How do you choose between Salesforce Pardot and Marketing Cloud?

How to Choose between Salesforce Pardot and Salesforce marketing cloud.

Using the 7 steps framework to Choosing the right marketing automation platform we can gather our requirements to compare against the features of both Salesforce Pardot and Marketing Cloud marketing automation platforms. Going through this exercise will help us prepare a checklist we can now line up against platform capabilities and costs.

You can download a template here that you can use to create your own checklist.

Or here is a framework for a Digital Marketing Strategy.

The first step when you’re choosing between marketing automation platforms or before you even get to that point is you want to have a documented digital marketing strategy. We really advocate you create a written digital marketing strategy. We provide a framework for that that you can use or you can build your own. The key here is know your audience and where they hang out, what channels are you going to access your audience via, where do they look for information. The second part really of the digital marketing strategy is to map their buying journey. What stages or steps or psychology do they go through in order to come to the point where they call you for help or they want to buy something from you? Depending on what type of business you’re in, of course. In mapping their buying journey, it’s part of that documented strategy. You’re going to really have an idea of the type of technology you need to implement that strategy tactically.

Typically, the buying journey has really three kind of stages.

  1. Problem recognition where they recognized they have a problem
  2. Solution Research a solution to that problem, or really the final part where they’re
  3. Selecting Options for the vendor or a product.

What you need to do is by understanding the psychology and the information that’s neither each of those stages for your given client, then you’re going to have an idea of what features you need in the technology that you’re going to choose. You’re also going to have an understanding of what information is needed in each stage. You could then create the appropriate content and tools, digital tools or what have you for your ideal client to utilize each of those stages.

That really dovetails into the second thing you need to do which is before you are comparing marketing automation platforms, you want to implement a content strategy.

You really should have someone that’s responsible for creating different types of content and you really want to schedule this out. This can be

  • blog content
  • eBooks
  • webinars
  • infographics
  • checklists
  • videos

Once you have it scheduled out and you’re consistently able to produce that, what you want to allocate is what content is needed at each stage of the customer’s buying journey.

During this stage we want to make sure there is a consistent way to produce targeted content that advances a prospect through their buying journey.  You want to think about the psychology and the choices and the questions that are being asked each of the stages.

Then, you want to know the desired outcome for each of those pieces of content.

  • Do you want a call the action at the end?
  • Do you want them to consume another piece of content?
  • Do you want them to think about another type of decisions?

Whether going from, “Hey, they recognized there’s a problem,” to looking for a solution through your content or other tools that you’ve created, or maybe you want them to select a vendor and particularly use the vendor or product that you’re offering, you really want to think about those things and how each of the content pieces you’re creating, what the call to action after they consumed the content is.

From there, you’ll have an idea of what technology you need to promote, publish, deliver, or convert on the content that you’re creating. By having content created and knowing where it sits in the customer’s buying journey, you’ll have at least an idea of what type of technology you’re going to need and what features again.

This third thing is you want to decide on the level of automation that you want. Initially, we advocate again, put your digital marketing strategy together, start producing content with each stage of the buying journey in mind, and then, what you want to do is once you see it, you’re getting conversion- so only then do you want to automate that and scale the audience. Generate traffic through a digital marketing channel and then keep track of your opt-in and conversion rates. Test calls to action. Then, you can consider scaling this into a campaign using marketing automation software.

What features do you need?

e-mail marketing on an outbound basis. You have prospects and list of contacts and you’re e-mailing them. Do you then want to be able to automate email to nurture those customers who opt-in to your campaigns? 

Drip e-mail campaigns Do you need software to create automated nurturing email campaigns? to those who opt-in and don’t take immediate action? Maybe you need

Landing pages and forms creation to gain the opt-in and build contact lists of opted in prospects. Some platforms give you a way to quickly create landing pages using WYSIWYG editors. This is useful so that if people are clicking on e-mail messages or clicking your ads, they’re going somewhere in a contained environment and you can get better conversion because you need, you can quickly generate, test, different landing pages or forms. 

