12 Things Salesforce Admins Should Know About Pardot

Pardot is Salesforce’s B2B Marketing Automation tool. It’s been a keystone of the Salesforce Platform since 2013, when it joined the Salesforce family alongside ExactTarget (AKA Marketing Cloud) in the groundbreaking acquisition that marked Salesforce’s pursuit into the realm of Marketing Automation – at the time the largest acquisition in the software giant’s history.

Since Salesforce placed this big bet on Marketing Automation, Pardot has proved its worth in it’s impressive customer case studies and with 10x revenue growth in the four years post-acquisition!

With Pardot’s popularity growing and market share increasing as time goes on, it’s unfortunate that many people remain in the dark about the ins-and-outs of Pardot, and more specifically how it interacts with the rest of the platform. I’ve spoken to professionals with such a sound knowledge of the traditional ‘core’ clouds (Sales, Service) that remain hesitant about exploring Pardot.

Just to be clear – it’s a bad idea to assume that Pardot and Salesforce abide by the same rules. Remember, they were originally two separate products bound by an integration. Although the Salesforce Pardot team are working very hard to integrate the two technologies into one powerful platform, until that day we have to learn the quirks and nuances of each tool. Here’s 12 things to get you started!

1. Prospects can be Leads or Contacts

A Prospect applies to the people records stored in Pardot, defined by email address. No email address, no Prospect record. You can access your entire Prospect database through the ‘Prospect List’.

Prospects can be associated to either a lead record OR a contact record (more on this later). When a lead is converted to a contact in Salesforce, it still remains a Prospect in Pardot, just transitioning across to be associated with the contact record instead of the now obsolete lead record. A visitor, however, is another type of record altogether…and something to touch on another time.

2. Salesforce Campaigns ? Pardot Campaigns

The relationship between campaigns from one tool to another is possibly the fact that surprises people the most. Just because they share a common word, we cannot assume that a Salesforce Campaign and a Pardot Campaign have a one-to-one (1:1) relationship. In fact, they don’t have any relationship.

Stripped down:

  • Prospect – Pardot Campaign = 1:1
  • Lead/Contact – Salesforce Campaign = 1:many

The lack of any form of relationship means that contacts/leads added to a Salesforce Campaign do not get automatically added to a Pardot campaign. You have to leverage automation features to do this. If anything, Pardot Campaigns are actually comparable to ‘Lead Source’ in Salesforce, that is, a first touch point, with a single value.

3. Pardot Activities appear in Visualforce

Prospect activities in Pardot, such as form submissions, email opens and page views, will appear on the Prospect record. These are applied to the Lead/Contact page layouts in Visualforce as part of the AppExchange Package (required to make the SF-Pardot connection).

The key takeaway here is that Pardot Activities are not records in Salesforce. They are in a read-only feed on the Lead/Contact detail page. The primary implication is you are not able to report on these activities. Although this is a limitation, I know this is a development that the community are keen on seeing in the product in the future.

4. Pardot Reporting is not as flexible

Examples of the most popular Pardot reports I see in my work are:

– Campaign Performance report

– Lifecycle report

Email report

There are 15 standard reports in total, but vary according to which connectors you are putting into use. Pardot reporting operates on a WYSIWYG* basis, meaning that they arrive pre-built, with the ability to filter by various parameters.

Whilst the out-of-the-box reporting saves time and stress, Admins and Salesforce Power Users cannot expect the same level of customisation they are accustomed to in Salesforce Reporting.  

*what you see is what you get

5. Pardot ignores duplicate email addresses

Previously, we covered that Prospects (Pardot) can be associated to either a lead record OR a contact record in Salesforce – and here is the reason.

Email address acts as the unique identifier for the record sync.

Pardot queries Salesforce Contacts then Leads for a match, and once a match has been made, it sticks to that record like glue. Consequently, any other records that share the same email address will not be included in the bi-directional sync between platforms.

As many know, this configuration can cause a multitude of headaches when faced with more complex business cases where either many people share the same email, or one person acts in multiple roles (as separate contact records, for example a freelancer). To cater to these more complex data models, Pardot released ‘allow multiple Prospects with same email address’ (AMPSEA), which you can enable – but…

6. AMPSEA is Irreversible

…which leads me swiftly on to interject with this. Make sure you consult with an expert and know the consequences of AMPSEA, because once it’s enabled, it can’t be disabled.

7. Pardot has different user permissions

Users must be set-up separately in Pardot, then synced with their CRM user ID.There are 4 standard user roles (permissions): Administrator, Marketing, Sales Manager and Sales.

8. Salesforce Engage is a separate license

Salesforce Engage brings more Pardot functionality into Salesforce with the aim of enabling Sales users to utilise Marketing material in campaigns and receive alerts about what their assigned Prospects are up to. They can also enhance their email (Gmail) insight by enabling clicks and opens tracking.

Whilst it’s a decent tool for large business development teams, it comes as a separate license. The pricing on the Salesforce Engage page has always been transparent.

