What Pardot Got Wrong with the “Allow Multiple Prospects with the Same Email Address” Feature

Around November of last year Pardot implemented a feature called “Allow Multiple Prospects with the Same Email Address” (or AMPSEA for short). It’s clear that some care was taken when naming the feature, but in effect this feature allows the creation of duplicate Prospect records in Pardot. All new Pardot accounts from June 14, 2016 onward will have this feature enabled by default, and you cannot turn it off. If you’re long-time Pardot customer contemplating if you should activate the feature, or a new customer wondering what this feature is about, read on!

First, let’s talk about who is feature is meant for. Accordingly to the Pardot blog post,

AMPSEA is great for customers who sell multiple products/services and want to maintain separate records depending on which product/service the individual is interested in. Having separate Pardot prospect records tied to that individual allows more accurate tracking and better targeted marketing interactions, like providing an email promotional offer only on a specific product the individual has shown interest in.

The above paragraph leaves me confused and concerned. My first thought is that creating a duplicate record is not a best practice. In the Salesforce CRM there are duplication rules that prevent users from entering duplicate Leads and Contacts. You can even prevent users from entering a duplicate Lead if there is a match with a Contact that has email address (and vice versa). You can read more about duplication rules in Salesforce here.

It is not a best practice to have two records of the same customer in your CRM when you sell and serve your customer. This can lead to sales reps stepping on each others toes, and an inconsistent and frustrating purchasing experience for the buyer. The same concept holds true for marketing. Even if you are marketing more than one product or service the prospect should experience the marketing communications you send to them in a holistic manner. How embarrassing would it be to send a customer a marketing email for a product/service they already have purchased because your two Prospect records do not communicate with one another? I fear that the problem that this feature is trying to solve is actually making it more likely to occur.

It is a bit confusing why Pardot indicates that it is necessary to have a duplicate Prospect record in the system when selling multiple production lines or lines of business. Custom Scoring Categories were created exactly for this purpose—so that you could have multiple scores on a Prospect record based on product or line of business.

Call me old fashioned but we only have one record that represents a certain customer in our Salesforce and Pardot systems. It gives us a 365 degree customer view of them across LOBs and product lines. With this feature I worry that marketing will somehow create a duplicate record in Pardot by mistake.

Also, Prospect imports work differently with AMPSEA enabled. You have the option to complete an import based on email address or CRM ID as the unique identifier. If you choose to import Prospects with email address as the unique identifier, and a Prospect with that same email address exists in Pardot then it is simply updated with the new information. However, if there are two Prospects in Pardot with that email address the Prospect with the most recent activity will be updated (which might be the wrong one). For this reason, it is recommended to use the 18 digit Salesforce CRM ID when you complete a prospect import/update with this feature enabled.

If you are using the CRM ID as the unique identifier for a Prospect import, and a Prospect with that same CRM ID exists in Pardot then the Prospect is simply updated. However, if you have a Prospect in Pardot with the same email address, but a blank CRM ID and then import using CRM ID a duplicate Prospect with the same email address will be created. You could get around this by importing via email address, but that has it’s own issue as mentioned above. Importing via CRM ID also prevents you from assigning a CRM ID to your Prospect to instruct it which Salesforce CRM record it should sync with.

The implications of AMPSEA run deeper when we consider how Pardot integrates with Salesforce. If you have two Prospects with the same email address in Pardot but only 1 Salesforce record with that same email address, which Prospect will attach to the Salesforce record? As is turns out it is totally random. My fear is that a Pardot Admin accidentally creates a duplicate Prospect record, and then the duplicate Prospect gets attached to the Salesforce record instead of the Prospect will all of the past marketing history.

Pardot Product Management has stated that it has always been random which Salesforce record the integration chooses to attach a Prospect to. This was relevant to the use case where there are multiple Salesforce records with the same email address and 1 Prospect record. It makes sense that the integration doesn’t know which is the correct record in Salesforce and makes the link between the Prospect and Lead/Contact record randomly.

Notwithstanding, we have not always had duplicate Prospects in Pardot. Now there can be 2 Prospect records with the same email address in Pardot, and only be 1 Lead/Contact with that email address in Salesforce. This would ultimately result in 1 Prospect being linked to your 1 Lead/Contact randomly, and a new Lead being created in Salesforce (assuming your duplicate rules allowed it).  If your duplicate rules did not allow the creation then you would end up with a prospect sync error in the salesforce connector in Pardot. Furthermore, if the wrong Prospect attached to the Salesforce record it appears there is no way to change the CRM ID in Pardot so that you can associate the proper Prospect record to the Salesforce record. What a mess.

Finally, with this feature enabled you do not have the option to prevent Prospects being created every time a new Contact or Lead in Salesforce is created. Previously, in the salesforce connector there was a setting called ‘Automatically create prospects in Pardot if they are created as a Lead or Contact in Salesforce’ which you could disable so you didn’t blow up your Prospect storage in Pardot with Prospects you would never market to. With AMPSEA you no longer have this option and are forced have all Leads and Contacts created as Prospects in Pardot no matter how marketing worthy they are, even if they are duplicates in Salesforce.

From my perspective Pardot over-engineered their marketing automation platform with AMPSEA. As mentioned all new Pardot accounts have this turned on by default. While this may have been an easy “business decision” (having more Prospects in Pardot means they can charge for more database storage after you reach 10,000 Prospects) it was not the right decision for customers, especially new ones. Customers are already recognizing this. This should be a feature you request to enable (if you happen to follow a practice where you have duplicate Prospect/Customer records) not a feature that is turned on by default without an option to turn it off.

At the present time I do not recommend enabled AMPSEA for my existing Pardot clients.

For any new clients that have AMPSEA auto-enabled I recommend:

  • To thoroughly scrub your Salesforce data before importing it into Pardot for the first time, ensuring no records have the same email address
  • Setup duplication rules in Salesforce for Leads, Contacts, Lead to Contact, Contact to Lead, and Person Accounts (if applicable). Ensure these rules apply globally for the org (e.g. do not enforce sharing security settings in the duplication rules). This will prevent you blowing up your Prospect storage as Prospects are automatically created in Pardot when your user creates a Lead/Contact/Person Account in Salesforce.
  • Employ a selective syncing strategy to selectively sync only certain records. This will prevent you from blowing up your Prospect storage and get around the salesforce connector forcing you to auto-sync all new Leads/Contacts as Prospects, even if you never intend to market to them.
  • Try to limit your sales users access to Pardot so that they cannot create new duplicate Prospects. Note that all standard roles of Admin, Marketing, Sales Manager, and Sales can manually create Prospects in Pardot. Create a custom role that does not allow this, if you are on a plan that allows custom roles.

One response to “What Pardot Got Wrong with the “Allow Multiple Prospects with the Same Email Address” Feature”

  1. Paul, I think you hit the nail on the head here. I was certainly sold on activating AMPSEA based on the marketing by Pardot. So far, I have yet to see any benefit of doing this. In fact, it’s been nothing but a headache with having multiple prospects in Pardot now.

    I would have never activated AMPSEA had I known then what I know now. Hopefully Pardot listens to you and its customers who have similar opinions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *