Tracking Replies to Your Drip Campaign Emails in Pardot
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Tracking Replies to Your Drip Campaign Emails in Pardot

Emily writes,

I was wondering if you’ve encountered the problem of wanting to  remove prospects from a Pardot Drip Campaign or Engagement Studio Program when they reply to a Pardot email template where the sender is a Pardot User instead of a generic company email address.

I’ve been trying to do more research about what others in the field have tried since my current solution to the problem is to have my users forward me replies and I manually remove prospects from the drip. I enjoy reading the replies to the emails I create, but it would be better if there was a less manual process for removing those who engage via a reply from our automated emails.

To my knowledge there is not a good way to track replies automatically in Pardot. If there were I envision there would be a “trigger” to listen for a reply as part of the engagement studio program. There is an automated way to remove a prospect from a engagement studio program which is to use the ‘remove from list’ action. However without the proper trigger aligned with it that action doesn’t help us.

When I previously implemented Pardot and Salesforce Engage for one of my clients one of the sales reps was using a sales development tool called Outreach and really liked that it tracked email responses. They ultimately decided to keep using Outreach because tracks email responses, including responses to calendar invitations. It is more common to see sales development tools such as Outreach, SalesHandy, and ToutApp to track responses. Salesforce Engage is in a bit of a weird position as it still seems to be focused on marketers (or giving sales access to marketing assets) but still does not track responses. Salesforce also offers a sibling to Engage, that is more of a sales power tool called Salesforce Inbox, but it doesn’t track responses either.

Currently, the only idea on the IdeaExchange for reply tracking in Pardot is to see reply metrics at a high level for reporting. I also created an idea for a trigger to listen to an email reply on the IdeaExchange. In addition, I investigated what other marketing automation platforms can handle reply tracking. I found out that Hubspot also does not track replies stating that “marketing emails” are not meant to be replied to.

Hubspot Community

I disagree with Hubspot’s response—especially in b2b marketing. This approach would make sense that a b2c marketing email, say for example, an email from REI about their semi-annual sports gear garage sale. It might also make sense in some b2b scenarios for high funnel educational emails that contain white papers or webinars. Even still, in b2b marketing an email reply is simply another conversion point. If your goal is a sales appointment or new order what better validation of your marketing efforts than to receive a direct email reply (“White paper looks good. Let’s schedule some time on Monday to discuss.”)? Marketing automation must track all conversion and touch points in whatever form the customer wants to communicate, whether it is filling out a contact us form or replying to an email.

It looks like Eloqua doesn’t support reply tracking either.

Eloqua Community

And yet another

Eloqua Community

The topic of email reply tracking seems to one that is gaining steam in marketing automation. While niche players such as ActiveCampaign and Drip have reply tracking and triggers built in, it seems the major marketing automation platforms do not.

One suggestion I have seen to use a tracked mailto link in your signature, or a ‘Contact Sales’ hyperlink in the footer of the email. Then assume the prospect replies directly to the email. The original email will still have the ‘Contact Sales’ link in the history. Have your sales person click that link and submit the form on the prospects behalf. A completion action on the form can remove that prospect from the list, which will remove them from the drip campaign. Voila!

This isn’t without fault because the prospect can also click the link too, so make sure to also have a completion action that creates a task for sales to follow up, in the event that the prospects only clicks the link and submits the form directly without replying to the email.

6 Comments
  • Juan Pablo
    Posted at 04:30h, 23 December Reply

    100% agree with you. Reply as a trigger is a must for B2B drip campaigns so to stop them. Any new discovery through these months?

    • Marketing M
      Posted at 10:17h, 06 January Reply

      JUAN PABLO – Curious about updated as well. We are in the b2b space and having the same issue as well.

      • Paul Fischer
        Posted at 09:26h, 23 January Reply

        Hi, there hasn’t been any update on this feature from Pardot. It’s disappointing since less expensive Marketing Automation platforms like Drip provide this ability.

  • Julio Alvaro
    Posted at 19:10h, 30 April Reply

    Hi guys,

    Would the following workflow work for you to solve this issue?

    Example Workflow:

    1. Pardot sends drip campaign to prospects from Pardot SalesRep A, SalesRep B and SalesRep C Users.
    2. A prospect replies to an email coming from Pardot SalesRepA where the prospect says that he would like to know more about it and would like to schedule a call
    3. SalesRep A sees the reply, then goes to Salesforce and updates lead field. ( Which is a pardot prospect custom field)
    4. Pardot listens for any change on this field.
    5. Change means there was a reply
    6. Then you can trigger on this change and remove the prospect from the drip campaign.

    Let me know if that works!

    • Paul Fischer
      Posted at 08:33h, 08 May Reply

      Hi Julio, thanks for the comment. That sounds like a workaround but still has some manual steps. I’ve taken the following approach so that everything everything is automated. I use a specific certain reply-to address, which then forwards to Salesforce. Salesforce has an Apex class that monitors incoming emails and then updates a field on the Contact record, which in turn removes them from the list in Pardot via the connector.

  • James Wright
    Posted at 06:46h, 07 September Reply

    Hi guys. Interesting topic. We are a Salesforce ISV that has been using Hubspot for the past 2 years, but just migrated to Pardot. I think that when a prospect replies to an automated email it is a super-important event, not only because it is a potential trigger to remove them from them from the automation workflow, but also because it is potentially a buying signal which could significantly impact their lead score. So I’m really surprised that neither Hubspot nor Pardot have got their heads round this. We have come up with our own workaround which uses our own app, Email-to-anything (e2a). Please forgive the plug but I think it adds some value to this conversation. Workflow as follows:

    1. e2a creates a unique email address for the Lead or Opportunity object (or any other object) in Salesforce
    2. Our reply to email address, sales@ortooapps.com, is actually a distribution list containing salesteam@ortooapps.com and the email address for the Lead object. (By the way we also set up marketing alter egos for all our sales people so John Smith’s real email address is john.smith@… but we also set up john_smith@… for personalized marketing emails. Automated marketing emails appear to come from john.smith@, but the replies all go to john_smith@, which itself is a distribution list containing john.smith@ and the email address of the lead object. hope that makes sense)
    3. Email replies are automatically routed to the lead object. If the lead already exists the email is attached and viewable immediately in Salesforce. If it’s a new lead the lead is automatically created.
    4. When a reply is received this updates a field in Salesforce which maps to a custom field in Pardot. And this fires an automation which removes them from the campaign in Pardot.
    5. e2a can also read the emails. We haven’t set this up yet but I am going to configure it to look for certain keywords, and use this to add increments to the lead score. So it will look for words like “pricelist” or “quote” or even our product names “Email-to-anything” and “Q-assign” and then update the lead score automatically.
    6. As an added bonus e2a will also intercept all unsolicited email enquiries that come into sales@ortooapps.com and turn them into leads in Salesforce and Prospects in Pardot.

    I think there’s potential to add even more intelligence but this is proving to be a good foundation. Let me know your thoughts.

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