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How to Test in Pardot Sandboxes, Training Orgs… and Even Production

BY MIKE FAZIO

One of our recent posts outlined the need-to-knows about Pardot Sandboxes. In this one, we’re going to go a bit deeper on how to put this to work in your organization.

But first, a very important call out — Sandboxes are a core part of building cool things in Sales Cloud, but the current Pardot equivalent is slightly different. The biggest difference is a Pardot Sandbox doesn’t provide for passing data or metadata between production and the sandbox or vice versa (at least not yet).

And really, that’s OK. A lot of the functionality in Pardot can be safely and effectively tested in production. 

I know, I know, this scares the living daylights out of most Salesforce admins who wouldn’t be caught dead doing that in Sales Cloud — but I promise it’s not as terrifying as it sounds. In this blog, I’ll cover:

  • What to test in a Padot Sandbox
  • What’s okay to test in production
  • Where more advanced testing MAY be required

Let’s dive in.

What to test in a Pardot Sandbox

The most important things to actively test in a Pardot Sandbox are the items related to the flow of data between Pardot and Salesforce — the things that could change records or cause data to be lost.

If you don’t have access to a Pardot Sandbox, you can request a Pardot Training Environment — and most of the same logic of what to test in Sandboxes applies in those as well.

1. Test the lead/contact/prospect sync between Pardot and Salesforce

The trigger for Pardot to sync prospect records to Salesforce is simple: as soon as it is assigned to a user, queue, or via active Salesforce assignment rule, a Pardot prospect will be linked with a lead or contact in Salesforce.

The process for determining what records sync from Salesforce to Pardot is more nuanced. The default syncing behavior between Salesforce and Pardot is determined by the connector user’s permissions and role. Any records that aren’t shared or “visible” to the connector user don’t sync into Pardot.

With the introduction of the V2 connector in early 2019 came another tool for Pardot Advanced Edition users: the ability to use Marketing Data Sharing. Marketing Data Sharing allows you to further refine your sync behavior by choosing one field on Leads, Contacts, Opportunities and custom objects to determine which records are synced to Pardot. (This is also what dictates syncing to multiple Business Units.)

For example, if you only want U.S. Leads synced to Pardot, you can create a custom field named Region and set the rule to be “If Region equals United States,” then sync the record. 

There can be a lot of moving pieces to make sure that the records you want to share between the systems are correctly managed. Since this process could potentially involve making data changes to leads/contacts, this is a good candidate for Sandbox testing.

To test this in a Sandbox, I would recommend pausing the connector while you’re building. Once you’ve defined the business logic for what records sync from Salesforce to Pardot, then configure the profile, permissions, roles, and Marketing Data Sharing.

Run a few reports to get a list of records that you would expect to sync to Pardot and turn the connector sync back on. Give it a day to catch up and then compare the lists to identify anything that may need tweaking and troubleshooting.

2. Test sync behavior with large volumes of records

An issue that can come up in larger orgs with complex automation on the Salesforce side is hitting Salesforce governor limits and/or record and object access issues when large volumes of data are changed all at once.

I would recommend doing a test of large scale changes to see if you may need to rework any lead or contact triggers/automations in Salesforce. To test this, export all of your prospects, make an arbitrary change to a field that is synced to Salesforce on all of the records (i.e. add a period to a text field or something that won’t corrupt all the data), and then import them back into Pardot.

Pardot breaks up its changes into batches of 50 records at a time in order to minimize the load on Process Builders, workflow rules, triggers, etc… but every environment is different, and it’s ideal to know if there are issues to anticipate before moving to production.

If you do get errors, export the error list and look for clues as to what is causing it. Pardot will capture the error message that Salesforce sends for each failed record. In some cases those errors can be fairly common, standard errors (like too many SOQL queries) that you can usually drop into Google to find more info.

Or you’ll see a specific Process Builder named as part of the problem, which indicates where to look next. Sometimes the error is a custom error coming from Apex or a custom validation rule or field validation, in which case doing some sleuthing through your validation rules, field settings or Apex classes/triggers is required.

3. Test field mapping & field-level sync behavior

As part of the implementation process, you should be reviewing your Lead, Contact, Account, and Opportunity fields to determine which to bring over to Pardot. Any fields needed for personalization, segmentation, and training should be set up in Pardot.

With Lead and Contact fields, you can configure sync behavior one of three ways:

  • Use Salesforce’s value as the master
  • Use Pardot’s value as the master
  • Use the most recently updated record

Accounts and Opportunity fields sync one way — from Salesforce to Pardot.

I would recommend focusing Sandbox testing efforts on Lead and Contact fields. You will want to compile a data dictionary outlining which Salesforce field names map to Pardot prospect fields to ensure the data that is passing back and forth is correct.

Review any synced fields that are required at the field level (vs. required on the page layout) or restricted picklists — these are frequent sources of sync errors. To test the sync behavior on these fields once they’re configured, create an import file and observe the behavior. Are the correct values overwritten? Is key data retained? Do you get any sync errors?

4. Test User Sync

When you enable Salesforce User Sync with Pardot, you will go through a process of mapping Salesforce profiles to Pardot roles. These roles (Sales, Sales Manager, Marketing, Administrator, or custom roles) dictate what your users will be able to see when logged into Salesforce or viewing Pardot data from the Lead or Contact record in Salesforce.

I would recommend configuring this in the Sandbox and verifying that this behaves as expected. Try using the “log in as” functionality in Salesforce to view Pardot information as different types of Salesforce users and confirm that the expected level of access is present.

What’s okay for Pardot Admins to test in Production

Unlike in a Salesforce instance, many of the changes you make in Pardot are pretty simple to delete without major repercussions, especially when first starting out.

Once you have live data in the Pardot production org, though, you will want to be careful of starting automations that change data or trigger communication to a large portion of your database.

These are the items that are low risk and should be built in production, along with some quick testing tips for each type of asset:

1. Email templates & drafts

QA email templates before sending by running a Litmus render to preview on devices/browsers and check that you’ll pass spam filters.

