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Beginners guide to Pardot: Visitors vs Prospects



One of the areas of Pardot that beginners get a bit confused about is the difference between visitors and prospects and how this relates to leads and contacts in Salesforce.


Is it a 1:1 match? Which one matches with which? Or are they completely different?


Let's dive in...


What's the difference between a visitor and a prospect?


A visitor is someone who visits your website and assets but you don't know anything about them yet, specifically their email address.


A prospect is someone who has given you their email address, so you now have a name and email attached to the visitor, they are no longer anonymous.

How Pardot handles visitors and prospects


If you’ve implemented the tracking code into your website, Pardot will apply a cookie to the visitor so you can track and record interactions with your website and page visits.

The most common cookies used are third party cookies but Pardot is now moving to first-party cookies as the primary version. You can read why here.

This is all great but we want to know more about our prospects and be able to personalise our interactions with them.

This becomes much easier when the visitor becomes a prospect.

How does this happen? The visitor will give you their email address when they fill out a form, form handler or landing page.

The really cool thing is all that visitor activity will then be attached to the prospect record so nothing is lost.

The reason I think this is cool (maybe you have a different opinion on what is cool!) is you can get a picture of how quickly someone becomes a prospect and typical types of activities a visitor goes through before they feel comfortable in giving you their email address.


A real world example would be this, right now. I know nothing about you, you're just a visitor to my website. But if you fill out the form on my subscribe page, you then become a prospect to me. #JustSaying 😏

Anyhoo, You can view all prospects by navigating to the Prospects tab on the navigation bar and Pardot Prospects on the left hand menu.


Organically, this is the way you acquire prospects. It’s not the only way though. You can have prospects populate Pardot in other ways too, such as...

  • Create the prospect record manually

  • Upload them via a csv file upload

  • By enabling the setting in the Salesforce connector to create a prospect if one doesn’t exist and a lead / contact is created first

  • Through APIs and other connectors (ie. GoToWebinar)


So how does this link to Salesforce leads and contacts?


Now that we’ve clarified the difference between the two, let’s address how they relate to leads and contacts in Salesforce.

Pardot uses the email address as the primary unique identifier to match a prospect with a lead or contact record for the first time, after which, the CRM ID will be used.


So it‘s the prospect record that matches up to the equivalent record in Salesforce, not a visitor.

You can tell which prospects are syncing with a lead or contact via the blue Salesforce cloud next to their name.



So that’s the difference between visitors and prospects. Visitors are anonymous and prospects are the ones that convert to giving you their email address.

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© 2021 Carl Mortimer

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