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Migrate Mailchimp to Pardot

Mailchimp to Pardot Migration Checklist

Download our expert-created checklist to seamlessly migrate to Pardot

There are many reasons to migrate from MailChimp to Pardot. It could be an integration issue, or that your current legacy system lacks certain necessary features, whatever the case may be, we understand how the idea of switching marketing automation platforms can be exceptionally intimidating. 

However, with a team of experts and a thorough guide, we hope to make this process painless.

If you’re considering to make the switch or have already made the decision to migrate from MailChimp to Pardot, you’ll need to have a deep understanding of what it takes in doing so.

In this guide, we lay out the process of migrating from MailChimp to Pardot, walk you through best practices and our tips and tricks to ensure a smooth and painless transition. 

But why even switch?

Why switch from MailChimp to Pardot?

As businesses grow larger and digital marketing strategies become more complex and automated, the need for robust marketing automation is required to support these pressing changes. With the right marketing automation software, it can help you draw key insights and drive ROI, but unfortunately, not all marketing automation systems are created equal. 

While both MailChimp and Pardot allow you to send mass emails and newsletters, Pardot is a full-service marketing automation platform (MAP) that has advanced features such as lead management, insightful ROI reporting and analytics, segmentation, and many other lead generation and automation functionalities. 

Most commonly companies migrate from MailChimp to Pardot for 4 main reasons:

  1. Organizational growth
  2. Native Salesforce integration 
  3. Bundled pricing
  4. Intuitive marketing automation 

1. Organizational Growth

With the rapid growth in organizations happening over time, the demand for task streamlining, targeted marketing, and automating day-to-day operations increases. Ofttimes, companies migrate from MailChimp to Pardot because their level of marketing maturity has outgrown their legacy system. 

MailChimp is great for SMB organizations; however it doesn’t allow for advanced automation or highly personalized account-based marketing. Some businesses simply feel like they are ready to take on a more sophisticated platform. 

With this in mind, Pardot offers some powerful capabilities to support these complex goals, such as omnichannel marketing, smarter scoring and nurturing, and improved visibility and analytics. 

2. Seamless Salesforce Integration

We often notice the appeal to Pardot over MailChimp is because of its native integration with Salesforce, which offers a performance edge incentive for those that already use the powerful CRM. By syncing your Pardot data with Salesforce (syncing occurs every 2-4 minutes,) when you update a record in your CRM, it automatically updates in your Pardot instance and vice versa. 

With this advanced technology at your hands, you get to arm your marketing and sales team with greater insight to qualify and nurture prospects faster and smarter than ever before. 

3. Bundled Pricing

Salesforce account executives are encouraged to sell Salesforce products as packages. This leaves room for negotiation if you decide to use multiple Salesforce products. It is much easier to negotiate a favorable price when you purchase multiple products from the same vendor as opposed to just one from multiple vendors.

4. Intuitive marketing automation

While MailChimp does offer some useful automation features and is well-liked for its clean user interface, it falls short on some automation features that matters most to marketers, like segmentation.

For example, let’s say you wanted to create segments for users who opened one email but didn’t open another one. Or users who opened both, but clicked on a specific element in the second email. Unfortunately, these are all fairly basic segments that you can’t do with MailChimp.

In contrast, Pardot’s intuitive marketing automation capabilities are more robust and offer full solutions to lead nurturing. Key functionalities like track user activity, optimization to building nurturing sequences, landing pages, and running successful engagement campaigns are all essential elements that make automation and segmentation a breeze in Pardot. 

Similarities and Differences between MailChimp and Pardot

Before we dive any deeper, let’s cover some of the main similarities and differences between MailChimp and Pardot. Understanding how the two systems compare and contrast will allow your team to make informed decisions when the time for migration comes.

The more due-diligence your team sets out to fully understand the migration process and learn of Pardot’s capabilities, the chances of safely migrating your data over is exponentially higher. 

Most of the assets you built in MailChimp can be substituted by building a similar Pardot asset. However, there may be some differences in how things function, how they are set up, and some marketing automation terminology.

Below is a table that shows how Pardot is equivalent to some key MailChimp terms you may be familiar with:

MailChimpPardot 
Subscribers  Prospects
Audience List
CampaignCampaign
Automation Engagement Studio 
SegmentDynamic List 
Signup FormsForms
ReportsReporting & Analytics 

FAQ’s

How long will the Pardot migration take?