Social marketing, do your customers use particular social platforms? Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instgram, Youtube? Can you reach them there and what type of content or interaction is needed? Is it a B2B or B2C customer? Where they’re hanging out and where you most likely do interact with them? Maybe you need social marketing as part of your platform.

Social listening, maybe you need to monitor keywords and see whether people are talking about your company. Maybe you need to see if they’re talking on particular topics that you want to be able to communicate, chime in on on social media. Maybe that’s not even important to your business, depending on who you’re selling to and what type of sale it is.

A/B testing, do you want to be able to test different e-mail copies and see which one is more effective? Do you want to able to test different landing pages and see which one is more effective?

Web search, do you want to be able to look for web traffic and map persona on your website? Do you want to be able to see what actions people are taking on your website and then adjust your tactics so that you’re getting better opt-in or you’re delivering more personalized content? Does that matter to you? Is that something that you’re going to incorporate into the execution of your digital strategy?

Paid search campaigns. Do you need a platform other than just going into Google AdWords? Do you need a platform like a marketing automation platform to be a part of that management of your paid campaigns and maybe paid as paid search or maybe it’s paid display campaigns.

E-commerce, do you need to actually be able to sell the product on your website and do you need your marketing automation platform to be a part of the technology to allow you to sell and complete a transaction, or maybe you’re just having other types of call to action where you’re getting an opt-in and then someone is following up on content they’re consuming, or maybe you’re trying to get clicks to calls. It’s good to understand all those things and the first stage and the second stage and then thinking about the level of automation, you need to understand the type of features and tools you need.

Mobile marketing, this can very … You’ll see SMS capabilities. Do you need to be able to send text messages instead of e-mail messages to your clients? Do you need to be able to save multimedia messages, being maybe video or coupons like images? Then, geo-fencing is an interesting capability that some platforms have including the marketing cloud where maybe at multiple locations and you want a mobile consumer, when they’re physically within range of, say, a store or restaurant or another location within your business, to receive communication. Maybe that’s not important but maybe it is depending on the type of business you’re in.

Reporting and analytics. There’s different degrees of this obviously. Do you need predictive analytics? Do you just need to build and create reports? How do you manage it? These are all things to think about, features that you want to think ahead of time. What am I looking for in a platform? Maybe you don’t know until you see it, but ideally, if you have documented your digital marketing strategy, you’ll have at least an idea of what degree of automation you want and what features. Of course, you’ll need to then see it: “Does platform A or platform B have what I need?”

Know your lead numbers. This is really goes down to what are you going to be expected to produce. That’s going to be important because of a couple of things. Let’s think one … It’s one thing for sales typically to have a quota and the numbers. It depends on the type of business you’re in but let’s say, you’re generating leads for a sales team. Sales team has a quota. It goes to logic today that most of marketing departments are going to have a lead quota that they’re responsible for. Then, a quality of different types of leads is going to be important. A couple of things that that’ll play into. One, you’re going to want to know how many … Let’s say you’re using cold e-mail as an example. How many contacts are you going to have to make? How big are the list you’re going to have to buy and what can my platform handle and is there an extra cost to that on the platform?

Then, you’re going to want to understand things like can I track clicks and reviews because you’re going to want to know what are my numbers? You want to be able to set goals. Why this matters is really usually the number of contacts or what you expect to get out of a campaign because that’s also going to help you set a budget. By saying, “Listen, I need a thousand e-mails sent every month because my assumptions are I need thirty reads or clickthrus per thousand e-mails sent. I’ll need five opt-ins and I’ll get a ten percent close rate from this group of opt-ins over thirty days. That means I’m probably going to close six sales for every thousand e-mails sent. Great. That means if I need sixty sales in a year, I need a list sized ten times that. I need ten thousand e-mails and my platform used to be able to handle those types of contacts.”

By doing that, you’re going to understand, when you’re making a purchasing decision, which platform, like maybe a platform has a contact limit, maybe it has e-mail outbound limits. By listing out those benchmarks you can also know to check if a platform has the ability to put in goals and measure the success of campaigns against your objectives. That’s probably going to be really important to look at when you look at the features of what marketing automation platform you’re going to choose.

