When should companies choose Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) over Pardot? What is important when migrating to Marketing Cloud from other platforms? Useful tips for the decision making, and insights into a smooth process – an Interview with one of the world’s leading Marketing Cloud experts: 4 x MVP Eliot Harper.

Salesforce is a leading marketing automation platform and the system of choice for many successful companies. With Marketing Cloud‘s popularity, innovation power and unique capabilities around leveraging data, a switch from Marketo, Eloqua, or Pardot to Marketing Cloud has become a logical step for many of the most innovative companies around the world from numerous verticals. To provide decision makers with insights to make an educated decision around such a migration and about which platform is right for them, SalesWings spoke with 4 x Marketing Cloud MVP, Eliot Harper. Read on.

: Eliot, you advise companies from various industries and all sizes around Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Can you provide a high-level overview over both platforms (Pardot and Marketing Cloud), and highlight the main differences, strengths, and limitations?


Eliot Harper: Of course. Pardot is a B2B marketing automation platform and is primarily oriented to nurturing prospective customers with email. Pardot is designed with marketers in mind. The platform excels in creating simple, personalized emails and lead capture forms, while also offering lead scoring and a lead nurturing engine (Engagement Studio) for building automated programs.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud, on the other hand, is an enterprise-level digital marketing platform that was originally designed for B2C marketing, but is also often used for B2B marketing. There are many differences between the two platforms, but to summarise them, I would broadly group them into three categories:

For personalization, Pardot offers ‘data merge’ style personalization of emails and dynamic content, to display content variations based on defined criteria. However, Marketing Cloud enables advanced content personalization through a drag-and-drop email editor, which is complimented by AMPscript; a scripting language that enables you to create programmable content when necessary.

Concerning channels, while Pardot enables you to send emails and create landing pages, Marketing Cloud is an omni-channel platform. In addition to creating emails and landing pages, the platform also offers mobile text messaging, in-app messaging, group messaging, social and digital advertising capabilities.

And on data, while Pardot offers a set of predefined objects for data storage, Marketing Cloud offers a relational data model, where you can create an unlimited number of tables (or ‘Data Extensions’) and perform ETL (Extract, Transform and Load) processes to import and export data to and from external sources, that can be orchestrated using Automation Studio.

Companies who are serious about data driven marketing will typically find Marketing Cloud to be a better fit.

SalesWings: Pardot or Marketing Cloud – both have their advantages, depending on the client’s unique situation. In what scenario does a move from Pardot to Marketing Cloud make sense? What are some of the benefits of Marketing Cloud, and when do you advise a customer to move over?

Eliot: It probably doesn’t. Pardot isn’t comparable to entry level email marketing platforms like Campaign Monitor and MailChimp, and it’s not meant to be a stepping stone for Marketing Cloud. If you are looking at migrating from Pardot to Marketing Cloud, then you most likely chose the wrong platform to start with and have quickly discovered its constraints.

SalesWings: Changing a marketing platform comes with planning, work, and change management. What does a company need to take into consideration, before deciding on a switch from a different marketing platform to Marketing Cloud?

Eliot: Every new Marketing Cloud implementation that I’ve worked on is a multi-faceted project. Organizations will always be migrating from some platform and no marketing platform is alike. I’ve seen some organizations migrate to Marketing Cloud, when they probably should have stayed with their existing platform. Specifically, organizations who exclusively use their marketing platform as a glorified email cannon. Before considering migrating to Marketing Cloud, you should consider the following three questions:

Do you have the right resources to train and use Marketing Cloud? In order for organizations to be successful, they need to assign at least one full-time resource to “owning” the platform. Remember, Marketing Cloud is an enterprise-level platform and takes time to build expertise and get the most out of the platform. I’ve seen some organisations appoint their CRM or IT Administrator to own Marketing Cloud, but this isn’t an appropriate role for a shared resource.

What resources are required to migrate to Marketing Cloud? Any platform migration project needs to be resourced effectively. You either need to have dedicated resources during the implementation phase who have expertise in both platforms, or work with an experienced Salesforce Partner to manage the migration project.

What effort is required to migrate to Marketing Cloud? There isn’t a simple answer to that, as it depends on the maturity of the organisation, people, and planning. It’s not about simply lifting an existing customer list and emails over to Marketing Cloud-there are other considerations. To mention some key ones, it’s important to identify the existing data flows to and from your marketing platform. How are new Subscribers added? What data is needed on the platform to support campaigns or transactional messages? (For example, abandoned cart notifications or purchase confirmations). And what level of personalization is currently used? Each vendor has their own proprietary approach to content personalization and you need to consider the effort to rebuild all business rules in Marketing Cloud.

