Battle Royale: Salesforce Marketing Cloud or Pardot?

Marketing Cloud or Pardot?

Salesforce has two amazing Marketing Automation platforms on their hands. Marketing Cloud (formerly Exact Target) and Pardot. It can be difficult for a company to pick which one is right for them. Salesforce Account Executives will certainly tell you, but below is an inside scoop from someone who has worked at multiple agencies and saw the Pro’s and Con’s of both.

Number of Contacts
Pardot generally starts by offering 10,000 contacts and goes up from there. It can handle those 10,000 with ease. Once you get into the 100,000’s, the system will slow down with the platform taking longer to load screens and perform certain functions. It generally won’t affect your users experience, but it can be frustrating for your internal marketing team or administrator to get things done.

Marketing Cloud really has no limit when it comes to contacts. I’ve always told clients one of the main differentiators between the two is that if you’re looking to send tons of e-mail blasts and have 100,000’s of contacts, Marketing Cloud does it with ease. The user interface won’t miss a beat even if you add in a few hundred thousand more…

The winner: Marketing Cloud

Segmentation Ability
Pardot has a feature known as dynamic segmentation, which allows you to automatically segment your main contact list by setting If/Then statements. It works incredibly well and only takes a few seconds to setup. When synced with CRM, it will pull across all objects (contact, lead, account, etc) with ease.

Pardot Segmentation.png

Pardot’s Dynamic Segmentation

Marketing Cloud has what is known as data extensions, which allow you to carve up your main contact list with ease. There is a catch, though. If you’re synced with CRM, it only segments off individual objects, so unless your data is flat, you will likely run into trouble. You can write SQL tables to do so, but it will require someone with coding knowledge on your staff or selected partner. There is a feature called Audience builder that mimics some of the Pardot automation, but it’s very expensive.

MC Audience Builder.png

Marketing Cloud’s Audience Builder

The winner: Pardot

General Automation Functionality
Pardot has a great looking interface that offers an outline view of all functionality. Under the Marketing tab, you can easily find all of its features, whether it be automation rules, dynamic segmentation, creating e-mail templates, adjusting the scoring model, etc. It’s very intuitive and your Marketing Administrator won’t be intimidated when logging in. Campaign creation is mainly done through what is known as engagement studio. It looks good and works very well.

Pardot Engagement Studio

Pardot’s Engagement Studio

Marketing Cloud also has a good looking interface, but you have to scroll across multiple studio’s, including E-mail, Advertising, CloudPages, Social, etc (assuming you’ve purchased them all). Each has it own admin panel that needs to be setup and while they are very powerful individually, they don’t always tie together so well. Many features that you would assume are drag and drop still require a fair amount of coding behind the scenes. Campaign creation is done through whats known as Journey Builder and while it looks a little different, it works mostly the same as Pardot’s engagement studio.

Marketing Cloud Journey Builder.png

Marketing Cloud’s Journey Builder

The winner: Pardot

Attribution is a hot topic among Marketing departments as they try to tie Return on Investment back to their multiple campaigns across social, web, e-mail, PPC, etc. Pardot has some ability to do so as it relates to e-mails, landing pages and to some extent, social. It utilizes what is known as campaigns as the entry point. These work extremely well, but for true attribution, you need to log all touchpoints. It’s doable if you get creative with salesforce campaigns, but it’s not exactly plug and play.

Marketing Cloud does a nice job of plugging in all their studios to the major advertising mediums. In most cases, you can integrate directly with your Google Adwords Campaign, your Facebook campaign and other web efforts. If your segmentation is setup correctly, getting individual reports for how each campaign performed is very realistic. Although, you’ll still have to use salesforce campaigns and use salesforce CRM to get the master report…

The winner: Marketing Cloud

Social Media
Pardot has a basic social feature that allows you to integrate to Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. You can then schedule posts directly from the platform and track which of your prospects have interacted with your posts. It’s actually a very cool feature, but is somewhat clunky. For example, it doesn’t fetch previews, so you have to just trust the url and images are all going to look how you want them when you post.

Marketing Cloud is much more advanced. You can integrate with over 10 social media platforms and do the same scheduling/posting as Pardot, but it’s much better (and fetches). You can also automate responses, alert certain internal stakeholders of activity and do what’s known as social listening. It’s very powerful. The catch? It doesn’t currently integrate with your E-mail and Advertising audiences.

The winner: Marketing Cloud

Lead Scoring:
Lead Scoring is a powerful way to qualify leads. Pardot has an out of the box scoring model that can be tailored to an organization.

Marketing Cloud has no scoring model. Salesforce often sells companies both platforms. Marketing Cloud handles the bulk of the promotions, e-mail blasts, etc and then a small portion of that is taken and put into Pardot for lead scoring. I’m not a fan of it, but some companies have made it work for them.

The winner: Pardot

Template Creation:
Both platforms offer the ability to create e-mails, landing pages and forms. They look a little different, but they both offer flexibility and drag/drop features.

Pardot Template Creation.png

Template creation in Pardot

MC Template Creation.png

Template creation in Marketing Cloud

The winner: Tie

Pardot has many out of the box integrations to all sorts of platforms. It can be customized to an extent, but you need permissions from the company. As it relates to CRM, I’ve always described it like flipping a light switch. It’s very easy.

Marketing Cloud is wide open. Through their SOAP and REST API’s, you can custom build pretty anything you want if you have the ideas, time and resources. Likely goes without saying, but you’ll need people who are well versed in Salesforce coding to be able to do so. As it relates to CRM, it’s doable, but slightly more complicated than Pardot.

The winner: Marketing Cloud

Platform Standup:
Salesforce encourages you to utilize a Marketing Agency to help with the platform standpoint. Most agencies have a checklist or Quick Start as they are known, that they can walk you through. Pardot can take them anywhere between one week and one month for the initial standup depending on time/resources limitations. Much of this is training and overviews of how the platform works, which because it’s so intuitive usually goes very well. It usually requires a short term partner.

Marketing Cloud is usually more complex.

Many discussions need to be had around how data is structured and how the org needs to be setup. This can take weeks or months depending on how organized both parties are. After that, the demo’s and setup usually go fine, but because it’s not as intuitive it takes longer to complete the hand-off and likely requires a long term partner.

Tying it all together:
It largely depends on your company’s size and what you’re looking for. If you’re a small business, Pardot is a better match and price for you. If you’re mid-size and up, Marketing Cloud may offer the functionality you need, especially if you’re looking to sends tons of e-mails on a daily basis as well as bring an attribution model to your company. Just be prepared for a longer and more complex build…

If you’ve got a similar project or need further guidance, our team has been around the block more than a few times. Give us a shout!

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