Pardot Engagement Studio

By November 29, 2018 No Comments

Pardot’s engagement studio is an evolution of the old drip program function. It’s a robust tool that allows you to plan out a multi-touch engagement based on logic and will even let you test out scenarios and see how a user could navigate through the path.

However, being able to make large-scale engagement programs that are compelling and engaging to your clients can be challenging.

In this section, we break down the complexities of the engagement studio to help you optimize your engagement studio programs with Pardot. If done correctly, you can create powerful recurring engagement programs that work in the background and continually generate leads for your b2b inbound efforts.

To get the most out of Pardot Engagement Studio, we recommend you follow these six steps:

  1. Establish the goals and outcomes of your Drip Campaign
  2. Develop your drip logic
  3. Build your Program in Pardot Engagement Studio
  4. Test and Send
  5. Report
  6. Optimize

1. Establish the goals and outcomes of your Drip Campaign

The first thing you will want to do is define an objective for your drip campaign. It’s worth mentioning that not all of your Pardot Engagement programs will have the same purpose.

In this stage, you should decide which metric to report on. This metric could be a click-through rate, open rate, or even landing page conversions on your website. Whatever you choose, make sure you identify the metric’s goal and how it contributes to your inbound marketing efforts. For us, this is typically an MQL or conversion of some sort.

For example, we may send out a large-scale engagement program offering a long-form content piece to a cold database. Our goal may be to have an email deliverability rate of 95%, an open rate of 25% and a click-through rate of 4%.

2. Develop your drip logic

Next, you need to create your workflow. Pardot’s interactive and intuitive logic builder can help you to visualize the exact logic of your email marketing efforts; but if you would prefer to start with a pen and paper or a whiteboard, that works too.

Create a visual representation of how you want your program to look. This representation will help you once you start building the program in the Engagement Studio.  Whether it’s a doodle on some scratch paper, scribbling on a whiteboard, or something more robust made in a free tool like funnelytics; you may want to create your strategy and logic before building the program in the engagement studio.

3. Build Program in Pardot Engagement Studio

Now that you have established your workflow, you will want to start building out your drip program in the engagement studio tool.

Document your journey

We also strongly recommend that you annotate the reason for the engagement program, who it is for, what your goals are, etc. That way if your Pardot power user leaves the company, your marketing team can pick up where they left off and understand the reason for each program.

Know your audience

Craft your lists carefully, understand the difference between sending lists and suppression lists and make sure you have their permission to send your prospects email blasts.  

The only way for prospects to be part of an engagement program is to be a part of the list that you added to the program. If they match specific criteria while the program is running, they will begin the program like the rest.

Understand the nuances of the engagement studio

Here are a few tips to consider:

  • You can only set triggers to wait up a whole number, e.g., 1, 2, 3, etc. (You can’t set half days)
  • Wait steps include the weekend so make sure you consider that in your drip timeline.
  • You can only use an email template once during an engagement program (This is the default setting and can be turned off by an administrator)
  • Prospects go through an engagement program once (in the new release this feature is possible for some users, but still in beta for the time being)
  • Your engagement studio program doesn’t have to be complete when you send.

4. Test and Send

The next phase in your Engagement Studio creation is to test the logic. You can whiteboard the logic with your team, or you can use the native testing tool. Pardot’s testing tool in engagement studio is quite powerful as it allows you to see how the program will work visually, the days your emails will send and how long your program will last.

An important notion to consider is testing the different paths in the program. By doing that, you can visually see the exact route that any particular prospect will go down and any errors in your logic.

5.  Report

One of the valuable functions of the Pardot engagement studio is the reporting functionality. The reporting tab gives you real-time insight into how your drips are functioning, what percentage of your prospects are going down your path, click-throughs, etc.

We use reporting to get real-time feedback on the success of our campaigns. By analyzing the path distribution and click-throughs, we can understand how to optimize our programs to reach more prospects.

6.  Optimize

The last and final piece in running an efficient Engagement Studio automated program is optimization. Once you create the program and leave it running in the background, you should frequently review that the engagement program is running efficiently and engaging with your audience. We recommend that you check on your recurring programs once a week to make sure all systems are running smoothly.

Additionally, make sure to audit your email templates in the program. With multiple people working the different assets of the programs and making changes, it’s easy to make changes to a template that is currently in use. Thankfully, Pardot will give you a warning when you edit an email template. Make sure to heed that warning and double-check your program email templates for errors.

Consider lag time with multiple APIs

Another thing to consider when integrating Pardot with other system is a lag time between systems. If you require an API to connect Pardot to another system in addition to Salesforce, you want to make sure that those systems all have enough time to fire and speak to each other. Once we had a client event campaign that utilized Salesforce, Pardot, and another event RSVP tool.  When we were testing out the program before launch, we noticed that the smallest lag time between Salesforce and the event RSVP tool made prospects go down the wrong path in Pardot.

Example EBQ B2B Inbound Engagement Program

STEP 1– Our goal was to touch a cold database with a 10 chapter engagement program. Our primary focus is the amount of landing page successes. We also will take a look at CTR, open rate and amounts of landing page views.

STEP 2 – We knew that we wanted to touch on this cold database every 3-7 days to warm them up to our services, so we created two paths: 3-day wait and 7-day wait. Anytime the prospect opened the email, we saw that as genuine interest and would move them down the 3-day path.

Before working in the engagement studio, we used google sheets to create a linear workflow for the entire program:

STEP 3 – We utilized a few basic actions and waited for steps to build out a 60-day email drip. Since we were going Salesforce.com heavily, we also added an action to add to a Salesforce Campaign with a status of “sent, opened, or clicked.”

This status gave our sales development team visibility into where the prospect was in the overall engagement program and how interested they were in our services.

Additional Automation Tools Used:

Automation rule: We used a landing page success to move the prospect past our 50 point threshold and into the MQL list. The rule also notified our VP of Sales and Sales development team of the warm lead.

Dynamic List: We create a dynamic list to feed into our program anytime it meets specific criteria. This list allows us to take a step back and watch the program do the work once the logic and building is finished. We also created a dynamic list for any prospect who converted through the  form which we added as a suppression list to the program, and therefore prevent those prospects from getting content they already received.

STEP 4, 5 and 6 – Test and Send

The next phase we tested out the program. By using the test function of Pardot, we were able to find some flaws in the logic.

One of the glaring flaws that our director caught was that one first draft, the program was set up so that the prospects would only get the 2nd email if they clicked on the first link. That was incorrect! We wanted them to receive the second email still but wait a few more days.

This error is an excellent example of how important it is to check your work and get an extra set of eyes on your program.

After making these changes and auditing the program and email templates once again, we felt confident that we could schedule the engagement studio for the next morning.

Overall, the inbound campaign was a success. We were able to drive new MQLs from people that hadn’t heard of us before and filled our sales development pipeline with warm and hot leads to call on.


By following all the strategies and practices in this guide, you will be able to master the Pardot tool and create effective engagement programs that reach a variety of audiences. We want to reiterate how powerful Pardot is as a marketing engine running in the background of your b2b efforts.

If you do so, you’ll continue to drive more MQLs for your sales pipeline.

Download the B2B Marketer’s Guide to Pardot

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