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Pardot vs. Marketing Cloud: Which Solution is Right for You?

By 12.05.23
Reading time: 4 minutes

In one corner, you have Team Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, a B2B platform, and in the other, you have Team Marketing Cloud, a B2C platform. These two often battle it out for the hearts and minds of Salesforce users everywhere. However, we propose a fresh perspective where everyone can emerge as a winner by selecting the product that best suits their organization’s requirements.

Let’s shift our perspective from an “either/or” situation to a more inclusive “both” scenario. This entails considering the use of Marketing Cloud based on the unique needs and objectives of your organization, regardless of whether it’s B2B, B2C, or a blend of both. But how can you determine the optimal solution using this approach? Continue reading to find out.

What’s the difference between Pardot vs. Marketing Cloud?

First, let’s clarify some confusion. When we mention Pardot vs. Marketing Cloud, we’re using the name Pardot because that’s the more familiar name for the product that’s now called Marketing Cloud Account Engagement. Salesforce changed the name in 2022, but many users still associate the name Pardot with the product (maybe because it’s less of a mouthful!).

Added to the confusion is the thinking that Marketing Cloud and Marketing Cloud Account Engagement are one and the same. Marketing Cloud Account Engagement is part of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud suite of products, but it is an add-on that must be purchased separately. Marketing Cloud Account Engagement has native functionality that allows sales and services customers to scale their marketing capabilities. 

Which solution will meet your business needs?

There is some truth to the fact that the Marketing Cloud Account Engagement capabilities are more geared to B2B organizations and Marketing Cloud for B2C. That’s because B2B companies target an audience of other companies with account-based marketing, a key feature of Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, versus individual consumers. 

Think of Marketing Cloud as putting together Ikea furniture. You’re given the pieces, tools, and directions to help you easily build marketing solutions. The platform has the flexibility to adapt to any industry. You have the capability to send emails, retarget content, do mobile SMS, push app notifications, generate advertising audiences and so much more with a simple and easy interface. 

On the other hand, Marketing Cloud Account Engagement is powerful in its own right, but it’s more focused on smaller or medium-sized organizations that need to be able to take that next step from an introductory marketing automation platform because they want to grow that much further. Think of it as the basic starter car that comes before the Marketing Cloud Ferrari. 

Organizations usually have Sales or Service Cloud in their Salesforce ecosystem, and Marketing Cloud Account Engagement is the native integration that’s built on the same platform. Its automation allows you to do actions that are very similar to Flow Builder within Sales or Service Cloud. It’s the same interface to be able to easily move through a process, like a branching structure to send an email.

Marketing Cloud Account Engagement strengths

  • Top-of-funnel engagement and managing your marketing leads.
  • Lead generation: Quickly deploy landing pages and forms with progressive profiling.
  • Lead management: Score, grade, and assign your leads.
  • Lead nurturing: Build a trusting relationship with your leads to progress them through your funnel.

Marketing Cloud strengths

  • Reach your customers at the right time, on the right channel, with the right message.
  • Personalization: Use your data to personalize messages to your customers.
  • Omnichannel marketing: Orchestrate journeys and reach your customers on channels they use like SMS, mobile, and paid media.
  • Extensible data model: As you collect more data about your customers, build and extend your marketing data model to meet your segmentation and personalization needs.

Similar capabilities across platforms

  • Segmentation and automation: Automate flows and segment audiences for your marketing campaigns.
  • Salesforce CRM integration: Sync data with CRM to enable your field and support teams. Use the data within Marketing Cloud Account Engagement or Marketing Cloud to engage your customers.
  • Analytics and reporting: Leverage a variety of out-of-the-box reports to understand performance. Use Einstein to enhance your campaign performance.

Can you harmonize Marketing Cloud and Marketing Cloud Account Engagement?

So, which solution is right for you? It comes down to where you are in your digital marketing maturity curve with Salesforce. 

If you’re just dipping your toe into moving into digital marketing automation tools, then Marketing Cloud Account Engagement is probably the implementation to go with because it aligns to early-to-middle maturity with core capabilities like lead management and lead scoring.

But if you see your company scaling towards omnichannel personalization, where you’re doing things like connecting journeys and conversations, then your aspirational journey is focused more towards one to one communication which means you may want to consider implementing Marketing Cloud. 

Another approach to consider is to use both platforms simultaneously because of your business needs. This could be a scenario where you’re aligning the strengths of each platform to create personalized, connected experiences throughout your customers’ lifecycles. Marketing Cloud becomes your omnichannel engine, and Marketing Cloud Account Engagement is more for targeted lead management using the campaign functionality that’s within Sales and Service Cloud. 

One of the possible shortfalls of Marketing Cloud that Marketing Cloud Account Engagement does well is lead management, lead scoring, landing page tagging, and engagement tracking. You could use Marketing Cloud Account Engagement at the top of your marketing funnel to get leads in, manage them, and move them from marketing-qualified to sales-qualified. Then your Marketing Cloud picks up from there and nurtures the leads. It continues the conversation once the leads have become customers and helps with upsell and cross-sell activities. 

Use cases for Marketing Cloud Account Engagement and Marketing Cloud:

  • Omnichannel nurturing campaigns: Acquire leads with progressive profiling-enabled forms, and market to them with email, SMS, paid media, and other channels.
  • Cross-sell and upsell to customers: Understand your customers and their behaviors to score, grade, and qualify them for cross-sell and upsell opportunities. Engage them with omnichannel messages.
  • Consumers with long buying cycles: High value products, like luxury brands, with long upper-funnel durations in the customer lifecycle can target prospects and loyal customers across the channels they use to interact with your brand.

How can Silverline help with finding your platform solution?

At Silverline, we approach solutions by first talking with our clients to determine if the Marketing Cloud and/or Marketing Cloud Account Engagement platform is right for them. We center the conversation around the points we’ve outlined, which include:

  • Whether you are a B2B, B2C, or a B2B2C company.
  • What your marketing goals and needs are, including email, retargeting, or personalization.
  • Where you are in your digital marketing maturity and what Salesforce product best matches your needs.
  • Whether you have other complementary Salesforce products in your ecosystem, such as Sales Cloud or Service Cloud.
  • Desire to evolve beyond email into omni-channel personalization.

We then work with you to design a platform solution tailored to your needs and that will enable continuous value with the Salesforce platform. Learn more about how Silverline can help with Marketing Cloud and Marketing Cloud Account Engagement.

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