Then, when it’s good to go, get final approval by sending yourself a test email and/or by sending to a test list. Double check the subject line, pre-header text, images, content, and click every link.

2. Forms

QA these before publishing on your website by filling out in incognito mode and verifying that the completion actions fire as expected. Once embedded in a landing page, test using a few different browsers or even a cross-browser testing tool like Browserling.

3. Form handlers

Similar to forms, QA these by filling out in incognito mode and verifying that the completion actions fire as expected. Try “messing up” on required fields and verify that the expected behavior is taking place.

(Side note: In general, I would recommend making fields required on the front end form, and make nothing – except email address – required in the form handler in Pardot. This ensures that no submissions accepted by the front end form get “rejected” by Pardot and lost.)

4. Static lists

There’s not a whole lot to test here.

5. Dynamic lists

Set your filter criteria, then test your logic by clicking the “Preview” button:

image.png

This will then generate a preview that looks something like this:

image.png

6. Custom Redirects

To test, create your link and access it from an incognito browser. Verify that Pardot registers a link clink and you’re in business. You can also test it as a cookied visitor to make sure your completion actions fire as needed.

7. Folders, Tags, Naming Conventions, Campaigns, Files, Social Posts

Build right in Prod — these don’t really require testing.

8. Page Actions

After you add tracking code to your website, set up Page Actions where appropriate and then visit those pages as a cookied prospect to make completion actions are firing as expected.

9. Dynamic Content

Testing dynamic content depends on where the content is located. If it’s in an email, go through your normal email testing procedures. If it’s on a landing page, add it to the page before it’s live and visit the page as a cookied prospect. Then change that user’s profile to match a different variation of your dynamic content.

If you’re using dynamic content on your website, I recommend working with your web developer to get a staging site where you can test how the dynamic content will work within the website (check mobile, a few desktop sizes and various browsers).

10. Email Preference Centers & Unsubscribe Page

Similar to testing the other links in your email, you can (and should) test your EPCs and Unsubscribe Pages. Just make sure to re-subscribe your user after you click the “unsubscribe” button.

11. Scoring

The scoring model in Pardot works retroactively when changes are made, so if you want to try out a certain model today and then revisit and make changes in a month, you can do that and the values will update automatically.

The one caveat here is that the changes you make directly to a prospect’s score (with completion actions or automation rules) are not retroactive, so if you clear a score, the only score you can get back is from the scoring rules.

12. Grading

In Pardot, grading is controlled by a series of automation rules and can be updated and changed as your business needs change. I would consider testing the automation rules that control grading just like other automation rules (see the next section).

As you can see, a lot of what you build in Pardot is self-contained and can be staged, tested and ‘deployed’ all from within your production Pardot instance. However, like I mentioned at the beginning of this section, there are a few things that require a bit more intentional testing to avoid issues in production.

Things to Consider More Advanced Testing For

In a perfect world, there would be a “push to production” button where we can build large Engagement Studio Programs and complex Automation Rules in a Pardot Sandbox and then move them to our live org.

But we don’t have that yet — although according to Pardot, it’s coming. There are some assets in Pardot that you may be tempted to build first in a Sandbox, but where doing so would require the team to spend hours manually rebuilding.

The following items would require a lot of time and effort to build in a Sandbox and manually rebuild. Admins need to weigh the risk/reward of building these types of things in Production directly, or first in a Sandbox (or a mix depending on the complexity). Keep in mind that rebuilding a second time in a new system opens the door to additional mistakes and human error.

1. Automation rules

Automation rules are powerful — and with great power, comes great responsibility.

The hardest part about automation rules is getting the logic correct. So, one idea is to build your logic for the ‘criteria’ first as dynamic lists in Production first. Then you can let these dynamic lists run for days and inspect the membership frequently. If the criteria is pulling in the prospects that you would expect it to pull in, it’s pretty safe to then use that same logic in the criteria for your automation rule and build live in Production.

As a final test, preview the automation rule before turning it on (and take one more look at the actions section to make sure it’s what you want to happen). Yes, this sounds like a royal pain in the keyboard, but automation rules can make massive changes to your data permanently so we want to really look hard at the logic of the criteria.

3. Engagement Studio

Engagement Studio Programs have the widest range of functionality and can edit data, send emails, create tasks and campaign members in Salesforce, assign prospects, and send notifications. So, we need to be intentional with how we build and test our programs.

A few ideas: First, keep it simple. Branching logic is good but can quickly get out of hand, if you need to, split up the logic into multiple, more focused programs.

Second, double check your dates and your logic gates.

Third, create test prospects and add them to the program first. Make sure they meet all of your rules so you can watch how they flow through the system. Depending on your program, you might have to shorten your wait times so you can test in a reasonable amount of time, but keep the program as true to the final as possible. 

4. Lead assignment rules/processes

If you’re handling lead assignment in Pardot, you will most likely be building it using completion actions, automation rules, and/or Engagement Studio programs. As such, I would test these using the other suggestions we have for those features. The one difference is that it might be worth creating a few test prospects and running them down various paths to watch how they are assigned.

5. 3rd party integrations

There is a wide range of features and functions that outside integrations have and, as such, need to be handled on a case-by-case basis based on the integration.

Some integrations are simple and won’t directly affect Salesforce data, like the Google Analytics and Adwords connectors. But others, like webinar connectors, can make changes to Prospect data — so you’ll want to be sure to test those integrations using test Prospects to watch the data flow to see how and when data is changed. The Sandbox uses a different URL (pi.demo.pardot.com) which might not be supported by the 3rd party integration, so testing compatibility with the Sandbox may vary.

Testing & Change Management in Pardot

What questions do you have about best practices for testing Pardot assets and automation? What barriers have you run into? Any questions about Pardot Sandboxes?

Let’s hear it in the comments!

By |2020-05-21T16:58:19+00:00May 21st, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

The Pardot Sandbox: 9 Need-to-Knows About this Critical Feature

Have you heard the news? At long last, Pardot Sandboxes have arrived — sparking joy in the hearts of many admins. Here are 9 need-to-knows to keep in mind when exploring them for your business:

1. Who’s eligible for a Pardot Sandbox?

Pardot Advanced customers with a full Salesforce sandbox are able to access this feature.

