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Migrate Marketo to Pardot

Migrate Marketo to Pardot

Nelson Eisenmann

Nelson Eisenmann

Director of Marketing Automation

Migrating from Marketo to Pardot may seem intimidating.

But it doesn’t have to be.

With a well-informed team and a clear step-by-step process guide, you can make this process as seamless as possible.

Whether you have already decided to make the change from Marketo to Pardot or are currently weighing your options, you’ll first need a baseline understanding of what it takes in doing so.

In this article, we lay out the process of migrating from Marketo to Pardot, walk through best practices and our tips and tricks to ensure a painless migration.

But why even switch?

Why switch from Marketo to Pardot?

We often see companies transition from Marketo to Pardot for 4 main reasons.

  1. Cleaner user experience
  2. No fringes Salesforce integration
  3. Bundled pricing
  4. More intuitive automation programs

Marketo to Pardot Migration Checklist

Download our free migration checklist to plan your transition from Marketo to Pardot like an expert.

1. Ease of Use

If UI/UX is important to you, then Pardot is the clear winner among the two. Pardot leverages a wizard-style interface for creating landing pages, email templates, and forms. It has been said that Marketo feels more like a platform built by engineers for engineers while Pardot feels like a platform built by marketers for marketers.

2. Salesforce Integration

Today, both Marketo and Pardot have a strong Salesforce integration. However, Pardot is part of the Salesforce family and will only become more robust and transformative as they build out Pardot into the Salesforce ecosystem. In fact, you may need to get used to seeing a notification from Salesforce at the top of your screen when you log into Pardot as they roll out new features.

Here’s what I saw when I logged in this morning:

There are some long-term benefits of having a marketing automation system so closely related to Salesforce products:
  • Faster sync times for prospect and activity data from Pardot to Salesforce
  • Flexibility in data you choose to sync between Pardot and Salesforce
  • Continued alignment between Salesforce and Pardot as Salesforce grows
On the other hand, Marketo directly competes with Pardot, so it’s fair to assume Salesforce will prioritize the integration with its own product – Pardot, over integrations with competing for marketing automation software.

3. Bundled Pricing

Salesforce account executives are encouraged to sell Salesforce products as packages. This creates 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. Marketing Automation Experience

Pardot mostly serves the above average marketing automation professional. It has powerful automation capabilities yet still intuitive to learn.

It is a great lead nurturing tool and advanced enough to where you must know how to build nurturing sequences, landing pages, and run successful engagement campaigns.

However, Pardot is not as robust as Marketo for automation capabilities.

Marketo is for the very advanced marketing automation professional and more popular among enterprise companies. Marketo’s outdated UI makes it more difficult to navigate and the automation capabilities are more extensive.

This can be a distraction depending on your business needs. Companies using Marketo need to make sure they have the bandwidth and the budget, considering it is normally the more expensive automation software.

Our recent client, SquareRoot explained it this way:

“Marketo was too robust of a system for us, as a small shop of 3 marketers we felt that it was too big and too hard to implement simple welcome series or campaigns. We all wear multiple hats here and don’t have time to dedicate to just email marketing and automation optimization, the way a seasoned martech professional would.” 

 (Read the full case study)

Similarities and Differences between Marketo and Pardot

Before we go any further, let’s cover some of the main similarities and differences between Pardot and Marketo. 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 can do to understand the migration process and capabilities of Pardot, the more informed and seamless of migration it will be.

Most of the assets you built in Marketo 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 automation terminology.

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

Marketing Automation DefinitionMarketoPardot
Unknown Website VisitorAnonymous LeadVisitors
Mailable recordsLeadsProspects
A list of recordsListList
A list of records meeting a specific criteriaSmart ListDynamic List
Trigger for automated tasksTriggersAutomation Rules
A sequence of emailsEngagement EngineEngagement Studio
The activity history of each record in the databaseActivity LogActivities
The rating of each record based on their fit and engagementLead ScorePardot Score and Pardot Grade
The marketing automation information presented in SalesforceSales InsightPardot Activities
Reporting and AnalyticsAnalyticsReports
The place where you store filesDesign StudioContent Files
A group of assets associated with a marketing activityProgramCampaign
The calendar of marketing activitiesCalendarMarketing Calendar

We include this table in our downloadable checklist to easily keep your team informed.

The most valuable features of marketing automation can be found in both tools; lead nurturing, analytics and reporting, list segmentation, and scoring.

One of the main differences between the two that we touched on already is ease of use. Pardot is more intuitive to learn so migrating from a more difficult to use software like Marketo should make learning Pardot a breeze!

Here is a side by side comparison of the workflow automation user interfaces:





How long will the migration take?


1-3 months. Determining a timeline for migration depends on the number 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 Marketo 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 deadline. You may need all hands on deck or over-the-shoulder training if you are under a tight implementation deadline.

Plan accordingly and seek outside help if necessary so you’re completely migrated when your deadlines or busy-season comes around.

The very idea of switching platforms from our legacy system to Pardot by Salesforce seemed like an insurmountable challenge until we met with LearningCurv,” said James Ryan, Vice President of Enrollment Management.

Will I need to have an overlap period with access to both systems?


Yes, typically. It is not required to have access to both systems when executing a migration. Although it is clearly less overhead for your company, it makes the migration process much more stressful and time-consuming.

