So I attended the Pardot Users Conference in Atlanta, GA.   Users conferences, when well done as this one, can really boost confidence in the system and provide a great opportunity for face-to-face time. When I arrived, there were a sea of smiling Pardot folks in grey shirts guiding us around and answering questions. The W Hotels are trendy and the event venue for the conference here was no exception.

My knowledge of Pardot was limited, but engaging two new of our clients who are users, there was no greater motivation to get up to speed quickly.  Also with the chance to get to know another marketing tech company and it’s product, I was very much looking forward to the event.

For those of you new to Pardot, their Marketing Automation platform has traditionally served small to medium businesses, however their more robust capabilities now serve clients of all sizes (large and small).

Kickoff / About Pardot

Founders – I met them after a tiring and rewarding time at Dreamforce 2010. They thoughtful and knowlegeable guys who just get this space from the inside out. @DavidCummings is quite the entrepenurer (check out his blog 10,000 start-up hours) and @AdamBlitzer, COO is a kindred spirit focused on operations and technology. They are also authors of Think Outside the Inbox: The B2B Marketing Automation Guide.

Culture – As they’ve had substantial growth in areas of revenue, employees and clients, they still maintain a great company culture that reflects in its dedicated service to its clients and the team at the event. In speaking with Adam, he helped me understand how key culture is in their hiring process and the successes that investment has brought them.  Each employee I spoke with from customer service, development, marketing and sales endowed these traits.

Some of the New Features:

  • Social Messages (post, track and analyze)
  • Social Profiles (view additional details on prospects from social networks)
  • Webinar connector – (WebEx, GoToMeeting, and ReadyTalk)
  • Drip Options – Deeper CRM connections (campaigns… yeah!), email opens, etc…

Cool Event Feature – Pardot leveraged the use of a “Guidebook” app for mobile devices which hosted the event agenda, materials and information. Very practical. The reminder feature was nice to help me ensure I did not miss a session.

 

Day 1 – A good start

Data, Analytics, Reporting – One of the key areas that Pardot looked to improve upon was reporting.  Leveraging GoodData, Pardot users will be able to connect data from different parts of the pipeline and create usable reports.   Based on the session on Day 1, the value add was in some reporting on par with other systems with ease of use.   I stepped by the GoodData booth to learn more.   I was able to see more value especially for many stepping into the MA ecosystem to view top of the funnel results. Unfortunately the included functionality (there is also a premium GoodData service available) that will be released for Pardot users did not differentiate.   Not to be disappointed though, there was more GoodNews later on.

Got Pardot, What’s Next? – Being new at Pardot, I was eager to attend the session on te “10 Things Pardot Services Wants You to Know”.   Learned about Site Search, Lead Qualification, Automation Rules, Actions, Dynamic Lists, Tags, CRM integration, Progressive Profiling, Getting Help/Sharing Ideas and how/when not to panic.  Good preso.

Been There, Doing That – Regardless of the topic, the best sessions are the lessons learned and how-to’s by other customers.  So on to the Arketi, a local digital marketing group, panel.   We learned about how two of Arketi’s clients (Cbeyond and Stonesoft) leveraged Pardot.  The panelists did a nice job expanding on the issues ranging from selection, implementation and Sales alignment.

Social Selling, Don’t be Creepy! – The last session by Derek Grant, Pardot’s VP of Sales, was a great one to end the day.   Just as marketing automation is helping get marketing push down the funnel, social selling offers sales a venue to push up the funnel.  This humorous and practical advice from Derek provided good cautious guidelines on how sales teams should leveraging the advent of new social information they collect.

 

Day 2 – It gets better

Breakfast Feedback – Arriving early the next day, I had the opportunity to meet/reconnect with four marketers at breakfast.   The general consensus was the event was energetic, but there was a desire for more workshop/demo opportunities for the new users.   Not a bad feedback considering the nearly half of the attendees were joined up in the last year.

Zach “Morris” Bailey – Recall earlier I mentioned there was some good news about reporting on top of the GoodData announcement?   Well, the new VP of Products, Zach Bailey, had a great list of roadmap features that gained appaluse and chatter from the crowd.   I do not wish to list them all here, however one of the upcoming “lifecycles” reporting to be release will provide the transparency and analysis power needed to optimize their pipeline and improve dialogue with sales.

THE Revenue Report – Pitney-Bowes along with BrainRider rep offered a great presentation on how they achieved a new level of reporting leveraging Pardot and their CRM.   The climax of the meeting was a spreadsheet that illustrated channels of marketing and attribution across the pipeline.   Also, EpiCom provided another great presentation on how they went from zero to significant growth by leveraging not only automation, but many best practices in B2B marketing such as A/B testing, content creation and other tactics.

Jedi Mind Tricks – I have been very fortunate in a couple of ways: 1) finding that Marketing Technology is now my lifes passion and 2) the opportunity to work with Scott Voigt.   The final presentation by my former manager (so my comments are longer flattery) discusses the analytical methods in viewing and transforming a marketing organization.  The discussion on bookings, revenue, opportunites and sales cycles help get marketers to think like executives and excutives thinking like entrepenuers.  Career changing material.

 

Conclusion

If it wasn’t obvious, the Pardot folks have done a great job putting together an energizing event. I look forward to more deep dives in to Pardot’s capabilites and applying them to our clients needs.   If you have the chance, slide over to my previous post on Subtle Factors in Selecting a Marketing Automation Vendor and you’ll find that Pardot meets these factors and their capabilities are more robust than I had studied and expected.   Also check out blog.pardot.com for a Pardot perspective on the event.

For next time, two suggestions came out of the event were to have more workshop like opportunities and more Q&A time for client/customer speakers.

Great event Pardot and enjoyed getting to know you and the family.

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