- Built on Salesforce CRM framework
- The robust feature set and ecosystem integration
- Journey mapping
- Too expensive for smaller organizations
- Highly technical for beginners
Salesforce Pardot is an enterprise marketing automation platform centered on multi-channel digital strategies. Pardot is also one of the industry’s leading enterprise email service providers complete with a fully-featured email marketing platform that supports landing pages, email list manipulation, analytics, and WYSIWYG visual editors.
Email marketing platform for Salesforce
Pardot is the proprietary email and marketing automation system for Salesforce. Though a separate product, Pardot is built on the framework of one of the world’s most powerful customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This platform is sold as a solution to augment any existing Salesforce experience that a company or organization may have in place.
How does it work?
Pardot works like any marketing automation software, comparable to Oracle Eloqua or “stripped down” alternatives found in Agile CRM, ZoHo CRM Plus, ActiveCampaign, or Drip. Pardot works on multi-channel automation. Beginning with email marketing and lists, users can create a series of automations and customer journeys that react to consumer behaviors. For example, Pardot has a journey mapping feature similar to that from Oracle’s Eloqua. There, the journey mapping controls the user experience from whether or not they open an email, click on a specific link, interact with a particular element on a website, visit a landing page, or seek to be sales or donation conversions. The mapping editor is visually laid out so that users can create actions, triggers, and journeys. Users can then track the interactions and performance of the various experiences with metrics, analytics, testing tools like A/B testing, and integrated data migration between the Salesforce CRM and Pardot dashboards.
WYSIWYG editors for landing pages and emails
Pardot users can create landing pages and emails without having to know how to code in HTML 5. Salesforce has built up several WYSIWYG drag-and-drop visual editors that provide email and digital marketers the ability to create broadcasted and campaign-oriented content quickly. Keep in mind that most email service providers (ESPs) and marketing automation software usually have some type of drag-and-drop or point-and-click visual editor for content and email creation. The editors built into Pardot feature various text editors, rich fonts, and aesthetic design elements. These design elements include shapes, line dividers, static photos, GIF image support, and color schema.
We should note that the email editor, in particular, does glitch now and then. Typically, the glitches are related to the stability of some of the formatting tools. As an example, whenever we right justified content in a text block in an already text-heavy sample, the text wouldn’t align to the direction of the command. Usually, it remained center-aligned. Other issues, according to users, focus more on the editors as a whole. A G2 Crowd reviewer wrote: “There doesn’t seem to be any announcements for improvements to any features, especially email formatting.”
Ease of use and new users
Pardot is a powerful tool packed with a lot of functionality. The dashboard for the platform is clean and navigable enough for users to be able to learn and operate a wide range of features. Most users appear to enjoy Pardot and claim that the initial use period was easy to overcome with the help of guided tours, experienced developers, and the Salesforce Trailhead knowledge and training module base. To note, we enjoyed our experience with the latest update of the Pardot system. Everything was very responsive, and each feature did what it was intended to do.
The elephant in the room: Pricing
Like the Salesforce CRM platform, Pardot is an expensive solution. Plans begin at $1,250 per month for 10,000 contacts and go all the way up to $4,000 per month for more features and the same amount of contacts as the starting price. Due to this high price range, smaller organizations may not see Pardot as a viable marketing solution. Qualifying nonprofits can receive discounts on Pardot and the entire Salesforce ecosystem; however, smaller organizations, small 501(c)4 groups and PACs, and small corporations may have to look elsewhere for a cost-effective solution. We recommend Drip or ActiveCampaign as alternatives for the marketing automation needs of an organization. If an organization is looking for the unified CRM/marketing automation experience, we then recommend two wonderful Salesforce alternatives such as Agile CRM or ZoHo CRM Plus.
What we think
Pardot is an industry-leading marketing automation tool. Like Oracle Eloqua, Salesforce’s marquee ESP and marketing platform is a must-have for any enterprise, large organization, or group that can afford the financial demands. The unified experience of the CRM integration is also a significant selling point for groups that utilize any iteration of the Salesforce software. As we wrote for our Salesforce CRM review, “The only deal breaker we could think of is how expensive the platform could be. Compared to other competitors, like Agile CRM (starting at $8.99 per user per month), campaigns and organizations with tight budgets should only purchase what they can afford.”
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