Pardot vs. Salesforce Marketing Cloud: which marketing tool is best for 2020?

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March 19, 2020

salesforce pardot vs marketing cloud

If you're looking at enterprise-level software tools to run your business with greater automation, analytics and collaboration, you might be wondering about the difference between Pardot and Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

Pardot and Marketing Cloud are both owned by Salesforce and are popular tools for marketing automation, which can make understanding the difference a bit confusing. You might be wondering if one is a lite version of the other, but that's not exactly the case.

Pardot thrives for B2B and account-based marketing and selling, while Marketing Cloud is most popular for B2C customer journeys across multiple channels. Pardot has features for email and social media marketing, while Marketing Cloud also supports SMS and display advertising.

Pardot and Marketing Cloud are ideal for different types of teams and projects and each has different strengths.

Read on for a more in-depth comparison of Pardot vs. Marketing Cloud to help you to understand the difference between the Salesforce products.

Main differences between Pardot and Marketing Cloud

Pardot is a marketing automation platform that helps B2B marketers deploy campaigns, automate marketing processes, and unite their sales and marketing departments. Pardot helps businesses keep tabs on important prospect and customer data by tracking interactions through the customer lifecycle.

Pardot is generally used together with Sales Cloud, Salesforce's sales CRM with features for contact management, sales force automation, sales forecasting and productivity.

Marketing Cloud is a completely different platform. It's Salesforce's digital marketing platform which includes tools for email marketing, social media marketing, mobile marketing, online advertising and marketing automation.

So you will likely be looking at:

  1. Pardot + Sales Cloud
  2. Marketing Cloud

You can also use Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud together. Other Salesforce clouds include: Service Cloud, Community Cloud, Analytics Cloud and Salesforce Platform.

When to choose Pardot

Pardot is ideal for B2B organizations that want a marketing automation platform that's enterprise-level, but still easy to implement.

Pardot itself has limited CRM features and ties to Accounts, Contacts and Leads in Salesforce. It's best used alongside the Salesforce Sales Cloud, ideally by businesses with account-based selling and marketing strategies. The ideal Pardot user is also likely to have a team of sales representatives responsible for smaller funnels of high-value deals.

These organizations use Pardot to be ready to close deals at exactly the right moment. Pardot requires less budget on average than Marketing Cloud, but it's still designed for mid-level to large organizations.

When to choose Marketing Cloud

Salesforce's Marketing Cloud is great for larger B2C businesses – often in ecommerce – that want to deliver a highly personalized customer journey across mixed communication channels. It's also a strong choice for B2B brands that want to offer a B2C style of customer experience.

Marketing Cloud offers a fuller CRM experience than Pardot, with stronger links to Accounts, Contacts and Leads in Salesforce.

Marketing Cloud works well for businesses with large databases and lower basket values per sale.

There's a steeper learning curve than with Pardot, and most organizations that thrive with Marketing Cloud have the technical resources and skills for database administration, SQL, AMPscript coding and HTML design.

When to use Pardot with other Salesforce platforms

Using Pardot and Sales Cloud together

Pardot and Salesforce's Sales Cloud are most commonly used together. With this native integration in place, marketers can:

  • Automatically create and assign qualified new leads in Salesforce;
  • Make tracked prospect activities visible to the sales team;
  • Segment their marketing database using Salesforce data;
  • Tie opportunity values to campaign ROI reports.

Using Pardot and Marketing Cloud together

As we mentioned above, Pardot is generally used with Sales Cloud. You're less likely to need to use Pardot with Marketing Cloud as their features may overlap. However, there are some instances when Pardot and Marketing Cloud can be used together.

If you need to gather prospects, nurture and score leads (where Pardot thrives) and build relationships on multiple channels throughout the customer journey (where Marketing Cloud thrives), you might decide to use both tools.

Feature comparison

Automation features

Pardot is designed with ease of use and user-friendliness in mind, while Marketing Cloud thrives in highly customized use cases. It's simple to set up the automations you need, whether they involve lead management, lead nurturing, lead qualification, email marketing or sales alignment.

Pardot's lead nurturing engine, Engagement Studio, consists of four steps you can use to set up an engagement program for prospects:

  • Action (e.g. send an email to a prospect)
  • Trigger (listen for an event)
  • Rule (check for specified criteria or values)
  • End (the step that signals the end of the program)

Pardot Engagement Studio

To compare, Marketing Cloud's built-in Journey Builder is designed to build deep relationships with groups of customers based on a clear goal. It's neatly integrated with Email Studio in the Marketing Cloud, so you can quickly set up delivery schedules and maintain 1-1 relationships with every customer you send emails to.

salesforce customer journey builder

Marketing Cloud's automation features also make light work of running SQL queries and handling data integrity and integration.

Reporting and analytics

Pardot excels at B2B marketing analytics, combining marketing and sales data in one place. With a few clicks, you get an easy view of marketing campaign ROI and impact on sales revenue. There are also handy data views for lifecycle reporting and email reporting.

pardot lifecycle funnel report

With Pardot, you also get customizable views and dashboards, including multi-touch attribution dashboards to show which channels drive awareness and close deals. Your marketers can instantly share Pardot insights with sales for improved marketing-sales alignment.

On the other hand, Marketing Cloud also offers a wide suite of reporting tools, but these get into even more granular detail and are the best match for B2B organizations or B2B style customer journeys.

For advanced data, Interaction Studio in Marketing Cloud makes it easy to visualize, track and manage real-time customer experiences.

Salesforce Interaction Studio

Marketing Cloud's Datorama brings together all your marketing data, investments, KPIs and decisions so you can see growth and results from every investment, activity and goal.

Salesforce Datorama

Comparing pricing of Pardot and Marketing Cloud

Pardot pricing starts at $1,250 per month. You can start with one user and pay an extra $50 per month for each additional user. Pardot also offers a refund policy and provide options to package your automation suite with other Salesforce products.

pardot pricing comparison

Pricing for Salesforce Marketing Cloud varies based on each customer's individual needs, so you need to call their sales team to tailor a package that meets your requirements and budget.

Summary: When to choose Salesforce Marketing Cloud vs. Pardot

Here’s our summary of how to decide if Pardot or Marketing Cloud is the best choice for your business:

When to choose Marketing CloudWhen to choose Pardot
Your business is B2C, or B2B wanting to create B2C-style customer journeysYour business is B2B
Your team has the technical resources and skills for database administration, SQL, AMPscript coding and HTML designYou want ease of implementation and adoption
Your focus is on personalized customer journeys with mixed communication channelsYour focus is on long sales cycles and marketing and sales alignment
You want to build an ongoing relationship for repeat customersYou want to be ready to close the deal at the perfect time
You have a transactional or ecommerce businessYou have sales representatives who nurture and close deals
You have a larger database with lower-value salesYou have a smaller database with higher-value sales

Whether you choose Pardot or Marketing Cloud, you should keep data in sync across your Salesforce platforms and all other business tools to make sure you're always working with the most up-to-date and accurate customer information.

For tech stack inspiration, read how digital agency The Reference uses PieSync to keep Marketo and Salesforce in sync. With a two-way data flow in place, Salesforce gathers valuable information about people’s interests while Marketo tracks engagement scores. This gives The Reference the deepest view of engagement and optimal data collection using the best of both tools.

About Lucy Fuggle

Lucy Fuggle writes for PieSync, the two-way contact sync tool for hundreds of apps. She also works with her clients to make their brand matter with a content-rich marketing strategy.