Best Practice: Salesforce and Pardot campaign setup

by | Last Updated: Apr 24, 2023 | Blog, Campaigns, Pardot | MC Account Engagement, Salesforce, Solutions

Campaigns are an integral part of Pardot since most assets need to be assigned to a campaign. Pardot assets can be assigned to a single campaign, and prospects can be assigned to multiple campaigns in a one-to-many relationship, where one prospect can belong to many campaigns.

Why use campaigns in Pardot and Salesforce?

The reason for using campaigns in Pardot and Salesforce is two-fold:

1—Campaigns give visibility to marketing’s overall influence on sales through revenue attribution tracking of marketing efforts. Revenue attribution of marketing efforts is accomplished through reporting on campaign influence on revenue. That is, to see which campaigns impacted or influenced ‘closed/won’ opportunities and became a sale.

2—Campaigns help organizations understand which campaigns and channels are effective so that marketing can gauge ROI for their efforts and know where to continue to invest marketing dollars and where to pull back on marketing spend.

Initial campaign configuration

Before you can create any Pardot/Salesforce campaign, the Pardot/Salesforce connector must not be paused, with data freely able to flow between the two applications. Once that’s done, here are the recommended steps to take for campaign configuration.

Pardot campaign set up

Decide which Salesforce campaign record types you want to connect to Pardot campaigns. To keep only relevant prospects coming in to Pardot, it’s best to limit the number of campaign types that sync to Pardot. We often create a campaign type called Pardot or Marketing so that it is very clear to a Salesforce user that this campaign type syncs with Pardot.

Create the campaigns in Salesforce that you want to sync with Pardot, this includes the campaigns that come out-of-the-box with Pardot, such as Newsletter and Website Tracking.

Enable connected campaigns and engagement history. Once you do this, any Salesforce campaigns that were created with the campaign type that syncs to Pardot campaigns will appear in Pardot. This may take several minutes and you may have to manually connect them this once.

Ensure campaign member sync is turned on. Even if campaigns are connected, if the campaign member sync is not activated, campaign members in Pardot will not appear in Salesforce. Furthermore, automation rules that rely on ‘Is a member of CRM campaign’ will show zero prospects matching, as the rule is looking for campaign members in Salesforce. 

Campaign member sync

If you’re going to be creating campaigns in Pardot that you do not wish to sync with Salesforce, leave the ‘Use Salesforce to manage all campaigns’ box unticked. The best practice, however, is to tick this box, as most campaigns should have visibility in Salesforce.

Pardot users who will need to manage or create campaigns will also need to have ‘marketing user’ selected on their user profile. This is the tick box directly below ‘Active’ on their user profile.

Creating Pardot and Salesforce campaigns

Here are some tips for achieving useful and accurate numbers with campaigns in Pardot and Salesforce.

Campaign data capture

Establish a process for routinely capturing campaign data that is important to your organization using an established campaign naming convention, such as YYYY-MM-DD Campaign Topic Purpose Audience.

Associate a status to each campaign, such as ‘in progress’ or ‘planned’.

Associate a cost to each campaign where applicable.

Associate a start date and end date to each campaign where applicable. Campaigns like website tracking don’t need start and end dates.

The type of campaign is a standard campaign picklist field but it is optional. If you do choose to use type you should standardize which types to use and make sure everyone in the organization sticks with proper assignment when creating campaigns.

The ‘active’ checkbox controls which campaigns are considered influential towards opportunity revenue for opportunities that contacts are related to. When a campaign is not active, campaign influence reporting prevents this campaign from being counted in the opportunity revenue.

Only Salesforce campaigns marked as active in Salesforce are available in Pardot for use in automations, journeys and completions actions. Inactive campaigns will sync but won’t be accessible to Pardot automations.

NOTE: Campaign Influence does not take the campaign status field into account, which means, for example that if the campaign status is ‘canceled’, and the campaign is active, the campaign is counted towards influencing the opportunity. The ‘active’ checkbox is the sole controller.

Campaign structure

For every new campaign always assign a parent campaign. By always assigning a parent campaign when you create a new campaign, eventually you’ll be creating a hierarchy of parent, child, and sometimes grandchild and great grandchild campaigns as you build campaigns. This will become valuable once you want to report on campaigns and will give you the ability to report at any level within the campaign hierarchy.

Initially you’ll want to create your highest level parent campaigns using Salesforce campaigns, i.e. email, event, advertising, form submissions, social media, import, salesforce sync. All other campaigns will fit into one of these buckets either directly or as child campaigns.

Campaign member status

Create custom campaign member status within each campaign to track each prospect’s level of engagement within a campaign, then track campaign engagement by updating each prospect’s campaign member status using completion actions. For example, for an event you might use the following campaign member status: invited, reminded, registered (responded), did not register, attended, did not attend, followed up.

Campaign workflows

Create standardized workflows for each type of campaign. Questions to ask yourself when creating workflows are:

1—What are the campaign creation workflows you want your organization to adopt?
2—What parts of your campaign workflow can and should be automated?

Contacts and opportunities

Revenue attribution in Salesforce depends on how the primary campaign is associated with the opportunity. Pardot can only associate an opportunity to a prospect if the opportunity is related to a specific contact(s).

