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Pardot Dynamic Lists: Overview and Best Practices

Pardot Dynamic Lists: Overview and Best Practices

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Dynamic lists are by far my favorite Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (Pardot) automation tool. These “smart” lists automatically update and can be used for everything from Recipient and Suppression lists to a tool to help keep your Pardot org clean and spam free. 

What are Pardot Dynamic Lists?

Dynamic lists automatically match and unmatch prospects based on the criteria you specify. They are living breathing lists that are constantly updated. 

When a prospect matches your criteria, they will be automatically added to your list and when they no longer match the criteria, they will be automatically given the boot. Dynamic lists are ideal for building lists around prospect information that changes often. 

To build a dynamic list, in Pardot:

  1. Navigate to Automations, then Segmentation Lists
  2. Select + Add List
  3. Name your list and select the Dynamic List checkbox
Note: You have to select the dynamic List checkbox when your list is created. If you create a static list, you cannot later go back and make the list dynamic. 
  1. Select Set Rules
  2. Specify the criteria for your dynamic list
    • Dynamic List Rules can be set to Match All or Match Any, for example:

These rules are looking for any prospects who have been active in the last 2 weeks AND have ever submitted at least 1 Pardot form. 

These rules are looking for any prospects who have been active in the last 2 weeks OR have ever submitted at least 1 Pardot form. These are very different criteria. 

  • Use the + Add new rule and + Add new rule group buttons or the + icon next to a rule to add additional criteria. If you need to remove the rule, select the trashcan icon next to the rule. 
  • Separate multiple values in a rule with semicolons. Dynamic list criteria is limited to 255 characters, so you may have to split your criteria into multiple rules. 

How are Dynamic lists different from Static lists?

Static lists are updated manually or via other automation methods, such as automation rules or completion actions. Static lists do not automatically update and are not based on criteria. Unlike dynamic lists, you can create and add prospects to a static list via import and/or make static lists visible in Salesforce.

How do I use Dynamic Lists? 

Ok, now we’re getting to the good stuff!

As a Recipient list

If a dynamic list is used as a recipient list on a scheduled email, then it will email all the prospects that match the dynamic list rules at the time the email is sent. For example, your dynamic list may match 100 prospects today, but the email that is using this list is not scheduled to go out until two days from now. When the email is sent, your dynamic list may match 1000 prospects, or it may match 0, it is totally dependent on the rules you set up. 

As a Suppression List

Similar to using dynamic lists as a Recipient list, using it as a Suppression list will suppress all prospects that match the rules at the time an email is sent. This is especially helpful when avoiding over emailing prospects. For example, if I want to suppress all prospects who have been emailed 3 or more times this week, I could set up a dynamic list with the following rule: 

I like to create a Primary Suppression list that collects all prospects we suppress from emails on a regular basis. This list can then be added to all email sends, or dynamic recipient lists. That way, my Pardot users don’t need to worry about which lists to suppress — they can just use the Primary Suppression list every time. 

A Primary Suppression list may consist of:

  • Partner, vendor, or competitor prospects
  • Internal employees
  • Prospects who have met the maximum number of emails we want them to receive in a time period
  • Spammy prospects
  • Role based emails

In an Engagement Studio Program

Dynamic lists are a great way to feed prospects into an Engagement Studio Programs (ESP). For example, say you want to nurture any prospects who visited your “Donate” page but didn’t make a donation, or any prospect who showed interest in a product but didn’t request a demo. 

If a prospect is removed from a dynamic list used in an ESP, the prospect is paused from moving forward in the program. If the prospect later re-matches the dynamic list, they will resume the ESP where they left off. They will not skip steps or email sends. 

In an Email Preference Center

You can use both static and dynamic lists in your email preference centers, however only prospects who are already members of a dynamic list will be able to see a dynamic list on an email preference center. If a prospect is a member of a public dynamic list, the prospect will be able to opt out of communication from that list by unchecking the box associated. Prospects cannot opt themselves into a public dynamic list, only opt out.

To Clean Your Database

My favorite use of dynamic lists it to create rules that catch spammy or junk prospects. These are evergreen lists that I review on a regular basis to clean up or remove prospects as needed. 

For a list of junk criteria, check out the Junk Data in Your Pardot Org: Why it Matters and How Admins Can Mitigate & Manage It blog post. 

Tips and Considerations

Dynamic content rules are limited to 255 characters. If you have a long list of criteria, use the Creuz Your Data tool (it’s free!) to easily add semicolons and split your data into the right sized chunks. More info on how to use this tool can be found here

If you split an existing dynamic list, the resulting lists will be static. Prospects will not automatically be added or removed from the resulting split lists, it will only split the prospects that exist on that dynamic list at the time the split occurs. 

If you use “Prospect Account Field” in your dynamic list rules, Pardot will only look for prospects associated with an Account. Even if your rule says “Prospect Account Field “name” is not empty” it will still only review prospects associated with an Account. 

Finally, to keep your Pardot org running smoothly, Salesforce recommends a limit of 1,000 Dynamic Lists per org. If you have millions of prospects in Pardot, consider reviewing Dynamic Lists matching over 5 million prospects to see if these lists can be broken into smaller pieces.

Now you’ve officially been empowered with everything there is to know about Pardot Dynamic Lists. Do you have other creative uses for dynamic lists? Tell us in the comments!

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  • Erin Duncan is the Account Engagement Product Director at Sercante. Erin is 8x Salesforce certified and has 12+ years of experience as a Salesforce and Account Engagement Admin. She is the leader of the Atlanta B2B Marketers User Group, the leader of the Pardashian Slack group, and a Salesforce Marketing Champion.

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