Number five is you want to decide on the channels that you will use to communicate or get conversion from your customers. This goes back again to understanding where your ideal customer hangs out, what they’re in a particular social or other channel force.

Maybe the channel is if I’m sending direct e-mails to them, am I sending those to a corporate e-mail versus a personal e-mail? What do my list look like or what type of list do I need to buy or build? Maybe the channel is your website. Social networks, any of your social platforms, like if I have a Facebook profile for the business, am I going to interact with customers on Facebook or Twitter or both or LinkedIn or YouTube or other social platforms?

Paid search, am I going to interact through search engines or display advertising across different web properties? Then, what type of properties will I need to incorporate that into any of my campaigns on the marketing automation platform that I’m using? Mobile SMS, MMS, and geo-fencing. Again, is this going to be important? Again, it’s an interesting feature set that sometimes, an afterthought, but if you’re a location-based business, it might be really important to start utilizing that and it may not be. If you’re B2B company, you don’t care and you’re really not worried about the physical location of a customer relative to a location that might not be that big of a deal.

Webinars, do I need to interact with my customers using some sort of webinar? Do I need some sort of functionality or integration with a webinar platform with my marketing automation platform? It really important to decide which channel is you’re going to use when you implement a campaign or different campaigns as part of your digital marketing strategy. Sixth, there’s missing six here. I apologize. Sixth is then you want to set your budget.

Once you have an idea what channels are the most important, where your customers hang out, you’ve benchmarked by manually testing and seeing what types of campaigns you’re going to run, you’re going to set a monthly budget. Where this comes into place is two things. One, you want to know what I’m spending per month to acquire, to get traffic and then convert that traffic to try to hit my lead number. Then, two, is then you want to benchmark what your spend is on technology as a percentage or a portion of that monthly budget.

Let’s say that you came up with, you said, “Look, based upon on my lead numbers, I’m going to spend five grand a month.” One sale, the value of that customer, let’s say, is five thousand dollars, an acceptable cost of acquisition for that might be, let’s say, twenty percent. That’s a thousand dollars. I’m spending a thousand dollars to acquire a five thousand dollar customer through various activities. I know that in order to meet my revenue goal of two hundred and fifty grand a year, I need fifty new customers a year. I’m going to space that out by having a monthly budget of five grand. It’s spacey. Over the course of a year, my budget is sixty grand to acquire a two hundred and fifty thousand in new customer revenue. Those are my benchmarks.

Then, you go, “What’s the reasonable cost of a marketing automation platform?” You’ve already decided what features and functionality you need. I think a realistic or a logical budget in my mind is 10-30% your monthly marketing budget. In other words, if I’m spending $5000/month on for example paid ads and e-mail marketing lists a good benchmark might be a budget of $500-1500 a month for a marketing automation technology.

If you have followed these steps you’ve gone through all the key benchmarks of things that you want to do before you decide which marketing automation platform is the right one for you.

Now that you’re armed with this information, you can look at the features of the two platforms or the three platforms that you’re going to compare.

Salesforce Pardot platform versus the Marketing Cloud platform features.

Really quickly, you’ll see that the price range varies but then the feature sets. You can get complicated because each version of Pardot or each version of Marketing Cloud is a little bit different. We’re going to talk about that.

Pardot, you can see it has range has really three price points of

  • Standard $1000/month
  • Pro $2000/month
  • Ultimate $3000/month

E-mail marketing is the core product in Pardot. You want to get them up to 10,000 contacts in each of those versions. Anything over that, you’re going to pay more for additional contacts. Again, going back to know your lead number and you’ve figured out how many raw e-mail contacts you might need to be in your e-mail marketing campaigns. It’s going to be important to know, “Am I have to pay extra for more than that number of contacts?” If I know that I need twenty-five thousand raw contacts, in this that I purchased, I’m going to spend some extra money somewhere in Pardot because they’re capping me at ten thousand without extra charges.

Drip campaign automation. This goes to once you get opt-in, typically, you want to nurture customers with the buying journey. If you’ve indicated that, “Yes, this is something that I want to do. I want to have a bucket of customers that opt-in for information and I’m in an automated fashion stepping them through their buying journey,” then drip campaign is going to be really important and Pardot offers that capability. There are some variances between the different versions of the product but you want to compare those.

