Combining Pardot and Marketing Cloud for a Powerful Communication Strategy

Have you ever asked yourself “When should I use Pardot, and when should I use the Marketing Cloud?”  It’s a great question, because while either can be used independently, combining both Pardot and Marketing Cloud creates a very strong solution for both inbound and outbound marketing.  It’s common to choose between Pardot or Marketing Cloud, but focusing on the specific needs can determine which solution will best accomplish the goals, and at times this may include both Pardot and Marketing Cloud.

While both Pardot and Marketing Cloud complement every stage of the prospect and customer funnel, the following image shows an overlay representation of the combined capabilities.  For example, at the top of the funnel where content, inbound, and demand marketing take place, Pardot can be very granular with visitor and prospect data, action every step, and if necessary, engage the right program manager or outreach department in real time.  Toward the middle and lower end of the funnel where lifecycle marketing and ongoing communications are focused, Marketing Cloud can span across marketing channels and run complex automations to facilitate any ongoing business communication requirement.


Pardot and Marketing Cloud Stage Funnel

Determining a Marketing Strategy

One of the first questions to ask is what is the overall marketing strategy?  A lot of this will depend on the school, unit, and goals that have been established as part of the strategic plan or vision.  For example, an admissions department with a shortage in qualified grad school applicants may be very focused on inbound marketing to drive the best candidates, whereas the undergraduate admissions team may be flooded with applicants and simply trying to facilitate the admissions process.  This could be two units within a single enrollment management organization or two completely separate units within a single school.  Both have different inbound and outbound marketing goals.

Student life, advisors, and faculty/staff typically don’t need inbound marketing, and advancement may shy away from inbound marketing as well, but a 17% alumni participation rate versus an 80% alumni participation rate can shift the strategy completely.  At what point have long lost alumni gone completely cold?  How well are recent grads participating? All questions that can shift the focus toward an inbound strategy vs an outbound one.

Given the higher education landscape and the constant need to do more with less, it’s typical that a single marketing and communications group may be facilitating all the needs across the units.  For example, the central marketing group may be responsible for generating leads for admissions while at the same time, managing the many other communications needs at the university.  This is a great example where it makes sense to explore both solutions.

Drivers for Pardot

Pardot’s greatest strength is lead conversion.  Pardot drives anonymous visitors to identify and become part of the funnel and nurtures them to fruition.  Pardot tracks content, campaign performance, metrics, and ROI easily.  If the term inbound marketing, lead generation, scoring, or demand generation come up, Pardot should be part of the conversation.

For units that already have a captive and engaged audience, such as student life, human resources, or advising, Pardot is not typically considered.

Many units across campus that are focused on obtaining new leads can best leverage Pardot’s ability to quickly automate actions based on any activity.  For example, in continuing studies or continuing education where program interest may shift quickly, Pardot will be quick to discover this and grade and score the leads product interest accordingly. This can drive a host of new interactions, be it through Pardot or the Marketing Cloud.

Basically, whenever that granular, actionable, real-time insight is needed on an individual, Pardot is incredibly helpful.  In addition to shepherding leads through the funnel, Pardot can provide continued insight into customer behavior allowing organizations to be good stewards, perhaps in advancement with alumni or institutional research with corporate sponsors.

pardot_activity_trackingPardot Activity Tracking

Drivers for Marketing Cloud

Marketing Cloud is a true digital marketing platform.  There isn’t a single unit on campus that wouldn’t benefit from having the Marketing Cloud.  The scalable, robust, omni-channel capabilities along with an extendable list of add-on applications put Marketing Cloud front and center for marketing and communication teams.

Earlier I mentioned student life or advising.  Where business process automation around any event or activity is a concern, Marketing Cloud excels at repeatable, scalable communications.  The robust content building tools are very strong and lifecycle communications across any channel, such as web, mobile SMS, mobile push, social advertising, and geofencing can make a big difference in communication plans. Marketing cloud is also extensible in terms of building out custom actions for driving unique API calls out to other systems as part of customer communications or using advanced scripting techniques to dynamically drive content.

Marketing Cloud allows any unit to continue the conversation. For example, in our Pardot example above, some admissions marketing teams that aren’t focused on outcomes may be hands off once the prospect applies; however, in online programs or outreach where re-enrollment or recertification are a concern, these communication programs continue far into the student journey. This complements Marketing Cloud’s ability for units to work autonomously yet share assets and data or lists with other units on campus.

