5 tips to streamline marketing automation efforts in Salesforce Pardot

April 21, 2021 Chuck Leddy

Note: Ana Laura Zain, Senior Marketing Automation Consultant at Sojourn, collaborated with our resident brand storyteller Chuck Leddy in the creation of this blog post. It's longer than our usual posts, but we wanted to give you all the good stuff! We hope Salesforce Pardot users find it helpful.


There are various tools and options in Salesforce Pardot and marketers can (and do) find multiple ways to achieve their goals. As a Pardot user, you're constantly making new discoveries, and also making mistakes and adjustments as you go along. During this continuous learning process, it’s always best to begin by understanding the available options you have and what those options can be used for. Here are 5 tips for Pardot users.

Tip #1: Choose the right automation tool for your particular need

What’s right or wrong depends on what you’re trying to achieve in Pardot (see graphic below). You might use one option, like a segmentation rule, to do one thing, but then find it’s not extendable or scalable, so you may have to use an automation rule instead or in tandem with the segmentation rule.


flowchart describing when to use different automation tools


For example, you might want to analyze a particular industry or you might want to analyze a group of people based on form fields. But your analysis could also be action based, not just based on fields. So if a contact takes a certain action, like clicking on a link in an email, a specific action (like an auto-generated follow-up email) can be set up to happen -- you can use completion of certain actions (i.e., clicks) to get done what you want done. 

You can also add contacts to a segment based on completed actions. So you can set up rules based on criteria or based on action. Creating a segmentation rule can be very helpful, but you don’t automatically have an action connected to it. It can get tricky because rules based on criteria and rules based on action can be complementary, but you should know the difference between the two in order to use them appropriately.

Tip #2: How Pardot users can automate email sends upon form submission

(1) Form Handler Completion Action

From a form handler, which is the back-end tool collecting the information from the form on the website or landing page, you can choose completion actions to send the form filler/prospect an email. The form handler is basically a bucket where all this data is coming in. So if you scroll down the form handler, you will see all the fields that you’re collecting information on, whether they’re visible on the form itself or not. 

There are a number of completion actions that you can choose from. In short, a form handler completion action allows you to execute an action every time a prospect fills a form. The downside of this option is that there isn’t an option for conditional completion actions, that means that you cannot add criteria to execute an action if the prospect has completed the form and has selected “X option and not Y” for instance. 


Conditional Completion Actions are one of the most requested features for the Pardot roadmap and they made it to the IdeaExchange Prioritization cycle. However this feature still hasn’t been included on the roadmap. 

So what are the other options?

(2) Automation Rules

As previously mentioned, there’s not only one way to achieve things, and different Pardot features can be used for similar purposes. You can actually set up an automation rule for the same purpose: If this form was successfully completed, then send this email to the prospect.

However, if you want to send an auto-responder email based on different criteria for those that have filled the form, then an automation rule will be the best option here. 

For example, say you want to send an email to prospects that have filled the form handler to receive your newsletter, they are part of the Finance industry, and their opportunity status is lost, meaning that these prospects had a conversation with your commercial team already, but the deal wasn’t closed. This could be an example of lost deals that are still interested in your brand and you would like to send them a specific email. Automation rules allow you to specify complex criteria to accomplish that and send them a customized message.


(3) Engagement Studio

One Pardot feature we haven’t mentioned yet but that’s key for automating tasks is Engagement Studio. This feature allows you to execute conditional completion actions. 

Engagement Studio allows you to build workflows on a visual interface, adding conditions, rules and actions. The workflows always start with a list, so you need to make sure you are adding prospects to a list once they have filled a form (by using the form handler completion action). This tool is quite flexible and by using it you can send different emails to different prospects on one list, based on complex criteria.

Tip #3: How segmentation rules can be used for a database cleanse

Pardot segmentation rules are rarely used. There just aren’t many use cases for them. However, we found them quite useful when doing database audits and clean ups. The reality is, sometimes you do need to run complex analysis without executing actions, and that’s when Segmentation rules come in handy.

As mentioned above (see tip #1), segmentation rules will be adequate to use when you need the criteria to be analyzed one time. So you don’t need these rules to be constantly checking the database so see if prospects meet the criteria.

An example is the database cleanse I just mentioned. Say you want to make sure to delete (archive in theory) those prospects that meet certain criteria:

  • Haven’t opted in to receive email communications from you.

  • Were created a long time ago (depending on your sales cycle).

  • Aren’t tied to any opportunities - meaning that they are not considered prospects that will potentially convert.

  • Aren’t actual clients.

Segmentation rules don't run continuously. You run them once and then the prospects that meet the specific criteria you’re running at the time get matched to the segment. So when I am running audits or I want to “preview” a number of prospects meeting certain criteria, this is my go-to option.

Tip #4: How Pardot users can assign prospects based on industry and location with automation

You might have a commercial team that needs to be aware of certain actions a prospect might take. For example, some sales team members or country managers would want to get notified when a client or prospect registers to attend a dinner event the company is hosting. In that case, you can use criteria and specific actions to trigger an alert to Sales about a prospect’s action, such as registering for an event or webinar. You just set up “notify user or notify assigned user” when the action happens, and Sales will get an email automatically sent to their inbox. You can use this same functionality at a form handler level, as we discussed earlier in tip #2. 

Sales could send the contact a follow-up email saying, “it's great that you joined our recent event/webinar. We wanted to follow up to see if we can answer any questions or provide additional information?”

This is a functionality that’s also available in Engagement Studio.

Tip #5: How Pardot users can nurture prospects based on interaction with emails 

The email wizard offers a great opportunity to execute completion actions based on the prospect’s interaction with the email:

  • On click → you can apply several actions whether one specific call-to-action (CTA) or any links were clicked. 

  • On open 

  • On unsubscribe

I haven’t really used the email wizard for completion actions that much, but I have to admit it’s great functionality! For example, you could add prospects that clicked on the email to a specific list for a nurturing campaign. 

If this email was already added to a workflow in Engagement Studio, then you could select either email open or email link click so that different actions can be taken based on that trigger.



Final Thoughts

With practice, you will know which tools are better for you based on what you’re trying to achieve in Salesforce Pardot. It’s a learning process for everyone, even the most experienced users. This post is intended to help you advance your knowledge of Pardot, but experience and being open to learning are often the best ways to find the best answers for your needs.


For more information on how to best leverage Salesforce Pardot to help improve your marketing results, reach out to us here.

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