Rumor has it that this will be available for an additional fee in the future for Pardot Plus and Growth customers down the road, but it isn’t yet.

2. When will Pardot Sandboxes be available?

Pardot Sandbox functionality is currently in open beta and will become generally available in the Summer ’20 release.

If you meet the eligibilty criteria, you can spin up a Pardot Sandbox by following the steps in Help & Training.

3. Who has been asking for this feature?

There has been a lot of demand for Pardot Sandboxes from a lot of different angles. (See also: a highly debated request submitted to the IdeaExchange.)

The group that I anticipate being the MOST excited about this feature is Salesfore admins. Because Sandboxes are a cornerstone of change management in Salesforce, admins are often shocked that Pardot doesn’t have an equivalent. A Pardot Sandbox gives them a resource for testing without threatening their production Salesforce environment.

Pardot admins have also been looking forward to Sandboxes as a way to test new things and training newer team members. In addition to this, it’s a great way tool give access to agencies or third parties that you want to evaluate further before handing over the keys to your live org.

4. Okay, but what exactly is a Pardot Sandbox?

Let’s start with a definition of what a Salesforce Sandbox is, just to level set:

A Sandbox is a replica of your current Salesforce environment, including all of the metadata like custom fields, page layouts, Process Builders, etc. that allows you build and test new changes and then push them back to production.

There are several kinds of Salesforce Sandboxes, but the Pardot Sandbox only works with full copy sandboxes in Salesforce.

A Pardot Sandbox is a Pardot Business Unit that can be provisioned from a Salesforce Full Sandbox. Meaning you can build new processes and automations and test how they would impact your production Salesforce in a replica of your org.

4. Why do Pardot Sandboxes matter?

A Pardot Sandbox allows Pardot admins to install, provision and configure a Pardot org inside of a Full Sandbox and let the Salesforce team run regression testing until they’re convinced that the Pardot code won’t interfere with their complex automations. 

This is critically important, especially in enterprise orgs with a lot of customization, automation, and Apex doing a delicate dance of record updates. 

5. What is NOT available in a Pardot Sandbox?

Let’s start with the biggie: Pardot Sandboxes can’t push changes into your production Pardot. Any changes you make in your Pardot Sanbox need to be manually recreated in production.

Salesforce Engage is also not yet supported in Sandboxes.

6. What is on the roadmap for Sandboxes?

The ability to use change sets to push things that you build in a Pardot Sandbox to your “real” Pardot is said to be on the horizon, but I have yet to hear a timeline on that.

7. What should I actually test in a Pardot Sandbox?

Because a Pardot Sandbox is a fully functional (minus email) version of Pardot, you might be tempted to go all out and try all the things! in the Sandbox. And you’re welcome to. But I would focus on a couple areas first:

  • Testing the flow of contact/lead/prospect data between Pardot and Salesforce
  • Testing sync behavior
  • Running automation rules

Many other things — like forms, landing pages, email templates — I would actually recommend testing live in your Production instance of Pardot. More to come on best practices for this in a future blog.

8. What else do I need to know?

You can create one Pardot Sandbox per Advanced Edition and Salesforce Full Sandbox combo.

If the Salesforce Sandbox is refreshed or deleted, the Pardot sandbox will deprovision and a new Pardot sandbox can be created.

The B2BMA managed package also needs to be manually installed in the Salesforce Sandbox.

9. What should I use if I can’t get a Pardot Sandbox?

Good question. If you don’t qualify for the Pardot Sandbox beta, tou have one other option: a Pardot Training Org.

These are provisioned after filling out a request form and are completely independent of your production Pardot org. You can use this training org to connect to a Salesforce Production or Sandbox org.

I recommend choosing the highest level sandbox you can so you can get closer to testing the two items mentioned above, but there are no restrictions on what type of sandbox you connect these training orgs to. Check out the Pardot Training Environment FAQ to learn more (which includes the link to the request form).

(Salesforce Partners also have the ability to request a completely separate Pardot/Salesforce dev org, but this is completely outside of your production Salesforce and Pardot orgs and can’t be connected to it. So it’s mostly for training, testing crazy ideas, etc…)

What questions do you have about Pardot Sandboxes?

Is there any other functionality you’re dying to see in Pardot Sandboxes? Any burning questions that remain? Let’s hear it in the comments!

By |2020-05-20T23:15:03+00:00May 20th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

4 Ways to Encourage & Automate Adding Contact Roles in Salesforce (New Post on The Drip!)

Campaign Influence reporting is a gamechanger, and arguably one of the most underutilized parts of Salesforce.

When leveraged effectively, it helps marketing prove the ROI of their efforts and show exactly which campaigns are influencing pipeline.

But often when marketers and Admins go through the process of enabling this, they find that they don’t have the data they need to fuel these reports. And usually the culprint is missing Contact Roles.

In a recent post for the Drip, I shared:

  • Why Campaign Influence reporting is a godsend
  • Common places where Campaign Influence reporting breaks down
  • Why Contact Roles are needed in this kind of reporting
  • 4 ways to populate Contact Roles (including one automated one!)

Read the full post on The Drip!

By |2020-04-16T15:47:01+00:00April 16th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Impacted by COVID-19? Apply for the Pardot Bootcamp Scholarship

A few weeks ago, my team posted an offer for a Pardot Admin Bootcamp Scholarship.

The idea was that we’d offer 1-3 spots in our paid training course for marketers who have lost their jobs or are struggling to find work as a result of COVID-19 and are looking to expand their skillset.

We were floored by the response, and it’s clear to us that 1-3 spots isn’t enough.

So we’re changing things up to try to do our part in supporting the Salesforce and Pardot ecosystem during this crazy time.

To assist more people that have had their employment impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are expanding the program and creating a whole new session of the course exclusively for scholarship recipients.