Marketing Cloud Inquiry to Applicant Journey
Prospect Inquiry to Applicant Journey (Click to Enlarge)


Hopefully you can see the many uses for both Pardot and Marketing Cloud across units on campus.  While one institution may start with Pardot or Marketing Cloud and adopt the other in the future depending on the strategic goals, another may implement both simultaneously.

Social capabilities are also included in both Pardot and Marketing Cloud, Pardot for driving inbound social content, and Marketing Cloud for targeting audiences across social ad buys.  I’m planning to cover social in a separate article which includes Social Studio for publishing, listening, and engaging social content.

Thoughts? Comments?  Feel free to comment below, post in the forums, or contact me anytime.  I’ve also assembled some Q&A below around combining the power of both Pardot and Marketing Cloud.

Questions & Answers

(click on question to see answer)

Q: Is using both Pardot and Marketing Cloud a challenge to maintain and configure?
A: Given these are both SaaS solutions in the cloud they are mostly configuration.  While they are ready to go independently, if you are using Salesforce CRM they can be configured in a matter of hours following the walkthrough instructions. Consulting organizations also offer starter packs which help users get started quickly. I’d recommend looking at the big picture and determine if a phased approach makes the most sense as understanding all your data and how it works together can be the biggest challenge.
Q: Would it be simpler to have one solution manage all my marketing needs?
A: With over 5,000 marketing solutions out there, complementing the “marketing stack” is no easy task. Institutions have continued to prefer a best of breed approach. Salesforce complements inbound, outbound, and social marketing well with an integrated solution in the cloud. Social marketers, communications teams, and business development can all realize the value in the complete solution.
Q: Is Pardot for B2B and Marketing Cloud for B2C?
A: Not really. The entire B2B/B2C cycle can be covered in either Pardot and Marketing Cloud, and shouldn’t be delineated this way for higher education.  Think of these in terms of sales cycle length.   For example, in the business school an open enrollment may happen fairly quick (B2C) whereas a custom program may take time to develop (B2B).  While you may not focus on every step your open enrollee is taking (B2C), seeing a comprehensive view of that same person in relation to custom program development may be of interest (B2B).
Q: Is there a lot of overlap in Pardot and Marketing Cloud? I mean, they both send e-mails and build forms, right?
A: Not necessarily, it is how they do these things that make them different. The dynamic and progressive profiling in Pardot is perfect for bringing in new leads. The scripting capability in marketing cloud allows incredible power for pulling content from outside sources and leveraging multiple channels.
Q: How does CRM play into Pardot and Marketing Cloud? Should I be thinking about CRM?
A: The broader your marketing efforts go, the more CRM becomes more important. Sure you can work leads out of Pardot or orchestrate communications  through Marketing Cloud without a CRM, but why? Salesforce CRM creates a 360 degree view of the constituent to help with decision making and drive better marketing decisions with both your on-line and off-line campaigns.
Q: How would our teams use this across campus?
A: There is a lot of flexibility here. For example, recruiting teams in admissions can use Pardot and central marketing can use the Marketing Cloud. For units that have combined marketing teams, Pardot can do the intelligence gathering and Marketing Cloud can send all the communications. It simply depends on how broad or narrow the organization is setup. For CRM users, end users can accomplish most marketing tasks right in the Salesforce CRM, such as sending to a campaign, a list of contacts, or a report, eliminating the need to interact with the marketing solutions directly.
Q: Our data is scattered, how can this complement a cohesive marketing strategy?
A: If you have a CRM such as Salesforce, great! A single source of truth for both prospect and customer data makes achieving the marketing goals a lot easier although there are always units that don’t have CRM or are simply working from lists.  These units can be complemented as well and continue their existing processes in the context of Pardot and Marketing Cloud.  They can then grow and expand accordingly. 
Q: How can we best achieve adoption across our marketing units?
A: It’s no secret in Higher Education, there are a lot of units with various methodologies; however, the institution is still one brand and having a digital strategy mapped out can only be helpful. Having a franchise model to support continued adoption of Pardot and the Marketing Cloud can be successful. Another option is to retire existing systems into Pardot and the Marketing Cloud as part of the rollout strategy. 

* The views expressed on this site are of the original authors or contributors and do not reflect those of, its affiliates, or its clients.

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    Brent Wege

    A lot of customers will ask, “When should I use Pardot, and when should I use the Marketing Cloud?” It’s a great question, because while either can be used independently, combining both Pardot and Marketing Cloud creates a very strong…
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