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How to Build a Basic Pardot Engagement Program

How to Build a Basic Pardot Engagement Program


The Pardot Marketing platform can be one of the better additions to any company that uses Salesforce. It handles just about all of your digital marketing needs, from emails to social media to Google analytics connectors. A properly used Pardot system will give your business not only easy and efficient ways to market to potential clients but to also track exactly how they interact with you and to track what your most effective marketing strategies are.

The ace up the sleeve for Pardot though is the Engagement Studio. Engagement Studio allows you to build complex drip marketing campaigns that guide prospects through your marketing funnel in very specific ways. You can build actions, triggers and rules that run constantly, and determine the experience your prospect gets, depending on the way and the frequency with which they engage with your materials.

So in this post, we are going to give you the rundown on how to build a basic Pardot Engagement Program and talk a little bit about the benefits that you can get along the way.

Engagement 101

So first things first, you have to figure out the essential components of your marketing campaign.

  • Who – Who are the prospects being emailed?

TIP: Use suppression lists to make sure you don’t accidentally send the wrong content to the wrong prospects

  • Why – What is the goal of the campaign? To schedule a demo, to educate the prospect, to announce and get attendees for a webinar?
  • What – What content do we need for the campaign, such as blog posts, whitepapers, data sheets, landing pages, forms, custom links, etc.?
  • When – When do you want it to start? Is there a specific stopping point of the campaign, or do you want it to always be running and available for prospects to be added to?
  • Where – online of course

For our example at the end of the article, we are going to look at a 3-2-1 drip for cold/inactive leads. This campaign is designed to re-engage and determine levels of interest from your prospects (if any) so you can assign them to the appropriate marketing campaign.

You can read here about the what and the why of a 3-2-1 campaign.

Once you have the foundation for what your campaign is, and what you want out of it, you are ready to begin looking at what steps you will need to build to get to where you want to go.

Engagement Steps

Every Engagement program is simply a series of steps that prospects progress along as you interact with them. You can build out super simple programs with only a couple of steps, or highly complex ones with hundreds. We find that keeping things simple tends to have the best results.

There are 4 step types available: Actions, Rules, Triggers and Stops.

Actions are what they sound like, the system will “do” something. They tend to be the most straightforward and are also what your campaign is built on. The possible actions are:

  • Add to List
  • Add to Salesforce Campaign
  • Adjust Score
  • Apply Tags
  • Assign to Group
  • Assign to User
  • Assign to Salesforce Active Assignment Rule
  • Create Salesforce Task
  • Change Prospect Field Value
  • Notify User
  • Remove from List
  • Remove Tags
  • Send Email

Rules are a great way to branch prospects into parts of the campaign. The system will check for something, such as a prospect score, or salesforce campaign, allowing you to then define a particular action based upon the results. The rules available are:

  • Assigned Salesforce Queue
  • Assigned User
  • Assignment Status
  • Grade
  • List
  • Prospect Custom Field
  • Prospect Default Field
  • Score
  • Prospect Tag
  • Salesforce Campaign
  • Salesforce Campaign Status
  • Prospect Email Status
  • Pardot Campaign
  • Salesforce Status

Triggers are how you react to what your prospects do. You are basically “listening” for things like link clicks or email opens, and when you get them, you can respond accordingly. Triggers available:

  • Email Open
  • Email Link Click
  • Form View or Submission
  • Landing Page View or Submission
  • Custom Redirect Click
  • File Download

Stops are the end of a path. You can sprinkle them throughout the program, or have all paths lead to one final end. It can vary every time.

Engagement Content

All of the content you create in Pardot, files, re-directs, emails, etc., can be linked to your engagement program. It’s quick and easy to link to your content, and if you want, use the content as triggers for follow-up emails (or other actions) if they are visited or clicked.

As for the emails themselves, you need to create them as templates in the Pardot Marketing tab. This takes a bit of getting used to, but only pre-built and published templates can be sent out via Engagement Studio

TIP: Use Variable Tags to customize different parts of your email template, to give a more personal feel to your marketing material.

More on Pardot Content here

Using Wait Times

Each step you create has an option for when it will run via a “wait time”. Properly using your wait timing can be crucial. After all, you probably don’t want to send out an email or two every day of the week.

There are two options for wait times: the simple wait, and the “up to” wait.

The simple wait is as it sounds, all prospects at that step will wait the specified number of days before moving to the next step.

The “up to” wait is a bit more sophisticated and allows prospects who are engaging and seem interested, to move through the program faster, and potentially keep their interest piqued as you move them through the funnel. In this case, the prospect will wait “up to” the specified number of days for a trigger, but if that trigger is activated before the maximum wait time, the prospect will continue on earlier.

Finally, you should be aware of the engagement program pauses. At any time, you can pause a running program to edit content, change a trigger, or whatever reason. When you do, prospects will essentially remain frozen at their current step, and only when you unpause, will they pick up where they left off.

TIP: Research shows that most email opens and clicks will happen within the first 2 days. So set your wait times accordingly

More on Timing here

Engagement Studio in Action

So back to our original example, the 3-2-1 Drip Program. Here is how the flow goes for a prospect in this Drip:

A sample 3-2-1 Drip Campaign
  1. A direct email is sent to all prospects to start, with a hard sales pitch and a strong call to action. The idea is to find the hot leads right away, and not let them cool off by being coy.
    1. Anyone who clicks the custom re-direct CTA within the 2 day waiting period will be:
      1. Immediately removed from the drip
      2. Sales will be notified to contact the prospect
      3. And the path ended
    2. If the prospect doesn’t click, they move on to the next step
  2. The second email is sent after waiting 7 days. This email has a more moderate tone and encourages the prospect to interact with some advanced collateral, such as a whitepaper or success story
    1. Prospects who click any of the re-dirct links within the 2 day waiting period will then be:
      1. Assigned to a 30-day Engagement campaign designed to nurture the prospect for a Sales call.
      2. The assigned Sales user will be notified,
      3. And the path ended
    2. If the prospect doesn’t click, they move to the next step
  3. The third and final email comes out 10 days later. This is a general informative email, with general information about the company or product being sold.
    1. A prospect who clicks any link within 2 days will be assumed to have a bit of interest but needs significant information and nurturing. The results will be:
      1. Assigned to a 90-day Engagement Program that will hopefully push the prospect to the 30-day campaign, or trigger a contact from sales directly.
      2. The assigned Sales user will be notified
      3. And the path ended
    2. Finally, if the prospect has not clicked or engaged with any of these emails, the prospect will either be:
      1. Added to a 180-day drip (if appropriate for the sales and marketing cycles)
      2. Or marked as cold/dead
      3. And the path ended

So that’s it for our overview of Pardot Engagement Studio. For anyone out there who already has Pardot, we hope that you were able to learn something new, and for anyone in need of a better marketing solution and interested in Pardot, our team of Salesforce Experts is always happy to find a solution that is right for you.

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-Ryan and the CloudMyBiz Team