Pardot Predictions and Trends for 2021

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Pardot is evolving at a fast rate. At first, I found this speed of change alarming, yet now I am both accustomed to, and grateful for, the consistent updates. And it’s just as well because 2021 is going to be a wild ride for Pardot.

Aside from the obvious predictions – the complete revamp around marketing content creation, the shifts in how 3rd parties integrate with Pardot, etc. – Pardot will continue to reach parity with Sales Cloud and will tap into other shared services delivered by the Lightning Platform.

“Gearset”

The direction Pardot is heading is something I think about often, always keen to review the release notes, listen to roadmap sessions, and participate in user research. To ensure I left nothing unturned, I put out a post on LinkedIn to capture the community’s voices. Thanks to everyone who contributed their opinions:

With many areas to explore, I decided to split this post into the following sections:

  • Pardot Priorities: the topics that Pardot specialists will look to master, or the areas that product development team will prioritise launching and/or improving.
  • Trends: Which trends will specialists be keeping their eye on, both relating to and beyond Pardot?
  • Features Wishlist: what has been requested but is not on the roadmap (yet).

Here are the Pardot priorities, trends, and wishlist features myself and the community think we should keep front of mind.

Pardot Priorities

  • New Lightning email experience
  • Campaign as a Workspace
  • Native Integrations
  • Mastering B2BMA
  • Advancing Campaign Attribution
  • Scoring
  • Personalization
  • ABM and Account-level Insights

New Lightning email experience

The Lightning email builder for Pardot was the most anticipated release of 2020. I sensed that development on the new builder was expedited due to the new pressures coronavirus was bringing. The conversation in Q2/Q3 was dominated by email. Is it any surprise? After all, the Salesforce had multiple email builders that needed to be unified for a consistent, top-notch user experience.

The first release of the Lightning email experience has been generally available for a few months, and will continue to be a priority for 2021 on two threads:

  1. For the Pardot product team, to develop it further.
  2. For the Pardot specialists to master it. Aside from some additional steps, the new experience does feel familiar to the previous builder. However, the way I see the experience developing will require a mindset shift in how users organise, build and send emails.

One glaring fact remains: the Lightning builder needs to reach parity with the Pardot legacy email builder.

  • Build emails for use in Engagement Studio programs
  • Add the ability to A/B test
  • Support for Apple Mail

Let’s see what lies in store. There have already been whispers of more on the way. It will be really refreshing for everyone to be able to totally migrate to the new email builder, 100%.

Drag-and-drop will continue to dominate, echoed with the new landing page builder which is set to arrive sometime in 2021.

Campaign as a Workspace

Creating Salesforce campaigns ‘on the fly’ with Pardot came up on the poll – and I agree! Unless a user knows the steps to create a campaign end-to-end off by heart, they may find the sequence unintuitive.

The ‘workspace’ would simplify much of this back and forth. The idea is to enhance the campaign user experience so that it becomes a hub for end-to-end campaign management, eg. setting targets, creating assets with the new integrated builders, reporting.

We are promised a trickle soon. Spring ‘21 will bring ‘campaign deep clone’, whereby users copy a Salesforce campaign and all related marketing asset (emails, forms, landing pages, marketing links, snippets objects) will be carried across to the new version. It will increase productivity immensely.

Integrations – Connectors and DIY

The Pardot API V5 is on its way in Spring ‘21 which involved a complete rebuilding of the Pardot API using modern best practices.

What’s great to hear is that the recent work on the Pardot API will pave the way for:

a) Deeper third party integrations: more Pardot objects available via the API (namely the newer marketing asset objects),

b) AppExchange (third-party vendors) apps to fill the gaps left open and eventually replace the older connectors.

Someone pointed out this will be key for Pardot to remain attractive:

“Hubspot has over 400 native integrations and Pardot has less than 20. Not to mention the lead creation/update from social media (LinkedIn, Facebook) should come out of the box like in all other marketing automation platforms.”

Scoring

Here are two predictions for scoring in 2021:

1. Reevaluating prospect scoring models:

Prospect score is universal to all Pardot accounts, it’s certainly used, but often is neglected and abused without a proper strategy around how score is used and a lack of guardrails to prevent scores spiralling out of control.

