Are you a Pardot pro? Four principles to getting the best out of Pardot


We all know that Pardot is a great tool for lead scoring and lead generation. The million-dollar question is, how do you get the best out of it?

In my work as a Marketing Cloud consultant I talk to many Pardot users, both new and experienced. But they’re all wondering the same thing: what does the best setup look like? And how can we best utilise the features that Pardot provides?

I’ll say this: there is no quick and easy answer! It really comes down to your customer journey and your business objectives. But there are four main principles that everyone can apply when it comes to lead generation and scoring, and I want to share them here. Read on to find out how to optimise your setup.


1. Customer life cycle

First off, it’s important to understand your customers and the journey they are taking with you. With this information you are better equipped to identify which stage a prospect is currently in, and what they need in order to progress.

Top tip: Define the different stages in your customer journey and the key prospect activities that reveal what a prospect is thinking about your product. Also consider your content: web pages, blogs posts, white papers and so on. What stage is that prospect at when they consume your content, and what is going to help them move to the next stage?

Once you’ve figured it out, you can set up automation rules and page actions that automatically send content to prospects, or that notify sales to follow up.

One neat example is when a prospect views your pricing page. That probably means they are close to making a decision to buy. Great news! To make sure they have all the information they need, why not set up a page action that assigns a Salesforce task to your salesperson to give them a ring?

2. Scoring

Secondly, think about how to score your prospects. This is a nice automation feature that shows you how interested a prospect is in you and your product. Different activity types help you to build up this picture for each prospect. For example, a prospect is probably very interested in your products if he views your pricing page. On the other hand, if he reads one of your blog posts on best practices, that’s not such a clear indicator – maybe he needs more time.

Top tip: Start off by using Pardot’s default scoring model. As you get to know your prospects better and feel more confident, you can think about switching things up. Focus on defining your key activities, or combination of activities, which really show a prospect is interested. Perhaps visiting the pricing page is worth 20 extra points!

3. Grading

Are you blessed with so many prospects that you need help prioritising them? Congratulations! Grading is the tool for you.

Grading allows you to identify the prospect features that are most important to you. This could be their industry, title, country, or anything else. Grading rules let you ‘upgrade’ prospects if they match these features and ‘downgrade’ them if they don’t. This helps your busy sales team understand who to prioritise.

Top tip: First define what features are the most important to you, and set up your profile. Next, define the desirable and undesirable values of each feature. After you’ve done this you can set your automation rules to upgrade or degrade a prospect automatically.

For example, maybe you consider job title an important feature – let’s say that you prioritise CEOs over assistants. With this in mind you can set up an automation rule that checks the job title and upgrades any CEO prospects and downgrades any assistants.

4. Lead assignment

Finally, think about when to push your leads into your CRM. Many people who are new to Pardot tell me that they want everything pushed into Salesforce. On one hand, this makes sense: every new lead means an opportunity to sell! But there are other things to consider too: why deluge your busy sales team with cold leads? And what about the customer experience?

We’ve all been on the receiving end of pointless sales calls after downloading a trial or a whitepaper, even if we haven’t taken any further follow-up action. Every time this happens to me personally, I find it annoying. Early contact of this nature can actually be invasive and unnecessary – if I am interested, I am normally planning to follow up myself, at a time of my choosing! In my experience, it takes more than one activity to make a hot lead, and just one aggressive sales call to ‘un-make’ it. The key is for you to find out what is true for your own customer base, and how proactive (or patient) you need to be.

Top tip: Start simple and learn from your experiences. Choose when to push your leads into Salesforce, then run a lead conversion report to monitor how well your transferred leads are doing. Remember to talk to sales and listen to their opinions: which leads are easy to convert? Which leads are always cold? Maybe you can discover new patterns.


So tweak your process as you build your knowledge, but try not to stick with just score or grade. Maybe you’ll define a ‘hot lead’ as a prospect with a grade greater than A-, a score greater than 65 and who has viewed a testimonial story on your web page. These are the ones that should be pushed to sales.

In summary, a lot of these principles are very simple. But the fact is, you will not get it right the first time – and you shouldn’t expect to either! So my best advice is this: Start simple, listen, analyse, learn, and adapt your setup.

Maybe you started off identifying too many leads as ‘hot’ and then you find that it’s not completely accurate, and too many cold leads are being passed on. The main thing is to build your knowledge and to use this to change up your setup – maybe only prospects that view the pricing page and have a score greater than 80 should be followed up. At the end of the day, trust that your setup will change as you get to know your customers better, and try to enjoy the process! There’s a lot to learn.

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