About the Pardot Admin Bootcamp Scholarship Program

Our Pardot Admin Bootcamp is an interactive course designed to help students learn the ins-and-outs of Pardot and get their hands dirty with real-life examples and applications. Throughout the course, students can test their knowledge with practical exam questions (excellent prep for the Pardot Specialist cert) and collaborate and network with other marketers.

Sessions will begin on April 29th and will meet weekly from 12-2 PM ET for 6 weeks. Live, 2-hour lectures will be held every Wednesday with open office hours to support any questions or 1:1 needs.

The scholarship session has been slightly adapted from the regular curriculum so that the exercises will work in a shared training environment.

How to Apply for the Bootcamp Scholarship

To be considered for a Pardot Admin Bootcamp scholarship, your employment status must have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

To apply, please complete our online application by April 24th. Selected participants are asked to commit to attending all sessions of the couse and will be notified by April 27th of their acceptance in the course.

By |2020-04-15T14:59:04+00:00April 15th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Pivoting Post-COVID: 6 Digital Strategies for Higher Education

BY JACQUELINE FASSETT

COVID 19 has changed many industries, but none more than those which rely on in-person interaction. Like bars, restaurants… and most importantly, classrooms. 

Moving forward, it’s going to be a new world for campuses. A new, digital world. 

Schools who will be successful in 2020-2021 are sitting down to think through how to pivot recruitment, admissions, and student success for this new world. If they’re not already on your radar, here are 6 digital strategies you and your team can start building out now. 

1. Virtual Events

Let’s start here. It’s the obvious move for your in-person events. And in some cases, it might be even better. 

This past week, we’ve already seen everything from haunted house tours to virtual raves online. Think about the possibilities! Virtual experiences of campus tours, onsite facilities (like labs), or even your digital platforms can give prospective students a better feel of how they’ll succeed at your school.

With Pardot Connectors and the Pardot API, you can easily pull the registration and attendance data into your Pardot and Salesforce instance. And then, you’ll be able to easily tailor your follow up and suggest similar events to keep the prospective students (or current ones) engaged.

2. SMS & WhatsApp

Texting has a 97% open rate. Yes, you read that right. 

If you have found that your email tactics hang around the average 16% email open rate for Higher Education, you might need a shake up. 

With trusted SMS solutions like MogliSMS (who has deep experience with higher education) texting from Salesforce and Pardot is as easy as adding someone to a Salesforce Campaign. Yep, that easy — just add them to a Campaign. 

With MogliSMS, you can even integrate WhatsApp and build out Dashboards to see how your text messaging efforts are driving admissions or fundraising efforts. 

Now, combine that with promoting your new virtual events and you’ve got an exciting new engagement strategy.

3. Chatbots & Conversational Marketing

Chat bots and conversational marketing tools are popping up on every B2B website. But the higher education space is starting to see real growth with chatbots and big savings. 

As we see students and prospective students come back time and again to a website to view program offerings, find services, or schedule counselor appointments, chatbots can speed up the process and get them an answer in an instant. Think about how happy and impressed they’ll be. 

With chatbots like Qualified, a chatbot built specifically for Pardot and Salesforce, you can even place a call directly through the Qualified bot. In the age of where younger generations expect instant gratification and Amazon-like speed, being able to automatically talk to a counselor or helpful staff member is a winning marketing tactic. 

4. Pardot Engagement Studio

Pardot’s best feature and automation heavy hitter is by far Engagement Studio (though my colleague Mike Creuzer might say it’s the API). Engagement Studio is a powerhouse tool for nurturing prospective students or benefactors. 

Pardot’s Engagement Studio can not only send timely and personalized messages, but also help to qualify the student. Taking it to the next level, you can even alert admissions staff of an engaged candidate with the creation of a Salesforce task. 

No more bland emails and overwhelmed counselors. Now you’ve got an automated and personalized nurturing campaign, and you can get back to planning the next virtual rave. 

5. Pardot Social Posting & Marketing Cloud Social Listening

If you are used to in-person events leading your marketing strategies, you might need to find a social platform to continue to interact, engage, and listen to prospective and current students. Salesforce offers several tools for this. 

Pardot’s Social feature allows you to schedule posts and keep track of how your prospects (all the people in your Pardot instance) are engaging with your social content. 

With Marketing Cloud’s Social Studio, you can not only schedule posts, but also listen and monitor your post and reputation on social media. 

It’s imperative that schools show students they are listening. Especially in a time where it might feel harder for the student to get in touch with staff and faculty. With features offered by Salesforce, schools can easily communicate with and listen to students through social media.

6. Innovative Advertising

Students have come to expect schools to be innovative and personalized. Their online experience has never been more important. Digital advertising should feel like a seamless and personalized experience for each student. 

Pardot can help you track and personalize the experience for each prospective student or benefactor. Whether you’re using pay-per-click ads or trying something new, Pardot’s tools like landing pages, custom redirects, and page actions, can help your team create a seamless experience.

Through Pardot Landing Pages, you can quickly design, publish, and create easy to remember, custom URLs in Pardot. When your team puts out a new digital ad, like a podcast ad (check out this example at the start of NPR’s Marketplace from the Oregon State University’s E-Campus), tracking engagement and initiating follow up will be easy. 

The New Digital Campus

As we move our daily interactions online, we’re going to see big changes in the way we communicate and market online. Tried and true platforms like email are not going away, but new spaces pop up constantly. We need to innovate and automate how we capture students’ attention, and make each student feel valued and part of the community.

The Sercante team, a fully remote team, lives/breathes innovative marketing. If your school or organization is ready to take on this new world, let’s jump on a Zoom call and brainstorm together. 

By |2020-04-13T14:35:00+00:00April 13th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

How Pardot Admins Can FINALLY Bury the Hatchet with Sales

BY MIKE MORRIS

The relationship between sales and marketing departments is not always the stuff dreams are made of.

In fact, sometimes it can be a real nightmare with both sides pointing fingers at each other and a total lack of collaboration and alignment.

