The winner in my marketing automation contest

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So a few months ago (wow has it been that long!), I posted about my experiences looking for marketing automation software.

I ended up choosing Pardot for my needs.  I’ll do a series of posts on my experiences implementing Prospect Insight and using the software for the past 2-3 months.

First up, why did I choose this application instead of the others?  I eliminated quite a few choices since they didn’t offer any sort of no risk trial.  I didn’t need a completely functional trial, I wanted to feel out the interface.

I was looking for something that would handle the following:

  1. Email lists and email communications
  2. Integrate with my CRM application (salesforce)
  3. Offer lead scoring/profiling
  4. Create rules based automation (if you do this you get this)
  5. Track web visits
  6. Be a hosted application (SaaS)

When I uncovered Pardot, I contacted them via a webform, and they got back to me with in one business day.  (One vendor took 4 weeks to respond to my web request, too bad for them.)  My salesperson Derek Grant was great.  Really attentive and answered all of my questions.  (I ask a lot of questions!)  Even better I had a feature request, something minor, that he forwarded off to his support team.  And I wasn’t a customer.  I LOVE vendors that take inputs from all sources.

Pardot has an online demo available with dummy data.  They also have a 3 month money back guarantee.  This made the decision a no-brainer for us, they offered an extensive feature set meeting our needs, and great pricing.  Prospect Insight’s feature set was on par with Eloqua, but was easier to use and less expensive.  It was also a little more polished, cohesive, and consistent than some of the other, newer automation suites competing in this space.  A few of the applications I was considering seemed to be missing the “fit and finish” I expected for an application at the price point of $10K/year and up.

Once we started implementation, the team was great.  Our implementation manager, Adam Blitzer, has been really responsive and accessible.  We have exchanged a million IMs, and I have made a few suggestions that have even been implemented!  Great!  Anyway the team is really great and they really helped to make our implementation as easy as possible.  We are pretty complicated, we have a few different websites and identities. As a result we have spend a good deal of time figuring out how to route things back to its appropriate source and keep things simple for us.  Pardot’s team was really great at giving us advice on best practices, using the applications and some useful approaches.

These are a few of my initial thoughts, more coming soon.

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7 thoughts on “The winner in my marketing automation contest

  1. Bobbi

    Hello Jame,

    Great insight into your MA needs and selection! I really would like your help with this:

    1. How long did it take you to install and bring up Pardot for minimum functionality to be able to build an initial DB and run 2 simple campaigns?

    2. What CRM system did you integrate with, and how. By that I mean, a supported integration or using an API? How time-consuming and difficult was this?

    3. What did you use for Customer Data Quality and hygiene for your initial (and ongoing) needs?

    Our small company or 40 people with 4 marketing people is looking at doing exactly the same thing and integrating with Goldmine SAS and a homegrown CRM system. Can this reasonably be completed in two months?

    Thanks in advance for your kind insights!

    Best regards,
    Bobbi

  2. Jame

    1. How long did it take you to install and bring up Pardot for minimum functionality to be able to build an initial DB and run 2 simple campaigns?
    A few days. I had to export my data, combine my “leads” and “contacts” and do some manual clean up. My organization is a bit challenging, we have 5 different websites with separate branding and messaging. (This actually caused way more work!) Any way the DB build is accomplished via import. (Take a spreadsheet, map the columns, import.) It will take longer if you have custom fields to create. You can take shortcuts by importing them later once you have the new field. Simple campaigns? Paid search, landing pages and emails. We actually started with some tradeshow follow up. I had already started a landing page, but we created a new form in Pardot to embed in our pages. I had to import my list, design my form, write an email, mail it out. Prior to the email we implemented the tracking code on all of our sites. This took my web developer about 1-2 hours, since we had to use different code for each site. I think I am rambling here, but if you already created your content, and just need to apply it, you’ll be done with your campaign in a day. It will take a little time to create your first design template, so tack on another day. I know some people claim you can launch a campaign in 5 minutes, but this assumes of course that you don’t care much about branding and design besides applying your logo and your favorite font. 🙂

    2. What CRM system did you integrate with, and how. By that I mean, a supported integration or using an API? How time-consuming and difficult was this?
    We use salesforce.com (they also work with SugarCRM today). I believe the integration occurs through the API , but basically Pardot syncs over the lead DB, the fields, any activities, and the score and link to Prospect Insight. It took than an hour. Enter my Salesforce ID. Map my fields with the field labels, and change a few things in salesforce. (We have a lot of custom fields so it took a little bit longer)

    3. What did you use for Customer Data Quality and hygiene for your initial (and ongoing) needs?
    We have done it manually. Pardot is helping by eliminating multiple additions to our DB with our webforms that go straight to Salesforce. We are currently investigating services and this is the current front runner: http://www.ringlead.com. Pardot matches with email addresses so it stays cleaner.

    Our small company or 40 people with 4 marketing people is looking at doing exactly the same thing and integrating with Goldmine SAS and a homegrown CRM system. Can this reasonably be completed in two months?
    Absolutely. We are almost done, but I had a few more sites to do (let’s say 5X a normal person!). Do you have in house web expertise? (A web designer?) You’ll need this type of resource to get your templates together. You sound pretty savvy in your company so this should be easy, or you can use the professional services team. (We used the services mostly from a best practices/how do I do this sort of thing). In terms of mixing with your custom CRM I’d chat with the Pardot team. But if you are looking to move, SugarCRM is great and Open-Source (or commercial). Easy UI. Lots of features, built on the LAMP stack so for savvy web people, it’ll be easy to integrate.

  3. Bobbi

    Thanks so much Jamie – I really appreciate your gracious insights, detail and assistance! Lots of good info for us to leverage for our application.

    Best regards,
    Bobbi

  4. Jame

    Good luck Bobbi. I know it is hard to choose. In our case we started going down the path of marketing automation and content management, but that added so much complexity to the timeline we realized we should separate the projects. What I really liked about Pardot was I felt I could figure out how most stuff worked by clicking around in the UI (and they gave me that opportunity). Shorter learning curve for day-to-day users. That was realy key for me, and one of the reasons I eliminated some larger vendors. I don’t have a team of people that can manage my automation. We actually have other stuff to do, like create content and plan events. 🙂

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