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Pardot Marketing Automation Software Review


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Pardot Strengths and Weaknesses

Competitive positioning in the marketing software industry is highlighted with the following strengths and weaknesses.

Pardot Strengths:

  • A growing company that delivers steady product innovation and does what is says it's going to do.
  • A very strong TCO (total cost of ownership) relative to its feature sets, process automation and reporting.
  • Pardot delivers the most complete integration to Google Analytics (syncing lead search and traffic criteria to the lead page) and Adwords (transferring click-throughs, clicks and keyword costs to the campaign for true ROI).
  • The company harnesses the power and voice of its customers. Its Ideas forum is active crowdsourcing tool that systemically influences the product road map and new capabilities.
  • This company sets the bar in terms of strong customer relationships. For this review, we sourced our own Pardot customer references as opposed to being provided references by Pardot. While the number of references was low, the consistency and overwhelming satisfaction from independently acquired reference customers was impressive.

Pardot Weaknesses:

  • Pardot does not support events management automation. While there is integration with WebEx, and an events campaign can be created for outbound invitations and simple ROI tracking, true events-specific functionality such as scheduling, attendee limits, RSVP's, wait lists and facilities management will require a third party solution.
  • Pardot is behind the curve when it comes to social marketing.
  • Pardot does not integrate with direct mail or fax/SMS distributors.
  • Pardot is light on system administration tools. For example, there is no data cleansing or hygiene administrative utility to continuously or periodically identify and resolve duplicate leads. Prospect Insight does use the email address to check for duplicative contacts upon entry, but this alone is insufficient and leads to downstream data quality issues.
  • The company's investments in R&D are significantly less than direct competitors, thereby potentially losing market share ground over the long haul.

Pardot Pricing

Pardot is bundled in three editions—Professional Edition, Enterprise Edition and Ultimate Edition—with monthly subscription pricing starting at about $1000, $2,000 and $3,000 per month, respectively. Primary factors which separate editions, and pricing, include software feature sets, monthly email volume and total number of nurture campaigns. Interestingly, all editions permit unlimited users and an unlimited volume of prospects. All editions also come with technical support.

Relative to direct marketing automation software competitors, Pardot pricing is more palatable than most, which is in large part why Pardot has been ranked number 1 in total cost of ownership by analyst firm Forrester.

Common features not included in the Professional edition which may require customers to advance to the Enterprise edition include fully customizable URLs and social profile lookups. Unfortunately, getting a dedicated IP address (which may be key for email deliverability rates) isn't included until you get to the Ultimate edition. However, keeping true to its theme of flexibility, Pardot will make certain items available a la carte. For example, items such as email rendering, dedicated IP addresses, fully customizable URLs and the social insight capabilities may be priced separately for Professional Edition users in a manner that acquires one or few of these items at an investment less than the next edition price. Beyond the items listed in each edition, additional fees may apply for email overages.

Part of the Pardot risk mitigation message is minimal contracts. While the company no longer offers month to month contracts, annual contracts may be billed on a quartelry basis. However, among Pardot's customer base many choose to prepay annually (in order to secure a discount).

Pardot offers test drive evaluations for serious prospects who want to get started with a free trial that includes minimal set-up and on-boarding. The test drive system is actual production marketing software, however, a few features such as email distributions are suppressed.

More important than price is value—and when comparing the user experience, comprehensive feature sets and marketing analytics relative to the investment—Pardot delivers unsurpassed value relative to the competitive landscape.

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