The Difference Between Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot

Uncover the core difference between Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot. Compare the MAP features to find the best fit for your business.
Published June 26, 2019
Last updated November 14, 2021

Understanding the difference between the two leading marketing automation platforms can be daunting. There are a plethora of details that can easily confuse us, especially when we consider they are both a part of the same family—Salesforce.

  • Are they the same? No.
  • Are they part of each other? No.
  • Is one better than the other? It depends on your goals.

Previously on our blog, we discussed how to optimise the customer journey on each of these platforms. You can find specific tips for Pardot here and Salesforce Marketing Cloud here.

Salesforce acquired both Pardot and Salesforce Marketing Cloud (previously known as ExactTarget) in 2013.

However, ExactTarget had actually acquired Pardot six months before Salesforce decided to bring the complete ExactTarget tool inventory under the Salesforce enterprise umbrella.

After that, ExactTarget became the foundation of what we now know as Salesforce Marketing Cloud, while Pardot has remained a separate marketing automation platform.

The fundamental differences between Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot rest in their:

  • Users
  • Channels
  • Integration
  • Price
  • Skills needed to run the platform

The overarching distinction between the two platforms is that Salesforce Marketing Cloud is designed to serve B2C businesses, while Pardot performs best in a B2B environment.

The term B2B (Business to Business) is used for companies that sell their services or products to other businesses, hence B2B, while B2C (Business to Consumer) refers to companies that sell their services directly to customers.

To understand this better, glance over our article to review the difference between B2B and B2C marketing automation in depth.

Or, to cut a long story short, check out the table below.

The difference between Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot users

The end-users of both platforms will perform different tasks due to the distinctions between their marketing tools. To get a better understanding, let’s dive into them separately.

What is the Pardot user like?
As Pardot fuels the B2B model, its core features revolve around lead management because of the longer sales cycle.

Therefore, the Pardot user will aim to overview the most desirable leads for the company and design lead nurturing practice according to the leads’s/prospect’s stage of the journey.

After the lead hits a previously determined qualification point, it’s passed on to an appropriate sales representative.

Pardot’s Engagement Studio—the intelligence engine of the platform—enables the user to design engagement programs and contextually engage the prospect according to his real-time behaviour. Or, in other words, Engagement Studio empowers the personalised experience for your leads.

For the benefit of lead nurturing, Pardot also offers robust Lead Scoring and Lead Grading capabilities. The user can assign scores based on the prospect’s activities and their relevance for the company to create better engagement programs.

In 2020, Salesforce enriched Engagement Studio with Einstein Behavior Scores, an AI-fused capability that helps users recognise the strongest buying signals from prospects and score them accordingly.

Furthermore, with Pardot, users can track content downloads and collect prospect’s information to provide a personalised journey as we advance.

What is the Salesforce Marketing Cloud user like?

A Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) user will have to focus on impulse-driven and often emotional customers. Since SFMC is built to serve the B2C market, its features allow users to provide a truly personalised and omnichannel experience to each customer.

Also, due to its robust features, to derive the highest value from the solution, it’s well-advised to assign multiple SFMC users to focus on different marketing areas to ensure the process remains smooth and high customer satisfaction is maintained.

SFMC has a wide array of features to support the different marketing segments, from creating customer journey maps, scheduling campaigns, advertising, data management and cross-channel messaging.

For example, to build genuinely 1-to-1 customer experiences, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud user will apply Journey Builder.

This is a campaign planning tool within the platform that allows its users to create a visual representation of the customer journey map.

To produce engaging email campaigns, the user will rely on Email Studio to personalise the content.

Also, Einstein AI capabilities spread throughout the platform will help predict consumer behaviour and recommend the right product at the right time.

Want to know implement, improve or scale your Marketing Automation Platform?

The difference between Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot channels

Both platforms offer email, social media and website tracking; however, Salesforce Marketing Cloud takes cross-channel marketing a step further.

Which channels does Pardot support?

As Pardot operates in the realm of B2B marketing, cross-channel marketing options will be limited.

However, Pardot will fully support your website, enhance your email marketing and connect to Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter.

These connectors are usually set up when deploying the platform by administrators, and once they are done, users can schedule social media posts to come directly out of Pardot.

Truth be told, there are plugins available that will connect Pardot with other marketing channels (Google Ads connector).

However, they don’t come out of the box. As far as Pardot marketing automation goes, if you apply it in a B2B environment, you will be set. For the process of nurturing leads or educating them, email and social media are more than enough.

Which channels does Salesforce Marketing Cloud support?

As we already know, a typical SFMC user will focus on providing a 1-to-1 omnichannel experience. Therefore, this platform will support various channel engagements.

The Salesforce Marketing Cloud arsenal contains tools to support customers through every channel, including SMS, web, social media, advertising and email.

Each of these channels can be managed on the platform through separate applications:

  • Mobile studio
  • Email Studio
  • Advertising Studio
  • Social Studio
  • Web Studio

To top it all, each of these applications offers powerful functionalities in its own domain.

For instance, if you set out to engage your audience through mobile, you will discover that SFMC supports SMS and MMS, push and group messaging.

If your goal is to focus on social media presence, you will benefit from the centralised approach offered by Social Studio. You can connect all your social media accounts to publish, engage and listen to your audience from one place.

In 2020, Salesforce Marketing Cloud released a new capability; users can create Instagram stories in Marketing Cloud Social Studio and then assign the post to a mobile user to publish it. Powered by Einstein AI, you can also analyse the results of your efforts and improve your message in the future.