During my career, I’ve experienced both extremes of this relationship. This post is going to focus on the positive experience and some tips for strengthening your relationship.

First, Develop a Relationship

You don’t have to be best friends, but take the time to get to know your counterpart and understand what makes him or her tick. I’ve been in some situations where sales leadership had an immediate disdain for marketing (and I felt the same way about them) and these preconceived notions set the stage for failure.

My last role was quite the opposite, and it made all the difference in the world. We took the time to get to know each other as people first and then as sales and marketing professionals. We took the time at the beginning of each meeting to chat about our kids and maybe the score of last night’s game.

While this may seem unnecessary, I would argue quite the opposite. Because we genuinely like each other, we wanted to help the other succeed. We also had a strong enough relationship to disagree and offer constructive criticism.

The relationship between sales and marketing leaders is key – take the time to invest in it. While we no longer work together, Jonathan (the sales leader referenced above) and I still remain friends today and speak regularly.

Implement Lead Scoring and Grading ASAP

First, a truth for my friends in marketing.

Not every lead you generate is qualified and worth a phone call.

That guy who bent your ear for 20 minutes at the trade show booth is not a buyer. He simply enjoyed the free drinks a little too much and REALLY wants that t-shirt that you are giving away. He has no idea what your company even does at this point.

This is why lead scoring and grading is so important. Our friend from the trade show may be an ideal candidate for your services based on his job title (which would equate to his grade), but he has not shown any buying signals at this point and should not be sent to your sales team. Instead, take the time to nurture him until he engages with your marketing and shows buying signals (and meets a qualifying score). Only then should he be sent to your sales team.

Building an scoring and grading system that’s mutually agreed to and rooted in reality will go a long way towards building trust with your sales team and increasing the effectiveness of sales calls.

Collaborate and Share Knowledge

I work primarily with marketing teams in my current role, but I ALWAYS encourage collaboration with sales when it comes to the previously mentioned Scoring and Grading.

The truth is that marketing may THINK that they know what the perfect prospect looks like and engagement with which asset shows the strongest buying signal, but they don’t. The only way to know this information is through direct interaction with the customers – and that is something that sales has.

When doing scoring and grading, conduct a workshop with sales leaders and a few of the top sales representatives. Work collaboratively to prioritize marketing assets, engagements and scoring/grading thresholds. Both teams need to have skin in the game and agree to service level agreements to make the process work.

This collaboration should not just be limited to scoring and grading, however — it should extend to other areas of the business too. Just think of all the great reports and metrics that both teams have. Are they being shared?

Using Opportunities: Help Me Help You

Senior leadership looks to marketing to provide key ROI metrics and report on the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. While it’s true that Salesforce and Pardot can provide outstanding reporting on campaign influence, all these capabilities are negated if opportunities are not used properly by the organization and sales.

One of the most common issues that I see is contact roles not being associated with opportunities in Salesforce. Since marketing relies on campaigns to track attribution and there is no direct correlation to opportunities, sales MUST add contact roles to create the linkage. Without contact roles, there will be holes and inaccuracies in all your ROI reports.

(Side note: Realizing that the life a sales person is a busy one and associating contact roles may not the #1 priority, the team at Sercante Lab has developed the Automated Opportunity Contact Roles app to give your sales team a hand.

Help your sales team and yourself by checking it out today.)

Be Realistic with Tasks & Alerts

The automation tools in Pardot give marketing teams the power to create tasks and update notes fields in Salesforce using completion actions. Use this power wisely!

I’ll be the first to admit that I fell into the trap of:

“Not going to call my leads? I’ll create tasks for you – and send you reminders on top of it!”

The big danger here is that you could easily clutter the tasks assigned to your sales team and distract them from calling the hottest leads and contacts based on your agreed upon scoring and grading rules. You could actually hurt the number of opportunities being closed if you use this power with reckless abandon.

My advice is to again, talk to your friends in sales before creating tasks for them. Agree to what actions warrant a task and commit to a follow-up SLA.

By working together, tasks and alerts can be an excellent tool in getting the right people to sales – at the right time.

Celebrate the Wins – Together!

Sales routinely celebrates success in the form of SPIFFs, parties and sales awards, but it’s also important to recognize the contributions from the marketing team.

Like it or not, sales and marketing are related and can’t succeed without the efforts of the other. Sales needs the demand generation, brand awareness and lead qualification from marketing. In turn, marketing needs sales to close the business to demonstrate ROI and justify their budget.

Some of the best interactions that I’ve experienced are when sales and marketing come together to celebrate wins collectively. It can be something as simple as team lunch at the office or drinks after work.

Simply getting your sales and marketing teams together in a positive environment will help them come together as a team and provide motivation to better support one another.

There’s No Time Like the Present: Make the Effort for Better Marketing & Sales Alignment

There is no downside to better aligning your sales and marketing teams. A trusting relationship takes time to build, so why not start today?

Pick an item or two from this list and go to work – it’s sure to help.

Along the way, you are also going to develop your own set of alignment strategies and we would love to hear them. Share your successes in the comments below.

By |2020-04-13T19:40:46+00:00March 27th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

How Pardot Admins Should be Thinking About Coronavirus

The economic ripple effect of everyone screaming “the
sky is falling” is making that a reality for many businesses.  Many B2B companies are experiencing drops in
sales and interruptions in their supply chain – and inevitably, one of the
first expense areas the finance team comes for in economically challenging
times is marketing.

So how should marketing ops folks navigate this?

1. Focus on long term planning

I graduated from college right around the “Great Recession” of
the last decade.  It was not a great time
to be job hunting in the wonderful world of marketing, to put it lightly. 

I was fortunate to join a relatively stable business that
was around $15M and 40-some years old.  People
thought the CEO was crazy for hiring me and giving me a budget to start an
inbound marketing program.  Their bottom
line had taken a beating, and rest of their industry was hunkering down and
going through rounds of layoffs.

But the competition cutting spend meant we had a massive
opportunity to grab mindshare at bargain prices.  The economy came back around, as it always
does.  When customers started spending
again, we had fantastic brand awareness and a lead generation engine that was
ready to handle a spike in demand. 

