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Pardot Marketing Software Review

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Pardot Best Fit and Alternative Solutions

Sweet Spot
Short list Pardot when:

  • You are an SMB with 20 to 200 employees and 5 to 50 sales and marketing staff, active with Google Adwords, using Salesforce.com, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, NetSuite or SugarCRM, and seeking a simple to use, and quick to implement, marketing automation software solution.
  • Total cost of ownership is a key decision driver. You desire rich marketing automation system functionality but incur budget constraints which rule out the top tier vendors. Pardot is a strong alternative solution for more pricey systems such as Eloqua and Marketo.
  • Internal technical resources are light. Pardot is less technically complex to implement than comparable marketing automation solutions. Further, while many vendors claim to provide some up front assistance, Pardot's claim goes beyond the absolute basics and the talk, and actually delivers the hands-on assistance to complete the Quick Start program and get customers to a production environment.

Alternative Solutions
Marketing buyers may be best advised to consider alternative marketing software products in the following circumstances:

  • Large enterprises with multiple subsidiaries, larger numbers of marketing staff and complex (security) permissions.
  • Smaller companies less than 5 Sales and Marketing staff (which tend to pursue lower cost marketing software solutions).
  • Companies seeking social marketing tools and technologies.
  • Companies outside the U.S. and Western Europe. While the company has recently formed joint ventures in the UK (Pardot Europe) and Sweden (Pardot Nordic), Pardot lacks an international presence. Regions such as Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific are without regional representation or support. Approximately 90% of all Pardot customers reside in North America. While Prospect Insight does support multiple currencies, the product is only available in English.
  • B2C companies (although this may change as the Pardot product further morphs with the ExactTarget product).

Concluding Remarks

The Pardot growth strategy is a continuation of the current model, more incremental than ground-breaking, but with the added resources of ExactTarget. While the product road map shows no new solutions in the near term, the Prospect Insight flagship product will mature and offer an increasing number of distinctions among the three editions.

Sales and services distribution will take on an increasing role with business partners. To date, Pardots partner channel has resulted in lopsided production—with the vast majority of partners unable to contribute while a minority of partners have found their way to success. Such channel maturation isn't pretty, but is the norm in the application software industry. More importantly Pardot has taken note of the performance characteristics of successful partners and dedicated new positions in channel management.

Too many marketing automation software providers approach a seemingly green field market opportunity with an attempt to be 'all things to all people.' For some companies with deep financial and human resources, such an approach can potentially be leveraged for early market share acquisition, which in turn fuels growth and can ultimately lead to market share leadership. Unfortunately, these players are the exception, and to date the marketing software industry has witnessed many of these providers fail and exit the market.

Pardot along with ExactTarget pursue a more balanced and even keel business development approach. The company's organic growth, customer management culture and strong balance sheet contribute to a business model that will likely not find itself in either an industry leadership role nor bankruptcy liquidation. The company maintains focus on its SMB customer target market, its low risk messaging and its customers-first company culture. Relative to the marketing software industry at large, Pardot will likely continue to be an exceptional performer, and relative to the few industry leaders, Pardot will trail outside of its market, but prove over time that slow and steady often wins the race. End

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