Pardot: 7 Engagement Studio tips & tricks

Using Pardot’s Engagement Studio to communicate with Prospects and nurture them can be very exciting – for us marketing automation geeks at least. There are so many options and possibilities! But for some it’s this expanse of options that causes trepidation and why some are hesitant to use Engagement Studio or have run into problems.

We’re here though to tell you that using Engagement Studio isn’t as scary as you may think. By following our tips and tricks below you’ll build confidence and become an Engagement Studio aficionado in no time.

1 – Get drawing

Before you even get into Pardot, take a step back and sketch out the idea for your Engagement Studio programme. Think about:

    a. Who is this programme for?
    b. What is the primary goal?
    c. What content do I have to share?
    d. What do I want Pardot to do when Prospects engage with my content?
    e. What do I want Pardot to do when Prospects engage with my sales-led CTAs?

This is a good opportunity to sense check your ideas, run it past a colleague, and ensure you’ve not missed anything. What you’ll end up with is a clear vision of all the elements required to set up your programme. It will make you more efficient and not prone to missing steps or setting things up incorrectly.

2 – Size doesn’t matter

Engagement Studio programmes come in all shapes and sizes, so don’t feel like every single one has to contain lots of emails and actions. Design the programme with your recipients in mind – will they be happy receiving 3 or 6 emails, or more?

And while Engagement Studio offers a lot of possibilities to automate actions – like adjusting score, user assignment, list assignment etc. – this does not mean you should only use Engagement Studio to execute these actions.

For example, you may find a need to include a custom redirect link for sharing your content in an email. And instead of using Engagement Studio to carry out actions once a person clicks on your link, you can instead use completion actions in the custom redirect to achieve this! Remember, it’s all about working smarter, not harder.

3 – Recipient list type is important

While you can use either a static or dynamic list as a recipient list in Engagement Studio it’s best practice to use static lists. Dynamic lists sound appealing for Engagement Studio programmes – people are added or removed from these lists automatically, which means they can enter or leave the Engagement Studio programme only when they meet list criteria. How convenient!

But, what we’ve seen happen is there will be a step in the programme which alters one of the dynamic lists’ criteria. When that happens, the person is removed from the list and thus the programme. This can cause issues because there might be additional steps that the Prospect didn’t take because they were removed before they should have been.

Static lists give you more control about exactly when a Prospect should leave a programme, and this can still be automated to a degree.

For example, you could create a suppression list that is added to your programme. When a Prospect reaches a step or stage at which you want them removed, you can use the Complex Rule element to evaluate Prospects who match this and then apply the Action element to add them to your suppression list.

Another good thing about using a static list is you have a complete record of people who entered your programme. With a dynamic list, this will change constantly and you would need to create an additional step (and list) if you did want to capture all those who enter the programme.

4 – Scores are added to baseline scores

In Engagement Studio you can use the Action element to adjust a Prospects’ score, perhaps when they click on a content link. Just remember that this score adjustment will run alongside your default scoring rules, page actions, or any automation rules relating to scoring.

For example, if you are sharing blog content in your emails and you already have Page Actions set up to adjust Prospects’ scores when they visit your blog page, then the score-step you create in Engagement Studio will add that score in addition to the Page Action score.

This can cause score inflation, making it seem like a Prospect is more engaged than they really are, which is not good. So be aware of the existing default scores and automations already set up in your Pardot org before going crazy with adding score-steps in your Engagement Studio programme.

5 – Use lists to track engagement

Something we recommend to all our clients is to leverage lists throughout an Engagement Studio programme as a means of tracking engagement.

For example, if there are 5 emails and each one is sharing a piece of content then we would create a static list, one for each piece of content, and use the Listen element for when that content link is clicked. When it is, we then use the Action element to add that Prospect to our static content list.

You can then use these lists to evaluate overall engagement at the end of your programme by using the Complex Rule element to see which Prospects are on ANY of these lists. For those that match, you would add them to a “warm/engaged” static list; for Prospects that don’t match you would add them to a “cold/unengaged” static list.

With these pre-made lists you have the choice of using them in a different programme, or perhaps to share with sales so they do a more direct follow up. Or do nothing with them! But at least they are there.

*You could also achieve a similar result by using tags, but with tags you then have to take an extra step to create the lists. By using lists straight away you eliminate that extra step and work more efficiently.

6 – Don’t be afraid to “end” a Prospect’s journey

Depending on your programme objectives, it may not be necessary for all Prospects to reach the end. If you are sending emails with sales-led CTAs like “book a demo” or “request a call back” then once those links are clicked the objective has been met! These Prospects can now be removed from the programme by adding in an “End” step.

In this case it’s better to use an “End” step instead of a suppression list, because you know for certain there is no room for error. These Prospects will definitely not receive any additional emails or have other actions from the programme applied to them.

7 – Use the test option

Often forgotten, using the “Test” tab will help you understand a Prospect’s journey and how certain steps in Engagement Studio behave.

When there is a Trigger listening for whether a Prospect did something such as clicking a link, you will get to choose whether that does or doesn’t happen, and the test will continue down the appropriate path.

This can be particularly useful for understanding the timings of Engagement Studio.

For example, whether you’ve set your email to send “immediately”, “wait X days” or “on specific date”. And with a Trigger set up to listen for link clicks being either “up to X days” or “wait X days”, you can see how different selections affect the Prospect journey. You can pause the test, start over a dozen times and replay various scenarios until you are happy.

Become an Engagement Studio pro

These are by no means all the tips and tricks of Engagement Studio, but they will help to get you on the right path and improve your nurture programmes. If you still find Engagement Studio particularly challenging, or have other Pardot pain-points, get in touch with us and we’d be happy to see how we can help.

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