2. Exploring Einstein Behavior Score

Einstein Behavior Score (and Einstein Lead Scoring) aim to improve the reliability of scoring to take the human guesswork out. The AI-driven behavior score learns which patterns of marketing touchpoints lead to success. Use it to:

  • Consolidate disparate asset-level scoring (ie. scores set by completion actions),
  • Give context to the score number,
  • Alleviate admin burden of managing scores (eg. score decay)

Why 2021? There were hints that Behavior Score could become free* just like Einstein Search and Einstein Opportunity Scoring became free for all Sales Cloud customers in 2020.

Thinking about transitioning, you can read: “Should You Use Einstein Behavior Score, Pardot Score, or Both?”

(*included in all Pardot editions)

Personalization

Personalization with Pardot is still in its infancy. HML will provide the solid foundation for the product team to build on. Look out for improvements to personalization, particularly with CRM data (making more Salesforce data available in Pardot) and also external data.

ABM and Account-level Insights

Account-based marketing is something Pardot are placing their bets on to become front runners ahead of competition. No doubt a steady stream of account-level features will come with each release – one of which is Pardot Einstein at the account level, however, we will need to wait for how that takes shape.

While I’m interested to hear the community’s thoughts on this one. While ABM is a Pardot priority, I’m curious if it’s an area the community are anticipating updates in?

Trends

Conversational Marketing

Conversational marketing enables you to ‘meet’ with qualified leads that visit your website in real time using live chat, chatbots, voice calls, and screen sharing.

Eliminating the time wasted for prospects and sales people to make contact is one aim. Think about traditional lead forms which seem archaic when compared to the way conversational marketing platforms work.

A well-known player in the Pardot space is Qualified. Qualified was selected as the solution for the AppExchange, piloting with a selection of top vendors. Surely, that’s a sign you should modernise your lead generation process if you’ve not already switched to conversational marketing? Check out their website to learn more about conversational marketing .

Interactive Email

The new drag-and-drop email experience is all about components. One exciting thing is that 3rd party components, from sources such as the AppExchange, could be ported into the builder.

Email Marketing AI

There is mention of skipping straight to sophisticated email scheduling – one day, Einstein Send Time Optimisation, currently a Marketing Cloud feature, could be made available to Pardot Einstein customers. When that day will be, we don’t know – could it make it to Pardot by the end of the year?

See more in “5 Content Builder Features You Should Be Using

Advancing Campaign Attribution

Campaign attribution is a pain point for the majority of marketers, especially with the number of channels per campaign appears to grow! We need easier to setup multi-channel campaigns, and more accurate channel attribution in reporting.

One channel in particular is paid search (the Google Ads connector has its flaws) yet hopefully opening up the API to the AppExchange will mean 3rd party vendors will step in to meet these needs.

Some Pardot pros won’t be waiting for 3rd party vendors to save them from their attribution woes. One respondent enthusiastically reports that they hope to build a custom solution that combines standard Pardot features:

“I’m planning to use Pardot’s Source Campaign, Lead Source, and the conversion point parameters and the GA connector based UTM parameters + B2B analytics for some campaign performance analyses”

Good luck! 🙂

Predictive Analytics

While mastering B2BMA already features on many to-do lists, predictive analytics takes it a step further. B2BMA Plus (part of Pardot Premium) was released in 2020, aimed at enterprise-level Pardot customers. As predictive analytics is adopted by more organisations, we will begin to see a Pardot powered by other Salesforce products, such as Einstein Prediction.

Above: what’s currently available with B2BMA Plus.

Features Wishlist

The comments on the poll were interesting. There’s a desire to give Pardot the same flexibility (eg. editable notifications) and robust automation (eg. reassignment).

  • Editable Pardot Notifications: the notifications that are sent to users cannot be customised, and contain a wealth of information on the prospect that is not always relevant. While the Idea Exchange thread shows no signs of progress, Pardot plan to ‘package’ Pardot email templates to be used across the other Salesforce ‘clouds’/leveraged in Salesforce automation (Flow, workflow rules). It’s a strong hint that they can be used as notifications.
  • Hour and minute wait steps in Engagement Studio.
  • Prospect reassignment out of Pardot.
  • Campaign level data points: yes please! Using the campaign member object to store a lead/contacts interaction specific to the campaign, eg. scoring.
  • Business Unit Sync: an appeal for contacts to be synced across Business Units without having to duplicate them in Salesforce.

It’s going to be a great year for Pardot 💪🏻🙌

2 thoughts on “Pardot Predictions and Trends for 2021

  1. Avatar

    I’m wondering if they’ve fixed the issues with adding a URL to a button inside the editor. In Pardot classic, when you add a link, it breaks the CSS (for Outlook). You have to update it (in two spots) in the HTML code.

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