As I write this I’m fairly well known for being a Pardot power user with a passion for helping others understand how to use it. But I didn’t always use it. I wasn’t born knowing how to use it, that’s for sure. I’ve done my share of things that were wrong, and then I had to undo and fix it.
So, how did I get started with Pardot?
Well, it’s a funny story (not really). It starts even before I knew of this thing called Pardot, and before I ever learned of a concept called gated content.
Back in 2011 my husband’s company moved all of their operations from Southern California (where I was born and raised) to Austin, Texas.
They gave us very little notice: on the first business day of 2011 the company called a big meeting. In that meeting they laid off 80+ people, and made very few people an offer to keep their jobs… The catch was that all jobs were now in Texas, and if you wanted to keep your job you had three weeks to commit to moving!
In that 3 weeks they would fly us out to Austin, where we would have 4 days to see the new office, decide if we wanted to do it, and find a new place to live.
At that time my husband really liked what he was doing, had a good-looking future with them, and we felt pretty lucky that we got an offer to move. And so we agreed to the move. I quit my job, we got a (very) small amount of money from his company for moving expenses, and very quickly we relocated ourselves and our pets to Austin, Texas..
When we arrived in Austin we had a day or so to unpack and then my husband went to work and I set about finding a job.
I got hired by a great company as their Marketing Assistant – mostly (I think) because I knew HTML and could send their email newsletters and update their Drupal website. By mid March of 2011, I settled in learning how to navigate their existing tools.
A few months later my boss went to a content marketing conference and came back and told me: “We’re going to buy this thing called Pardot, and you’re going to learn how to use it.”
And so it began, my journey with Pardot
(insert dramatic dun-dun-dun music here)
Back then Pardot was their own company – they were not a part of Salesforce. And they did their own implementations, so I was tasked with working with their team to set it up and hook it into our Salesforce org.
I don’t know if there were Salesforce (Pardot) partners at that time or not – it didn’t really matter, since there was no real budget to hire someone to teach me to use it. So every chance I could I sat on Pardot’s office hours for new customers. I attended the same session multiple of times, just to listen to the questions other people were asking – because I found that by listening to others it would give me new ideas.
By December 2011 my company had everything working with our Salesforce account, and the Pardot tracking code was deployed on our website. By January 2012 we had some basic Pardot forms deployed on our website, and we finally started using Pardot to send our emails.
And the magic started happening
Our website had always had great traffic – testament to my boss’s belief in the power of content marketing.
But I was more than a little hesitant about switching to this thing called gated content. It was a new concept for me, and I wasn’t convinced it would work.
I mean, all those people coming to our website were great! But this was going to be a big change. Those website visitors, they were accustomed to just downloading whatever they wanted from us, any time they wanted it – and now we were going to make them fill out a form? We were going to make people give away their personal information in order to download something – when they were all accustomed to getting it for free?
I was certain we would hear complaints – either directly from people submitting our ‘contact us’ form, or complaining to our sales team, who would then pass on all those complaints to us in marketing.
But to my surprise … nobody seemed to care! We go zero complaints. Nothing.
The website traffic never dropped, and people started filling out forms to download the white papers and infographics we had – and nobody said anything. The prospects started pouring in to Pardot, and soon we had tons of names and email addresses of people who were interested in our content. People who were completely invisible (anonymous) just a short time before we put this thing called Pardot on our website.
Deploying Pardot forms on our site was just the first step. It took a while to really get things running, but eventually we were converting new prospects constantly, and they were subscribing to our newsletter in droves.
Content marketing, gated content, this thing called Pardot? Yeah. They were on to something.