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Author: Raphael Steinhöfel - Digital Architect - Nexell GmbH


Marketing automation allows you to nurture your leads through the entire buying process, delivering highly-targeted, personalized messages that address their specific barriers to purchase.

Pardot, worldwide one of the top three marketing automation tools, is designed to support you prioritizing and executing marketing tasks the most efficient way.

But what is actually Marketing Automation? Is Marketing automation for everyone? And what steps should you take into consideration when kicking it off?



Marketing Automation Principles

The ultimate goal with your marketing is to generate more revenue for your company. To accomplish this, you need to drive traffic to your website, convert that traffic into qualified leads and close those leads into customers. Pardot makes a huge impact in the conversion and closure stages of this process. The whole marketing automation process is mostly driven by four core concepts.


Conversion funnels

A conversion funnel is the process a person takes toward becoming a customer. Marketing automation is a way to keep people engaged so they’re more likely to convert. The main goal is to link marketing and sales in order to identify the perfect moment to take action toward a prospect.


Feedback loops and metrics

When you send a message to a person, the recipient will have some kind of reaction to it, even if that action is to do nothing at all. Every action is part of your feedback loop and you’ll need to pay attention to your metrics to get an idea of what those actions are. Depending on your sales cycle / business / industry, some actions and feedbacks can be more valuable than others. From a commercial perspective, a visitor who goes to your contact page after having received your newsletter might be more valuable than a visitor who goes to your careers section.


User flow

While conversion funnels refer to the process taken toward converting, user flow refers to the series of pages a person visits before taking an action.

When you have traffic coming to your site from different sources like ads, social media, and email messages, you want to direct users to pages that will make it easy for them to take action. Such pages generally work with a “give and get principle”: In order to get an email of a prospect you give him some free content he can use, whether it is an eBook, a checklist or another download who might be helpful for the prospect.



Your workflow is the series of triggers you create to deliver messages. Creating a workflow involves taking yourself through the entire process and asking yourself, “If this happens, what should happen next?” With Pardot you are able to assign points to users, that did specific actions like subscribing a newsletter.



Pardot will start specific actions like sending an email based on the ranking of a user.  In detail: when someone joins an email list, it will assign him 1 point. Then it triggers the marketing automation tool to send an automatic email. When the person opens the email, then it will add one more point so he has 2 points and with that there will be a next automatic email and so forth.


Who can benefit from Marketing Automation?

Only for big and rich companies?

Yes, Marketing Automation tools can sometimes be very costly. But the main question is not “how much does it cost”, but more “what is the return on investment?”. When implementing a marketing automation tool, you will not only invest money but also time. And the acquisition of a marketing automation tool can be amortized quite quickly in case you are able to track and convert a few leads. No matter what the size of the company is, tools like Pardot can be very helpful when the sales cycle is long and when the complexity of the products / services sold is high. Efficiency is for everyone and it is much easier to sell to someone that has purchased from you before. Keeping your customers engaged with content marketing is an essential piece of growing your company, be it small or big.


The ipt success story

Nexell has been working for 3 years with ipt, a Swiss-based IT company with around 100 staff members. ipt´s marketing tool was replaced by Pardot as ipt required more marketing automation than simple mass-mailing and newsletters. Pardot now provides many tools that additionally help ipt to generate meaningful networks & connections, giving them the opportunity for profiling, visitor tracking with lead scoring as well as using landing pages and custom templates.  Although ipt is not a multinational organization, they realized that marketing automation could be a great added value to their Sales & Marketing capabilities. Read more about our success story.



Guidelines and best practices

Define your goals

This might seem like an obvious point to make, but before you do anything else, you need to decide exactly what you want Pardot to help you achieve so you can plan your strategy accordingly. This is the most important step, without clear goals it makes no sense to use a marketing automation tool like Pardot. These goals should be realistic and aligned with the financial, human and creative resources of your company. Don’t be afraid of starting slowly and expanding the scope step by step.


Identify who to target

It is important to understand the needs of your customers at all points of the conversion process. But depending on what your main goals are, your time and energy may be best spent focusing on people who are at a specific point of the process. Sales Teams often spend a lot of time on prospects that are not correctly qualified prior to the initial contacts, and cannot be fully focused on deals closure.


Produce highly-targeted and specific content

Provide the content that people are looking for and avoid sending them irrelevant messages. Ensure your content will make sense to the recipient receiving the email or visiting your website, so that they will be inclined to interact with you and / or provide you relevant information that will help you better qualify their potential. Don’t forget “give and get” approach we mentioned above. Keep in mind that there is sometimes a gap in terms of perception: the messages that take you a lot of time to design will not necessarily be the one that generates more reactions or feedback.


Map user flows

Imagine how your customers will interact with your company. Try to map the path a customer walks with you from the first contact to the phase in which you support him, after he used your services. Mapping user flow is a way to visualize the steps customers need to go through to be able to take the action you want them to take. User flows will support you in knowing how to use Pardot´s features the best way because you will know exactly where and when to use which feature. Don’t try to be comprehensive and focus on the scenarios that represent the main part of your business cases.


Segment and rate your leads

It’s important to remember that not all leads are necessarily equal in terms of quality. Your contacts are inevitably going to be a mix of people who are on the verge of buying, people who are still researching their options, and people who probably won’t convert. Rating your leads helps you figure out exactly who needs further nurturing and who is ready to be handed over to a sales team.


Separate and test

Have a standard email template that can be used in multiple campaigns? Good! But keep this email separate (meaning create multiple versions of the same email) to see how it performs across each individual campaign. You may see that it works well for one recipient group, but has a poor open rate for another – data that would be nearly impossible to collect if just one template were used in multiple campaigns.


Measure and refresh

Take a look at your email stats (open rates, click throughs, etc.) regularly to see which emails are performing well and which could be doing better. Measuring your email stats is great, but make sure to revisit the actual email content as well to keep it current. Eventually you may find an email has become a bit tired or outdated, or maybe you just produced a new, great piece of content that could be added into an email that was starting to lose steam.



Before using Pardot as marketing automation tool it´s very important to have a long-term marketing strategy and clear goals for your company. Without these it doesn´t make sense to use a powerful marketing automation tool like Pardot. The learning curve may be high when you begin to use Pardot but once you are familiar with it Pardot will automate a lot of repetitive, time-consuming tasks so your company can focus on selling and growing.

To learn more about Pardot and it´s powerful features see


Ressources and further reading

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