Salesforce Pardot (which starts at $1,250 per month) is a winner in the marketing automation space because of a deep feature set and a built-in connection to the Salesforce application ecosystem. Marketing automation tools usually offer lead-scoring packages, list-building features, contact tags, campaign rules, and other capabilities to help automate customer communications and interaction. Pardot delivers on all those capabilities but without burdening users with an overly complex interface. For those reasons, Pardot garners our Editors’ Choice designation, but be prepared to pay for it as this platform is significantly more expensive even than our other Editors’ Choices, Campaigner and HubSpot.
Pardot also did well in our email marketing roundup, since that’s a primary workload for the platform. In this segment, it offers an intuitive way to create an email campaign along with key features like A/B testing, segmentation, and dynamic content generation. Our Editors’ Choices in that category, Campaigner and Mailchimp ($10.00 at Mail Chimp) were easier to use, but Pardot is still very capable in this space.
In addition, there are excellent out-of-the-box integrations with other Salesforce platforms, notably Einstein Analytics, which can add a valuable analytics layer quickly and easily. And while it’s not part of our customer relationship management (CRM) product roundup, the tool does have CRM modules available. However, most customers will probably opt for integrating Pardot with the flagship Salesforce Sales Cloud (Visit Site at Salesforce.com) .
Pricing and Plans
The standard Growth Pardot plan costs $1,250 per month for up to 10,000 contacts when billed annually. This plan includes email marketing, prospect tracking, lead scoring, 50 forms, 50 landing pages, chat support, and standard Salesforce CRM integration. The Plus plan costs $2,500 per month for up to 10,000 contacts when billed annually. In this middle tier plan, Pardot offers A/B and multivariate testing, email analytics, Google AdWords integration, application programming interface (API) access, and an integrated marketing calendar. The Advanced plan, which we tested, costs $4,000 per month for up to 10,000 contacts when billed annually. It includes access to Einstein AI technology. This plan offers custom user roles and permissions, custom object integration, a dedicated IP address, predictive lead score, and behavior scoring. All plans give you a capacity for 10,000 contacts.
Another add-on option is Salesforce Engage, which is $50 per month per user, and gives you access to real-time alerts when contacts open a marketing email and read it. Say you send out a note about a holiday sale in your store. Using Engage, you can get an alert in Pardot when your customer opens the email. The alerts are a nifty feature that you’ll also find in products such as Infusionsoft by Keap. When you click on a contact’s record, Engage also provides email templates you can use to send off a note.
Pardot has the highest starting price of any of the marketing automation tools we reviewed. In its class, you’ll find tools such as the aforementioned HubSpot, our marketing automation Editors’ Choice tool for small to midsize businesses (SMBs). However Pardot offers a cheaper price starting at $1,250 for 10,000 contacts compared with Hubspot’s price of $3,200 for 10,000 contacts. With Pardot you can’t choose a package with less than 10,000 contacts.
If you’re looking for lower-priced solutions, you’ll want to check out products like Infusionsoft by Keap . That package costs $200 per month for 10,000 contacts, 50,000 emails per month, and access for up to five users. The package also includes Infusionsoft’s four core feature sets (CRM, e-commerce, marketing automation, and sales automation).
If you need a product that can scale as you grow, then Zoho Campaigns offers a pay-as-you-go plan in which you buy and use email credits. The credits are applied based on a number of emails you can send. These Zoho Campaigns plans begin at $12 for 500 credits, meaning 500 emails. Or you can send 5,000 emails for $80, and up to $750 for 100,000 credits. Monthly subscriptions, which include unlimited emails, begin at $5 for up to 500 subscribers, all the way to $750 per month for up to 120,000 subscribers.
User Interface and Campaign Creation
As you’ll find with most Salesforce-associated products, Pardot’s dashboard is very clean, with well-labeled tabs and icons. Most users will have no problem navigating the tool regardless of how deep into the weeds they might get. Pardot uses a left-hand navigation setup that we found useful for quick data consumption. However, Pardot has taken an added step of letting you collapse the navigation rail depending on how much room you need to view your reports or to expand your automation sequence branches. Most of the charts and graphs are designed to be simple and bland, which we prefer, particularly for quick information consumption.
