For the second year in a row, Pardot has held its Elevate User Conference, a great opportunity for its customers to mingle, share best practices and learn about their vendor’s product road map, much like what happens at similar, established user events hosted by Marketing Automation industry leaders like Marketo and Eloqua. This year’s event in Atlanta underscored how far Pardot and its customers have come in their sophistication regarding the use of web-based Marketing technologies (Disclosure: Allinio was given a complimentary pass by Pardot to the entire event).
With attendance more than double last year, Elevate even had attendees from places as far-flung as Canada and Norway. What really was impressive was the degree to which Pardot’s customers have become better at Marketing Automation. Several sessions were case studies narrated by users themselves who have been leveraging the Pardot platform for a year or more – while it can take this much time to “master” any Marketing Automation platform, there were now “veterans” able to speak to “newbies” about best practices and how to focus on the lead management processes that matter. Cloud Sherpas, comScore, and NxtbookMedia, all well recognized companies, gave real “under the hood” talks about how they use Pardot. It was also encouraging to see companies buy the platform and send their Marketers to Elevate. This is a positive sign that companies realize that you have to invest your human resources in stewarding your enterprise marketing and sales data, immediately.
Pardot’s employee base is comprised of relatively young but process- and tech- savvy people (necessary for successful Marketing Automation) who did a great job presenting themselves and explaining the fundamentals good practices. Rank and filers like Mathew Sweezey, TJ Gephart (@tjgephart), and Vincent Migliore were able to quickly establish credibility with the audience regarding using Marketing Automation systematically. Pardot’s proximity to schools like Georgia Tech, and Georgia State University will probably ensure that they have a solid recruiting pool of energetic, bright workers. And the “old men” running the show, David Cummings (@davidcummings), Adam Blitzer, (@adamblitzer) and Derek Grant (@derekgrant) were very good in being available to all who attended, even during the after hours events.
There are other decent platforms out there such as Act-On and Manticore Technology that are approaching the critical mass of customers which will hopefully allow them to conduct their own user conferences in the near future. Surely their customers can benefit from an opportunity to commiserate and collaborate. The vendors’ locations in Beaverton, Oregon and Austin, Texas, respectively, should offer good sources of employee talent that could do what Pardot’s employees impressively do. Clearly the user conference trend will continue and the next few years will see these conferences needing larger venues- the positives are too great to ignore. If you have the Pardot platform, plan on going to Elevate next year. If you use another, go to that one or start asking your vendor when they will have one.