Pardot Lead Grading: Why Default Grades Don’t Work as Intended

One of my co-workers is in the final stages of implementing lead grading for their prospects. This has been a long process, both because of deciding what we want to grade and because of deciding how to grade what we want to grade.

Being this is the final stages before releasing to our customer-base at-large, we tested the grading process internally. Everything worked as planned…

…except one test.

Out of 15 tests, all but one had a grade associated with the prospect.

This is the one prospect out of fifteen that didn't have a Grade.
This is the one prospect out of fifteen that didn’t have a Grade.

Why didn’t this one prospect have a grade?

We looked at everything. We compared this prospect against the other 14 to see if there were any differences. Looked at the Audit tab to see if there was a reason why the Automation Rules didn’t run.

Nope, nothing.

Next step, we looked at the fields in question, the ones that drive the grading and the Automation Rules. This is where things got interesting.

“The Perfect Storm”

One by one, we looked through the fields and tried to determine if the test answers should have changed the prospect’s grade. What we found out was a perfect combination of answers over five fields that did not adjust the prospect’s grade.

And due to Pardot not displaying the default grade of “D” “until it changes either positively or negatively at least once,” there was no grade displayed for the prospect.

Our initial assessment that the prospect didn’t have a grade was incorrect. What happened was the prospect did have a grade, and did go through the grading process, but continued to have a default grade.

It’s our suggestion that Pardot remove this limitation on Lead Grading. If a prospect is assigned a Profile and has run through a Grading process, they should clearly have an assigned Grade, even if it continues to be a default grade.

Head over to the Ideas section at Salesforce to upvote our idea.

Pardot Workaround: How to Upload Files with a Single Pardot Form

I recently wrote on how to upload files using Box.com and Pardot Forms. That solution wasn’t totally clean and simple, as it required placing two embed codes on the page – one for the Pardot Form, one for the Box.com Upload Widget.

I am happy to write that I was able to embed the Box.com Upload Widget within the Pardot Form itself! This allows you to only place one embed code in the final landing page, and allows for a cleaner layout.

What you need:

  • Pardot
  • Box.com

Step 1:

Create your form as needed in Pardot. In our case, we were having customers place orders for branded marketing materials. This particular form needs to gather standard shipping-type information (name, address, etc.)

Pardot Form - Pink Button

Step 2:

Go to your Box.com account. If you haven’t created a folder for the uploads, do so now. Click on the […] icon to the right of your folder, and click “Upload Widget.”

Box.com Upload Widget Animated GIF

Step 3:

Fill out what you want the upload widget to say. You can place instructions here if you want, rather than on the resulting landing page.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-3-40-24-pm

Step 4:

Copy the embed code from Box.com.

Step 5:

Now, instead of placing the embed code for the Box.com Upload Widget on your landing page, you get to place it directly in the Pardot Form! Edit your Pardot Form, and go to the “Completion Actions” tab. Click the Source Code button, and then paste your embed code for the Box.com Upload Widget.

pardot-form-thank-you-code

You can also include your Thank You message before the code, along with any upload instructions you want your audience to see.

Now you’re all done! Here’s how the final form and upload widget work together.

pardot-form-completion-box-upload

 

Make sure to test out the form and upload widget before releasing to the masses.

Workaround: How to Upload Files with Pardot Forms

If you Google “upload files with pardot forms,” you’ll find plenty of people asking for this feature or offering workarounds with Google Forms.

Here’s something we came up with the other day. (Note: This is more of a two-part solution, but can be varied — probably — for a one-column, or single-form solution. I’ll be trying to create that shortly.)

What you need:

  • Pardot
  • Box.com

Step 1:

Create your form as needed in Pardot. In our case, we were having customers place orders for branded marketing materials. This form needs to gather standard shipping-type information (name, address, etc.)

Pardot Ordering Form

Step 2:

Go to your Box.com account. If you haven’t created a folder for the uploads, do so now. Click on the […] icon to the right of your folder, and click “Upload Widget.”

Box.com Upload Widget Animated GIF

Step 3:

Fill out what you want the upload widget to say. You can place instructions here if you want, rather than on the resulting landing page.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-3-40-24-pm

Step 4:

Copy the embed code from Box.com.