SalesWings: How much time should a customer plan for, for a successful migration to Marketing Cloud? What are some of the steps in the process to make that switch a success, leading to a seamless continuation of a company’s marketing activities?

Eliot: Migrations can take anywhere from six weeks to six months, which is largely dependent on the amount of data and content to be migrated and the availability of resources. Designing a seamless switch is the crucial part. You need to consider that you will need to send from both platforms simultaneously for at least a month, as you need to complete an IP address warm-up period on your new Marketing Cloud account to establish an IP address reputation. Additionally, you need to ensure that email unsubscribe requests are synchronized across both platforms during the transition period and 90 days after. For example, if a customer unsubscribes from an email that was sent from your existing platform after the migration is completed, then you still need to honor that unsubscribe request in Marketing Cloud.

SalesWings: Pardot is mostly focused on email and B2B environments. Will companies find all they need in Marketing Cloud, given that it was originally designed for B2C environments? Or, are these statements even still valid?

Eliot: There are many Marketing Cloud customers who use the platform for B2B marketing use cases. Whether you have a B2C or B2B audience, at the end of the day, you are marketing to real people, so there’s really no reason why you can’t use Marketing Cloud for B2B marketing and build customer journeys to align with B2B customer lifecycles.

However, a main consideration is lead scoring and grading as well as sales enablement aspects in the Sales Cloud, which isn’t a feature in Marketing Cloud. While I’ve seen some Marketing Cloud customers build custom lead scoring models based on complex SQL queries and System Data Views (internal tables that store Subscriber engagement data), this quickly becomes expensive to maintain and usually doesn’t scale well. Here, the SalesWings B2B Studio for Marketing Cloud is a handy addition for B2B and lead management related requirements.

SalesWings: Who would you recommend having a look at SalesWings?

Eliot: SalesWings is all about sales and marketing alignment, lead qualification and sales enablement. Remember that Marketing Cloud is just part of a marketing technology stack and strategy to grow your sales. Consider your company website, which is a rich source of behavioral data. Potential customers evaluate your services and products. They complete forms to contact you or download gated content (like a whitepaper), or simply browse your blog resources to find a solution to a problem.

You should be collecting this data to enrich their profile, qualify their needs, and identify their ‘sales readiness’ to make a new (or another) inquiry/purchase. Lead scoring isn’t exclusively for B2B and it’s not necessarily just for ‘leads’ either.

SalesWings understands this and it’s one of the only platform that provides an integrated solution for Marketing Cloud and Sales Cloud to track, score and gain sales insights on your audiences and leads, so you can create highly relevant and personalized sales and marketing engagements.

In turn, this addresses one of the key shortcomings of the platform; integration of sales and marketing alignment with lead insights. Given that Salesforce has been on an acquisition buying spree over the years, it’s surprising that they haven’t already picked up Saleswings to fill this technical gap.

SalesWings: Marketing Cloud is “future proof” and has close to no limits. A wide set of functionality (builder and Studio applications) are available. What is your favorite application?

Eliot: Every SFMC customer should be using Marketing Cloud Journey Builder. It’s an extremely powerful and robust customer journey management platform that effectively nurtures your customer lifecycle.

Additionally, customers should be using the Einstein applications in Marketing Cloud, as these have come together to form a comprehensive suite of AI-based tools that help drive customer engagement, while also determining the optimal number of messages to send customers, identify optimal image assets that drive click-through and other machine learning features that take the guesswork out of digital marketing.

SalesWings: Last but not least; your life does not only evolve around Marketing Cloud only… what else does Eliot Harper do?

Eliot: I used to exclusively focus on Salesforce Marketing Cloud, but have since broadened my expertise and focusing on marketing technology architecture, as Marketing Cloud is ultimately just one component in a much larger technology stack.

Outside of work and my contribution to the Salesforce community, I enjoy kayaking, home automation projects and spending time with my wife, four children and two dogs!

SalesWings: Thanks so much for these incredible insights.

Eliot: You’re welcome!

About Eliot Harper:

Eliot Harper is a Salesforce MVP and Senior Marketing Technology Architect at CloudKettle. Eliot is an acknowledged technical expert in Salesforce Marketing Cloud and has written books on Marketing Cloud, including the Journey Builder Developer’s Guide and The AMPscript Guide. He is very active in the user community and regularly publishes Marketing Cloud tips on his video blog at . Eliot also assists Salesforce with certification development and is a regular speaker at international events.

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