Prevent Junk from Cluttering Pardot – make an Automation Rule

Dec 9, 2020 | Pardot | 0 comments

Junk records can come into your Pardot account various ways. Common ways include via form submission (someone enters a bad email address to avoid being added to a mailing list) or via import, or even via the sync to Salesforce.

Instead of spending hours manually cleaning records, use an Automation Rule to automatically clean your database.

In this PardotPro trick, we’re going to make an Automation Rule that looks for the email domain (the part that comes after the @ sign), and if the email domain is a bad one we’re going to mark the person as Do Not Email in Pardot.

The Do Not Email field is the field Pardot uses to mark someone as Hard Bounced, so the side benefit here is that we’re going to reduce the number of mailable prospects in our Pardot database, which reduces the overall costs of Pardot.

Step 1 – get the text file for common junk email domains

I have compiled a bunch of common junk/bad email domains – download it here (text file).

This is just a text file, with the email domains entered one per row.

Step 2 – create your Automation Rule

Make your rule based on:

Prospect default field [ email ] [ contains ]

It will look like this image:

Pardot prospect default field email contains

Pardot prospect default field email contains.

And then the Actions will be to mark the prospects as Do Not Email.

Change Prospect default field [ Do Not Email ] to [ Do Not email ]

Change to Do Not Email

Mark them as Do Not Email to make them unmailable


Step 3 – make a bunch of those lines

The text box on each row can only contain 250 characters, and my text file will generate 11 rows.

So just be prepared and add a few more. It will let you copy and paste later.

Be sure to set the match type to “Match any” so that you get an OR between each row.

Make multiple rows in your Automation Rule

Make multiple rows in your Automation Rule

This translates to “prospect email domain ends in X or Y or Z” and that criteria will let you make very powerful automations.

Step 4 – split your data

We’re going to save ourselves some headaches, and use the Creuz your Data app.

Link Here:

This app is named for Mike Creuzer, Pardot API genius. He was a major part of creating it for us, and it’s a very handy app so make sure you bookmark it!

This app is pretty easy to use. We’re going to put our data from the text file in the top box.

In the bottom box we’re going to choose how to split the data.

We’re going to put the data into Pardot, so choose the boxes for Pardot.

Split the data to Pardot

Split the data to Pardot

PardotPro Tip: Pardot uses the semicolon (;) as an OR separator, so basically we’ll get a bunch of rows saying “prospect default field email contains x OR y OR z” and that will do all the work for us. Salesforce uses the comma (,) the same way, so this tool kindly lets us split data a bunch of ways.

Then click the green button to split the data.

First view of the results

First view of the results

Step 5 – copy and paste

You’re going to expand the selection so you can see all 11 rows.

See all 11 rows

See all 11 rows

Then you’re going to copy paste into your automation rule.

Paste the email domains into your automation rule

Paste the email domains into your automation rule

Step 6 – choose Execute in real time

At the bottom of the Automation Rule is this option to execute in real time.

Pardot Automation Rule - execute in real time

Pardot Automation Rule: Execute in real time does not do what you think it does…

Now, this rule does not exactly do what you think it does. It does not make this rule constantly run against everything in your database, looking for matches. “Execute in Real time” sounds like that is what it does, but I promise, it doesn’t do that.

No, this setting makes it so that when a form is submitted this automation rule will be triggered, making a real time check against the person submitting the form.

If the person matches this rule, then this automation rule will run before some of the form completion actions run – basically it is meant to allow you to do complicated assignment rules based on the fields of a form, like if the person is from Arizona, then assign them to the US-West sales team, or if the person is from England, assign them to the UK sales team.

But in this case, this setting will mark the prospect as unmailable … before any email is sent to them.

So if you are gating your content and delivering the content by email (not with an automatic download) this will allow you to block sending the form’s autoresponder email.

Pretty slick, isn’t it?

Step 7 – run the preview

Make sure you run the Automation Rule preview.

This rule could make your entire database unmailable if you set up the rules wrong. Which is a royal pain to get all your prospects changed back to mailable, so don’t do it!

The Automation Rule preview is your opportunity to see if you made your Automation Rule incorrectly. Always run the Automation Rule preview before you turn it on.

Step 8 – run the automation rule

You should be done! Enjoy your clean database.

Final thoughts about this junk email automation rule

This is a great trick, but it is powerful. Definitely consider making a similar rule to mark your competitors as unmailable. I wrote about that trick when I was a consultant, but it’s a handy one.

You can certainly add more junk email domains to your own rule, as you find them.

Just remember: “With great power there must also come great responsibility.” (Spiderman’s Uncle Ben.)

Rules like this can have a big impact on data quality – but they can also quickly mark your entire database as unmailable.

Remember to run the automation rule preview every time you edit an automation rule!

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Lara Black

Hi, I’m Lara!

I’m a Pardot power user. Ask me anything about Pardot or Connected Campaigns. I’m a Pardot expert, and Co-Leader of the Austin Pardot User Group.

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