Nothing is more frustrating than when you experience a slowdown in your Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (Pardot) org.
I just need this one Dynamic List to run, why is it taking so long!?!
These slow downs are frustrating. But they’re typically a sign that you need to archive old, continuously running, processes and/or optimize how you are using the platform.
The following best practices will help keep your Pardot org running efficiently. Many of these strategies are going to be more relevant to large orgs with 1 million+ prospects. But this information can be used to help increase processing times in Pardot orgs of any size.
1. Clean your Dynamic Lists
Dynamic lists are constantly running, matching and unmatching prospects as they fit or do not fit criteria. Old Dynamic Lists that are no longer matching prospects, or Dynamic Lists that are not actively being used can be a big strain on your system.
Salesforce recommends a limit of 1,000 Dynamic Lists per Pardot org. Also, if you have millions of Prospects, consider reviewing Dynamic Lists matching over 5 million prospects to see if these lists can be broken into smaller pieces.
I like to CSV export my Dynamic Lists so I can sort them by Updated Date and look at the oldest ones first. You can also sort by number of Prospects to tackle your biggest Dynamic Lists.
2. Check those Automation Rules
To keep things running smoothly, limit your automation rules to 5 million actions per day. This is a lot more than I see most Pardot orgs needing or using, but it doesn’t hurt to review your repeating automation rules and ensure the “Repeat Rule” settings are set appropriately to your needs.
I also recommend reviewing which Automation Rules are set to run in real time. Although Pardot can handle this, it is still not recommended to use this for every rule. I find most of the time a Real Time Automation Rule can instead be replaced by a Completion Action.
3. Only keep the best Prospects
The more Prospects you have in your Pardot Org, the more processing your org needs to do. Cleaning up unwanted or unneeded Prospects is a great way to cut down the number of processing requests quickly and our Junk Data in Your Pardot Org and 7 Ways to Clean Your Mailable List in Pardot blog posts have some great tips on how to do so.
Dynamic Lists and Automation Rules are also going to look at every Prospect in your org to see if they match criteria. If you can’t cut down on the number of Prospects in your org, consider adding criteria that will exclude Prospects from recurring automations.
For example, if I am creating a dynamic list for an email send, I don’t have to include the criteria “Prospect email status isn’t Opted Out” because any Prospects who have Opted Out won’t be sent the email anyway. However, including this in my Dynamic List criteria means Pardot can rule out that chunk of Prospects and process by request faster.
If you exclude the same set of Prospects from most of your emails and/or automations, consider creating a “Master Suppression List” that can easily be referenced.
4. Optimize your Engagement Studio Programs (ESPs)
Spread out your wait steps
ESPs can perform a ton of actions on a ton of prospects. Keep in mind that an ESP performs an action per node per prospect. For example, if my ESP starts with
- Send Email
- Apply Tag
- Check if Grade is B- or above
And I’m sending 5,000 Prospects through this ESP, that is 15,000 processing requests right off the bat. Wait steps can be used to space out the amount of processing one ESP needs to do per day.
For example, going from this:
There are still 7 days between the 1st and 2nd email sends, but the processing requests are spread out over the wait period rather than happening all at once.
Use Complex Rules
Complex Rules are another great way to streamline your ESPs. Rather than have multiple Rule nodes
Combine your rules into one Complex Rule node to simplify your ESP.
Consolidating ESP branches is another great way to cut down on the number of nodes an ESP has and therefore the number of requests it has to process. I find a lot of times users forget that ESPs can branch out, then back in, then back out again etc. When you don’t consolidate branches, your ESP will get very wide and updating them can be a big headache.
For example, moving from this:
A little Pardot org cleanup goes a long way
These are just some of the strategies you can employ to keep your Pardot org running smoothly, especially if you have a large org that is tackling numerous processes everyday.
Regularly auditing your org and Pardot processes is not only going to improve processing times, but it will make the system easier to use overall.
What other tactics do you use to keep your org clean? Tell us in the comments!