When a Salesforce user creates an opportunity from one of the following four ways, Salesforce does not associate these opportunities with a campaign and no revenue from these opportunities will be attributed to any campaign:

  • ❌ from the left-side bar ‘Create New’ drop down
  • ❌ from ‘Quick Create’
  • ❌ from an account
  • ❌ from the opportunities tab

This limits your ability to understand how marketing influences pipeline and revenue or how revenue is attributed to different campaigns. The lack of visibility here impacts your campaign attribution and key metrics like campaign or channel ROI. Campaign creation from these methods should be avoided.

Since contact roles are so integral to ROI reporting in Pardot, you can ensure that at least one contact is related to an opportunity by removing the “New Opportunity” button from the account page layout. This will force users to create the opportunity from the contact page instead, automatically associating that contact to the opportunity.

Be sure to always create any opportunities from the contact page. This allows Salesforce to automatically associate that contact to the opportunity which will enable campaign attribution towards the opportunity based on the related contact, and any related marketing engagement tracked using campaigns where the contact was involved as a campaign member.


If you clone an opportunity, the primary campaign associated with the original opportunity will persist, but this may not be the correct attribution. Consider whether or not to allow opportunities to be cloned.

Consider how you want to manage campaign attribution for system-generated opportunities if you have them.

If you’re using a custom attribution model with customizable campaign influence and the model is set as the default, you need to manually create campaign influence records. Each time a campaign makes an impact on an opportunity, create a record that identifies the influential campaign, and enter an attribution percentage.

Measuring campaign effectiveness

Now that you’ve connected and created your campaigns, it’s time to take a look at how they’re performing. Campaign effectiveness can be measured by:

Brand recognition—number of booth attendees at trade show, overall difficult to measure, nevertheless has value

Prospect engagement—form submissions, CTA clicks, etc. which lead to qualified leads and revenue

New lead acquisition

Qualified leads—recent engagement by qualified prospect which leads to revenue

New opportunities

Revenue—closed/won opportunities

Deeper account penetration—more qualified leads and repeat sales within same or existing accounts

Referrals—which leads to qualified leads and revenue

The above campaign measurements can be visualized, tracked and reported on end-to-end through prospect lifecycle stages within the marketing and sales funnel:

Prospect lifecycle stages



Qualified Interest (MQL marketing qualified lead)

Prospecting (SAL sales accepted lead)

Deal (SQL sales qualified lead)

Purchased (customer/revenue)

Loyalty (repeat sales)

Advocacy (referrals/case studies)

Prospect lifestyle stages marketing sales funnel

Prospect lifecycle stages enables your organization to quickly identify where any given prospect is at within the buyer’s journey, and to tailor and target your marketing message to prospects based on each stage, thus making your marketing much more effective. The above prospect lifecycle stages can be named anything you desire (and you can even have more or fewer stages). The items provided are guidelines with the intent of establishing the purpose of each stage.

Since campaigns and prospect lifecycle stages can be closely aligned, they can be more effective and powerful when used together and employed with a consistent and overarching strategy.

NOTE: Salesforce does not provision for stage for contacts like it does for leads. Custom fields and automations need to be used to sync prospect lifecycle stages between Salesforce objects and Pardot. These automations can be done from Pardot or Salesforce but, since dynamic Lists are also needed along with automations, it is usually best to manage lifecycle stage from Pardot.

This kind of knowledge of actual numbers only comes from reporting, not from intuition or guesswork. Towards that end, every organization should rely heavily on Salesforce campaigns and campaign reporting to know and to prove what is working.

About the Pardot rename

In April 2022, Salesforce announced the rebrand of Pardot to Marketing Cloud Account Engagement. While the rebrand unfolds and the world adapts to the new nomenclature, we'll typically keep the Pardot name in our blog posts.

There are several permutations of the new name being thrown about, so you may see us use any one of them as things evolve:

  • Pardot
  • Marketing Cloud Account Engagement
  • Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (Pardot)
  • MCAE
  • MC Account Engagement
  • Account Engagement by Pardot

Certified Consultant/Owner | Jeff Kemp

Marketing Automation & CRM Consultant

hire Jeff Kemp | Marketing Automation & CRM Consultant

I help select your tech stack and optimize your processes for improved marketing & sales effectiveness, operations, and ROI.

My superpowers are Knowledge, Experience, and Business acumen. I enjoy the intersection of working with people, processes, and technology where I can provide leadership and add value.

With over 30 years of marketing and sales experience I've been laser targeted on Marketing Automation for 10 years, seven of those as a Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Account Engagement (Pardot) Consultant, and also as a Certified Salesforce Administrator and HubSpot Expert. Prior to that I have over 15 years of WordPress development experience and additional roles in sales and marketing management.

Since I've worked with a lot of clients in various industries I've seen several of the same struggles that are common to almost all organizations (as outlined in this article). With each organization and project that I'm involved with I work hard to solve many of those typical problems, plus identifying and solving sometimes unique and complex issues which often involve cleaning up technical debt from legacy systems, and architecting processes and solutions to help organizations set up effective lead management systems and operational efficiencies using best practices and proven methodologies.

I also love dogs :0)

Optimal Business Consulting (OBC) is proud to be a Salesforce Partner since 2018 and also became a HubSpot Solution Partner in 2023. -->More about Jeff & OBC

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