you create content that support customers throughout the various stages of their buying journey. Add Pardot Page Actions to mark when prospects reach a certain milestone on their journey. Hitting the pricing page is a common one, but you can have many more. Best practice, or advanced configuration: add page actions to all milestones on your site. In addition, use this feature also to indicate implied product interest. If you catch them looking at coffee beans, add them to the beans lists. Otherwise, add new subscribers to the ground coffee subscription list. For example. Advanced: use scoring categories to manage your segmentation and targeting.

5. Pardot email best practices

We have to split this into two, as what are the best practices, really depends on technical skills and interests of your marketing team.

  • Pick the best Email builder. IF you have access to CloudAnalysts Pardot Services and/or have HTML/ CSS savvy email marketers on your team who can define your email code to be top LITMUS-tested quality, then you can use the classic Pardot email builder – which allows for all sorts of hidden fields and enhancements to be added. Ditto with the Pardot forms and landing pages. Very useful.
  • IF you don’t have an in-house HTML/CSS – dev nor want to fuss with javascript and other jazz, then ask your consultants to configure the new Email builder for you. It’s drag-and-drop functionality means you can create emails with ease. Let us build the templates for you, which your team can then leverage. Or, for a small monthly fee, we’ can’ll create your actual monthly newsletter or emails for a new marketing journey for you.
  • Whichever builder you use, be sure to allow your team some time to learn about its available features. I am often surprised at how underused Pardot is, and this is often simply because they knew MailChimp but the company skimmed on ‘Pardot implementation’ so that there was next to no training. Waste of resources! Pardot is too costly not to be used fully. See section on Pardot training below and use all available features in the Pardot Email Builder.
  • Take your marketing email seriously. With the help of your consultant, set your consent mechanism up properly. GDPR violations can be costly. And email providers (from Apple to Gmail to Yahoo, etc) are the new policemen. So ensure your email deliverability is optimised. Here’s how you do that: Pardot Email Deliverability Best Practices.
  • Segment your prospects before emailing, ideally via dynamic rather than static lists. Then you can tailor emails based on interests or behaviour to increase engagement. E.g. Send personalised emails offering specific content based on a lead’s previous interactions. Begin with creating a default for your emails, but don’t stop there. Leverage dynamic content, personalisation tags, lead scoring/tags (to see where they are in the buying journey) and grading profiles to mark their buying persona. Details below.
  • Personas and/or Industry-based email content: in the context of segmentation, this leads to the very best results – why I’m marking it as a separate Best Practice. Further reading: Email Personalisation is the new conversion rate optimisation and Target specific industries with personalised campaigns for best result.
  • Optimise your email journey. Provide your team periodically with time to analyse and optimise your email marketing performance. Look at individual emails, and which CTA button worked best, but equally, see how far people get into journeys, and at what point open en click through rates drop.
  • Systemise your A/B testing. Add A/B tests to elements you are unsure about. Unless you have real statistical validity of by virtue of having a large customer base with many of the same email sends, … A/B testing is as much as an art as it is a science. But as you should only test 1 element at a time, you must create a table to keep track of all your tests and for how long they will run.

6. Marketing Cloud Account Engagement personalisation best practices

  • HML. Personalisation in email is mostly – albeit not only – done through personalisation tags. We all know the ‘Hello <first name>’ … tag, but you can create a tag for every single field, and field value, in your database.
  • Again, this is one of those things that is a new default in some org, but if you have an ‘older’ Pardot instance, be sure that everyone is upgraded to Handlebar Merge Language. What HML does it align the Pardot and Salesforce personalisation tags, for an easier template sharing and more personalised templates. HML enables additional advanced work.
  • Dynamic content: If your Pardot Edition comes with it, you can take personalisation tags further, and create a variance of your email content dynamically based on a prospect’s unique attributes and preferences.
  • E.g. London-based customers will see a Big Ben in their headers, where as those from London will dynamically see the Chrystler Building in their email banner background. If you run a pet shop, you’d feature a dog in your emails for your dog-owners and a cat when the prospect is a cat-lover. Think of how you could work this feature for your business.

7. Landing Page Best Practices: Why in Pardot

Another best practice is to build your landing pages in Pardot, not WordPress, Wix or other CMS. Let me explain why.

Yes, Pardot offers you the option to link to other form on your website via form handlers, to feature your Pardot form via on your website …. instead of demanding you to put your Pardot form on your Pardot landing page. But just because you can, does not mean that you should. In fact, quite the opposite.

Let me count the reasons why you should build your landing pages in Pardot:

  1. You connect the website tracking pixel with your prospect right away. Perfect!
  2. You can add grading and there’s default scoring based on landing page views and form signups.
  3. Your landing page can be assessed as part of your overall marketing campaign performance.
  4. You can take advantage of the many completion-actions options, that can be based on page views and form completion. E.g. add someone to a campaign with a specific campaign status.
  5. You can put in hidden fields in your form to get more information about the sources (UTM etc).
  6. You can do A/B testing and go with the best one based on actual results.
  7. You don’t need to pay for a form-building tool / WordPress plug-in for your website.
  8. As you can amend the SEO to that page only, it could also benefit you for organic landing page views. Or you could hide the page altogether from search engines to get ‘purer’ ad results if the landing pages is associated with ads.
  9. Using landing pages also allows you to build follow-on journey steps in Engagement Studio.
  10. You are in control when needed upgrades need to get done immediately. Marketing agencies usually need to hire a ‘developer’ to make website changes. It can take some of them a long time to get done, or they’re done hastily by someone far away, or without styling or branding.
  11. And last, a marketing pro-tip: You could send non-converters a shorter follow-up landing page, with a special offer and/ or add them to a call list.

