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Learn How Pardot Handles Prospects and Visitors

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Describe how visitor activities are tracked in Pardot.
  • Access your Pardot tracking code.
  • Describe how prospects are created in Pardot.

A Trail of Cookie Crumbs

In Pardot, visitors are anonymous people who visit your website. They may find you through a Google search, by a referral link or social post, or even by typing your URL into their browser. While they’re interacting with your site, visitors take various actions, like clicking on links, viewing pricing pages, or downloading white papers. Unless they convert to a prospect (by giving you their email address and other identifying information), there’s no way for you to directly market to them or begin moving them through the typical Pardot lead generation funnel.

The good news is that, just like Hansel in the famous fairytale, when visitors browse a website that has Pardot tracking code on it, they leave behind traceable crumbs that can be used later. Pardot can track your visitors interactions and activities, even while they’re pre-conversion, by adding a tracking cookie to their browser when they first visit your website. A cookie is small piece of data sent from a web browser and stored on the user’s computer. In Pardot’s case, the cookie is used to track the user’s activities while they navigate your website and interact with your marketing materials. This gives you a full view of their browsing behavior.

Below are two of the cookies that Pardot sets:

  • Visitor Cookie: The visitor cookie includes the unique identifier for the visitor (visitor_id) plus the unique identifier for your account, which is derived from the tracking code placed on your site. For example, cookie name “visitor_id12345" stores the visitor value "123456789," where 12345 is the account identifier and the full string 123456789 represents the visitor ID. Using these tracking values, the cookie stores the activities of visitors and prospects on your site.
  • Opt In Cookie: Pardot uses a persistent cookie named "pi_opt_in" to stay in compliance with the "Do Not Track" initiative.  It allows people to opt out of types of browser tracking.

These cookies will stay on the browser unless they choose to opt-out. Once visitors convert to prospects, these cookies provide you with a wealth of information about each prospect’s interests, behavior, and activities. Pardot keeps all of that trackable visitor data and appends it to each prospect’s Pardot record and continues monitoring their activities moving forward.

What Is a Prospect?

We’ve talked about prospects, but perhaps it’s not so clear what the difference is between a visitor and a prospect. A prospect is Pardot’s name for a site visitor who has given you their email address—an email address is the one piece of information that’s required for a prospect to be created. Each prospect has a record in Pardot that can sync with a corresponding lead or contact record in Salesforce. When you send emails through Pardot, you send it to prospects.

How Are Prospects Created in Pardot?

There are a few ways that prospects are created in Pardot. The most common way is that a visitor submits a form that contains their email address, but there are three different ways that can happen:

  • A Pardot form you embed on your web page.
  • A form on your site that you connect to a Pardot form handler.
  • A form you host on a Pardot landing page.

We’ll cover forms, form handlers, and landing pages in greater detail later on in this module. For now, just know that form, form handler, and landing page submissions are easy ways for a visitor to provide you their email address, and other information, in order to become an identified prospect. This process is also called converting a visitor to a prospect.

Finding Your Pardot Tracking Code

If you completed the Pardot Basics module, you’ve already met Leung Chen, the Marketing Manager at Cloudy Consulting. She’s been tapped to implement Pardot at Cloudy Consulting.

One of the first tasks Leung needs to complete as part of her Pardot implementation is to add the Pardot tracking code to her website. This will start the process of setting cookies for site visitors.

Let’s look at how she can access her Pardot tracking code.

  1. In Pardot, go to Marketing | Campaigns.
  2. Select the Website Tracking campaign.
  3. Click View Tracking Code to access the unique Pardot tracking code for your website
  4. Copy the code.
  5. In your web page HTML, paste the campaign tracking code before the close body tag (</body>).

Pardot tracking code for the Website Tracking campaign

Understanding how Pardot tracks visitor activity and then converts visitors to prospects is one of the most important concepts in Pardot. In the next unit, we’ll share how prospects can be added to Pardot campaigns.