Using Pardot Engagement Studio to nurture sales leads

There are many ways to leverage Engagement Studio in Pardot – nurture leads to MQL status, promote events, customer onboarding – just to name a few.

With one of our clients, we identified an opportunity to leverage Engagement Studio as part of their sales process which we’d like to share. As we all know, the B2B buying cycle takes a long time. So it isn’t surprising that sales will need a helping hand in keeping certain leads warm and engaged.

Let’s begin by setting the scene of our client’s particular use case:

Example of a B2B Sales Process

Below is a brief overview of the lead journey we reviewed with our client:

  • Stage 1: Prospect in Pardot meets MQL threshold
  • Stage 2: Prospect is sent to a lead queue in Salesforce
  • Stage 3: Lead is qualified by marketing and passed on to sales
  • Stage 4: Sales follow up on the lead, with the aim of booking a meeting
  • Stage 5: The lead isn’t ready for a meeting and requests a call back. For this client, that time frame could be up to 6 months sometimes!
  • Stage 6: Sales sets themselves a task to follow up at a future date

Then what do you think happens to the lead…


They fall into an abyss where no communications are sent, from either sales or marketing. This is not uncommon, since at this point leads have left marketing and sales do not usually have access to tools and platforms with automated nurture capabilities. Luckily, this client has Pardot and Salesforce, and we realised Engagement Studio could help close this gap.

Example of a Sales Nurture Programme

Below are some of the steps and configurations you could use in your own sales nurture programme to make it a success:

  • Recipient and suppression lists

As this programme is intended to support sales, you want them to feel in control of who is and isn’t in the workflow. To achieve this, you can leverage the newly released Summer ’20 feature of the “Add to Pardot Nurture list” button. So first you need to ensure this in visible to your sales team on the Lead and Contact Object page layouts.

Next, create a static list in Pardot for the “recipient” list and give it a clear name like “Sales Nurture – Start Programme” (and remember to “share to CRM” so sales can see it).

Sales also need to be able to remove leads from the programme if they’ve managed to progress them down the funnel. To make this easy, create another static list in Pardot called “Sales Nurture – Stop Programme” and set this as the suppression list in the programme.

Now sales have the ability to start leads in the programme and stop them.

  • Leveraging campaigns and custom member statuses

We are big fans of using Salesforce Campaigns, and custom campaign statuses, to group and track a prospect’s progress.

Start by creating a campaign in Salesforce, then set up custom campaign statuses. To determine what these should be, consider the various stages a prospect will go through in your programme that you want visibility of.

Here is an example of custom member statuses for this type of programme:

  • Started programme
  • Requested call back
  • Removed by sales
  • Completed programme


For some great Campaign Member Status tips check out this post on The DRIP.

Now what you can do is use the “Action” step in Engagement Studio to adjust a prospects campaign member status when appropriate. We’ll cover this further down the blog post.

  • Tracking content engagement

We also love using lists to track when a prospect has engaged with email content. To do this, a little prep is required in that you need to:

    a. Know the different content you are sharing in each email
    b. Create a static list in Pardot, clearly labelled to align with each content piece

Now you are able to use the “Action” step again in Engagement Studio to add prospects to these list when they click on the right link (and use the “Trigger” step to listen for them that link click happens).

  • Using dynamic content to personalise emails

As we all know, the more personalised your email content is, the greater the probability of engagement and conversion. And we’re not just talking about personalising with “first name”, we want to serve content and messaging that is based on known data on the Prospect record, such as industry, company size, job title, etc.

To do this you can use Dynamic Content in Pardot. Let’s say you have two blogs, and each is more geared towards a certain industry. Provided that the “Industry” field on a prospect record is populated with the correct data in Pardot, then you can use that field to serve copy and content around either Blog A or Blog B.

Then you can add your Dynamic Content to your sales nurture emails, offering personalisation with just one email template.

  • Get fancy with custom redirects

Following from the point above about using dynamic content, the one downside is you cannot track link clicks of these within Engagement Studio. Thankfully, we can use custom redirects in Pardot to pick up the slack.

Going back to our example of having two blogs that you want to share, to complete that set up you need to create a custom redirect for each blog URL. Then you use that custom redirect link in the dynamic content.

And for each custom redirect, you can add completion actions to do the things you might have done in Engagement Studio, like:

    a. Add prospect to a list for content tracking
    b. Adjust score (if necessary)
    c. Any other action you want taken

  • Using complex rules to update campaign statuses

Depending on the custom campaign statuses you’ve set up, you may find that you need to evaluate certain criteria of your prospects throughout the programme to see whether or not their status needs changing.

For example, we mentioned before that sales could remove prospects from the programme by adding them to the “Stop Programme” list, but this doesn’t have any impact on the campaign member status.

To help it be more automated, you would add in a “Rule” step, most likely in between email sends, that would check whether a prospect is on the “Stop Programme” list.

If they are, then along that “yes” path you add in the “Action” step to change their campaign member status to “Removed by sales”.

This could also be achieved with an Automation Rule, but if you are running low on these or don’t want another separate element in Pardot to look after for your programme, then just manage it via Engagement Studio.

  • Evaluating overall engagement

At the end of an Engagement Studio programme we like to run “Rules” that check whether prospects are on ANY of our content lists.

If they are, and they’ve not engaged with our stronger sales CTAs, then they can be added to a “warm prospect” list. They’re clearly engaged and interested in what is being shared, but not quite ready to speak with sales.

For the prospects that are not on any content list, they can be added to a “cold prospect” list. You could decide to run them through another programme later or feed this information back to sales to help them prioritise (or deprioritise) following up. Or do nothing. But at least you have a list ready in case you do decide to take an action.

If you are looking for more Engagement Studio insights, we also wrote a blog post sharing our 7 tips and tricks for Engagement Studio.

Think you need more support or consulting on how to get the most from Pardot? Drop us a line and let’s arrange a call.

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