Landing page creation. I think one of the really excellent features of Pardot is that you can create landing pages within Pardot. You don’t have to buy a separate platform like Unbounce. Unbounce is not that expensive but again, I can build those inside of Pardot. Then, I can, using like a WYSIWYG editor, Marketing Cloud, not so much. I believe you need to have an external product. I haven’t seen that they have that capability inside of Marketing Cloud but the Marketing Cloud is very different.

Social listening. Social listening, when you’re monitoring your business keywords or keywords of potential target customers on different social platforms like Facebook or Twitter or, I guess, I think, LinkedIn would be in that, maybe Instagram, you’re not going to be able to have those types of capabilities of Pardot. You have to decide how important that is, whereas the Marketing Cloud would offer you the ability to add social listening to your campaigns.

Social content, some editions of Pardot, I believe it’s the pro and the ultimate offer, the ability to publish and manage content on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter again. Marketing Cloud can offer Social listening and social content management feature a la carte. 

You can check out the blog post on How Marketing Cloud is priced to get more details on this.

Then, there’s also one on how Pardot is priced, but you’ll see that Marketing Cloud, it’s very much a la carte. You would decide, “Do I need social? Do I need search? Do I need paid marketing? Do I need mobile?” Your pricing monthly would be built based upon each of those modules that you would add, or at least that’s one way that Marketing Cloud is priced though.

Search marketing. If you’re looking to manage your on website visitor personas, creating one to one journeys, that concept is really not part of the Pardot platform. You’re going to graduate to Marketing Cloud. What that allows you to do is really you’re going to track the activity and what content and what pages are being visited by visitors. You’re going to lump them into personas. Then, you’re going to try and personalize the experience and create actions based upon what content they’re consuming or pages they’re viewing or products they’re viewing on your website. If you need this type of capability, then I don’t think Pardot is really built around search marketing capabilities, but the Marketing Cloud does have that capability built in.

Paid advertising. This is like managing your Google AdWords campaigns, your LinkedIn campaigns, your Twitter campaigns. Then, I think even display marketing, Pardot offers those in the pro and the ultimate versions so the $2,300 a month versions. Marketing Cloud, again, there is a module, I believe it’s 12.50 a month for paid advertising campaigns. You can build your customized version of Marketing Cloud with that a la carte pricing added in. Mobile marketing, there really isn’t mobile marketing capabilities in Pardot the way there is in Marketing Cloud. Marketing Cloud offers you that ability to build SMS messaging into your campaigns or MMS like multimedia picture messaging or video. Also, geo-fencing. Those are really advanced mobile features that are not on the Pardot platform but are on the Marketing Cloud. You have to decide if that’s the channel that you’re going to interact with and how important that is and what certain version you can expect out of it. If you say, “Yeah, I need mobile marketing,” then that pushes you out of Pardot into the Marketing Cloud.

Content marketing. Do you need to be able to schedule, manage, post, track, and adjust and create triggers based upon what content is being consumed? Both Pardot and Marketing Cloud have some of these capabilities. However, Marketing Cloud is obviously much more advanced. Content marketing capabilities in Pardot are a little bit more limited in Marketing Cloud but not, not, not useful, if that make sense. You can actually … Again, the pro and the ultimate versions of Pardot has the ability to schedule campaigns out. There’s a campaign calendar. You can schedule that content in advanced and publish. You can adjust create automations based upon how content is consumed. In Marketing Cloud, if you go down to journey builder, it’s a really powerful workflow tool for marketers to actually create those types of experiences on another level or much more advanced level. You just have to decide the level of capability that you’re going to need between those two.