Step 5:

Open the source code of the landing page that houses your form, and paste the embed code from Box.com where you need the upload widget.

screen-shot-2016-09-21-at-3-41-35-pm

Now you’re all done!

Make sure to test out the form and upload widget before releasing to the masses.

Something I may be testing out in the near future: The ability to place the Box.com upload widget directly in the Pardot form. I’ll keep you updated!

Update: September 23, 2016: I wrote another post on how to do this with a single Pardot form here.

How To Piss People Off In The Email Marketing Industry

Funny story.

Scrolling through Twitter this morning and I see the following:

Shit. This is quickly followed by:

This just got real. And I’m thinking to myself, “I do this.”

A few weeks ago, I set up an IFTTT recipe to add any Twitter user to a list when they use #emailgeeks in a Tweet. I thought this was a pretty harmless way for me to see who is talking about email marketing on Twitter.

Email Marketing Twitter List
832 Members! Whoa…that IFTTT automation is a little too successful!

I should have realized that when my list reached 500 users that I needed to re-think this method.

Unfortunately, I didn’t really think about this until I saw the aforementioned tweets. Nothing like a good public shaming to get people to change behaviors.

So, IFTTT recipe is no more! Tweetdeck is now “on deck” with a tab devoted to #emailgeeks.

Tweetdeck #emailgeeks tab
A snippet of what my #emailgeeks tab in Tweetdeck looks like.

What did I learn from this?

  1. Automation is not always your friend.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2004, so I have a pretty extensive list of people I follow.As anyone on Twitter knows, it’s hard to cut through the noise of the real-time updates from your entire network. I used the IFTTT recipe to be more efficient in my Twitter time and “curate” my Twitter Feed so I could get the pulse of the email marketing industry.

This method backfired like a boss.

  1. There’s probably another way.

In the Twitter conversation, I mentioned my reason for the IFTTT recipe and the list automation. One participant quickly pointed out Tweetdeck and it’s ability to save hashtag searches as “tabs.” This allows me to have a feed, per se, devoted completely to #emailgeeks.

As suggested, I will now manually add future #emailgeeks users to my list based on what I see in my Tweetdeck tab.

  1. Trust your community.

Whether it’s my time in the Pardot Success Community on Salesforce, or #emailgeeks on Twitter, I take tremendous pride in being a member of those communities. There are hundreds of people using those tools on a daily basis in ways different from myself, bringing hundreds of different perspectives and experiences. Trust those differences. Trust the community.

  1. Discuss. Don’t Freak Out.

I think the reason why I was humbled by this conversation, and not upset, was the way the community handled the conversation. When I mentioned that I could be one of those “bots” added people to Twitter lists, the conversation turned from address those “crazy, unknown robots” to “here’s a better way to do what you’re trying to do.”

That pivot means everything as Twitter can be an extremely hostile environment. The #emailgeeks community is anything but hostile, and that proved to be true in this instance as well.

 

Why GIFs are better than video

I check my personal email frequently throughout the day. Yes, big admission, I know. Not really. Most of the time I do this, however, is through the Mailbox app on my iPhone. Why do I feel it’s okay to do this? Because I just swipe-delay my messages until that evening. It cleans up my Inbox and brings back all the important messages that evening when I have more time to go through the messages.

But all that info is definitely not why you’re reading this. It’s to know why an almost 20-year-old feature of the web — the .gif — is better than video, in my mind, in one particular case. *Note: there are probably many reasons why the .gif is better than video for many cases. I believe this is just one such case that came to mind and I was non-sober enough to write about.

Used poorly, the .gif reminds many of the days of GeoCities:

But used correctly, GIFs can look like this:

This was in an email I got from The White House, and the .gif grabbed my attention more than anything else in the email.

If this was communicated through video, here’s what I would need to do to get the info.

  1. Click the thumbnail in the email.
  2. Browser opens if not open already.
  3. New window/tab loads in browser.
  4. Click video to play.
  5. Wait 30 seconds for ad or loading.
  6. Video plays.
  7. Finally get information I clicked on, almost 2 minutes after getting the email.

