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Pardot Marketing Automation Software Review

 

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Pardot Technology Review

The Pardot marketing application is built on a multi-tenant architecture using traditional open source tools, the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP) stack and a PHP framework called Symphony. The software technology foundation delivers a purpose built, thin-client SaaS solution supported by popular browsers such as Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome.

Beyond the technology architecture, Pardot's most recent release has applied the benefits of consumer technologies to its user interface (UI), significantly enhancing the user experience. The product is easily understood, navigation is intuitive, and process flow is both logical and inherently simple. Pardot's Prospect Insight is a classic example of the B2C consumerization of B2B business apps. Consumer applications have lead the way with social media integration, app stores, multimedia, mobility and ease of use, and Pardot's most recent version has capitalized on this convergence in a big way.

Inherent to its multi-tenant architecture is the automatic provision of new point releases and software upgrades. Depending upon your perspective and experience with other SaaS solutions, this can be perceived as a double-edged sword. Multi-tenant architectures deliver new software to customers in mass. This can be a bit concerning to customers who prefer to first review the upgrade and then schedule its implementation after user training, integration or customization implications have been identified and mitigated. However, by upgrading in mass, the publisher is dramatically increasing the pace of innovation, and keeping customers on the current version which improves stability and support. For the most part, new features are hidden until configured, thereby not confusing users until training or other considerations have been planned.

System Integration

For system integration purposes, Pardot offers a REST-based Web services API (Application Programming Interface), full public documentation and an API Console hosted by Apigee. The Apigee API Console makes it easier for developers to learn and use the Pardot API, and permits customers to make queries against the API for modeling or experimentation. It's a fairly visual tool that you can think of it a UI for their API. It's also a simple and helpful tool, and one that's not offered by competitor products.

Pardot also offers pre-built "Connectors" to third party applications, including Google Adwords and Analytics, Facebook and Twitter, AddThis (social share), bit.ly (URL shortening), GoodData (reporting), Olark (chat), Qwerly (social media API), Twilio (VoIP) and Data.com (previously JigSaw).

The Connectors are more than high level or shallow interfaces and are integrated with broader marketing functionality. For example, the Olark online chat connector records the online chat and the chat transcript in the lead record and optionally updates the lead score (by default chats are worth +10 points on the baseline scoring model, however this can be customized).

Future Connectors will also include WebEx and GoToMeeting. At some point, Pardot will likely introduce a program whereby other publishers can create their own connectors, using the Pardot API, possibly leading to their own online marketplace. But for now, such a move is only in the consideration phase.

Software Customization

The marketing system permits up to 100 custom fields with the Professional Edition, and unlimited custom fields with Enterprise and Ultimate Editions. However, there is not an option to create custom objects.

As is traditional for many marketing software applications, and in contrast to almost CRM applications, Pardot does not offer a platform framework for administrators or technical staff to customize the marketing program. As this point, such limitation appears not to impose significant constraints on customers as most customers are automating their marketing and lead generation for the first time, are subscribing to the best practices built into the marketing software, and do not have a lot of unique business processes that cannot be accommodated in the application.

Next - Pardot Company Viability Review >>

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