I hope you enjoy these Pardot landing page tips. Also see our General Landing Page Design Best-Practices.

8. Pardot Scoring Best Practices

Once you are up and running with your basic emails campaigns and the bulk of the migration from e.g. Hubspot to Pardot is done, it’s time to design and configure a lead scoring and grading model.

  • Consider Pardot Scoring Defaults first: Assign points to actions like webinar attendance indicating lead interest. You can give higher scores to leads who downloaded a whitepaper versus those who just visit your homepage. Pardot comes with a default scoring system that I consider to be quite good and that needs minimum adaption, particularly in the first year of Pardot usage.

9. Pardot Grading Best Practices

  • Evaluate lead quality and work with your best leads: Use grading to rank leads based on attributes matching your ideal customer profile. Grade leads higher if they belong to a target industry or company size you typically convert.
  • Leverage Pardot’s grading default profile, but tailor it. Again, Pardot has a default profile with 5 criteria already set up: industry, country, job title, department and company size. You can add other criteria, and you can add other defaults.

Beyond these Pardot prospect scoring and grading best practice tips here, there are other considerations which we have set out in this article: Mastering lead qualification – a guide to boosting conversion.

10. Salesforce Marketing Cloud Best Practices Around Maintenance

  • Maintain Data Hygiene. Regularly clean and update contact information to ensure accurate targeting. As a best practice within that, you may wish to implement automated processes to remove duplicates and update outdated records. Or use the Pardot calendar to keep your maintenance tasks ‘scheduled’ and ‘done’.
  • Check Pardot Optimizer. Ok. Not everyone will get very excited about this, but this tool can give some peractical tips on how to improve your Pardot org and keep it all running smooth and tidily. Don’t think of this tool as a marketing optimiser, but a technology resource optimiser. To optimise your marketing in Pardot, commission a Pardot consultant like CloudAnalysts who know as much about marketing as about technology so that you won’t get sucked into bit and bites conversation but stay focused on your target personas and their customer journeys, buying stages, nurturing needs, etc.

11. Marketing Cloud Business Units Best Practices

Pardot Business Units is not ‘for everyone’, but I’m still including it here in this article as it has come up in several sales conversations:

A Salesforce Marketing Cloud sales rep may have suggested to you that you need to buy a Pardot edition that comes with Business Units. Sounds sophisticated, but it doubles the software fees. Add the +30% cost for ‘Premium Support’ (Do you really need it?), and you may start feeling you might be overpaying….?!

In some cases, clients could use but equally could do without Business Units. There are simpler, and cheaper alternatives to get a certain amount of separation of data, consent and reporting. Plus, you probably wan to avoid – what I consider to be a big disadvantage of working with Pardot BU’s – the potential duplication of lead or contact records in Salesforce.

Sometimes, Business Units are really needed for your use cases. On one hand they make the data hierarchy, user roles, permissions and reporting configurations more complicated and time consuming to configure, but, on the other hand, they give you more granular control as they let you define user permissions to manage access and workflows – within each business unit. You can also get a unified view of your business units with B2B Marketing Analytics. And, assets created in the Pardot Lightning Builder can be shared across business units, so you could get yourself the best of both world: efficiency, data insight and control.

Some Tip for BU users: 1) use the ‘new’ drag-and-drop email and landing page builders – instead of the classic ones.) 2) Don’t unpause that connector until you are truly done with configuring the Marketing Data Sharing criteria. 3) While the technical BU setup process is not that difficult, its configuration choices can have a widespread impact! That’s why Salesforce highly recommends you work with a Salesforce Partner like CloudAnalysts who has BU-accredited consultants.

12. Get the Best Pardot Training – optimise your platform usage

While you don’t need a PhD in it, learning the fundamentals of Pardot and how to best use it for your business is very important, I think.

CloudAnalysts offer custom Pardot training via private workshops for just your team. So that we can morph the training content to exactly what your team needs to learn. We are also about to launch our Salesforce marketing training platform, where you’ll be able to subscribe to instruction-led as well as at-your-pace Salesforce training – with Cloud Analysts-certificates optional.

13. Best Practices for Choosing Top Marketing Cloud Companies

We wrote an entire article on this topic: How to choose the right Salesforce consulting partner for your business. You can read that later. For now, just know that CloudAnalysts has a 5/5 Customer Satisfaction score and many happy customer reviews.

If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you know that we consider Marketing Cloud and its Account Engagement aka Pardot to be the best cloud marketing software on the market. Adopting best practices for its consideration is a function of your objectives.

The final best practice tip is to work with an experienced, certified Pardot Partner, like CloudAnalysts. We can’t stress enough that working with us would help you get the most from your software.

Just the way you like it.

Interested to learn more?

We would be very happy to help you.

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