1-2 months. Determining a timeline for migration depends on the quantity of assets you have to migrate over, how much maintenance your database and campaigns need, and the size of your organization.

In our experience, migrations from MailChimp to Pardot can be done in as little as 4 weeks if you are very well organized. However, we recommend allocating about 6-12 weeks to ensure the shift over to Pardot goes smoothly.

Consider any marketing deadlines or seasonal aspects of your business that may affect your migration target date and plan accordingly. 

Will I need to have an overlap period during the Pardot migration?

Yes, typically. While it isn’t required to have access to both systems when executing a migration, it’s key to budget for 1-4 weeks of overlap between your two systems. This will eventually save you precious time, energy, and ensure a seamless transition. 

Although it will be an overhead to pay for two solutions at once, you will need this overlap time to make the migration less stressful and time consuming. 

To give you options, we compare and contrast a few migration methods below:

Without an overlap period:

If you do not have access to both MailChimp and Pardot at the same time, or only have access to both for a short period of time, you will need to make sure all your leads, forms, landing pages, email templates, and any other important assets you keep in MailChimp are exported into text files, spreadsheets, or shared folders.

Make sure your assets are well-organized so they can be easily re-created or imported into Pardot. Please keep in mind that you won’t be able to retrieve data that you didn’t migrate over once you have sunsetted your legacy system. 

With a short overlap period (recommended):

A 6-8 week overlap period should give your team enough time to copy over all necessary assets from MailChimp, recreate them in Pardot, and double check to make sure everything is accurate and functional.

Simply copy from your existing MailChimp templates and paste into Pardot as you build out your instance.

No need to organize assets in shared folders because they should already be organized in MailChimp. Simply build out each item one-by-one! If there are any issues, you can revisit MailChimp to see if everything was copied over correctly.

With a short grace period:

If 6-8 weeks of overlap is not in your budget, a minimum of 3-4 weeks is enough time to get all of your important assets out of MailChimp and understand how to recreate them in Pardot.

The longer the overlap period the better since you do not want to rush migrating everything out that you need. You may save money with little to no overlap period but you will also lose valuable time having to organize your assets and run up against a sunsetting deadline.

What can be easily transferred or uploaded?

We get this question all the time and want to make sure to address your concerns.

The data and customization that maps over from MailChimp to Pardot is the following:

  • Entire Leads database (imported in bulk or batches)
  • Default and custom fields
  • Content files such as images and pdfs

Remember, Pardot will natively sync with your Salesforce account to import your MailChimp leads and sync Salesforce contacts into Pardot as prospects.

You will need to do a bulk import of all leads and contacts into Pardot with a legacy import, then all prospects will automatically sync to Salesforce from then on.

Please note, content studio files can be saved from MailChimp and uploaded into Pardot.

What needs to be recreated?

It’s inevitable that some of your assets will need to be recreated when switching from system to system. Some assets can be easily exported from MailChimp and imported into Pardot. But, because they’re different softwares, some assets will not be an exact 1:1 replication. Therefore, we advise recreating your assets as best as you can in the steps we’ve outlined below. 

Assets that need to be recreated in Pardot are the following:

  • Landing Pages – Pre-set and customized templates
  • Nurturing Campaigns
  • Automation triggers 
  • Lists
  • Forms
  • Folder Structures

If you do not allocate an overlap period between your two systems, make sure to export all assets into well-organized and named text files, spreadsheets, and shared team folders. 

We recommend you export each asset group (lists, templates, content files, etc) individually for organization and data clean up purposes. 

However, MailChimp does allow you to do a mass export of your Account Data which contains all your lists, reports, templates, campaigns, and content studio files in one sitting. Once the export is completed, a ZIP file of all your data will be available in your account to download. 

Please note that If you choose this method to export your data, be sure to organize and save them in a central repository, like Google drive or DropBox for safe-keeping. 

It’s also important to take detailed notes on any automated tasks and programs associated with them. This will minimize downtime in case your power user leaves your company or another unexpected externality occurs.

Any asset that is not exported or accounted for will be lost during your migration.

Steps for a Successful Migration

Now that we have a baseline knowledge of what the migration will entail, let’s dive into the migration itself.

