Recently we decided to change direction in our marketing department, from outbound marketing to inbound content marketing. We were happily using MailChimp for several years, however with the corporate shift from Infor CRM to SalesForce, we were given the opportunity to incorporate a Marketing Automation system. During the purchase of SalesForce our corporate managers decided to get us Pardot, since it was owned by SalesForce and integrates nicely. I thought it would be good for me to write up a review of Pardot, for anyone who is considering purchasing it. Up front my conclusion is DON'T PURCHASE PARDOT. It is more work, you will get very little help, and their support is horrible, when you eventually get them on chat. They only offer Chat Support.
Onboarding with Pardot
Don't expect any help with the OnBoarding process. This is the initial setup, import, and integration process. You will be referred to their Knowledge Base, which admittedly is a really good resource. The Pardot KB has the answers to many of your questions and explains in good details how to do many tasks and use each part of the system. What you will not receive is personalized phone, or email support. When you encounter odd behavior or bugs, it is really difficult to get someone on the chat session, and explain the issue to them. Every time I try to start a chat session, I am given a message saying "Chat is currently at capacity or offline. Pardot Support is available 24 hours a day from Monday until Friday Eastern Time Zone"
So they say the are there to help, but it is rare that someone is actually online to chat with. So take that as you will.
Campaigns are a really confusing thing in Pardot. Everything needs to be part of a campaign. Even website traffic tracking needs to be part of a campaign. A Prospect have to be part of a Campaign, an Email, List Segments, you name it, it must be associated to a campaign. This is really frustrating for things where it doesn't make any sense. Website tracking ok, but a list segment, really? You could use the segment for multiple emails which are not the same campaign. I mean I have Dynamic lists to segment prospects by their interests. Why does this need a campaign, and What should the name of that campaign be? It is just really confusing. Also, if a Landing Page form is part of a campaign, why isn't it tracked that the Prospect was created as a result of that form, shouldn't that be the prospects Campaign? But it isn't, the prospect will remain part of the Website Tracking Campaign. I assume because that was our first interaction with said Prospect.
The management of prospects in Pardot is really difficult, and at times unwieldy. There is no easy way to create a filtered view of your prospects or to quickly search for a prospect by a specific field value or by activity history. Lets say you want to quickly get a list of your Prospects who have Opted-Put of your emails, who have received a specific email. Well, that would need to be created as a named Dynamic List (Which must be tied to a campaign O.o) I mean it is just a hodgepodge, there seems to be no real rhyme or reason for these requirements. Also it takes several minutes for Pardot to segment your list of say 25,000 prospects. This is just ridiculous.
Email Service Provider?
This is where things go from bad to worse. Using Pardot's Email system we have lost many of our good prospects. Using MailChimp we had around 26,000 contacts, 12,000 of them with a star rating of 4 or 5, and the rest 3 or below (all 1 star were deleted per our list cleanup procedures). During the warmup campaign, we lost maybe 100 good contacts. But during the following months we lost 254 additional, many with hard bounces. These are email addresses we are able to personally send email to from outlook. But Pardot for some reason is receiving bounces. Pardot Support has been so far unwilling to assist in determining the cause of these bounces, and has been unable to provide us that actual bounce message.
Don't waste your money or time with Pardot. You will go gray early, and develop chronic headaches. I suggest you carefully investigate your options. Look at Act-On, SalesFusion, HubSpot (They have free onboarding support) and others, before purchasing Pardot. I wish I was included in the purchase decision, because I am sure, we could have detected some of this before hand, and investigated the alternatives.