What do I need to do with the .gif? Open the email. It just works.
*Note: .gifs don’t work in every email client. Here’s a great chart from Campaign Monitor of who supports animated .gifs.

So, if you’re looking to use the versatile .gif in an upcoming email campaign, here’s what you should remember:

  1. Keep it concise and clear. The White House communicated one thing and one thing only through the above .gif.
  2. Keep file size smaller. Since this is loading when the email opens, a large .gif will take time to load.
  3. Know your audience. Use the above chart and your email analytics to make sure that your audience will be able to see your crazy, awesome, .gif magic.
  4. And remember, don’t blind your reader with flashing neon, construction signs, or dancing babies.

Lessons Learned After The First 5 Years as an Email Marketer

This post is a tongue-in-cheek response to a post by Joy Ugi over at Only Influencers about her first 12 months as an email marketer. 

It’s your fifth year as an email marketer.

Then you blink and a whole decade has flown by. It happened to me, and I bet it already happened to you. After five years of email marketing, you haven’t learned everything there is to know, but you damn well feel like you know everything.

But then you still get those rude awakenings when you feel a disturbance in the email marketing Force.

Learn. Do Something With What You Learn.

It’s easy to read what other email marketers are doing. I do it every day. I have a weekly blog roundup listing those same articles and posts I read. We go to conferences and attend webinars where we learn to be a better email marketer.

But all of that is for naught if we don’t do something with that knowledge. This is the biggest thing I’ve learned over the last five years in marketing, specifically as an email marketer.

It’s easy to see the new Engagement Studio from Pardot, get some best practices, some example drip campaigns, and go to your team saying, “Look at this great new addition to Pardot!” But what separates you as a “veteran” of email marketing is your ability to do something with that knowledge, something to make your marketing efforts and campaigns better.

Be Humble. Educate.

It seems as though the egos of those in Marketing are only second in size to the egos of those in Sales. It’s easy for us in email marketing to feel that we “know better” than most, because outside of marketing, most people still think of email marketing as spam. It’s easy for us to look down upon those who “don’t know better.”

Why educate someone who wants to buy a list and blast out the latest sales promotion?

You- the email marketer – educate them because it makes the entire organization better. You are only as strong as your weakest point, and if the stakeholders in your organization continue to believe email marketing stands alone and is meant for blast emails, well, you’re not doing your job. Period.

So you need to be humble and educate those around you. Teach them the same values you hold dear about clean email design, responsive and mobile-first principles, connecting email with marketing automation and your CRM. All of these take you, your colleagues, and your organization to the next level.

Be More.

Many organizations, mine included, don’t have the luxury of having one staff or employee focusing solely on email marketing, let alone having multiple staff focusing on email marketing. Here where I live and work in Cedar Rapids, I know a few email marketers from GoDaddy. They’ve presented to local marketers a few times about email marketing best practices. Now, they have the luxury many of us don’t: dedicated designers and dedicated writers. Awesome!

Most of us don’t have that.

And so we need to do more. Show value and bring value in other ways. For you, is that marketing automation? Analytics? Digital Campaigns? Social? Take the strengths you’ve developed working in email marketing and transfer them to another interest, find ways to bring value to your organization with your strengths.

It’s A Journey.

When I took my current job almost five years ago, I would be hard pressed to imagine where I am now. I code in my sleep. I know Pardot menus in my dreams. I know what Custom Fields are linked from Salesforce, and what Custom Objects we can only report on in Salesforce.

It’s been an incredible journey. And it’s not over, yet. Just keep swimming.

Monochrome MailChimp: A New Favorite

I’ve written about Unroll.me before many times. It’s probably my favorite item in my inbox every day. And it’s the worst item in my inbox every day as well. (What’s even worse is when their servers go down, but that’s extremely infrequent.)

The reason Unroll.me is my favorite/worst item in my inbox is because it collects all of the crap that I don’t want to read every day. It’s the crap that I’ve signed up for because, at some point, I wanted that spammy newsletter or shopping email.

(P.S. If the NSA or CIA or Kremlin is reading this, put spam like this in front of me, tell me that I have to redesign the emails to good design, and I’ll tell you anything.)

