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How to Plan a Pardot Nurture Campaign Using Engagement Studio

Planning a Pardot nurture campaign is no easy task. Before we can use Engagement Studio to create an automated journey for our leads, we first need to actually know what journey we want to take them on. Here's how to approach planning

How to Plan a Pardot Nurture Campaign Using Engagement Studio

This blog was written before Pardot was renamed to Marketing Cloud Account Engagement. You can read more about the name change and what it means here.

The concept of a marketing nurture campaign is pretty straightforward. Using software such as Pardot Engagement Studio allows us to automate the sending of relevant and timely content to our marketing leads, based on their interactions with our brand. Pardot states the definition of lead nurturing as:

‘the process of sending a series of automated emails that will trigger based on a person’s behaviors or a preset time interval. This means you can provide the right information, to the right prospects, at the right time, and all without lifting a finger.'

In a nutshell, by engaging with our leads after they take specific actions on our website or other marketing activities (or don’t) we can nurture them to the point of being sales-ready automatically.

Ah, if only it was so simple!

Of course, the actual task of setting up a Pardot nurture campaign that is effective is much more complex.


Well, mainly because before we can head into Pardot and start setting up such campaigns in Engagement Studio, we first need to actually know the digital journey we want for our leads.

The key to successful lead nurture isn’t in simply running automated campaigns - it’s running campaigns that successfully align with our leads purchase process, their wants, needs, and pain points.

The best campaigns move potential buyers closer to making a purchase from our business.

If you’ve ever sat down to map out a journey for your leads and found yourself asking the questions;

  • What types of content do I send and in what order?
  • How often should I be sending content to my leads? What is not enough and what’s too much contact?
  • What can I do to stop leads who fall into multiple campaigns receiving the comms from all of them?
  • Should I stick to email only or use other channels for my nurture campaigns?
  • How do I know what’s possible for a Pardot nurture campaign in Engagement Studio?

then you are not alone.

These are some of the most common stumbling blocks for marketers when considering lead nurture strategy.

The tricky thing is, there is no definitive answer.

I’d love to be able to tell you that your campaign should contain a series of five emails and all should be delivered one week apart. In reality, it’s completely dependent on factors that are unique to your business and your buyers.

Instead, what I can share with you is how to approach planning a Pardot nurture campaign in Engagement Studio, which will hopefully give you the guidance to fill in the gaps you need and start with your best foot forward.

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Then it all becomes a game of measure and optimise until you have the ultimate nurture campaign recipe for your business.

Planning your campaign: what you need and where to start

Any regular readers of this blog will know that I preach this starting point a lot but having buyer personas for your ideal customers is absolutely the best way to inform any marketing automation strategy, particularly nurture campaigns.

Ideally, your buyer persona docs should contain information like:

  • When and how often your buyers are online
  • How your buyers consume content online
  • What types of content your buyers like to access; do they prefer blogs, videos, infographics, research papers etc.
  • How those preferred content types play a role at each stage of their purchase journey
  • The length of a typical purchase process
  • Your buyers’ pain points and aspirations

With this kind of intel we can start to create a workflow of how your buyers might move from one piece of content to another.

For example, let’s say our buyer is a Marketing Director and the product we sell is marketing automation software.

Our research tells us that this buyer often uses infographics early on in the research process but once they reach the consideration stage, they want access to quality whitepapers and ebook guides, as well as how-to videos. Lastly, they want to see the software in action with a personalised demo before making a final purchase decision.

Knowing this information, we might plan a content journey that looks something like this:

Infographic > Gated whitepaper > Video > eBook > 1:1 Demo

While we can’t expect that every buyer will follow this linear journey from content piece to content piece, we can use it as a framework for providing the right type of content at the right time using Engagement Studio automation.

Our initial automation workflow then might simply be to send a series of emails with links to these content pieces in the order a buyer would usually engage with them.

Only by having information about the types of content, themes and formats our buyers are interested in as they consider buying from us, can we create a nurture journey in Pardot Engagement Studio that is likely to drive action from our leads from the very start.

What if you don’t have buyer personas?

If you don’t have buyer personas with this level of information and you’re unlikely to have these any time soon, let’s not make this a bottleneck.

You can still make assumptions about the types of content to produce and where they fit in the sales funnel but you’ll just need to be prepared to have a firm monitoring, measuring and adjusting plan in place too so you can react to insights you discover.

When it comes to Pardot nurture campaigns in Engagement Studio - crawl, walk, run

When you’re first implementing Pardot nurture campaigns using Engagement Studio, it’s OK to start small.

Once you have your initial setup live and leads are being nurtured, you can then begin to evolve the strategy to include other elements of successful campaigns.

Using Pardot Engagement Studio, you can incorporate lead scoring, more complex rules to segment those who open or click and triggers to move leads from one nurture campaign to another i.e. cold leads into a re-engagement campaign.

Here’s a fairly complex Engagement Studio template as an example:

Pardot nurture campaign template example

How long to wait between each stage of the nurture campaign?

Again, there’s no definitive answer and while best practice is usually 7-10 days, the ideal situation is to place the ball in your lead’s court by allowing them to specify their preferences.

Once a lead enters your campaign, perhaps they receive a welcome email that allows them to choose:

  • The frequency of communication they receive
  • The types of topics they are most interested in
  • The channels they want to receive information on

Doing this shows your lead that you want to communicate to them on their terms. You aren’t going to overwhelm them with emails that are unwanted or text messages that go unread.

It also removes the guesswork on your side and informs your nurture strategy going forward, as you receive that all-important data which can be used to evolve (or create!) your buyer personas and overall digital marketing strategy.

How do you know what’s possible with Pardot Engagement Studio?

Engagement Studio is the tool used to run lead nurture campaigns in Pardot and it more than caters to the type of functionality we’ve discussed so far.

You can set up email recency and frequency rule types to stop marketing fatigue and ensure multiple campaigns don’t overlap too much.

You can A/B test and connect to social media so you’re not reliant only on email marketing for your nurture activity.

In fact, at MarCloud we’ve published multiple articles about what you can do with Pardot Engagement Studio, like:

Plus, you can use the Salesforce Pardot training material here.

Of course, if you’d like personalised support and guidance in implementing nurture campaigns using Pardot, we’re happy to help. You can contact us to chat about training, support, or even our managed service.

Anton Minnion headshot

Anton Minnion

A data scientist and engineer, Anton has extensive experience in successfully delivering martech and salestech solutions for a variety of clients, both big and small, and across 25 countries. With a scary amount of knowledge in the development space, his focus at MarCloud is on innovating technical solutions for clients but also creating brand new apps and products for Salesforce platforms, to solve common business challenges.

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