The business grew to $32M in the 2-3 years following the recession
– and the strategic investment in marketing is one of the things the CEO has frequently
touted as the reason we were able to come out ahead and grow at the fastest
rate in the company’s history.

When tempted to react to the latest headline or from a place
of fear, remember we’re playing the long game.

2. Use ROI reporting to fight for your budget

You will most likely be held to a higher standard when
asking to increase or maintain marketing spend. 
Your company may be pushing to eliminate “non-essential” expenses – don’t
let them mistakenly put marketing in this category. 

Have you implemented connected campaigns and campaign influence
reporting?  This is the best weapon in
your arsenal to ensure marketing is viewed as a revenue driver and not a cost
center.

The ability to show that “THIS initiative” influenced “THAT
pipeline” and to back your recommendations up with data is critically
important.  If you don’t feel confident
in your ability to do this kind of reporting today, let’s chat.

3. Re-evaluate your marketing mix

It’s going to be fascinating to watch companies continue to
transition conferences and events to a virtual format this year.  Coronavirus forced our hands on this one, and
it’s pushing marketers to think critically on:

  • What are the key goals of the events we host,
    and how can we best achieve those digitally?
  • How do we capture the attention of a virtual
    audience?
  • What are the best ways to measure engagement?
  • How do we build online communities that facilitate
    connection and loyalty?

If these online events go well and drive value, perhaps we
will see a great longer-term focus on digital channels.  Getting really good at online collaboration –
both internally and externally – has the power to provide a major competitive advantage. 

4. Don’t let people sit idle

If you have marketers that suddenly have unexpected time or
budget on their hands, consider where else their time could add value.  Consider:

  • Shadowing your sales team to gain insight and
    credibility
  • Focusing on creating content in-house to fuel future
    marketing efforts
  • Working on internal processes and “backburner”
    projects
  • Leading team training on social selling,
    marketing automation basics, or any number of other topics
  • Cross-training or upskilling team members on
    Salesforce via Trailhead
  • Enrolling in Code School for Pardot Admins or
    Pardot Admin Bootcamp

5. Shore up process automation and technical infrastructure

It’s likely going to be difficult for marketers to get
approval to add headcount before the Dow starts moving up and to the right
again.  Now is a great time to focus on
doing more with less and exploring ways to make internal processes more efficient.
 Evaluate opportunities in the platforms
you have available to you (Pardot, Salesforce, and other martech), for example:

  • Automating lead assignment processes
  • Lead scoring & grading
  • Alerts, reports, and dashboards that help your
    team focus on what’s most important
  • Conversational marketing for lead capture and appointment
    scheduling
  • Engagement Studio programs for customer onboarding,
    nurturing cold leads, managing renewals, etc.

6. Emphasize retention

The old adage of “it’s cheaper to keep a customer than to
get a new one” is constantly repeated for a reason – it’s true.  Explore ways to leverage Pardot to support
customer service use cases, for example:

  • Suppressing customers with open cases from
    promotional emails
  • Analyzing closed cases to inform content marketing
    & training to develop
  • Routing online support requests as efficiently
    as possible
  • Measuring CSAT and NPS using Pardot
  • Recording customer engagement and reporting back
    to their account team

7. Keep things in perspective  

It sucks that conferences we’ve looked forward to are
getting canceled.  That budgets may shrink.  That our metrics may take a beating.

But at the end of the day – what’s most important is our
health and taking care of those around us.

The craziness will subside. 
The economy will recover.  Continue
to rock your job the best you can and fist bump/elbow tap the people you love.

How are you seeing marketing evolve with coronavirus?

Marketers, what are you noticing?  Has anything changed yet with internal
attitudes and mindsets toward marketing? 
How are you customers reacting?

This is new and rapidly evolving territory, so I’d love to
hear your thoughts in the comments.

By |2020-03-13T02:46:47+00:00March 13th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

4 Tips for Avoiding Email Fatigue in Pardot

BY MIKE MORRIS

Congratulations! Your email campaigns are rocking – engagement and revenue are up. Your boss has also noticed your handiwork and, in the spirit of “no good deed goes unpunished”, has asked you to increase the number of email being sent.

Here are 4 tips that will help you honor her request, while smartly protecting against email fatigue.

1. Proper Segmentation

Making sure that you are sending the right email to the right prospects is the first step in ensuring a happy database. Proper segmentation is not just a good good idea – it’s critical.

One of the easiest ways to segment your data in Pardot is through completion actions. Available on forms, form handlers, files, custom redirects, emails and page actions, completion actions allow you to directly add prospects to lists, apply tags and update field values (among many other capabilities) based on their actions.

My personal favorite is using the Add to list action in conjunction with page actions to turn identified website visitors into actionable segments. Here’s an example:

In this example, a page action was created on the Green Bay team page. The completion action adds prospects to a targeted list named Packers Fans. This list can now be used for promoting merchandise, tickets or anything related to the Packers. The same methodology can also be applied to your products, services or any page on your website. 

2. Give ‘Em a Break!

Managing how many emails a prospect gets over a set period of time can be a real challenge. Actually, it’s quite easy if you build out frequency based suppression lists.

Simply determine the max number of emails that you would a prospect to be sent over a designated time period, build a dynamic list using the criteria and then apply to all your email sends.

In this example, a dynamic list that selects prospects emailed at least 3 times in the last 7 days was created. When applied as a suppression list to email sends, it will allow you to manage the number of communications being sent and ensure that you are not bombarding your prospects. Since the list is dynamic, prospects will be continually added and removed from the list as they meet (or don’t meet) the criteria.

3. Keep it Relevant

Nothing bores prospects more than irrelevant content. Keep your subscribers engaged by incorporating content and images that are related to them and their interests with dynamic content.

The more data you have the better, but you can get started with something as simple as state or country. Remember that segmentation data that we spoke about earlier? That information can also be used to power your dynamic content.