Pardot’s prospect profiles give you easy access to interaction history that you can use to plan or revise campaigns that target this specific user. You’ll have information on how prospects entered your database, how they’ve been contacted, which emails they opened, and which emails they deleted. You can even add notes to the profile and assign a prospect to a specific marketer who might be able to better bring the prospect along the marketing pipeline.
Like Zoho Campaigns , which features a very basic What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) email builder, Pardot’s not going to win any awards for building one-off email templates. It’s a very simple builder that lets you add text and images. If you need a fancier email, then you can drop in HTML code to create your own emails and templates. Pardot does offer 39 pre-set email templates, which should be more than enough for you to accomplish most standard email-creation tasks. If you’re going to spend the bulk of your time in the email builder, then check out SendinBlue’s builder, which is one of the more complex and creativity-inspiring builders we reviewed, or HubSpot’s, which is also feature rich.
Once the email or template is created, you can pop into the Testing tab to see how the email will look on various clients. You can see how the email will look on every browser, email client, and device. This is a genius feature that you’ll only find in Pardot among the solutions we’ve tested. You can also analyze the potential for spam to see if you pass tests, including the spam engines used by Google Gmail, GMX, Mail.com, and Microsoft Outlook.
The Engagement Studio is where your automation campaigns are created. This is one of the best automation branching sequence builders we’ve tested, rivaled only by Infusionsoft. To create a sequence, you’ll be asked to name the campaign and select a folder in which the campaign will live. You’ll also be asked to name a recipient list, suppression lists, and the time you’d like the emails to be sent. Once you’ve added these details, you’ll be directed to a map that features a start, end, and a “plus” sign. Click the plus sign to add an action, trigger, or rule. Within each of these options, you’ll find a drop-down list of activities that will define the next step of your sequence.
The only thing missing from the Engagement Studio is the ability to drag and drop new actions or triggers into your sequence. Otherwise, it’s one of the easiest sequence builders you’ll find. It’s an infinite pallet that places no restrictions on the number of east, west, north, or south branching options you provide. This means you’ll be able to create a custom automation campaign that can feature endless options, actions, and reactions. You won’t find that on tools such as Zoho Campaigns.
Within Engagement Studio, you can pretest the process of an automated program to see how it reacts. This is essentially a fire drill automation campaign to ensure your complex branching doesn’t lead to a dead end or a duplicate email. Pardot offers in-depth reporting that lets you see a step-by-step examination of your sequence to determine where recipients are leaving or converting within the sequence. This lets you switch out a specific part of an automation build rather than having to start from scratch if your marketers aren’t seeing the results they’d like to see.
Depending on which plan you’re on, you’ll gain access to a host of superb multichannel tools that you won’t find on most strict marketing automation tools. For example, unlike Infusionsoft, Pardot lets you create social media campaigns. The tool lets you schedule and send posts in real time to Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter simultaneously. You can create an unlimited number of social accounts and schedule and send as many posts as possible. You can also use the tool to view social stats (e.g., how many times a prospect clicked on one of your posts, if he or she shares the post, or if he or she left a comment).
Pardot also offers a search marketing tool plugged into Bing, Google, and Yahoo. You can check search engine rankings, monthly volumes, ranking difficulties, run competitor analysis, and monitor your paid search campaigns. No other tool we reviewed offered search marketing functionality.
If you opt for Salesforce Engage access, then you’ll be able to use Android and iOS apps to connect to Pardot in order to view all of your leads and actions. You’ll get mobile alerts whenever users download whitepapers or enter information on landing pages. Unfortunately, there are no standalone Pardot mobile apps.
Along with email automation, Pardot has very capable email marketing features. We gave Pardot a test run by creating an email campaign to advertise floor lamp deals. We added some contacts (prospects) into the system, and then assigned them to ourselves so they would show up as eligible to receive the email blast. There are two ways to create prospects (or contacts). You create a list, go to each person’s record, and add them to that campaign. Another method is to use dynamic list, in which you search for the criteria of a prospect and add the prospects if they match the criteria. You could add certain prospects based on their score and from which campaigns the emails originated. When you import a file of prospects, it has to be in CSV format. XLS doesn’t work. Just like with Campaigner, when importing a CSV or Microsoft Excel file, we had to separate the first name and the last name into separate fields, so the software would also recognize as separate fields, like first name and last name.