9. Pardot cannot make outbound API Calls

Pardot has a ‘passive’ integration, meaning that it doesn’t make outbound API calls. API calls are what requests/receives responses (data) from one system to another – essentially the driving force behind any integration.

In layman’s, what this means is if you are hoping to set up integrations (that aren’t existing Pardot connectors), then you will have to ‘push’ data from Pardot. Anyway, you can cross that bridge (if) you come to it.

10. Pardot can be run without Admin intervention

This is no guarantee – but on the whole, Marketers with no technical experience are able to use and administer Pardot with no problems. As we mentioned before with the pre-built reporting, Pardot is functional at a reasonable level out-of-the-box. If you’re in an SF Admin role, you may need to step in for things like the Connector campaign or importing records – or get a consultancy to look after the initial set-up (recommended!). Mostly, Admin duties would include checking limits, setting up users and defining new field sync behaviour. Nothing too taxing.

11. It’s pretty hard to ‘break’ Pardot

I’m fully aware that this isn’t a very technical way of talking about the data model, but it’s true – Pardot is a lot harder to interfere with, and therefore less likely to break.

Pardot is clean, practical and intuitive. Configuration is declarative (no code), meaning the ‘back-end’ only has what’s essential in order to modify your instance to your team’s needs. Training and enablement takes next to no time, in comparison to Salesforce learning. Finally, it’s a relief for consultants who don’t have to worry about locking anything down when they deliver the system to the client, for instance.

Some people cite this inflexibility as a criticism, but I think it’s a major plus.

12. Pardot is not just a ‘stepping stone’

Pardot was Initially considered a product for the SMB* market, hence why many considered it a ‘stepping stone’ product for organisations to dip their toes into before they went into big-guns Marketing Automation suites. However, many Enterprise companies proved the true scalability of Pardot – as well as many additional and upgraded product features, and a general building acceptance of Marketing Automation as a legitimate, revenue-generating business system – Pardot became a long-term, loved solution for thousands of customers globally.

Pardot is baked into so many corporate strategies that the ‘stepping stone’ description doesn’t hold any longer, and remains a floating misconception.

*small-medium business

To finish…

Pardot is clearly a tool with a lot of business value to offer. Luckily, as Pardot is so intuitive, getting started and being successful with it in the long-term isn’t as daunting as people may believe.

Remember, it’s a bad idea to assume that Pardot and Salesforce abide by the same rules, but once you’re aware of the quirks and accept their ways of integrating, then you will be able to run streamlined, impactful, Marketing and Sales funnels.

…and there’s more where that came from. I only covered 12 things to get you started in this post, but there’s so much more to share about the Salesforce-Pardot connector and more. That’s why we are launching a blog: fearlessmarketing.tech 

So stop by for a visit, we’d love to have you over!

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7 thoughts on “12 Things Salesforce Admins Should Know About Pardot

  1. Jonathan Anspaugh


    One thing not mentioned here is the NULL value sync issue. Since Pardot has a “data keeping” mentality it will not allow the sync to overwrite a field with a null value if a value already exists. This can be very troublesome if you use a reason / sub-reason field but do not require a sub-reason for all reasons. For example:

    Reason 1
    – Sub Reason 1
    – Sub Reason 2
    Reason 2
    – Sub Reason 1
    – Sub Reason 2
    Reason 3

    Pardot will not allow the sync to overwrite any of the sub-reasons for 1 or 2 resulting in a bad picklist value / correlation if Reason 3 is activated and synced across.

    Great article just something that is frustrating if you dont know what is happening.

  2. Hi Lucy, what a wonderful article thanks a lot for that. I only have one question if I may to your number 3 activities. I understand that the details are listed as a visual force page, nevertheless if I look at my records on SF we actually have entries under the standard related list Activity History on SF. Only for emailing though and they will be marked as Pardot List Email for example. Is this the first step of having activities from Pardot listed in Salesforce? Thanks, Stefanie

    1. Hi Stephanie, thank you so much – I really appreciate your kind words. Yes, so if you are seeing those activity records appear in the SF Activity History, it’s most likely because you have the ‘Sync emails with the CRM’ SF-Pardot connector setting enabled (an optional setting). It’s applicable for list, drip, autoresponder, one-to-one emails – so basically all types! I know that some people love, some people hate – it’s a balance between storage vs. usefulness of having that info at the lead/contact/account level. Regarding your remark about it possibly being the first step is a hard one to answer – it’s more a case of if and when Pardot develop on this area (currently a siloe), we could potentially see Pardot activities leveraging the standard Activities object, use a different record type, or have a separate object…. (disclaimer: I’m just speculating). Anyway, I hope this answers your question. Take care, Lucy

  3. Pingback: My Beef with Pardot - John Wiedenheft

  4. Another key issue that many admins are unaware of is that you can only use Opt-in email addresses in Pardot. This is a huge problem for companies that do a lot of prospecting. Salesforce has shut down many companies after switching to Pardot because sales adds leads they are chasing and the are automatically sucked into Pardot. AND, of course, this means no trade show or purchased lists….

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