4 Key Differences Between Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot
You likely were both surprised and confused (as I was) when you discovered that Salesforce has two enterprise-level email toolsets offerings. Believe me, I was very skeptical sitting through those first Dreamforce sessions when the Pardot acquisition was announced. Why would Salesforce acquire something so redundant? The short answer is – they didn’t.
On the surface, it is true that both Salesforce products, Pardot (pronounced par-DOT vs par-DOUGH) and Marketing Cloud, are used in very similar ways. In fact, depending on the client and situation, both solutions could come with a similar price tag. However, over the years, Salesforce has put major consideration and development into both systems resulting in starkly different use-cases, interfaces, reporting capabilities, and a suite of premium options to expand your business’s martech capabilities.
When first determining which toolset is the right fit for your company, you should start by evaluating the main method that your company sells: B2B (Business to Business) or B2C (Business to Consumer). It’s not to say that you couldn’t accomplish whatever tactic or strategy you are concocting with either toolset – it’s more that each respective toolset has slowly been developed and dedicated to complement a specific sales style. In other words, one of the tools will likely be easier to implement and fit your business needs.
1. B2B vs B2C
If your company’s sales model is B2B, Pardot is likely the logical choice for you. Pardot functions primarily as a lead nurture engine, featuring out-of-the-box setup and structured tactics closely aligned with your sales team’s sales cycle. The tool focuses on converting opportunities with businesses, not people. Pardot works best with smaller customer and opportunity databases and is ideal for high-value product and service engagements which have longer consideration periods. In my experience, Pardot also works best when paired with a capable sales team whose responsibility will be to close the sale offline. While it is technically possible to integrate an e-commerce or POS-like system into Pardot to execute customer transactions, I typically do not see many businesses doing this. Pardot was built very purposefully with specific use-cases in mind, of which I highly recommend not straying from. The additional time and cost for a business to retrofit such systems with Pardot often outweighs the benefits.
If your company primarily sells products directly to consumers or you market to specific key stakeholders in other businesses, Marketing Cloud is likely the choice for you. Marketing Cloud (formally known as ExactTarget) has been expanded to orchestrate multi-channel communications with 1:1 personalization. The automation tool supports a wide array of development languages and provides an almost open-source development experience. Thus, you can use Marketing Cloud to build highly customized programs to fit your business. Marketing Cloud, however, is not for the faint of heart when it comes to data and contact management. While not necessarily required, expect to become familiar with and exercise relational database best practices as well as SQL Server-based programing when trying to achieve more advanced segmentation and audience automation.
2. Interface & Integration
When first working with Pardot, I asked a colleague of mine for a link to login to the Pardot interface. She chuckled as she sent me to a link to our Sales Cloud login. That’s right, when I said that Pardot is structured to align to your sales team’s sales cycles, I mean it is VERY aligned. At the risk of oversimplification, Pardot is essentially an app that you install over your Salesforce CRM/Cloud solution. Its infrastructure, triggers, and automations rely heavily on the Account, Lead, and Opportunity objects in Salesforce CRM products. This architecture sets up a dream scenario for your sales team. You don’t need a very technical skillset to understand, plan, and send communications to potential clients during each of the stages of your pre-defined sales process. On the contrary, if you plan to send large eblasts like newsletters and announcements to your potential or current clients, you are going to have a more difficult time executing them in Pardot when compared to Marketing Cloud.
Marketing Cloud’s interface is more aligned to what you would traditionally expect within a Marketing Hub. The capabilities and features are organized into studios where you can access your assets, audiences, automations, and landing pages. Data is stored in flexible objects called Data Extensions (essentially unindexed tables) and more rigid objects called Lists (which I personally don’t recommend using). Your data can be integrated and moved via API or via an enhanced SFTP with filename sniffing capabilities to trigger automations. Marketing Cloud can be used as a stand-alone software, but its real power and capabilities come into play when you connect to a Salesforce CRM instance through the Marketing Cloud connector. However, buyer beware -- for various technical reasons, if you are planning on integrating a CRM with Marketing Cloud at any point, be sure that your standup your CRM and data strategy before even taking Marketing Cloud out for a drive. It will save you many headaches and potentially unforeseen costs down the line.
3. Purpose Specific Features & Add-ons
When compared to Marketing Cloud, Pardot does not currently have as many premium-feature offerings or shiny bells and whistles. At its core, Pardot is primarily for email marketing. Pardot’s built-in tools and integrations are designed to help with your lead generation and tracking efforts. Pardot offers landing pages and form field integrations to help collect and add to your prospect info, cookie-based conversion and visitor behavior tracking, and a built-in lead engagement scoring to help you identify which businesses in your rolodex are most likely to buy based on how they interact with your company’s marketing material. Pardot also allows you to set up automated actions based on customer behavior to provide just-in-time communications to your potential clients.
In comparison to Pardot, Marketing Cloud just keeps getting bigger thanks to Salesforce’s aggressive tact and ability to sink large amounts of capital into new martech acquisitions. As new martech technologies emerge, Salesforce appears to take a wait-and-see approach by acquiring companies that create the strongest integrations with their other cloud products. This approach has turned Marketing Cloud into a marketing hub juggernaut which includes Interaction Studio for real-time website personalization and testing, Salesforce CDP for gathering and joining additional metadata about your customers, Mobile Studio for all your SMS and Push Notifications, Datarama for media cost and ROI analysis, and Journey Builder for planning out complex multi-touch marketing strategies.
4. Reporting & Analytics
Both Pardot and Marketing cloud have introduced AI components from Salesforce’s Einstein-branded AI capabilities. AI is leveraged in both platforms to handle your contact scoring, reporting insights, basic use-case analytics, and “next-best-action” determinations.
Pardot’s analytics reports are geared to support your sales team by providing cost and campaign tracking. It also leverages no-nonsense report automation with customizable views and dashboards to accelerate your sales team response to follow up opportunities. Pardot has everything your B2B business needs when it comes to measuring campaign ROI, sales revenue, lifecycle, and email reporting. Plus, Pardot includes the ability to easily share your insights with others to keep everyone on your team aligned.
Conversely, the out-of-the-box reporting capabilities for Marketing Cloud leaves something to be desired. The reason that I always feel unsatisfied with Marketing Cloud’s out-of-the-box reporting is that it doesn’t cover all the potential use-cases that Marketing Cloud has or granular reporting on the 1:1 connections you are making with your customers. Because Marketing Cloud has so many development and integration options, you need to hook in a premium and customizable data visualization tool to get the deep insights you desire. The introduction of tools like Datarama and Tableau are finally scratching the itch I have felt when analyzing data in Marketing Cloud – but these tools can be costly, and you will likely need help from a talented data-scientist or business intelligence team to implement and manage them.
Whether you choose Pardot or Marketing Cloud, you should always strive to keep your data in sync across your Salesforce platforms and all other business tools. Data velocity will be pivotal in getting the most out of either tool. The key to your success with either tool will be to opt for real-time or near-real time automations and integrations.
If you want to get good out, you need to put good in. Pay particular attention to duplicated records and historical data management and consider using data hygiene services to reduce your overall tool management costs.
Finally, do not skimp on finding the right implementation partner who will help you with project pre-planning, discovery, and developing a road map for your team and technology. I have frequently seen leadership go with the cheapest or fastest implementation offering only to be surprised by requests for increases in scope, resources, budget, or timeline. From a budgetary and executive buy-in perspective, be sure to adopt a “measure twice – cut once” approach with either of these tools. Preparation and upfront planning will help you avoid painful and costly re-implementation situations.