Pardot Marketing Automation Features We Love: Dynamic Lists

Like a lot of our customers, we have a tight, nimble marketing team that’s fielding more requests and has more irons in the fire than there are hours in the day. Our marketing expert team is just that – expert at marketing, not at database manipulation or complex algorithms. So Pardot marketing automation is perfect for us.

We’ve been using it for a few years now, but every once in a while we stumble across another Pardot feature that we – and surely many others – could probably be utilizing more effectively. One such feature: the dynamic list.

First, some quick backstory. Pardot is a “marketing automation” platform (more on what that means). It’s easy to get caught up in the more traditional “marketing” features (read: firing out frantic one-off emails that somebody forgot to tell you needed to be sent last week), and as the marketing team’s to-do list balloons by the day, start to neglect the whole “automation” part – usually because it seems more foreign or more complicated to get started. This is a huge missed opportunity, though, because all those “automation” goodies are why you’re paying for Pardot, and not just sending out basic Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, or (heaven forbid) Outlook blasts. Automation is also the way you start to actually get back some time in your day.

So what does all this have to do with dynamic lists? Well, dynamic lists are one of those great automation tools available to you in Pardot.

salesforce pardot marketing automation

Update and augment dynamic list criteria on the go.
Photo Copyright Luxent.

Dynamic lists let you determine criteria of people who should or should not be on a certain email distribution list. Then, the dynamic list refreshes regularly and checks all your prospects against those criteria, and essentially asks “Do they still belong on this list? Does anyone else need to be added to the list?” In other words, the list is purely based on the criteria you determine at the outset. Whether or not a certain person meets the criteria, and is thus on that list, can fluctuate over time based on their behavior and what data you have about that prospect at a given moment.

Maybe you want to send an email to a list of everyone who is part of a certain Salesforce campaign and who matches the profile of your “ideal” customer for a certain product line – but who specifically matches those criteria might change frequently. Perhaps today Jane Doe is totally engaged with your website and your Sales Rep and seems like the perfect person to include in the audience for a certain email you’re about to send out. Now fast forward 6 weeks: you’re ready to send another email about the same product, but conditions on the ground have changed. Jane Doe may have chosen another vendor, or maybe she won the lottery and quit her job in a blaze of glory. Now, it would be silly to include her on this second email because you already know she doesn’t care anymore. (Sure, if you’re a diehard optimist you could put her into a nurture campaign at this point, but we’ll save that for another day.)

Or, my favorite use case: you probably don’t want to be sending out your product announcements, newsletters, or sales offerings to your competitors – ever. But your competitors constantly hire and fire employees, and there’s no way you could realistically keep up with which of them might be covertly subscribing to your lists over time to get in on your market intel.

Do you have time before every single email send to do this kind of CSI work and manually pull together each individual person who should vs. should not be receiving the message, based on their most recent data? Of course you don’t. All you know is that, every time you want to send out an email about product X or topic Y, you want it to go to people who meet the criteria you have in mind. And you need a list that constantly scans for competitors and automatically adds them to the suppression list as they land in your database – no thought or action required from you to maintain. So let dynamic lists do that heavy lifting.

This does require setting aside a small chunk of time up front to figure out what those criteria should be. For example, for your dynamic suppression list, quickly jot down the names of your top 5 competitors. Now figure out what their email domain name is ( Those are your two criteria for the dynamic list, done!

Once you’ve decided on the appropriate criteria, just set it up in Pardot once (here’s how) and then it’s always there for you to re-use in any upcoming email campaign. Anyone who meets those criteria right before the email is sent will automatically be included on the list – regardless of who was included on the list a week or 6 months ago.

Our Marketing Director’s highly scientific self-survey reports that this has already boosted her average open rate and spared her hours of tedious list-building in Salesforce trying to include and exclude all the right contacts.

Think this would be a beneficial tool for your team, too? Let’s talk.