In the midst of all of that, a nice little email caught my eye today, and the sender definitely knows a little something about email.

monochrome-mailchimp-no-images
This is the email that caught my eye, and without images as well!

Yes, MailChimp is a modern marvel with email design, but I had to write about this email. This. This is not something we, even as email designers, see every day. This is pushing the envelope, in a very good way.

One of the things I love about the design, is that it’s not completely black-and-white. The beige/creme header stands out against the black/grey motif of the lower half and gives the reader some breathing room to focus on the header – “A few of our favorites.”

And while I didn’t open the email on mobile until I was writing this blog post, the design is definitely mobile-friendly.

The same email, with images.
The same email, with images.
The mobile version, as shown by Litmus Scope.
The mobile version, as shown by Litmus Scope.

Stranger Things

Now, I thought to myself, this is a pretty cool email, right? So, I’m in Litmus Scope — which, by the way, if you’re not using, you need to — and I check the text version of the email.

The very long text version of the Awesome Monochrome MailChimp Email.
The very long text version of the Awesome Monochrome MailChimp Email.

At first glance, I think, “Oh, they expanded the text snippets of the articles for each of their links.” And then I read closer, and realize something else: This is marketing about MailChimp!

Snippet of the text version.
Snippet of the text version.

The text-version of the email had nothing to do with the actual email. It was marketing.

Now, I would absolutely love to hear the conversations that not only came up with this idea, but pushed it forward. (Author’s Note: I don’t receive many emails from MailChimp, so this could be something they do on regular basis, but I also know that not everyone reads the text version of emails.)

Now, I’ve loaded this email into Litmus Scope, so you can take a look at it in all it’s glory.

A lot to think about

A main reason why I wanted to share this email and my thoughts on the email was that it really got my wheels turning. It’s so unusual! It’s minimalist, but still full. It’s monochrome, but still colorful in a way. It functions across all platforms. And then there’s the text version!

10/10 Mailchimp. Bravo.

 

Redux: What is Email Marketing Really For?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how difficult email marketing can be, and not just for those who do it every day. No, I’m thinking about those marketers who are diving into email marketing for the first time, need to “get it done,” and move on to the next item. Specifically, I’m thinking this in response to the recent Medium post by the women at Clover, and another response by Dan Oshinsky from BuzzFeed as posted on Campaign Monitor.

I’ve written before about the unending need to make the email creation process better. But, these two posts mentioned above have me thinking this issue goes beyond a simple UX refresh or overhaul.

What is the issue?

From my perspective, there seems to be two camps of people in email marketing.

One camp knows how to code, knows about deliverability, and know about design, among many other skills. This camp lives and breathes email marketing every day.

The other camp uses email marketing as a tool in their marketing toolbox. They don’t only do email marketing, but everything else as well. From websites to emails, to print materials or event planning, these marketers don’t necessarily have the time or skill set to do a deep dive into email marketing for every sent email.

I think a majority of marketers fall into the second camp, but only because I believe having a human resource dedicated solely to email marketing is a luxury that few can enjoy.

Why is it important to recognize the two differing camps?

I think it’s important for us to realize the inherent differences in these two camps because their respective needs can be incredibly disparate from each other.

The “Every Day” camp.

From my perspective, the needs of the Every Day camp are the needs of any professional who becomes an expert in their field. The tools get more specialized, and tasks that would take others many hours to finish requires minimal time of this expert. If I look at tools like Dreamweaver, Litmus Builder, and others, these are the specialized tools used by the Every Day camp. Someone from the Many Hats camp would not be using these tools on a daily or regular basis.

The “Many Hats” camp.

The people in the Many Hats camp have to cover a wide range of skills and required tasks in their day-to-day work. Email marketing can be just one more item on their checklist to get done; sending out the latest donor newsletter or update. Email is not the sole focus of this camp. The Many Hats camp requires tools that allow them to get the job done quickly, painlessly, and with a quick or short learning curve – anyone can pick it up if need be. Tools like Constant Contact is probably the prototype of this type of tool.

Why does this even matter?

