Things I Hate Thinking About: Pardot Folder Structure & Naming Conventions

Left to my own devices, I’m the kind of person who saves everything to her Desktop and has at least 5 Word docs titled “Notes Latest V2a” at any given point in time.

I’ve learned the hard way that this is NOT a good plan if you’re managing assets in a Pardot org.  (Kicking this can down the road means lots and lots of technical debt in your future! No bueno.)

It is SO worth it to take the time to build a coherent folder structure and standard file names.  Even if it’s boring and adds a few seconds to your process.  Your future self and team members will thank you for it.

General Foldering Best Practices in Pardot

Pardot folders operate the same basic way they do on the hard drive of your computer.  A definition from Pardot:

Folders are a top-down organizational feature that house campaigns, emails, and other marketing modules together. Folders let you segment and nest marketing elements in a way that makes sense for your team.

Every piece of marketing content created must be placed in a folder.  And there’s a big catchall one called “Uncategorized” that is basically the Pardot equivalent of my messy desktop.

Side note: most people will find this to be fairly self-explanatory and intuitive, but it’s a little bit of a re-frame from what former Marketo users are used to. Marketo is very folder-centric and uses these to create programs and relate assets to each other.  That’s not really what Pardot’s trying to do – their version of folders are mostly just an organizational tool.

Options for Pardot Folder Structures

Folders are basically a blank canvas for organizing to your heart’s desire.  The only real limits are that you can have max 10,000 items in a folder, and up to 16 levels of subfolders.

But come on – do you really need deeper nesting than:

 Folder A >  Folder B >  Folder C >  Folder D >  Folder E >  Folder F >  Folder G >  Folder H >  Folder I >  Folder J >  Folder K >  Folder L >  Folder M >  Folder N >  Folder O >  Folder P

Common organizational structures I’ve seen include:

Heads Up: Folders & Scoring Categories

A critically important thing to note is that folders are the basis for Scoring Categories.  Quick refresher: Scoring Categories allow you to break down the overall prospects scoring into subcategories – so that you could have separate scores for each of your product lines, or different business units, etc.

If you’re planning on using Scoring Categories at some point down the road, build your folders around the categories you will likely use (like product or business unit).  Worry about the points system later – and this will save you from a massive reshuffle when you’re ready to revisit that.

Naming Conventions in Pardot

If you’ve already been using Pardot for a while, a great place to start with this is looking at how your team is naming files on their own.  If it’s good/useful – boom, document it.  If it’s a mess, then work the team to come up with a naming protocol.

Detailed file names are vital for searchability.  You will have some users that navigate to assets using the folder structure every time, and others that will type a few keywords in the search bar to filter down to what they’re looking for.  Standardized naming sets both groups up for success.

Data points you may want to work into your names could be:

  • Name/title
  • Campaign type (i.e. tradeshow, webinar, advertising)
  • Company division / business unit
  • Industry / vertical
  • Date
  • Region
  • Language
  • Audience (i.e. Client, Late Stage Prospects, etc.)

So for example, if you decided you wanted to set your naming convention to be:

Company Division – Name/Title Campaign Type – Audience – Date

This would translate into something like:

Employee Benefits – Complying with the ACA Webinar – Clients – July 2016

General Tips & Gotchas

Use dividers

Use some kind of dividing character so that your name doesn’t become one big string. I’m partial to – or |. Underscores are also a common divider – but personally I think they are harder to read.

Avoid over-reliance on tags

Tags are NOT a substitute for proper foldering and naming conventions. You have very limited reporting and search capabilities with tags.  They’re useful in a pinch, but I repeat, DO NOT make them the center of your organizational structure.

Consider whether date is really relevant

If you’re creating a template (an email, for example) that is going to be used in multiple initiatives over time, I’d suggest skipping the date as part of your name – it gets confusing.  You’ll always have the system created and last modified dates to refer to.

The briefer, the better

Try to keep names as short as you can, and put the most important/descriptive parts toward the front. Asset names can go up to 255 characters, max. But you’ll only see about the first 42 characters when you’re referencing in automation rules and completion actions, and about 20 characters when referencing in Engagement Studio.

Don’t set it and forget it

You’re not done when you decide on a plan and roll it out. Oh no.

Appoint someone Keep-It-Organized Cop or Organizational Officer, or whatever you want to call it – and check at least monthly to be sure things are being classified correctly to avoid a big pile up to sort out later.

Over to You: What do you think?

How is your process working?  What tactics have you tried in an effort to stay organized?  Any horror stories?

Let us know if the comments!

4 thoughts on “Things I Hate Thinking About: Pardot Folder Structure & Naming Conventions”

  1. The other thing to remember with naming conventions is the lack of a search functionality when adding assets to landing pages and emails (an image, for example). What you get is an alphabetical dropdown list of ALL of the images in your Pardot instance. I’ve seen a structure using categories at the start of the file name “Logo: corporate PNG 160×300” or the like. But what’s a logo and what’s a “logo banner”? You will need to define that and stick with it.

    The same issue exists for adding members to SFDC campaigns in a completion action. You get a list of ALL active SFDC Campaigns in a long drop down box. For that, I’ve seen YYYY-MM work pretty well because you might at least have an idea of when the campaign was created. For smaller teams with less campaigns, this will be less of an issue, just make sure to deactivate campaigns when they’re no longer being used.

    1. Awesome points Mike. You can only upload so many Picture1.png’s before you need to start looking for a better way…

      Great recommendation on the Salesforce campaign naming too, that’s a pain.

  2. For those of us out there who struggle coming up with a naming convention, another Pardot user shared a form their organization created to automatically generate names for their assets! Check it out on the Trailblazer Community here http://sforce.co/2hq477M

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