Tight integration with the Salesforce Sales Cloud and/or the Service Cloud. There’s basic CRM integration with Pardot and Salesforce CRM, the Sales Cloud. Meaning, I can do … I think really two things. One, I can pass through leads that are generated to the sales team and the sales. Two, when I look at an account, I can see the Pardot activity inside of the account view of Salesforce. In the Marketing Cloud, it’s a much deeper integration. You’re able to create marketing journeys be on just lead generation with the Marketing Cloud. For example, let’s say you’ve already acquired a customer and you have the ability to generate support cases based upon actions and follow-up e-mail campaigns based upon outcomes of, let’s say, cases and trouble tickets inside of the Service Cloud or in the Salesforce side, perhaps, interesting, it has that capability where you can provide content to sales people that is created by marketing and you can give them e-mail marketing capabilities with like canned or triggered messages and actions, Pardot does have pretty interesting integration with the Sales Cloud.

Salesforce Engage. Pardot Engage campaigns provide fairly advanced integration beyond lead generation extending Pardot to Salesforce Sales Cloud. This is where you put curated content, email marketing templates and reminders into hands of sales reps. 

Marketing Cloud has another level of integration where you can automate the entire life cycle of the customer and communication.

  • actions on your websites
  • interactions with the sales team
  • interactions with your customer service team

A/B testing of both email and landing pages is available in Pardot on the pro and the ultimate versions of Pardot. In the Marketing Cloud, there are A/B testing capabilities also inside of e-mail campaigns but also across your entire web property. It’s much more advanced capability and complex but there are capabilities inside of them. You have to evaluate what you need and what your plan is to implement, how complex your marketing automation program is going to be.

Lead scoring, both Pardot and Marketing Cloud have lead scoring. You can judge the quality of leads based upon the behaviors and actions of the customer or the prospect in this case.

Workflow Automation vs Journey Builder. Pardot provides the ability for a non-technical marketing resource to create workflow automations and rules. Salesforce Marketing Cloud provides a terrific visual toolset for non technical marketing reosurces to create mass 1:1 customer journeys using Journey Builder.

Customer focus. Really, I think the Pardot platform is great for small to midmarket. Midmarket to enterprise would be the focus of the Marketing Cloud. Again, it really comes back to what your overall digital marketing strategy is, what level of capabilities you need, and how you plan to implement that, and which one of these platforms would best serve you. Once you understand those things, you need to come to this checklist. You go through and decide like, “Well, social listing is really important for me so it pushes me into the Marketing Cloud. Search marketing is really important to me. I don’t have another toolset so I’m going to want that module in the Marketing Cloud.” You can see where you can come to decision point.

The Conclusion. Pardot is a very strong e-mail marketing automation platform. It also has the ability to have paid campaign options in different versions, the pro and the ultimate. I really like the landing page capability and the conversion of leads to Salesforce as well as the Salesforce, the Pardot engage campaigns. Those are really interesting capabilities. Excellent product for small to midmarket. The Marketing Cloud is very much creating one to one customer buying experience in a mass scale. If you’re a mid to enterprise customer or mid to enterprise-sized business and particularly if you’re B2C, I think, type business, Marketing Cloud is the way to go because you’re going to be able to scale up one to one customized journeys and create, especially if you’re like an ecommerce business, Marketing Cloud is the way to go.

Pardot, I can see where if you’re B2B or you’re trying to get a click to call or other action, I think Pardot is great, again, for that size customer. Terrific option for a small to mid-market company who is targeting customers in B2B markets or non-e-commerce based B2C.  Marketing Cloud of course can handle both scenarios very well but definitely the B2C market like if I’m like a grocery chain or I’m a restaurant chain or I’m a consumer goods product company, Marketing Cloud is super powerful with a lot of capabilities. I can mass create those 1:1 customer buying experiences. So anything where I want to create buying personas and match up the content or track the actions of web visitors and then get them to a decision point, Marketing Cloud is the way to go.

Particularly multiple digital marketing channels, there’s a lot more capabilities within social and mobile on The Marketing Cloud.  Even the paid campaign management is going to be much more powerful in Marketing Cloud. Plus, the deep integration with Service Cloud and Sales Cloud, if your organization is really bought in to the Salesforce platform, your sales teams are using Sales Cloud, your service teams are using Service Cloud, then, the Marketing Cloud is going to be able to create lifetime interaction on an automated basis through the interaction with other organizations such as your service organization or your sales team.