Pardot tutorial: Sending a delayed auto-response email

Recently, we needed to use Pardot to send real-time price quotes to prospects. We needed a prospect to be able to fill in a Pardot form and then receive an email with the correct price information, based on the form data. The pricing data is held in Salesforce.

The workflow would go something like this:
Pardot-delay-autoresponder

Steps 1 & 2: Easy-peasy

Step 1: A form requesting a price quote is submitted by a prospect. This is the catalyst that kicks off the whole process.
Step 2: Upon form submission, prospect records are automatically created or updated in Pardot.

Steps 3 & 4: Easily done with reference to Pardot documentation

Step 3: In Pardot, form submission will trigger a sync with Salesforce if there is a matching record (based on email address) in Salesforce. To get a new prospect record to sync, you must also assign the prospect to a user in Pardot.

Step 4: For the pricing data to be available in Pardot, we needed to create a custom prospect field in Pardot that would sync with Salesforce. Without this field, the pricing information would not be available in Pardot.

Pardot documentation tells us that “Pardot checks for changes in Salesforce and in Pardot up to every 2 minutes. If you’re updating a large volume of records at a time, it may take longer for all of the changes to sync.”

Step 5: Here’s why you’re reading this

If we attach the email auto-responder to the form actions, we can’t be sure that the pricing information will be available and/or accurate. The email that we are sending in step 5 would be sent concurrent with step 2. An email sent at step 2 would include incorrect or missing pricing information.

To solve this problem, we attached the auto-responder send action to an automation rule. We’ve used Pardot’s tag feature liberally for this process.

Here’s the process we set up:

Form Actions

1. Add a ‘waiting for price’ tag.
The Salesforce and Pardot sync will update records automatically as data is available. It is possible that the pricing field could get filled in for reasons other than the prospect requesting a price. We only want to send price quotes to prospects that have requested them. So we add a “waiting for price” tag when the request form is filled out. We can then tell the automation rule to only fire on prospects with this tag.

2. Set the prospect’s price field to zero.
The whole point here is to make sure the prospect gets an accurate quote. In case pricing has changed in Salesforce, or the prospect data that dictates the price has changed, we don’t want an old price to go to the prospect. For that reason, we are going to force the automation rule to wait for the latest sync from Pardot by setting the price field to zero.

Automation Rule settings:

Your automation rule will need to look for:
1. Prospects that have the ‘waiting for price’ tag.
Remember we added this to the prospect’s record when they submitted the form so we would know that they want a price quote.
2. And a pricing field that is greater than zero.
When the prospect submitted the form, we set this field to zero. If this field is now greater than zero, we will know that Pardot has synced with Salesforce and we have the latest pricing information in the field.
You can find Pardot documentation on automation rules here.

Automation Rule actions

Once the rule matches a record, based on the requirements we set above, we want the following to happen:
1. The email auto-responder with the correct price is sent to the prospect.
Finally, step 5 in our original workflow can now be successfully completed.
2. And, the ‘waiting for price’ tag is removed.
Because the prospect now has their price, no more waiting. Leaving this tag would create unintended mischief. Read on.

But, wait! We’re not done yet: A Ladder of Automation rules

If you are familiar with Pardot, you may know that automation rules will only act once on each record. So, if we stopped here our process would only allow for each prospect to get one quote, ever. If a prospect requested a second quote, nothing would happen.

We wanted to allow for a prospect who might come back to the same form and request another quote. In order to do this, we had to set up several similar automation rules. But how do you stop them from all matching the prospect record the first time a price is requested? In order to prevent them from all firing at the same time, we tagged the prospects each time we sent them a quote.

In the end, our process looked like this:

Form Actions

1. Add a ‘waiting for price’ tag.
2. Set the prospect’s price field to zero.

Automation Rule 1 settings:

Your automation rule will need to look for:
1. Prospects that have the ‘waiting for price’ tag.
2. And a pricing field that is greater than zero.

Automation Rule 1 actions

Once the rule matches a record, based on the requirements we set above, we want the following to happen:
1. The email auto-responder with the correct price is sent to the prospect.
2. And, the ‘waiting for price’ tag is removed.
3. We also added a tag ‘Price 1’ to the prospect record.

If this prospect comes back to our form to ask for another price quote, we have a second automation rule set up:

Automation Rule 2 settings:

Your automation rule will need to look for:
1. Prospects that have the ‘waiting for price’ tag.
2. And a pricing field that is greater than zero.
3. And for prospects that have the ‘Price 1’ tag.
This way we know that the rule will ONLY fire on prospects that have already been matched by Automation Rule 1.

Automation Rule 2 actions

Once the rule matches a record, based on the requirements we set above, we want the following to happen:
1. The email auto-responder with the correct price is sent to the prospect.
2. And, the ‘waiting for price’ tag is removed.
3. We also remove the tag ‘Price 1’ from the prospect record.
4. And we add a tag ‘Price 2’ to the record.

Now we can set up an Automation Rule 3 that looks for the ‘Price 2’ tag. Because Automation Rules 1 & 2 will no longer match if this prospect comes back for a third quote. And so on.

How many rules should you set up? That’s something that you’ll have to decide for your situation. I set up six rules and added an alert to come to me if anyone gets to rule number six. When and if I get that alert, I’ll know to add more automation rules. Wherever you decide to stop, I definitely suggest you set up an alert on the final rule.

This is crazy, it’s going to break

Yeah, probably. We’re using Pardot for something it wasn’t really designed for. However, it was a good interim solution that marketing and sales were able to jury-rig together and put to use now — without waiting for IT to build a more robust solution “in a year or two”. And it works surprisingly well. Until it breaks.

In our situation it broke when marketing updated the auto-responder email to use a text field instead of a number field. This prevented the automation rule(s) from matching the records because a computer can’t evaluate text to be greater than zero. Once the problem was discovered, we were able to adapt our process to set the pricing field to blank when the form was submitted and have the automation rules look for a pricing field that is not empty.

In order to prevent situations like this going unnoticed, we now monitor a dynamic list that will show us any prospects who have the ‘waiting for quote’ tag. If the system is working, there should be no prospects on this list for more than a few hours.

That’s it! Hope you find this helpful.

Susan Gamble

Susan Gamble

Manager at glassCanopy
As both a manager and web developer, Susan loves creative problem solving and learning new things. She keeps our teams on track and on budget while using her expertise in HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and PHP to build and manage web sites and marketing automation systems for clients. Susan has a MA and BA from Johns Hopkins University, and spends time in the mountains whenever possible.
Susan Gamble

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