Pardot CEO Offers Key Tactics To “Think Outside the Inbox”

Published: November 2, 2010

Breaking down the “more complex sales cycle,” Pardot CEO David Cummings and COO & Co-Founder Adam Blitzer explore strategies to help marketers “Think Outside the Inbox” in their new book. As part of an exclusive interview with DemandGen Report, Cummings talks combating the “faceless customer,” compares marketing to dating and connecting the marketing dots.

DGR: In your book, “Think Outside the Inbox,” you explain how marketing automation can revolutionize a company’s business approach and overall philosophy. You also touch on effective communication techniques via email, web sites and social networking. How does authentic communication between companies and prospects impact the number of leads converted?

David Cummings: Authentic communication is critical to all marketing. One of the worst things a marketer can do is violate the trust they’ve built up with a prospect via an inappropriate email or poorly done marketing campaign. Authentic communication will increase the number of leads converted by being more applicable and genuine to the prospects while increasing the credibility of the company.

DGR: One of marketing automation’s greatest appeals is eliminating the concept of the “faceless customer.” Can you speak to how marketing tactics can be too impersonal with BtoB companies, and how marketing automation can help combat the issue?

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Cummings: Impersonal marketing tactics are, unfortunately, pretty commonplace today. We’ve all encountered marketing emails that didn’t make sense or were a waste of time, showing that the sales or marketing professional didn’t know you. Marketing automation helps with this issue by tracking prospect activities like viewing web pages, downloading specific white papers, and providing pieces of data via forms. These all help build a persona of the prospect, which when matched with an ideal customer profile, allows marketers to deliver much more personal messages, even in an automated fashion. Marketing automation also helps with the impersonal challenges of BtoB companies by notifying sales and marketing people when a prospect should be contacted based on their activities. Reaching out in a timely manner is one of the most important criteria when prospects make a purchasing decision.

DGR: The book discusses how companies look for BtoB partners in all the wrong places — comparing it to dating. Can you explain your comparison and how marketing automation software meet the benefits of the “ strategy” instead of the “dive bar strategy?”

We’ve all heard of success stories from sites like,, etc (in fact the last two weddings I’ve been to were for friends that met their respective spouses online). The same applies to sales and marketing: prospects that are properly understood, nurtured, and paired up with the right information and attention are significantly more likely to buy from you. Marketing automation is the platform necessary to gather actionable information much like has their significant questionnaire as part of the pairing process. Technology isn’t a replacement for great sales and marketing but it helps good teams become great ones when used well.

DGR: With connectors, there are a number of ways a marketing automation program can synch with a third party. What are some of the most effective connectors to increase ROI? Do you think as time goes on more people will be focusing on social networking sites for marketing purposes?

Cummings: Connectors having become an increasing importantly part of the marketing automation ecosystem. With so many good systems out there it is impossible for one vendor to be all things to all people. That’s one of the reasons the AppExchange has been so popular: companies have different specialties and it is difficult to get everything to work together. Some of the more effective connectors for a marketing automation platform include CRMs, Google AdWords, Google Analytics, and Twilio for phone integration. Each has its own purpose and helps with the overall integration of disparate data sources and tools.

Social networking sites are already hotbeds of marketing activities but many marketers still haven’t figured out how to get a return on their investment. I believe that over time more marketers will investment in social marketing activities and figure out ways for it to add value to their business. Three of the simplest ways to get started with social network marketing including monitoring certain keywords like competitive and complimentary products, including your own, creating a dialogue with thought leaders, and participating in conversations with prospects.

DGR: Lead nurturing can help marketers develop a strong BtoB relationship with prospects, What are the most effective ways to communicate with prospects and what marketing automation technologies can be most helpful?

Cummings: Creating a genuine and authentic relationship with prospects is one of the most important things a marketer does. Using marketing automation marketers can achieve greater economies of scale of their time and efforts by creating specific nurturing campaigns to turn suspects into prospects and deliver targeted messages at inflection points in the buying cycle. The key is to truly understand the different prospect profiles and set up the system to deliver the right content and touch points throughout the stages of the purchasing process.

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