Pardot Competitors and Pardot Alternatives – What to Think About When Engaging with an Enterprise

Are you considering Pardot for your marketing automation system? Are you looking for Pardot competitors or Pardot alternatives? Pardot might be an excellent fit for your organization, but there’s a chance it might not be as well. If you’re considering Pardot make sure you realize you’re now considering Salesforce.com. It’s not like you’re dealing with a smaller company that serves small business, you’re now dealing with a large-size enterprise. When it comes to strategic software that often times needs to be tailored to your business, being a customer of a large enterprise may not be a wise move especially if you’re a small to mid-size company that needs the attention.

This blog post provides free flowing, independent thoughts for consideration when looking at alternatives to Pardot. First, some background. Pardot was included in the acquisition of ExactTarget by Salesforce.com. It was a nice “throw-in” and wasn’t the target of Salesforce.com’s acquisition. Now it’s floating around in their stack with change on the horizon. ExactTarget is part of the Marketing Cloud and Pardot is part of the Sales Cloud, does that make any sense? Pardot is marketing automation but in the Sales Cloud? In reality, the two technologies have a ton of overlap and the struggles to integrate it all are just under way. Expect a lot to change.

Now that it’s been added to the Salesforce.com mix, we’ll see the exact same effect that happens with companies like IBM, Oracle or Microsoft. See our post on Oracle Acquires Eloqua here. Has Oracle called your small business lately? Technologies get folded into a larger enterprises portfolio and get lost in the shuffle. The focus on the solution dies down considerably, innovation on the technology loses steam and all efforts are directed to integrating the disparate technology into the companies overall offering. At the end of the day, the customers pay the price.

Here’s some food for thought:

  1. Service:  Call Pardot up and tell them that you want a new feature.  Ask them how long it will take. The reality is that any marketing person worth their salt has a couple of creative approaches.  Impossible to do with a large enterprise. You’re not dealing with Pardot anymore, you’re dealing with Salesforce.
  2. You want a partner that cares, not a vendor trying to impress Wall Street:  Don’t believe me?  Sure, they will tell you that every customer matters, but call Salesforce and ask to speak with their President.    See if he wants to meet you for lunch to discuss your account.
  3. Value:  You’re paying investors back if you like it or not. You’re paying for a name.  Buying Pardot is like buying your car radio from GM.  Eventually you are going to be paying $700 for a Delco Radio in a world where you can buy an Alpine for $ 149 and get much better performance.
  4. Consistency:  New points of contact every 6 months (or less).  Do you love explaining your problems to five different people?  Do you love a million “first dates” with your vendor?  Then you will love dealing with an enterprise.
  5. Future change is certain: Salesforce has 16.1% market share in the CRM space.  That means there is a lot of movement in this area.  Why put all of your eggs in one basket?  It’s very easy to switch CRMs when the time comes.  Its relatively easy to switch MA platforms if the infrastructure is set up to allow you to do so.   It’s REALLY REALLY hard if the provider goes out of their way to make you start from scratch.
    • Companies  banking on Pardot will be tied to Saleforce eventually if you like it or not:    They make it hard to transition content and users to a new system on purpose.  Salesforce is “hot” now, but Siebel was hot not that long ago.
    • Control: Salesforce is like Microsoft.  Both had their heyday, but would you want to have to use a Windows phone (or Blackberry) today because your team decided that it would only use Windows products?
  6. A Chemical Experiment?  What happens when they merge the two together and make you pay?  Right now one is on the Marketing Cloud and One is on the Sales Cloud.  Why?   You’re trapped.  It’s like renting a house that you know the owner is going to sell next year.  You better factor in moving expenses into your rent rate.
  7. Pardot itself uses Eloqua… not Pardot.   When asked, Pardot will tell you that its built for SMB.  The fact is that you should ask Pardot why the product isn’t good enough for its own company to use, but they think that it’s good enough for you.
  8. Pricing:  Pardot’s entry point is too high.  They water down editions to tell you that they can be “as little as $12,000/year” but in reality it’s going to cost $ 25,000+ when you are done.  Be honest Pardot… serve existing customers…don’t try to upsell them.
  9. Integration: There are 2-3 Marketing Automation platforms that do a better job of integrating with Salesforce than Pardot does.
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