I believe this matters because the article written by Clover is an article written by members of the Many Hats club, and the main people responding are members of the Every Day camp. The ladies from Clover want a solution to their issue in the short term, and maybe then, they’ll be able or ready to discuss longer term options like retooling their template. I don’t believe we in the Every Day camp did much to help Clover by posting articles about “What is Email Marketing?”

Articles like those written by Dan Oshinsky are for those in the Every Day camp, and it’s important not only for us to realize that an article like that is written for that purpose, but why we have two different camps in the first place.

These Two Camps are NOT Definitive.

email-marketing-everyday-manyhats

There are of course going to be people from both camps who switch over because of a change in roles at work. That’s to be expected. What we, as email marketers, need to realize is what audience we are writing for when composing our missives. So for every #emailgeek that reads your blog, there might be a marketer who uses Constant Contact once a week. Make sure you know who you’re writing for.

Pardot Pro Tip: Creating a Custom Landing Page Template

Pardot includes the built-in ability to create landing pages, pages where you direct prospects to download or signup for a product your company offers.

Here’s an example from Salesforce:

Salesforce Landing Page Example

We were looking to create a similar landing page, except it needed to match our company branding.

Here’s our homepage:

GreatAmerica Homepage Screenshot

And the page I based our template off:

Terms and Conditions Screenshot

With some research (I’ll link some resources at the bottom of the post) and some testing, I was able to create this landing page template:

GreatAmerica Landing Page Template

Here are the steps I took to create our landing page.

Step 1. Find your prototype page.

Find a page on your website that you would like the landing page to look like. I like to think of this as when you’re buying a house – look for a page that has good bones, one that has the header and/or footer you want, one that has the body that you want, etc. I chose our website’s “Terms and Conditions” page because it had the cleanest body to build from.

Action: Copy the URL of your prototype page.

Step 2. Create your layout.

Since we didn’t have an existing landing page template that I liked. I started with the page that had “good bones” and opened that code within Adobe Dreamweaver. In Dreamweaver, I got rid of the Navigation Bar present throughout our main website. I also cleaned up the body of the page so I could place more than text. Next I created two basic columns, one column for the featured or hero image, and the other column for the title, description, and form.

Here’s the code I used to create the two columns:

Step 3. Create the editable sections of your landing page.

This is probably one of the most important steps of the entire process. Without correctly following these steps, your template will not be editable to any person trying to use the template. Not good!

What I’m looking for in my template are four main sections: the featured image or hero image, the title, the description, and the form.

Editable Sections - Outline

Here’s the code to make the image editable:

Title:

Description:

 

Now, you may be wondering to yourself, “Why didn’t he use the built-in Pardot form instead of an iframe?” There’s a good answer! And, it took me a bit of trial and error to figure it out.

As you may or may not know, Pardot uses “Layout Templates” for both Forms and Landing Pages. So, if you’re in your “Layout Templates,” you’ll notice templates for your forms and landing pages alike.

The problem in the case of our landing page is that we’re trying to incorporate two different Layout Templates within the same page; the template for the form, and the template for the landing page. Pardot only recognizes the template for the “outer-most” asset, in this case the Landing Page.

The solution to this problem, i.e. using a different Layout Template for each the Landing Page and the Form. To create a template so that anyone can change the form, you need to create an editable section where you can paste the iFrame code. For that, you’ll need code similar to this:

Form:

Step 4. Create a new layout template in Pardot.

Pretty simple. Navigate to: Marketing > Landing Pages > Layout Template > Add Layout Template

Action: Create a new layout template in Pardot

Step 5. Import your Prototype Page

Pretty simple step here. Copy all of the HTML code from Dreamweaver, and paste into the HTML section of the Landing Page Layout Template.

Pardot Landing Page - Import HTML

 

Action: Paste HTML code into Pardot template.

Congratulations!

You’ve now created your template! Now, you probably want to create a new landing page from your template.

Step 6. Create a new Landing Page.

Navigate to: Marketing > Landing Pages > New Landing Page. Name your Landing Page, choose a folder, and then choose the relevant Campaign.

Pardot - New Landing Page

On the next step, you can click “No form.”

Pardot - Landing Page, No Form

Step 7. Choose your template.

