Pardot Automation Tools – which one does what?

Pardot Automation Tools

Do you know what Pardot automation tools to use and when?

Becoming familiar with Pardot and its capabilities is an ongoing learning process. Sure, Pardot can function as your email service provider (ESP), but where the real magic lies with Pardot is its powerful capabilities to automate what used to be manual labor for marketers. Hence, marketing automation! 

While Pardot can be a heavy-lifting tool, automation tools in Pardot should not be feared. We’re here to break it down for you so you can hit the ground running with Pardot automation tools. Grab your pen and paper!

Common Pardot Terms

First, let’s level set on some common Pardot terminology.

  • Automation Rule: Automation rules in Pardot are repeatable, criteria-based rules that find matching prospects and apply actions to them. Automation rules are retroactive.
  • Completion Action: Completion actions in Pardot are a great way to automate actions from a marketing element (like assigning a prospect to a sales rep after they complete a form).
  • Dynamic List: A Pardot dynamic list is rule-based and automatically updates when a prospect’s data changes.
  • Engagement Studio: Engagement Studio is Pardot’s next-generation lead nurturing product, and is the true intelligence engine of the marketing automation platform. 
  • Prospect: A prospect is a visitor with a known email address in Pardot. A prospect is created when a website visitor submits a form, or when a lead or contact is imported or synced from Salesforce. When you send an email in Pardot, you send it to a prospect.
  • Segmentation Rule: Pardot segmentation rules are used to create prospect lists and apply a one-time segmentation action based on specific criteria. Unlike automation rules, segmentation rules don’t run continuously. Segmentation rules run once and match only the prospects that meet the rule’s criteria when the rule runs.

How to Choose the Right Pardot Automation Tools

When thinking about what automation tool to choose, it’s important to answer the question: “What do you need to accomplish?”. Try to work backward from the goal. For example, do you want to add a prospect to a list after they submit a form? Do you want to adjust a prospect’s score or grade based on an action they took?

Here is a helpful chart we created to choose the right Pardot automation tools every time. 

  1. Is the rule based on criteria or an action the prospect takes?
    1. Action—Use a completion action.
    2. Criteria—Go to step 2.
  2. Is it a one-time automation?
    1. Yes—Use a segmentation rule.
    2. No—Go to step 3.
  3. What is the goal?
    1. Update a list—Use a dynamic list.
    2. Action based on criteria—Use an automation rule.

As you can see from the chart, it’s important to understand what you want to accomplish before you plan how to get there with an automation tool. 

Common Pardot Automation Tools Use Cases

Let’s break down a couple of examples to show how to use each of these Pardot automation tools.

  • Example 1: I want to assign a prospect to a sales rep after a form completion
    • Rule is based on an action the prospect takes – use a completion action.
    • The completion action means that anytime a prospect completes a form, this action is executed.
    • You can add a completion action to any asset in Pardot (i.e. email, form, form handler, landing page, etc.)
  • Example 2: I want to assign a prospect to a sales rep after a form completion AND they have a criteria specific to that rep (i.e. job title, region, etc.)
    • Rule is based on an action so you could do a completion action; HOWEVER, because you are also looking for criteria to execute an action you’d want to use an automation rule. This isn’t one time only and the desired outcome is an action.
    • The automation rule would look like this: 
      • Rules – Match ALL 
        • Prospect form <insert form name> was completed successfully
        • AND Prospect default field State contains <insert state abbreviation>
      • Actions
        • Assign prospect to user <insert user name>
    • You can build this automation rule by navigating to Marketing → Automation → Automation Rules in and Automations → Automation Rules in the Pardot Lightning App
  • Example 3: I want to update a list of prospects that are leads automatically
    • Rule is based on criteria
    • Rule isn’t one time only
    • Desired outcome is to update a list – so you will use a dynamic list.
    • You can create a dynamic list by navigating to Marketing → Segmentation → Lists in and Prospects → Segmentation → Segmentation Lists in the Pardot Lightning App then click Add List, then select dynamic list as an option.
    • Then, you’ll set some rules that have the prospect enter or exit the list.
    • The dynamic list would look like this:
      • Rules – Match ALL


  • Example 4: I want to create a one-time list of prospects who fall under a certain account or company.
    • Rule is based on criteria
    • It is one time only – use a segmentation rule
    • You’ll want to populate a static list with a segmentation rule. You can create a static list by navigating to Marketing → Segmentation → Lists in and Prospects → Segmentation → Segmentation Lists in the Pardot Lightning App, then click Add List and follow the steps to create it.
  • Then, to create a segmentation rule navigate to Marketing → Segmentation → Rules in and Prospects → Segmentation → Segmentation Rules in the Pardot Lightning App
  • Then, you’ll set some rules that have the prospect enter the list.
  • The segmentation rule would look like this:
    • Rules
      • Prospect Default Field – Company – contains <insert company name>
    • Actions
      • Add to List <company name> Prospects

We hope this helps you realize the ease of Pardot and take full advantage of its powerful automation capabilities. Let us know if you have any questions as you get started!

Browse more Pardot resources on the Kadence Digital blog:

About the author

Adrianna is a marketing consultant for Kadence Collective and Kadence Digital. She is a content creator fanatic and loves creating campaigns both paid and organic to help companies meet their goals. In her free time, she likes to explore the city of Austin, trying new restaurants, going to concerts and networking with others.