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Prospect Mailability & Transactional Emails in Pardot

Any marketer who understands the basics of GDPR will know that not all email communications are equal. There are different types of email a business can send to prospects, depending on their opt-in status.

Coloured background with text Prospect Mailability & Transactional Emails in Pardot

Previously, we’ve answered the question ‘what are operational emails in Pardot?’. Today, we’re going to address another well-known email type: transactional emails, and how these relate to prospect mailability in Pardot.

We’re still using the name ‘Pardot’ because this is what users are searching online but for the record, Pardot was renamed ‘Marketing Cloud Account Engagement’ in 2022.

Understanding Pardot ‘Mailability’

When you view a prospect’s profile in Pardot, you’ll see a section titled ‘Mailability’. Here you’ll find that prospect’s mailability status, as well as information to support why that person may or may not receive marketing emails.

Screenshot of a prospect profile Mailability

The example above is the ideal: 

  • Their Status is ‘Mailable’ which means the prospect has opted in to receive marketing emails. 

  • The ‘Email address is unique to this prospect’ meaning there are no duplicates.

  • The Opted out field is ‘False’.

  • The Do Not Email field is ‘False’.

  • There have been no soft or hard bounces that would affect emails being delivered to the prospect.

The ‘Opted Out’ field will be marked as ‘True’ when the prospect opts out, whereas the ‘Do Not Email’ field can only be updated by a Pardot user, either manually or using an Automation, or when the prospect gets five soft bounces or one hard bounce (more on those below!).

As you might have guessed, the ‘Opted Out’, ‘Do Not Email’ and bounce fields inform the Mailability Status of the prospect. So if there’s an issue with any of those you may not see a ‘Mailable’ status.

You’ve no doubt noticed these fields with different information in some of your prospect profiles. You might have prospects with any of the following in the ‘Status’ field:

  • Operational Emails Only - not eligible for marketing and promotional emails.

  • Prospect is in the Recycle Bin - prospect is archived and not eligible for emails. Top tip: prospects in the Recycle Bin don’t count towards your mailable database limit.

  • Undeliverable - prospect has five or more soft bounces or one hard bounce and therefore cannot receive emails, not even operational emails.

Screenshot of a prospect with Operational Emails Only status

‘Soft Bounce Detected’ means the email address exists but the email was not delivered for some other reason, such as an out of office auto-reply, their mailbox being too full, etc. Pardot will attempt to resend to the prospect a maximum of five times before marking as ‘Do Not Email’. 

If you’re confident a delivery issue is resolved and you want to remove previous bounces from the prospect’s record, you can choose ‘Reset’. This will change the Status to deliverable.

You can easily filter your prospects to view only those who are ‘Mailable’, ‘Unmailable’, or ‘Unsubscribed’ using the dropdown filter in your prospect list. 

Screenshot of Pardot prospect filter

What are transactional emails?

The Salesforce definition of a transactional message is:

Transactional messages are deployed to an email client or mobile device in real time, resulting from a transaction initiated by a person or system. These messages contain information about the transaction or event. The primary intent is not for promotional reasons, but to deliver critical information immediately. 

They are different from ‘Operational emails’, which are emails sent regarding critical information that must be communicated to all customers and subscribers regardless of whether they’ve opted in to receive marketing emails. For example, legal notices, requirements for the user to update their password, and so on. 

Sending transactional emails in Pardot

Here’s the critical thing to note: even though ‘transactional’ and ‘operational’ are not the same in the general marketing world, in Pardot, they are treated as one and the same because ‘transactional emails’ are not a thing in Pardot. 

If a prospect has a Mailability Status of ‘Operational Emails Only’ they will not receive any email communications, including what we consider ‘transactional’ messages such as order confirmations, unless they are set up as an auto-responder. They cannot receive Engagement Studio emails, list emails, nor emails triggered by an automation rule.

In a nutshell, all of your transactional emails must be auto-responders. 

If that’s not the case, there is a semi-workaround for Pardot, although it comes with a major limitation. 

Your Pardot Administrator can bypass the restriction on Operational Emails so that a checkbox appears in the Email Builder, allowing users with the right permissions to select the email type as ‘Operational’. This means a transactional email can be delivered to those who have opted out or never subscribed to marketing emails. 

The problem is, transactional emails are usually time-sensitive but operational emails can only be sent manually by a user. Nine times out of ten, you’ll need a better solution.

Our recommendation is to explore Marketing Cloud Engagement because it supports transactional emails and can be used and integrated with Pardot. Especially if you have any sort of ecommerce element, or even emails with attachments, you should be looking at Marketing Cloud Engagement.

If you’d like support with your email marketing campaigns or maintaining a healthy prospect database, send us a message.

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.

Featured resource

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If you find the process of planning, creating, and sending emails in Pardot overwhelming or too time-consuming, this ebook is for you because understanding everything you need to know and do to ensure successful and effective email marketing activity is no easy feat.

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