We recommend the following order:

  1. Export and import lead Database
  2. Recreate Email Content
  3. Recreate Automation Campaigns
  4. Recreate Landing Pages
  5. Replicate Forms
  6. Upload Lists
  7. Upload Files
  8. Integrate with CRM

1. Migrating your Lead Database

Extracting all of your data from MailChimp can be a tedious task depending on the size or your database. Your export includes a ZIP file that contains separate CSV files for each type of contact (subscribed, unsubscribed, non-subscribed, and cleaned). Unarchive the ZIP file to access CSV files and open them in your preferred spreadsheet application.

MailChimp gives you the option to export contacts grouped as “Lists” or “Segments.” 

We recommend you to export lists first, and then you can use segments to export any additional data. 

  1. Export an audience
  2. Export a segment

1) – Export an Audience 

To ensure accuracy, we recommend exporting the contacts in your MailChimp database and the default and custom fields associated with them first.

To view or export your entire audience, follow these steps. 

1. Navigate to the Audience tab

2. If you have more than one audience, click the Current audience drop-down and you can either select all or choose the one you would like to migrate over

3. Click View Contacts. 

4. Click Export Audience. 

5. After the export loads, click Export as CSV to download the spreadsheet to your computer. 

2) – Export a Segment 

  1. Navigate to the Audience tab.
  2. If you have more than one audience, click the Current audience drop-down and choose the one you want to work with.
  3. Click View Contacts.
  4. Click View Segment, and choose the segment you want to export. 
  5. Click Export Segment.

Once your lead database is exported you can then import them via CSV into Pardot as prospects using Pardot’s import wizard. Be sure to carefully import unsubscribed contacts as do not email to ensure you never email these people again.

Any custom fields you use in MailChimp must be created in Pardot before importing your prospects, if you want them to map over.

If there are any unnecessary fields or contacts in your database, simply delete them from your spreadsheet before importing into Pardot to clean your data. Deleting the row the contact is in or deleting a column with the unnecessary field is a quick way to clean your data.

For a more in-depth breakdown and step-by-step guide on how to import prospects into your Pardot database, visit the Building Your Database chapter in our Beginner’s Guide to Pardot.

2. Migrating your Email Content

Email content and templates can be exported from MailChimp and imported into Pardot. In order to migrate your email content, we recommend you copy the email copy and paste it into Pardot to  recreate your email templates and familiarize yourself with Pardot’s email template builder.

Pardot’s Email Template Builder

Pardot includes an intuitive builder that allows easy additions of merge tags. Best of all, there is an HTML button that switches you over to the source code for your email template. We find this to be great, especially when transitioning from MailChimp to Pardot. 

Pardot’s user interface is simple to use and re-creating email templates should not take more than a few days.

Here are three options for re-creating your email content ranked by most efficient to least efficient:

  1. Copying email copy directly from MailChimp into Pardot (2 steps)
  2. Sending yourself a test email and copying it from there (3 steps)
  3. Saving all the copy in text files and copying it from there (3 steps)

Recreating the emails from your drip campaigns in Pardot’s email tool, Engagement Studio, will allow you to use the same logic from your MailChimp programs when you build out your Pardot engagement programs.

Use this migration as an opportunity to improve old email campaigns or get rid of underperforming ones. Start fresh with your new automation home.

3. Migrating Automation Campaigns

Assuming you have been utilizing MailChimp’s automation capabilities, you may have some programs and triggers you need migrated over to Pardot. In Pardot, these automated triggers and programs are called automation rules, triggers, and drip programs.

 

Make a note of all the logic in your MailChimp automation workflow activity and the triggers associated with them so they can be easily recreated in Pardot’s engagement studio.

When creating an automation workflow in Pardot’s engagement studio you have three choices:

  1. Actions
  2. Triggers
  3. Rules

Actions. This tells the engagement program to do something, like sending an email. This is where you need to note which emails are sent when in which campaign.

Triggers. This tells the engagement program to look for prospect activities such as email opens or link clicks. Iif the prospect executes the chosen action, then it will trigger another action.

Rules. This tells the engagement studio to check the prospect database to see if they match a certain criteria such as:

  • Do they belong to a certain list?
  • Do they have ____ in their custom field?

