What is Pardot? An intro + considerations for nonprofits

I love the Salesforce platform, gang. Even when I’m laying out all the reasons why orgs may want to pass on it!

But today, I want to talk about another Salesforce tool that’s more on the marketing side. Let’s talk Pardot.

How do you even pronounce that?

Great question! It’s Par-DOT.

If you were tempted to say Par-DOUGH, trust that you are in great company with the likely thousands of us who have made that mistake.

Okay! So what is Par-DOT?

Pardot is a marketing tool by Salesforce, intended for B2B (business-to-business) companies. Customers can send email campaigns, create automated journeys, and build your typical marketing assets. But there are more advanced segmentation and automation features as well.

If you’ve ever heard of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, think of Pardot as the more straight-forward baby brother.

Between those two platforms, Pardot is the more common pick for nonprofit Salesforce customers. Hence our focus.

p.s. In addition to being way more complex, Marketing Cloud is geared towards B2C (business to consumer) companies.

How is Pardot like other marketing platforms?

Like most ESPs (email service providers), you can expect to do the basics: build email templates, create forms & landing pages and send mass campaigns. You can also capture the typical email recipient data points: like first + last name, whether they unsubscribe, if they hard bounce, etc….

Keep in mind that I’m speaking to platforms that are primarily email marketing – like MailChimp, Constant Contact or even Marketo. Cross-channel customer engagement platforms (like Iterable, Movable or Braze) aren’t exactly comparable here, at least from a content creation perspective.

What makes it different?

There are lots of things that differentiate Pardot from the tools above. But the highlights are:

• The interface is baked into the Salesforce CRM. Pardot is undergoing a rapid transition. It started as a separate tool that eventually integrated well with Salesforce. But these days, it’s become increasingly engrained into the CRM with each quarterly release. (That’s a good thing!)

• It’s the bees knees of Salesforce data integration. Don’t we all aspire to have email marketing and constituent activities in one place? Well, I’m willing to bet that Pardot (if not Marketing Cloud) has the tightest integration you’ll find. Not only can you map Pardot records to Salesforce Contacts & Leads, but you can map fields, a few custom objects (depending on your plan), and even build automations based on Accounts and Opportunities/Donations.

• It has advanced marketing automation functionality. The Engagement Studio journey builder is a real selling point, and one of the best I’ve seen. But Pardot also comes with web visitor tracking (similar to Google Analytics), mechanisms for scoring & grading your org’s prospects, and more things that I can’t list here because I want to move onto the next section already.

Screenshot of Pardot Lightning Engagement Studio. Source: https://www.pardot.com/blog/why-we-love-pardot-in-lightning/

How does pricing work?

Consider this your disclaimer! Pardot pricing can change at any time. Always confirm with Salesforce before making purchasing decisions.

Check out the Pardot pricing page for up-to-date numbers. Then, remember that Salesforce typically offers a significant discount to nonprofits and slowly exhale. 

The nice thing about Pardot’s pricing is that it’s based on mailable storage. That means:

Email sending is virtually unlimited, since you pay by the # of prospects in your system

You aren’t charged for unmailable prospects: like unsubscribes, those who are marked ‘do not mail’, have hard bounced, or who live in your recycle bin

Pardot isn’t the most affordable option. But there are times when it can be economical, depending on your database size and the pricing of whichever ESP’s you’re considering.

Anything in particular to look out for?

If your org is considering Pardot, it’s a fantastic tool. I say this as someone who’s worked on the admin side, and who has witnessed other people grow to love its marketing features.

But there are some things  worth keeping in mind.

1. Your org will get more from Pardot if you’re on Salesforce Lightning

If you have no clue what this means, then you’re probably already on Lightning and can skip right ahead.

But if your org is still using Salesforce Classic, know that all Pardot upgrades – including the new drag + drop email builder – pretty much only happen in Pardot Lightning. And Pardot Lightning requires Salesforce Lightning.

So make sure your org gets its money’s worth. Consider that migration process.

2. The email building experience is still improving

Remember that transition phase I mentioned? Well Pardot’s email builder is a great example. Before, Pardot emails were mostly reliant on HTML coding. Only recently did Salesforce release the first drag + drop builder for Pardot.

I think it’s a great start. But it may lack the sophistication of other email builders that your team is used to using.

p.s. Does your org send emails through Salesforce right now? Then you can test drive that new builder! Here’s how it works. (To my admin friends, you can also use it for email alerts.)

3. You may need help getting set up

Pardot’s a powerful tool. But with power comes complexity. If you don’t have a Salesforce Admin and marketing person on staff, you’ll probably need implementation support.

There’s the typical marketing tech stuff to worry about: like IP warming and setting up DKIM/SPF records. But implementing Pardot also requires Salesforce configuration. You’ll probably need a knowledgeable consultant, or someone on staff who can dedicate ALL their time digging into that abyss.

4. You may be signing up for a very different support experience

Pardot is a big product with a giant customer base. The good thing about that is the Salesforce Help Center, which is a robust resource for solo troubleshooting. (There are tons of great learning resources out there overall for learning Pardot!)

But what if your team is used to emailing, chatting or even calling your email marketing vendor? Then you’ll want to adjust your expectations, because Pardot Support only allows for cases submitted through the Salesforce ticketing platform. And those can take a few days.

p.s. For customers who can swing it, Pardot does offer a premier support option. I can’t speak to that, but I trust The Spot for Pardot‘s take on this subject.

 So is Pardot worth it?

Frankly, I stand by Pardot. The automation options/ functionality is superb. And the Salesforce connectivity is the stuff of admin dreams.

If those things are high-priority ticket items AND if your org has the budget/staff capacity for it, then Pardot is worth consideration.

Otherwise? Just remember the platform isn’t your typical email marketing tool. It may have more features than your org needs/can leverage!

p.s. While I do wish the Support reality was different, it’s admittedly rare that I come across an issue I can’t Google my way out of.

Want to learn more about Pardot?

If you’re a Salesforce customer, log in to find the Pardot sub group in the Power of Us Hub (online nonprofit community of Salesforce customers). You can also check out the hub’s documentation on Pardot.

And if you’ve got any other questions, please drop them in the comments below!

Share your thoughts!