Account-Based Marketing with Pardot: What You Need to Get Started

This is the first blog in a two-part series that explores how to build and deploy a high-functioning ABM initiative using Pardot and Salesforce.

Account-Based Marketing (ABM), when done right, is a smart way to focus your business efforts on a specific segment of your audience that will in turn drive higher-quality prospects through the sales funnel. When it comes to perfecting your ABM strategy, there are a lot of moving parts to consider. What tools do I need? Who is my target audience? Do I have effective marketing collateral? Are my marketing and sales teams aligned with this new strategy? 


Let’s get to the answers. 


While there are many powerful marketing automation tools out there, in this two-part blog series you’ll learn how to implement an effective ABM strategy leveraging Salesforce CRM and Pardot.



  1.  Establish teams and assign roles



When rolling out a new business strategy such as ABM, all players should know their role. It’s important that your sales, marketing and IT teams be invested in the process from start to finish. 


For example: 


  • Marketing team — Build out collateral, segment your audience into their respective buckets and identity key opportunities. 
  • Sales team – Contribute product and service knowledge and provide key contacts at target companies.
  • IT team – Configure Pardot and Salesforce to align with your ABM strategy. This includes the setup of new marketing technology, CRM customization and any adjustments that need to be made once the new strategy has been deployed.


  1. Clean your Data


To avoid wasting time on low-quality prospects, it’s important to eliminate Pardot duplicates and enrich your data. Enriching your prospect data allows you to personalize your Pardot dynamic content, which undoubtedly will lead to better results. 


There are several ways to enrich your prospect data in the Pardot database. Depending on your edition of Pardot, you may already have access to two enrichment tools right out of the box — The LinkedIn Social Media Pardot connector and the FullContact Pardot connector.


The LinkedIn connector allows you to supplement prospect records with data you may be missing. However, this requires updating the records one at a time and can’t be done in bulk, unfortunately.


Using the email address you have on file for your prospect, the FullContact connector will search social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and can pull in missing location data as well as a helpful summary of that prospect.


Companies such as RingLead, Reachforce and Zoomdata enable you to enrich your records in bulk. Using a service like one of these is an additional investment, but the ability to automate and enrich your prospect records in bulk can be the difference between ‘alright’ and ‘fantastic’ results for your new ABM program.


Just as critical as identifying the right target prospects and accounts is avoiding contact with prospects who don’t fit your buyer profile, are no longer engaged or who never were engaged. Using Pardot automation rules and dynamic lists, you can find those prospects, suppress them from marketing sends, and even decay their score over time.


Score Decay Automation Rule


  1. Identify Your Target Audience


Pardot’s scoring and grading tools are designed to help you zero in on your target audience.  


Pardot scoring measures overall engagement. The more Pardot content your prospects engage with, the higher their score becomes. While the Pardot scoring model is fully configured out of the box, some rules may require some tweaking depending on the type of content your company creates. As your content evolves over time, the scoring rules can be updated to reflect that. Work with your sales and marketing teams to pinpoint the score threshold you’re looking for before reaching out to a prospect.


Pardot grading allows you to see how suitable a prospect would be as a customer based on what you know about them. Working with sales and marketing, build out the ideal buyer profile to which you can compare prospects. Criteria may include title, location, timeframe, industry, etc. The higher their grade the more ‘suited’ they are for your offerings. 


Pardot Grading Profile


While it’s important to have accurate criteria to get the most out of your Pardot grading, as you release updates and new products and services your buyer’s persona can change. No problem. Just like with Pardot scoring, you can update the profile criteria as your offerings evolve over time. This is another reason why enriching your data is so critical as you can’t grade someone on their location if you don’t know where they’re located (or worse, the information is outdated and you grade them negatively). Leveraging the score and grade together will allow your sales team to find ideal prospects to match your business.


List building is another important aspect of ABM, and can be easily accomplished with Pardot’s dynamic lists feature. Use filters such as score, grade, job title, location and more to help you identify the best prospects for engagement when building your Pardot lists


  1. Review Your Marketing Collateral


Content creation is the next phase of building a winning ABM strategy. 


Review the content your organization has created in the past and decide which have achieved results and which haven’t. The marketing and sales teams will need to work together on this step as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Much depends on what you offer, the types of content you’re able to produce in-house (you may need to outsource some of your work to a creative agency) and the types of prospects you’ve sold to in the past. Leveraging this historical information enables you to make an informed decision around what content you need for your upcoming ABM initiatives.


Whether you’re sending out single list emails or nurturing your prospects on a journey using Pardot Engagement Studio, email communication is part of a successful ABM strategy. Questions to consider include: 


  • What are your current open and click-through rates? 
  • Are you leveraging Pardot Engagement Studio
  • Is time-of-send impacting engagement?


An effective Pardot email marketing strategy is to create emails that lead prospects to a landing page where they can fill out a form that gains them access to desirable content, such as a gated whitepaper or infographic. Using this method will allow you to further enrich your prospect records through Pardot forms.


When building out or updating content around your new ABM initiative, personalization is key. This means leveraging Pardot variable tags, or, depending on your edition of the software, Pardot’s dynamic content, you can replace entire sections of emails and landing pages with relevant information based on who is interacting with the content.


In a marketing collateral review, look for missing content types, such as whitepapers, infographics or well-designed Pardot email templates, forms and landing pages. And, if your organization is not gating some content behind Pardot forms or taking advantage of progressive profiling, then you’re missing out on collecting valuable prospect data.


What’s next? 


In the next post of this series, I’ll share strategies on how to get your new ABM initiative off the ground. I’ll also dive into areas like asset review and provide insight into reporting tools available to help your teams see the ROI from your ABM efforts.


Your organization can create and implement a very powerful ABM strategy by leveraging Pardot and Salesforce. However, the effectiveness of the program can be hampered significantly by your team’s lack of understanding of the two tools. Sometimes it makes sense to outsource a piece of the puzzle, whether it’s content creation, strategy, development or overall support. Pardot consulting company Invado Solutions has a team of Pardot consultants expertly equipped to handle any type of Pardot challenges you face. Let us know if you need help with your next Pardot Salesforce campaign.


Beau Bassett is an Engagement Manager and Salesforce-certified Pardot Consultant for Invado Solutions. 

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