No two systems are alike across the board so don’t expect a 1:1 transition, but, Pardot’s engagement studio is a powerful tool and should be able to replicate a similar workflow to your MailChimp’s automation campaigns.

Note that emails that send automatically after a completion action from an automated activity are called autoresponders in Pardot. Make sure to also recreate each autoresponder and the triggers associated with them.

MailChimp’s Trigger Example: 

Trigger NameAction 
Previous email sentTriggers an email that sends after a subscriber receives the previous automated email in your series.
Previous email openedTriggers an email that sends after a subscriber opens the previous automated email in your series.
Previous email not openedTriggers an email that sends when a subscriber does not open the previous automated email in your series.
Previous email clickedTriggers an email that sends after a subscriber clicks any link in the previous automated email in your series.
Previous email not clickedTriggers an email that sends when a subscriber does not click any link in the previous automated email in your series.
Specific link in previous email clickedTriggers an email that sends after a subscriber clicks on a specific link in the previous automated email in your series.

Pardot’s Engagement Studio Trigger Example:

Trigger NameAction 
Email openMonitors for HTML email template opens.
Email link clickWatches for recipients clicking on any or specified links in the emails you send. 
FormActivated when a prospect opens and/or fills out forms of your choosing.
Landing pageMonitors for successful landing page visits via emails you send.
Custom redirect linkInitiated by clicks on custom redirect links in your emails.
File download Triggered by non-image downloads of Pardot content files.

Be sure to poke around Pardot’s triggers and actions to see what you can add to your old MailChimp drip programs. The migration is a perfect time to do an audit of your marketing assets and campaigns to see what you can improve!

Finally, testing your automation campaigns in Pardot to see if they work is an important reason why we recommend having an overlap period between subscriptions. Testing your campaigns before sunsetting your MailChimp plan will make life much easier.

4. Migrating Landing Pages

Unfortunately, MailChimp’s landing pages aren’t responsive, so all of your old landing pages may need to be created from scratch in Pardot.

The good news is Pardot’s landing page builder has default templates that can quickly be used to create branded, professional, and functional landing pages that still look good on mobile devices.

With the ease of use Pardot’s landing page builder provides, perhaps your marketing team will be more thrilled to build new landing pages and spend some time improving/testing the effectiveness of them. 

5. Migrating your Forms

If you are using MailChimp forms externally on your website, you will want to recreate them in Pardot before you sunset your legacy system in order to avoid losing leads. Take notes on all of the fields in use on your MailChimp forms and recreate them in Pardot’s easy-to-use form builder.

Next, you will want to recreate the automated activities that happen after the form is submitted. In Pardot, we call those completion actions.

6. Migrating Lists

Make a note of all the lists in MailChimp and their criteria so you can recreate them in Pardot.

As long as you included all of the default and custom fields when you export your subscribers from MailChimp and added the custom fields to Pardot before importing subscribers, you should be able to segment your Pardot prospects in a similar way.

7. Migrating Files

If you have any images, documents, and other files stored in MailChimp’s content studio you still want to use, Simply download the files from MailChimp, save it, and upload it into Pardot. You can upload files into Pardot by navigating to Marketing → Content → Files.

Once the files are in Pardot, you can link them to your emails and create gated content.

8. Integration with CRM

As we mentioned earlier, one of the main reasons marketers are attracted to Pardot over MailChimp is the seamless integration with Salesforce.

In Pardot, any changes to prospect records are pushed to Salesforce, and information from Salesforce records is pulled into the corresponding Pardot prospect records.

Salesforce does not allow two connectors at the same time. If you opted into having a grace period where your Pardot and MailChimp subscriptions overlap, make sure to disconnect the integration between your Salesforce and MailChimp account before trying to integrate your new Pardot account with Salesforce.

Conclusion

If you follow the steps outlined above, you should have no problem migrating all of your valuable data and campaigns over to Pardot. If you run into any issues, feel free to reach out for support. LearningCurv is here to help with your migration plans. 

If you haven’t already, check out our Beginners Guide to Pardot to launch your new success with your new automation software. In this guide, you will find exclusive industry best practices and experts’ advice on all things Pardot.

Mailchimp to Pardot Migration Checklist

Download our expert-created checklist to seamlessly migrate to Pardot

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Nelson Eisenmann
Nelson is a Pardot guru and Salesforce enthusiast.