In this example, dynamic content has been used to customize the text related to local weather forecasts based on city name. Remember, dynamic content can also be used to customize images and entire blocks of HTML based on Pardot default fields, custom fields, scores and grades. Don’t overlook this powerful feature.

4. Make it Personal

Personalization has really become an expectation as the amount of data available to marketers has continued to increase. However, you don’t need a ton of data to get started.

Simply inserting a first name into the body of your message or subject line using a variable tag is a start. If your data is sparse, using progressive profiling is an excellent way to build more complete profiles – without creating obnoxiously long forms.

When using variable tags, don’t forget to set default mail merge values in the field properties – nothing is more embarrassing than a failed attempt at personalization.

Handlebars Merge Language (HML) is a simple upgrade to your Pardot account and provides even more flexibility when it comes to personalization. HML gives you the ability to check whether a field is populated (using #if statement) and allows you to provide the best content based on the result. Learn more about HML in this post from Skyler Nakashima – How Pardot’s New Handlebars Merge Language Improves Personalization.

Share Your Tips & Learn More

These are just a few of the ways that Pardot can help you combat email fatigue. Share your favorites in the comments section.

Learn more about the topics addressed in this post in our Pardot Admin Bootcamp Course. This interactive online course will teach you everything needed to become a Pardot Pro.

By |2020-02-20T02:38:00+00:00February 20th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

Pardot Scoring Category Basics: What, How & Why

BY ERIN DUNCAN

Have you updated your scoring & grading recently? This is one of the most impactful and often underutilized areas of Pardot.

In a recent blog post, I broke down Pardot Grading 101: How to Rate The Quality of Your Prospects. This article will do a deep dive on another critical area: Scoring Categories.

What are Scoring Categories?

Pardot scores show a prospects interest and intent with marketing materials. Over time, a prospect’s score will increase as they interact with more marketing assets. 

Scoring Categories allow you to break this score down to identify which solution, service, or topic the prospect is most interested in so you can tailor your messaging based on their interest. 

An Example of Scoring Categories in Action

Let’s say ABC Food Co sells two types of products:

  • Candy
  • Hot Sauce

A new prospect comes to the ABC Food Co website and watches a video on how their Hot Sauce is made, and then they look at a pricing page for the Hot Sauces ABC Food Co sells. One day later, your Marketing team sends a follow up email to this prospect.

Since the prospect’s actions the day before raised his score in the Hot Sauce scoring category, the Marketing team knows that this prospect is interested in Hot Sauce, not Candy, and can tailor the message accordingly. 

How Scores are Assigned to Pardot Scoring Categories

Each Scoring Category has its own folder within Pardot. All assets must be stored within the Scoring Category folders in order for the action taken on the asset to count towards the Scoring Category. Actions taken with assets not stored in Scoring Category folder will count only towards the overall, or general score. 

An Example of Scoring Category Points Assignment:

  • John Doe visits a Candy Landing Page and fills out a form about his favorite candy flavors. The landing page and the form are both stored in the Candy Scoring Category folder, so John Doe’s Candy score will increase.
  • Jane Smith visits ABCFoodCo.com and reads about 3 different hot sauces. Since there is no physical asset and no page actions for the pages Jane visits, we cannot tie this activity to a Scoring Category. Therefore, the points for each page visit will go to Jane’s overall score. 
  • Joe Jones opens an email about new Candy offerings and clicks a link to an infographic about how new candy flavors were developed, these actions raise his Candy score. Joe then proceeds to visit a landing page about ABC Food Co’s latest hot sauce flavors, this action raises his Hot Sauce score, reflecting he is interested in both offerings. 

How to View Scores by Category

Category scores can be viewed in both Pardot and Salesforce. Let’s break this down.

Viewing Scoring Categories in Pardot

To view a prospect’s scores in Pardot, open the prospect’s profile. The overall score and the scores for each Scoring Category can be seen in the Insight Section of the prospect’s profile. 

If the score for the Scoring Category equals 0, that Scoring Category will not be listed in the Insight section.

You can view the Prospect’s activities and how the activities have affected the prospect’s score in the Prospect Activities section. Use the Prospect Activities Icon Glossary as a quick guide for what each icon means.

You can also filter the Prospect Activities section to only include the activities for a specific Scoring Category by using the Any Category drop down.

You can also filter the type of activity using the Any Type drop down. Use the Any Type and Any Category dropdowns together to further customize your view, for instance if you wanted to see how many Hot Sauce Landing Pages this prospect has visited. 

Viewing Scoring Categories in Salesforce

To view a prospect’s score in Salesforce, open the Contact or Lead view. You can view the Overall Score in the Pardot Section:

You can view the score for each Scoring Category in the Pardot Category Scores section

Actions that Can Be Linked to Scoring Categories

What activities can be tied to a Scoring Category? Here’s a cheat sheet to get you started:

Prospect Activity Can it be tied to a Scoring Category?
Ad click to a general webpage No
Ad click to a Pardot Landing Page Yes
Asset Download Yes
Custom Redirect Click Yes
Email Click Yes
Email Open Yes
Event Attendance Yes, if the event is specific to one category
Event Registration  Yes, if the event is specific to one category
Form Fill Yes
General Opt in No
Opt Out No
Webinar Attendance Yes, if the webinar is specific to one category
Webinar Registration Yes, if the webinar is specific to one category
Webpage visit – General (non pardot, no page action) No
Webpage visit – Pardot Landing Page Yes

Pardot Scoring and Scoring Category Considerations

There are a few nuances about scoring categories to keep in mind if you’re creating, editing, or troubleshooting these:

  • An activity score may not be tied to the Scoring Category if the activity took place before the Scoring Category was implemented.
  • Deleting an asset that has an assigned scoring category removes all activity tied to the associated points from an affected prospect’s category score.
  • When you assign a scoring category to a folder, all assets in that folder and its subfolders are used to calculate the score for that category.
  • You can assign a scoring category to multiple folders, but a folder can have only one scoring category.
  • Each Asset will be assigned to only one Scoring Category, but a campaign can use assets from multiple scoring categories. 
  • If a form is on a landing page, the landing page’s folder determines the scoring category.
  • You cannot manually edit category scores on a prospect record.
  • If you assign a scoring category to a folder, you cannot assign another category to its parent folders or subfolders.
  • Scoring category scores are included with Prospect CSV exports (full export).
  • When you move assets between folders in the following ways, the applicable category scores are recalculated for affected prospects.
    • From a folder with no assigned scoring category to a folder with an assigned scoring category
    • From a folder with an assigned scoring category to a folder with no assigned scoring category
    • From a folder with an assigned scoring category to a folder with a different assigned scoring category
  • You can have a maximum of 50 scoring categories.

