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7 Ways to Clean Your Mailable List in Pardot (& One Thing to NOT Do)

7 Ways to Clean Your Mailable List in Pardot (& One Thing to NOT Do)

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You may want to devote time to keeping a clean mailable list in Pardot on a regular basis.

Pardot has a default limit of 10,000 mailable prospects in an account. If you have more peeps to talk to than that, you can purchase additional prospects in increments of 10,000.

But what if you have 10,003 prospects? Do you really have to pay for a whole 10K person block?

Maybe, maybe not.

Let’s discuss how this limit works and options for tip toeing around it.

Who counts against your prospect limit

Any mailable prospect counts against your limit. In other words, that means these people DO NOT count:

  • Anyone who has opted out
  • Anyone who has bounced out (one hard bounce, or 5 soft bounces)
  • Anyone you’ve marked as Do Not Email or Opted Out
  • Anyone in your recycle bin (this is an important one — we’ll come back to it later)

What happens when you exceed your mailable prospect limit

Exceed your account limit, and you will get an email like this:

This messaging can seem very urgent and dire if it’s your first time getting notifications like these, but Pardot is actually pretty nice and helpful when it comes to managing your limit.

You will still be able to send emails out while you’re figuring out how to reconcile the number of prospects. And at the end of the 10 days, you’ll probably just get an email from your Account Executive asking what’s up.

How to check usage against your mailable prospect limit

To see how many prospects are counting against this limit, go here, or click into Settings (gear icon on top right corner) > click on the Usage and Limits tab.

You’ll see something like this:

Alternatively, you can also go to your Prospects List by clicking Prospects > Prospect List and then clicking the View dropdown to show Mailable Prospects :: All time.

The second method is the most accurate representation of what the total number is currently. The first can take up to 24 hours to update (and so can the “over limit” banner on your homepage) — so if you’ve recently reduced your list to stay below your limit, fear not.

How to clean your mailable list in Pardot

Now on to the meat of this blog: When you find yourself just over your mailable limit, how can you clean your mailable list without sacrificing potentially qualified prospects?

A few ideas…

1. Run your whole list through NeverBounce

As a first pass for trimming your list, I’d suggest running everything through NeverBounce to eliminate invalid email addresses.

NeverBounce rocks. You basically upload a CSV file full of email addresses, NeverBounce pings their email servers, and it spits out a list telling you which emails are:

  • Valid – verified as a real email address and safe to send to
  • Invalid – not mailable, should be deleted from your list
  • Accept All – maybe mailable, proceed with caution
  • Disposable – fake or temporary addresses to delete from your list
  • Unknown – seems okay, but unable to definitively rule them good or bad

Once you get this list back, import the list of Invalid and Disposable emails into Pardot and mark as “Do Not Email.”

NeverBounce is crazy inexpensive (like $80 for 10K emails), and they give you a few free credits every month if you want to experiment with it.  You can also preview the % of email addresses in the categories above before you decide to pay for the cleansing.

2. Make creative use of the Recycle Bin

When a prospect is in your Recycle Bin in Pardot, they do not count against your mailable limit. You can get creative with sending sets of people to the Recycle Bin that you don’t want to give up on forever… but just don’t plan to email right now.

If a Prospect returns to your site and fill out a form while they’re in the Bin, they’re resurrected from the dead — and all of their history and visitor activity is saved. If a sales user hits “Send to Pardot” in Salesforce, this will also resurrect them. And a Pardot admin can also restore them en masse from the Recycle Bin ivew.

Oh yeah, and the Pardot cookie continues to track them while they’re hanging out in the Bin. For up to 10 years.

If you plan to use this strategy, tag prospects you may want to email later with something like WAKETHEDEAD or SAVEFORLATER to filter on down the road.

To restore Prospects, go to Admin > Recycle Bin, and click into Prospects. From this view, you can filter on deletion date and tags to selectively restore prospects you want back on your list:

3. Weed out any junk prospects

Have test records on your list wasting space? Use a Pardot dynamic list to pull Prospects whose emails:

  • Contain “test”
  • Contain “fake”
  • Contain “asdf”
  • Contain “1234”
  • Start with a@, b@, c@
  • Contain “+”
  • …etc.

Then use a table action to send all these prospects to the Recycle Bin. Read this blog post for more info.

4. Remove role-based emails

If you’re still on the wrong side of your limit, I would suggest targeting role based emails like info@, sales@, etc as the next candidates for deletion. Because these often are gathered through web scraping and go to multiple recipients, they’re among the most likely to submit spam complaints.

Pardot doesn’t allow the import of these, but these can get in the system through one-off record creation.

Use a dynamic list to pull all “role based” emails (list of the most common ones here.) After your dynamic list for these types of prospects runs, you can use a table action to delete any prospects that meet the criteria.

5. Scrub any dupes (if you’re AMPSEA enabled)

AMPSEA = Allowing Multiple Prospects with the Same Email Address

If you’re AMPSEA enabled, duplicate emails count as extra Prospects — so cleaning these up will help you get under your limit.

If your account was provisioned after 2016, you’re AMPSEA by default. If your account was provisioned before this, it’s optional. To check whether you’re AMPSEA enabled, navigate to Settings and scroll to the bottom to look at this field:


If it says Enabled consider using an AppExchange product like DemandTools to merge duplicate records in Salesforce (and thus merge in Pardot too). Or export your full Prospect list from Pardot, do a ‘Find Duplicates’ check in Excel, and use this to manually merge in Pardot.  

6. Remove anyone who’s just not that into you

If you’ve been actively emailing someone, and they’re just not responding… consider whether it’s worth including them on your list.

To review this, pull a dynamic list of people you’ve had on your list for over a year, who you’ve emailed at least once, who have either never been active or haven’t done anything in over a year. That rule criteria should look a little like this:

Once that list runs, select all prospects you’re willing to part with and delete via table action.

The one thing to NOT do to clean your mailable list

There are some other sources of guidance on list management that recommend using Automation Rules to mark people as “Do Not Email” when they meet some of the above criteria.

Using Automation Rules to gather Prospects as candidates for removing from your mailable list?

Great idea.

Using Automation Rules to mark people as Do Not Email en masse?

Mmmm… I would think carefully about this one.

Once a group of people is marked as Do Not Email, it’s tricky to get large numbers of them back on your mailable list and doing so usually requires a support ticket.

In general, I prefer to use the Recycle Bin as the mechanism for removing these people from your list. Seriously, your future self will thank you.

Unfortunately, you can’t automate the “send to Recycle Bin” action, so the next best thing is setting up dynamic lists for:

  • Junk emails
  • Role-based emails
  • Recently mailed, but inactive prospects

…and then using table action on those lists.

If all else fails… Consider increasing your limit

Have you tried everything above to clean your mailable list already, to no avail? Well then, congratulations — you’re a marketer who is growing their addressable audience!

If you have to pay more to house more Prospects who want to hear from you, you’re doing something right, and it’s probably worth the incremental cost to be able to communicate with them through Pardot.

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  • Andrea Tarrell is the CEO & Founder of Sercante, as well as a 12X certified Salesforce MVP and Marketing Champion. Andrea caught the Salesforce bug at Dreamforce 2011 and hasn’t looked back since. She’s worked for consultancies, agencies, and client-side marketing teams over her career and is passionate about making marketing and sales teams successful with their tech stacks. Andrea lives in Atlanta with her husband Buck and her daughter, Arla. When she’s not working, she’s most likely playing with her German Shepherd Murphy, starting a new hobby that she will engage in exactly one time, or making homemade gin.

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