On the “Content Layout” step, choose the template you just made.

Step 8. Edit your content.

Now you can change and insert the content you want on your final page! Change the image, title, and description to what you want.

We’ll do the form in the next step.

Step 9. Get the iFrame code for your Form.

In a separate tab or window, navigate to: Marketing > Forms > Forms. Click on the form you want.

Now, copy the iFrame code:

View HTML Code - Pardot Forms

Pardot Form iFrame Code

Step 10. Paste in your iFrame Form code.

Go back to your tab/window with your landing page. Click on the editable section for your form. At first, you won’t see anything. Click on the “Source” button in the top-right to reveal the HTML code for that particular section.

Paste in your iFrame code here. And now you’ll have a complete landing page!

GreatAmerica Landing Page Template

Resources

As I promised at the beginning, this post wouldn’t have been possible without the help and assistance of many people.

The first and most helpful resource overall was “How to Turn any Landing Page into a Pardot Layout Template” from Jenna Molby. Jenna’s post walks you through step-by-step in changing an existing landing page into one that works in Pardot. So, a very similar concept to my situation, but we didn’t have any existing templates.

Using Content Regions” from the Pardot Knowledge Base. This was helpful to figure out how to make the sections I wanted in my template to be editable. Without this, you’re just left with a page you can’t edit!

Pardot B2B Marketing Automation – Salesforce Success Community. A great, great resource for anyone looking to up their Pardot game. I did a search for some of the issues I was having, like the “form vs. landing page template” problem, and found the solution on here. If you’re not a member of this community, you need to join today!

Yin and Yang and Email Marketing

There are two sides to this battle.

On one side, besieged customers under an onslaught of emails, social media, text messages, and video ads.

On the other side, marketers and executives in corporate high-towers crafting ever more insidious ways to get our message to infect the populous below.

The Man in the Middle

In this world of Customer versus Marketer, David versus Goliath, I, like many of you, teeter on the razor-thin edge between consumer and company. Like you, I allow myself weak moments of failure where I sign up for the newsletter, I “Like” the company Facebook page, and I text to win a contest at a conference.

And also like you, I myself am a Marketer. I sit in that glass enclave figuring out new ways of getting more information from my customer. I’m figuring out ways to get you to text to win, or “Like,” or give your email up for a newsletter in return.

How do we balance the responsibility of creating value at our companies with the responsibility to create valued customers?

Responsibility to Company.

As Marketers, we have a responsibility to our job and to our company. We are there to build awareness, push product, qualify leads, generate leads. Our tools, our marketing automation, our SMS platforms, our social listening, we use these tools to accomplish our given goals and to create value within our companies and our industries.

Responsibility to Community.

As members in our community (local, region, world), we have the responsibility to create a better world, to leave the world in a better place than when we came into the world. While esoteric for marketing, this idea of betterment is important to keeping customers pleased, instead of nonplussed.

How do we please our customers instead of annoying them?

 

Customers React.

The impetus for this post came from my daily use of the awesome email spam service Unroll.me. This one service reduced my daily influx of sales newsletters by about 150% (completely made up stat – but it’s been a lot.) Unroll.me got me thinking, “There are so many services like this, why do they exist in the first place?”

They exist because we as Marketers are not doing our jobs. Our real job. Yes, we have goals to increase the bottom line of our respective companies. But we cannot do that if we do not value our Customers.

Unroll.me exists because we, Marketers, are failing. Ad blockers exist because we, Marketers, are failing.

While overly simplistic, I wholly believe this to be true.

How do we stop failing the Customer?

I believe that we stop failing our customer when we start seeing the world through their eyes.

As marketers, we have a responsibility to our companies, but we also need to respect our customers. As marketers, we tend to see the world and our customers through the eyes of “marketing,” instead of through the eyes of the customer.

What value do we bring to our customer with our marketing? That is the question we should be asking ourselves. Not asking how we can fit another feature or tech spec on the website or flyer.

I believe that we should be true. And if we do that, if we be true to ourselves, our company, our customers, then we truly can help make the world a better place through marketing.

Be true. Be true to your company. Be true to your customers. Be true.