The difference between Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot integration

Both Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot are standalone marketing automation tools. However, they also require a database or customer relationship management platform to leverage their full potential.

Pardot integration


Pardot is most often used in conjunction with Salesforce’s Sales Cloud or Service Cloud (CRM).

As such, there is seamless integration with any Salesforce CRM solution, while complimenting Pardot’s functionalities.

Although Pardot is most commonly used with Salesforce Cloud solutions, it also integrates well with other major CRM vendors such as SugarCRM, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and NetSuite.

Even if you don’t use any of the above-listed CRM systems, there are still options to link your chosen CRM with Pardot through APIs. Given that most companies already have a database to collect sales and service data, Pardot comes in beautifully to align those departments in their efforts.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud integration


Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a whole marketing suite designed to cover every aspect of your marketing operations.

With Salesforce Marketing Cloud, you can leverage advanced website integration and full integration with the Salesforce platform. It’s important to note that the platform doesn’t offer a database as a part of its automation package, but a robust data management platform called Audience Studio (formerly known as Salesforce DMP) can be added to your Marketing Cloud for an additional cost.

Additionally, in 2019, Salesforce announced its enterprise-grade Customer Data Platform solution, extended from the capabilities of Customer 360, which will enable a 360-degree view of your customer and help marketers provide real-time personalisation across channels.

On top of its seamless integration with other Salesforce solutions such as Service, Sales, and Community Cloud — Marketing Cloud can also be integrated with other databases or CRM system providers.

These include solutions such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM, NetSuite, Microsoft SQL Server and ODBC databases.


The price difference between Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot

Considering the fundamental difference between the two in terms of the types of business they serve (B2B or B2C), it’s not surprising that their pricing models also vary.

Pardot Pricing

The pricing for Pardot is available online. It’s billed based on the marketing automation features you wish to access and divided into three different categories:

As seen above, prices start from $1,250 per month, for up to ten thousand contacts.

If you add enterprise-grade features, such as predictive analytics, then you can expect to pay up to $15,000 per month.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Pricing

Salesforce Marketing Cloud is priced based on the company’s requirements. For this reason, on the Salesforce website, you will find pricing options for different products that make the Marketing Cloud.

In any case, depending on your choice of products and the goal of your marketing programs, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud will most probably end up costing more than Pardot.

Also, take into account the number of users (licences) that will administer or use the platform and the implementation cost, which can also often be high.

The difference between the skills required for Salesforce Marketing Cloud and Pardot

When discussing both marketing automation platforms’ possibilities, we should note—the more you want out of the platform, the better the skills you need. To get a solid understanding, let’s address them separately.

What skills do I need to run Pardot efficiently?

Aside from the implementation process, which can be daunting in itself, the Pardot configuration may also require some advanced skills.

Consider website and CRM integration, technical set-up, data migration, connecting your social media accounts and, finally, building workflows.

To help you in your journey, there are two Salesforce certifications for Pardot that come in handy:

  • Pardot Specialist Certification 
  • Pardot Consultant Certification

Pardot Specialist Certification is focused on arming you with the knowledge to effectively design, build and implement marketing workflows within the platform. This includes learning about the various integrations.

On the other hand, Pardot Consultant Certification is focused on enabling students to implement Pardot in line with best practices.

Pardot is usually easy to manage once you have it configured to your liking; however, to obtain a high ROI, either hire a Pardot Specialist or invest in training your current workforce.

There are plenty of opportunities to study Pardot online, the most apparent being Trailhead—the free on-demand learning platform from Salesforce.

What skills do I need to run Salesforce Marketing Cloud efficiently?

Since Marketing Cloud is such a far-reaching platform, naturally, the implementation and configuration will last longer and have a higher price point.

Also, considering the features available within Salesforce Marketing Cloud, niche skills may be required to run it efficiently.

Salesforce offers three certifications for Marketing Cloud:

  • Certified Marketing Cloud Administrator
  • Certified Marketing Cloud Consultant 
  • Certified Marketing Cloud Email Specialist
  • Certified Marketing Cloud Developer

The Administrator Certification delivers the knowledge on Marketing Cloud configuration, explains the setup process and teaches administrators how to navigate account configuration and user requests.

Marketing Cloud Consultant Certification is designed for those marketers who already possess broad knowledge of Salesforce solutions and can customise its applications according to companies’ requirements.

As far as Email Specialist Certification goes, this will serve marketers who can demonstrate knowledge and experience in email marketing. This certification will grant them additional insight into Marketing Cloud Email Studio, including external integration with this application.

The certification for Marketing Cloud Developer is designed for experienced Marketing Cloud developers, in case any extra coding is required within your Marketing Cloud configuration.

These advanced skills are desirable if you are to enable each section of this marketing platform fully. You will not go too far without an experienced Marketing Cloud consultant. Even if you decide to upskill internally, expect a steep learning curve for marketers without previous Salesforce user experience.

Without the necessary skill set, you will not be able to leverage the platform’s full potential and achieve your desired ROI.

To sum up, we have looked at the different benefits of Pardot and Salesforce Marketing Cloud, depending on the type of business you have. Sometimes, companies will opt for both due to a wide and diverse customer reach.

If you are having trouble deciding which is the best fit for your business, feel free to reach out to us.

Our friendly team of marketing automation specialists will welcome the opportunity to provide further insight.

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We are an omnichannel strategy consulting firm and would love to see you succeed in your omnichannel marketing initiatives.

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