To save time and ensure a seamless transition we highly recommend having an overlap period (1-4 weeks) between your two systems.

The extra cost is worth the efficiency and peace of mind. 

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 Marketo 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 Marketo 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. You will not be able to get the data you don’t migrate over back 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 Marketo, recreate them in Pardot, and double check to make sure everything is accurate and functional.

Simply copy from your existing Marketo 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 Marketo. Simply build out each item one-by-one! If there are any issues, you can revisit Marketo 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 Marketo and understand how to recreate them in Pardot.

But, the longer the overlap period the better because this is not something you want to rush. 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 Marketo to Pardot are 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 Marketo 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 files can be saved from Marketo 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. Though most automation tools such as HubSpot and Marketo have similar features of Pardot, they also have proprietary code to navigate.

The assets that need to be recreated in Pardot are the following:
  • Landing Pages – default and customized templates
  • Nurturing Campaigns
  • Automation Rules
  • Lists
  • Forms
  • Folder Structures

Recreating your assets in Pardot is a time-consuming task and has room for error. This is why it is best practice to have an overlap period with access to both your legacy system (Marketo) and your new system (Pardot).

Being able to move back and forth between the two to ensure every asset was copied over accurately makes the migration process much more efficient and requires less work.

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. Also, be sure 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. Take good notes!

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. Determine Scoring Criteria
  9. Map Custom and Default fields
  10. Integrate with CRM

1. Migrating your Lead Database:

Extracting all of your data from Marketo can be a tedious task depending on the size or your database. As you may have already experienced, Marketo has a limit on how many records can be exported from the database. This limit is contingent on how many visible fields are represented, and the amount of records.

There are two options to export your lead database from Marketo:

  1. Export in Batches (recommended)
  2. Pay Marketo Services to export the entirety of your Marketo database

Option 1 – Export in Batches (recommended)

To ensure accuracy, we recommend exporting the contacts in your Marketo database and the default/custom fields associated with them first. Remember, Marketo has a file size limit on exports so you must do it in batches (unless you pay Marketo services to do a mass export).

For example, you can create smart lists in Marketo and export leads in batches organized alphabetically. You will have to repeat this process until all of your leads are exported into spreadsheets.

Option – 2 Bulk export Lead Database using paid Marketo Services

If you are interested in paying Marketo services to export your entire database. Contact your account representative for a quote. If you exported in batches feel free to combine them into one spreadsheet before importing them into Pardot to make things more efficient.

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 Marketo 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 a 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 cannot be exported from Marketo and imported into Pardot. In order to migrate your email content, you must recreate them by copying the email copy and pasting it into Pardot’s email template builder.

As we mentioned before, Pardot’s user interface is easier 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 Marketo 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 you Marketo 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 platform.

3. Migrating Automation Campaigns:

Assuming you have been utilizing Marketo’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 Marketo engagement engine programs 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 tell the engagement program to do something such as send an email. This is where you need to note which emails are sent when in which campaign.

Triggers tell the engagement program to look for something such as “Did they open the email?” or “Did they click the link?” if the prospect executes the chosen action then it will trigger another action.

Rules tell Engagement Studio to check the prospect database to see if they match certain criteria such as:

  • Do they have a Pardot score (lead score) of 50 or higher?
  • Are they assigned to user: John?
  • 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 engagement engine programs.

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

    Lastly, 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 Marketo plan will make life easier.

    4. Migrating Landing Pages:

    Unfortunately, Marketo landing pages are not 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.

    Highly customized landing pages can be installed by a code-savvy marketer or developer into Pardot’s landing page builder by importing the HTML/CSS code.

    Since Marketo requires coding knowledge to build assets like this, you may be relieved to hear that there is no HTML or CSS knowledge required to build new landing pages in Pardot, although it is an option.

    With the ease of use Pardot’s landing page builder provides, perhaps your marketing team will be more motivated to build new landing pages and spend more time improving/testing the effectiveness of them rather than avoiding a coding project.

    5. Migrating your Forms

    If you are using Marketo 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 Marketo 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 and smart lists in Marketo and their criteria so you can recreate them in Pardot.

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

    7. Migrating Files

    If you have any gated content or images stored within Marketo’s design studio you still want to use, Simply download the files from Marketo, 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. Changing the Scoring Criteria

    Marketo and Pardot’s scoring system has some differences that will keep your scoring criteria from transitioning 1:1.

    If you are using lead scoring, it is important to document the relevant criteria and point assignments so you can recreate them in Pardot (if you feel your scoring system is satisfactory)

    Pardot has a default prospect scoring system that comes with pre-set point allocation for specific actions such as clicking on an email, page views, filling out a landing page form, etc. Luckily, it is customizable so you can change the number of points allocated for each action.

    We recommend having a conversation with your sales team to make sure your sales and marketing teams are aligned on what should be included for each score. Later in your timeline,  when you complete the migration, you can revisit the conversation to make sure the scores still align with your team’s efforts.

    9. Integration with CRM

    As we laid out earlier, one of the main reasons marketers choose Pardot over Marketo 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. Syncing occurs every 2-4 minutes.

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


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

    Read the Beginners Guide to Pardot to kickstart your success with your new automation software. In this guide, you will find exclusive industry best practices and experts’ advice on all things Pardot.

    Marketo to Pardot Migration Checklist

    Download our free migration checklist to plan your transition from Marketo to Pardot like an expert.

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