Pardot has been out there for a while. It is nowadays commonly recognized as Salesforce’s Marketing Automation software for B2B companies, as some of its most promising features relate to capabilities around lead management. According to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management, Salesforce is a leader for its Pardot software.
Pardot, nevertheless, has not always been a Salesforce product. Its history reflects a common trend for technology giants, such as Salesforce, that continue expansion with acquisitions. Pardot became part of Salesforce when the customer experience giant acquired ExactTarget in 2013 for 2.5 billion USD (ExactTarget acquired Pardot in 2012 for 95.5 million USD).
Since the acquisition, Pardot’s popularity has been increasing rapidly with the promise for many companies of facilitating the integration between their CRM and Marketing Automation systems. To some extent, it was evident that Salesforce focused great efforts from the beginning to make this wish come true. However, for several years, some of the core functionalities besides the connector development confirmed that Pardot was not yet completely part of the Salesforce product family.
However, in the technology world things change quickly as customer needs evolve fast. In the past year, Salesforce started to show clear efforts to develop its B2B Marketing Automation platform further to have a more consistent product with the other Salesforce apps. The following are five of the most relevant releases that demonstrate why Pardot is now more than ever part of the Salesforce family.
- Pardot Lightning
It was an interesting move from Salesforce to switch Pardot from a standalone platform to an application in Salesforce Lightning. This has been a major change for all Pardot customers with Salesforce Sales Cloud that have already switched from Classic to Lightning. From the user perspective, some of the implications of such a change have relied mostly on some changes in the user interface, but the overall functionalities have remained the same. From the sales and marketing alignment perspective, this change opens whole new research on how sharing the same platform impacts the relationship and, therefore, the performance of two units that are commonly known for being misaligned. Ultimately, the most expected outcome should be reflected in the customer experience. Is this going to enhance the customer experience, making it more seamless?
- Connected campaigns
In line with Pardot becoming part of Salesforce Lightning comes the alignment between Pardot campaigns and Salesforce campaigns. While Pardot campaigns meant before only the first touch point, campaigns in Salesforce meant any touchpoint. This was one of the main differences between Pardot and Salesforce that affected negatively the possibility of creating multi-touch attribution models. Therefore, it has been a big step for Salesforce to align the application of both to reflect the Salesforce campaign definition. Nevertheless, the only challenge that remains is that Campaigns continue being one of the most underused features in the Salesforce toolbox. Companies typically don’t use the Campaign object in Salesforce, or if they use it, it has nothing to do with marketing campaigns.
- User sync
With Pardot in Lightning comes the need for synchronizing the users in the platforms to avoid creating records in both. The first step has been taken, but clearly this is at an early stage, as Pardot and Salesforce continue to have different authorization and sharing models. A difference in the models creates visibility conflicts, as Pardot users’ access to data is determined by the access the connector user has. In practical terms, this means that there might be situations where a user may be able to see data in Pardot that does she does not see in Salesforce. This may have more drastic implications in organizations with more restrictive data governance models in Salesforce. Subsequently, it is expected that development to address this will continue from Salesforce.
- Business Units
When Pardot came to the market, its target segment was small and mid-sized B2B companies. When it came to the scalability of marketing activities within Pardot for large enterprises, it became more evident that they were not part of the target. Pardot Business Units are one step forward (out of many that are still missing) to enhance the scalability, as it allows to segment the audiences which facilitates the personalisation of content according to different brands, markets or business lines. Another benefit from the analytics perspective is that now it is easier to segment the data to measure how different brands or regions perform and how they impact the global engagement. Large enterprises with several brands or decentralized marketing departments in numerous countries will surely benefit from this.
- Pardot Einstein
Pardot Einstein is an artificial intelligence software developed into Salesforce. Greater benefits of Einstein are achieved when companies have several Salesforce products. For applications related to Pardot, Einstein includes lead scoring, behaviour scoring and campaign insights. Manual behaviour scoring is difficult and time-consuming, as customer engagement varies heavily depending on the person’s online behaviour. On the other hand, manual lead grading is easier than behaviour scoring as long as a proper structure to collect lead data is in place and the rules are coherent to what the company is pursuing. Since some companies struggle to get them right and the result is typically a big queue of non-relevant leads waiting for attention from Sales, the need for predictive lead scoring and grading exist and Pardot Einstein aims to solve that need. Of course, there are companies that prefer to have their custom-made lead grading and scoring model. Whether to choose one or the other will depend on how much you trust something that someone else has created and your preferred degree of control to feel comfortable with an algorithm.
Noticeable progress has been done from Salesforce’s side to improve Pardot’s capabilities. This demonstrates that this is only the beginning for Pardot as a powerful customer acquisition and engagement platform. And, its evolution goes accordingly with the increasing need to align marketing and sales. Bringing them to work more aligned in the same tool and speak the same vocabulary is something expected after switching Pardot from Classic/standalone to Salesforce Lightning. There are still a couple of things in Pardot that need further enhancement, such as features related to social media marketing, and content personalisation and reusability (such as snippets in landing pages). But Salesforce is constantly investing in new innovations for their products so it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing progress there.
Gartner, Magic Quadrant for CRM Lead Management, 23 September 2019, Ilona Hansen, Julian Poulter, Noah Elkin, Christy Ferguson
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings or other designation. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner's research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.