Then we went ahead and created an email campaign. When we entered the editor to draft an email, a template appeared, but it wasn’t intuitive on how to edit it. First we chose to add new email list campaign, but then we backtracked to add new email template.
Once we sent it out we could access reports that show data like click-through rates, and which emails originated from a certain campaign. If click-through rates aren’t high, you can edit the emails to improve them and then send to the next batch with the edits. You can get a behavior score using Salesforce’s machine learning (ML) capabilities in the Advanced package. Einstein can learn which prospects are doing the best so you can target those customers with emails. We were unable to access Einstein in our test account because it wasn’t linked to a main Salesforce account that includes the Einstein features.
The process of finding a list in which to import the prospects was a bit clumsy. We had to assign a campaign to various prospects, but when we tried to tag campaigns, Pardot said those campaigns were “empty.” We had to select a step called “Un-delete matching prospects found in the recycle bin during this import” to select a list item. After we restored prospects from the recycle bin, we were able to assign prospects to the “Customers” and “Monthly Newsletter” lists. We were also able to complete our importing of contacts from a CSV file.
After we created a campaign, we attempted to run an A/B test to compare the effectiveness of multiple emails. However, in our test account, we had a message that these automation-based emails will be blocked. Autoresponders and system emails would not be blocked, however. Salesforce says these email capabilities were blocked in our test account due to “trust and security reasons” which usually have something to do with email reputation. That’s an important concern, since your account can get flagged as spam if you’re not careful. Every day users should contact their email compliance officer when they see a message like this. In our instance, we simply canceled the test. You can select the percentage of the audience you want to test and what criteria will determine the winner (Opens vs. Clicks).
We found that Pardot has impressive trigger actions called Completion Actions, in which you can automatically add a contact to your prospect list when they complete a form. It also offers common email marketing features like notifying the sender when a prospect opens an email.
A Wealth of Features
Pardot contains a host of interesting features designed to expand and improve on what is an already top-notch system. It offers integration with Salesforce Account-Based Marketing (ABM), a tool that automates the work done between sales and marketing teams to identify target accounts, marry data between sales and marketing databases, and execute campaigns to each account’s primary decision maker. The tool is backed by Salesforce’s Einstein AI engine. To access ABM you need to use Sales Cloud along with Pardot. To access ABM, you’ll need the 360-degree view of customers with CRM, which is Sales Cloud, as well as the marketing automation features of Pardot.
Pardot features tight integration with Microsoft Outlook. Engage for Outlook, as it’s called, lets users track email engagement with Salesforce Lightning. The combination gives users more insight into who is being emailed, with which emails they’re likely to engage, and when they’re most likely to engage. All of the engagement data can be pushed out through alerts as well as on individual and team-based dashboards.
In addition, Pardot incorporates dynamic content features to enable an email campaign to be automatically personalized according to a user’s preferences to send special offers. For example, the platform can send a different version by region so customers could receive deals most relevant to them.
For the spring 2019 release of Pardot, Salesforce improved its integration with the rest of the Salesforce platform. The company redesigned the Salesforce-Pardot connector page, which now has a direct link to the Connected Campaigns, which provides a way to link a campaign in Pardot with one in the Salesforce platform. The connector page also now lets you access Salesforce User Sync, which lets Salesforce users mirror changes in Pardot when Salesforce users are added, deactivated or modified. Meanwhile, the connector page will let you use Marketing Data Sharing to create rules for syncing a subset of leads, contacts, opportunities, and custom objects. You can also integrate Pardot with the rest of the Salesforce platform using the Pardot Setup Assistant.
A Comprehensive Yet Expensive Platform
If you run a mom-and-pop business and you’re trying to drive some traffic to your website or storefront, then Pardot isn’t the right tool for you. You’ll want to head over to HubSpot to find the perfect tier of tool for your current marketing needs. Pardot is an enterprise-class marketing automation behemoth that does everything you’ll need it to do (and probably a whole lot more).
Salesforce users, large businesses, companies with deep email lists, and organizations with extremely diverse customer groups will benefit the most from Pardot’s breadth of functionality. However, it comes with a steep price. But, if you can afford the software, it will ultimately provide enough return-on-investment (ROI) to warrant the expense, which is why we consider it one of the best tools in its class, especially for automation.
Salesforce Pardot Specs
|Limited Free Trial||No|
|Social Media Integration||Yes|
|24/7 Phone Support||No|
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