Pardot Admin Tip – Monitor your Prospect List for Hard bounces

Having a high Email delivery rate (100%) pleases the Pardot Gods, so we must monitor our database to keep an eye on our unmailable prospects. As Pardot allude to themselves: “Pardot’s Email Reputation Team is aggressive about permission-based marketing because we care about our reputation as an email service provider and your reputation as an email sender.” – Lets Investigate this.

There are a few criteria that would deem a Prospect as unmailable in Pardot. An unmailable Prospect can arise from an Unsubscribe (Opt Out) or a Hard Bounce (email change or undeliverable). I have noted recently that a couple of unmailable Prospects have arisen in the Tether database, and having investigated, this is down to Prospects changing their jobs, and therefore their email address. So what can we do to monitor these prospects?

How to filter by unmailable prospects:

The simplest way to monitor these Prospects is to change the filter criteria on your prospect list to “unmailable prospects”. Navigate to the Prospect list and from the dropdown, select “Unmailable Prospects” and Activity All time, as below:

How can we tell if a prospect is unmailable?

There are several different Icons that represent the Prospect Status in Pardot :

  • Active Users have a Green Person Icon beside their name
  • Never Active Users have a Red Person Icon
  • Unmailable Prospects have a red envelope Icon
  • Prospects with a corresponding Salesforce Record have the blue Salesforce Icon

For example I know that this prospect has moved companies, deeming her email address as undeliverable, and we can see that there is a Red Envelope beside the Prospect Name, this ensures that no mails will be sent from Pardot to this address and our deliverability rate stays within Pardots boundaries.

As Pardot state in their Policy: We monitor for high bounce rates (over 10%) and high spam complaint rates (over 0.1%), as those are the best indicators of potential reputation damage. If the Reputation team notices an issue, they will reach out and can suspend email sending in the account, as outlined in this article.

Overall this works to keep your sending reputation as clean as possible and maintains a positive light on your campaign health.

The difference between a soft and hard bounce:

Hard bounces are unfortunately a recurring part of email marketing.

A prospect can be recorded as a Hard Bounce if their email immediately bounces back to Pardot with a message that the email address is permanently undeliverable. As we said above if a person leaves their position in a company this email address is no longer valid or deliverable.

But a prospect can also ‘soft bounce’ which means an email could not be delivered, but the reason it was undeliverable could be an inbox error, or a storage issue.

Industry standard is that five soft bounces equals a Hard Bounce, and Pardot follows this rule.

What will happen is that should we attempt to mail a Prospect 5 times and the mail cannot deliver, Pardot will deem this address as unmailable and mark it as a hard bounce.

In the example below, the email was hard bounced for the same reason, prospect was no longer reachable at the address, we can see the details of the hard bounce on the Prospect Record.

Use Automation to monitor these Prospects:

If we dont want to go to the trouble of manually changing the filters on the Prospect List, we can build a simple Dynamic List to actively search the Prospect Database for Opt outs and Hard Bounces, and at a glance we can see how many Prospects we have on our Unmailable List and monitor this list on a regular basis.

What I have done here is set the rules in place for this list that should the Prospect Email Status be “Opted Out” or “Do Not Email” that they populate this list. If we wanted to differentiate between the two we could build out two separate lists, but for this example I will set the criteria to be Opted Out (OR) Do Not Email. Once this list is set to run we can monitor changes in our database and work to keep these changes to a minimum.

As a Pardot Consultant or an Admin, it is important to stay on top of these things. So try to make a point of scheduling in a Pardot Audit regularly, monitor your unmailable Prospects, and keep track of your lists for email sends. If we start to notice a drop off on a regular send, perhaps we need to change our content a little to keep people engaged. As wonderful a tool as Pardot is, nothing can succeed without Strategy and Planning.

We hope this helps, and thanks for reading,

The Tether Team.

#marketingautomation #pardot #salesforcepardot #tethertips

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