Getting Started with Pardot – Part 3 (Association of a visitor cookie to a prospect record)

Getting Started with Pardot – Part 3 (Association of a visitor cookie to a prospect record)

Last Updated on August 29, 2021 by Rakesh Gupta

Visitors are unidentified individuals who visit your website through a search engine, referral or direct visit. These visitors can provide anonymous data to you, in the form of page views, time on page (duration) and other metrics; yet, these visitors are unreachable by marketing people. On the other hand, prospects are visitors who have identified themselves, for example, by filling out a form. Once visitors are converted into prospects, marketers can gain an immense amount of insight into prospects’ level of interest in a product or service and collect qualifying information.

Visitor cookie for unidentified individual

As soon as someone starts browsing your website, a visitor cookie gets created in their browser by the Pardot tracking code installed on your site. The site uses cookies to recognize visitors and record their behavior in the Pardot database. If someone is using multiple browsers to visit your site, in such cases he will have unique visitor cookie for each browser.

Visitor Cookie
Visitor Cookie

Visitor Id is nothing but the visitor’s record unique identifier in Pardot, as shown in the following screenshot 

Visitor's ID
Visitor’s ID

Visitor object stores the basic information about a visitor, for example, Number of page views by the visitor, Source, Visitor’s IP addressVisitor’s Hostname, First Page View and Last Page View, etc. Whereas Visits object stores the basic information about visitor’s or prospect individual visit (only page visit), for example,  Number of page views by the visitor, Length of each visitTime of first page view for each visit and Time of last page view for each visit, etc.

Visits point to unique Visitor
Visits point to unique Visitor

You may see the multiple lines into the visits table, depend on visitor’s page view activity. It means one visitor can do multiple visits to your site. All this information is tracked by Visitor Cookie. A visit record can also associate with a prospect record. 

Association of a visitor cookie to a prospect record

Pardot offers different ways, for example, Form, Form Handlers or Landing Pages, etc. to convert anonymous visitors to prospects. A prospect is a known person who has provided their email address by submitting one of the Forms or Landing Pages on your website. The prospect’s email address is a unique identifier (if Allowing Multiple Prospects with the Same Email Address is not enabled), which allows Pardot to track prospect’s activity moving forward. 

You can also use Create/associate link available on Visitor page to create a prospect record for them if you are already speaking to a potential customer from a company and then you notice that company on the visitor’s list.

Let’s start with an example; there is 20+ regular visitor on my website gurukuloncloud.com. I have just created a Form handler (It allow you to use third party form, for example, FormAssembly, GravityForms, JotForm, Formstack, Wufoo or Fromdesk and post the data to Pardot) in Pardot and associate it with my existing third party form. It will help me to covert unidentified visitors to known prospects. The next step is to understand how a visitor’s cookie is associated with a prospect.

Applicable to a Pardot account where Allowing Multiple Prospects with the Same Email Address is not enabled

 A prospect can be associated with multiple visitor cookies (multiple browsers), so if they fill out a form on one device, click on an email in another, etc., both will be associated with that prospect. The following screenshot explains what happen when a visitor fills out a third party form and Allowing Multiple Prospects with the Same Email Address is not enabled in Pardot account. 

Association of a visitor cookie to a prospect record
Association of a visitor cookie to a prospect record – Allowing Multiple Prospects with the Same Email Address is not enabled

In all scenarios, the visitor cookie is updated to match the selected prospect record and all future activity related to that cookie will go to the associated prospect record.

Applicable to a Pardot account where Allowing Multiple Prospects with the Same Email Address is enabled

A prospect can be associated with multiple visitor cookies (multiple browsers), so if they fill out a form on one device, click on an email in another, etc. both will be associated with that prospect. The following screenshot explains what happen when a visitor fills out a third party form and Allowing Multiple Prospects with the Same Email Address is enabled in Pardot account. 

Association of a visitor cookie to a prospect record - Allowing Multiple Prospects with the Same Email Address is enabled

In all scenarios, the visitor cookie is updated to match the selected prospect record and all future activity related to that cookie will go to the associated prospect record. When sending an email to prospects using the list, Pardot will find the duplicates based on email address. If there are multiple prospects in the list with the same email address, Pardot sends the email to the one with the most recent activity. 


Visitor Association change Overview

Sometimes under AUDITS tab in a prospect record, you may notice entries with Type = Visitor Association Changed or Visitor Association Removed, followed by a link with the name of another prospect. A visitor association change happens when one prospect’s cookie and activities become associated with another prospect. A visitor Association removed happens when someone removes a visitor association change. 

Visitor Association Change
Visitor Association Change – Example

Let’s start with an example, Prospects B (Vijay Rawat) is using the Prospect A (Ashish Kumar) computer or device to fill out a form. When prospect B submits the form, the cookie and subsequent information of prospect A are passed to prospect B, changing the association. As shown in the following screenshot 

Visitor Association Changed
Visitor Association Changed

 Another common reason for visitor association change is cookied prospect A passing along a tracked link to prospect B, by forwarding an email. When prospect B clicks the link, the cookie and subsequent prospect information are passed to prospect B, changing the association.

–> Visitor association changes do not occur in Pardot accounts where allow multiple prospects with the same email address is enabled. In this scenario, Pardot will not apply an existing prospect’s previous activity to another prospect.

–> Any scores associated with activities will be subtracted from prospect A’s (Ashish Kumar) score, while prospect B (Vijay Rawat) will accumulate any score points from prospect A’s activities. 

Prospect A Never Being Active
Prospect A Never Being Active

–> Prospect A (Ashish Kumar) will show as never being active, as shown in the preceding screenshot 

To prevent visitor association change, in Form, Form Handler and Landing Page enable Kiosk/Data Entry Mode. Kiosk/Data Entry mode does not cookie visitors and allows multiple form submissions without causing any visitor association changes.

Remove a visitor association change

Once a visitor association change has happened, you can manually remove the association to stop prospect A (Ashish Kumar) from being tracked as the wrong person in the future. 

  1. Navigate to Prospect | Prospect List
  2. In the prospect (Vijay Rawat) record, click on AUDIT tab
  3. Locate the row with Type = Visitor Association Changed 
  4. Then click on Hostname, as shown in the following screenshota
  5. Then click on Remove Association link under the Prospect Name, as shown in the following screenshotb
  6. Now navigate to the prospect (Vijay Rawat) record and click on AUDIT tab, you will see new entry for Visitor Association Removedc

Note: – The above data or records are created by me for training purposes, and not a single Form or Form Handler are posted anywhere. 

The End: “What am I missing here? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add it in!”

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2 thoughts on “Getting Started with Pardot – Part 3 (Association of a visitor cookie to a prospect record)

  1. Great article. I do have a question though. If a record/email address is already a prospect in Pardot and that prospect visits the a website/page (that is being tracked), does Pardot identify that user and show their activity in their record? For example, abc@gmail is part of a list, and abc@gmail visits a tracking webpage for 2mins, will be be able to see this information?

    1. It will depend on the cookies and browser – he use to view your website. I mean to say, if the cookie is set on browser1 and use browser 2 to visit your website then nothing happens.

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