What Else Do You Want to Know About Pardot Scoring Categories?

What use cases have you found for Scoring Categories? Any roadblocks or lessons learned that you’ve come across? Let’s hear it in the comments!

By |2020-02-05T13:15:58+00:00February 5th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|

5 Tips to Make Over Your Pardot Email Templates

BY MARCOS DURAN

New year, new… email marketing game?

This article covers a few quick tips and tools to level up your email marketing game with Pardot.

1. Use Custom Fonts

Custom fonts are — as the name implies — fonts that do not come out the box with Pardot.

The default fonts available in Pardot include:

  • Arial
  • Comic Sans MS (a crowd pleaser, for sure)
  • Courier New
  • Georgia
  • Lucida Sans Unicode
  • Tahoma
  • Times New Roman
  • Trebuchet MS
  • Verdana

These are default fonts because considered they are considered “safe” fonts for email marketing. They are most likely to consistently render in a wide variety of devices and email clients.

Custom fonts, however, can seriously elevate the design aesthetic of your emails and help you stand out in the inbox.

If you decide to use a custom font (you can find instructions on how to set those up here) in your emails and/or landing pages, you need to make sure you set up a backup font, otherwise people with *cough* Outlook *cough* will see Arial as the default font. This may not be a big deal for you (if it isn’t, skip to the next paragraph) but it is something to keep in mind especially when you want branding to be consistent.

Pro Tip:

One huge caveat about custom fonts in regards to reporting — if this font is not setup properly, your email report will see an artificially high click through rate from the way some email clients load fonts.

2. Upgrade Your Email Preference Centres

Email preference centres (EPC) are pages that include options for prospects to opt in or out of individual public lists — for example, newsletters, white papers, events, etc.

If you’re using an unbranded preference centre — or heaven forbid, just an unsubscribe page — move this to the top of your to do list. Using an EPC link helps you avoid getting false unsubscribe link clicks due to spam filter activity.

Every account comes with 1 default email preference centre that includes all public lists across the account. You can also create different preference centres for different audiences or for regions like APAC, AMER, EMEA. If you only operate in the United States and Canada, perhaps a French/English option is more practical. This way, the options your prospects will see are tailored to their language or region.

If you have multiple EPCs, be sure to update the link in the footer of different templates so that each prospect always gets the correct regional email preference centre.

Alternatively, the email preference centre options could include frequency based options instead, as this is consistently a top reason for why people unsubscribe. Giving prospects the ability to reduce the # of emails you send out may encourage them to stick around. If you use this option, you need to prioritize which customer communications are important for example Tier 1 = Customer Communications, Tier 2 = Quarterly Updates and Tier 3 = New White Paper Update.

Pro Tip:

Public list options are categorized by alphabetical order. You can use numbers or other prefixes to get them to show in a specific order.

3. Try Dynamic Content

Dynamic Content is one of the best ways to simplify template bulds and standardize your email sections across emails. In the previous example of having multiple EPCs, you could create a template for APAC, one for AMER, and one for EMEA. But what if you could use one template across EVERYTHING!

Use dynamic content to update headers (for regional personalization) and footers (for updating the links for EPC, office address, and additional legalese). This way you can update in one place and it will always be up-to-date.

Pro Tip:

To execute the above, you have to make sure the COUNTRY field is up to date with the right information. Very important.

4. Personalize with Variable Tags or Handlebars Merge Language

In this day and age, you should be collecting at a minimum an email (required for Pardot) and a first name. With just these two data points, you can start personalizing your emails.

For example, you can include these in the subject line to personalize the experience a little more. Another low hanging fruit is using variable tags in signature to pull the lead/contact owner. This can be simplified especially by setting up User Sync.

In the TESTING tab of the email building process you can use the preview options when using variable tags. You can also use yourself and your team’s individual prospect profiles to see if the options are working.

Pro Tip:

Ensure that you don’t have an awkward white space by editing default merge value at the field level.

5. Experiment with Solid Backgrounds & Optimize for Dark Mode

The ability to set this up is a fairly recent development by Gmail. The use of dark mode helps readers draw better contrast for readership and saves energy on your phone. Ultimately, it makes some traditionally white backgrounds in email to black. This can alter designs quite a bit.                  
If you don’t set up your images correctly you could end up with files that have an obvious white background. These operate just fine on a white background. But in dark mode, you would see the white block (view below) and it would look off.

So how do you design for dark mode?

  • Enable solid color tables/sections so the background is consistent
  • Use PNGs for logos with transparent backgrounds — this way the background color doesn’t matter
  • Ensure links read well in black/white backgrounds

Pro Tip:

When in doubt about how something will display, TEST IT!

Bonus Round: Other Tips from Around the Blog

Last, but not least — here is a roundup of my personal favorite email enhancements we’ve blogged on recently:

Email marketing can be daunting (and very exciting), and knowing your options with Pardot can allow you to make simple changes that will go a long way with your prospects.

Want to Build Better Templates Using Pardot?

Looking for more ways to take your emails to the next level? Sign up for our Code School for Pardot Admins, beginning February 20th.

This 6-week course is built specifically to give you the skills to create the perfect emails in Pardot. Whether you’re pretty new to HTML & CSS or self-taught and looking to level up, we’ve got you covered.

Questions? Best practices to share? New experiments? Let’s hear ’em in the comments!

By |2020-01-07T02:07:14+00:00January 7th, 2020|Categories: Uncategorized|