Pardot Knowledge Base

Sending Operational Emails

Last Updated: Apr 20, 2017 | Print this Article

When prospects unsubscribe from your marketing emails, it is possible that they still should receive other non-marketing communications. By default, Pardot will not send emails to prospects who are marked as opted out.

Pardot's operational emails feature lets Pardot Administrators send list emails to all prospects on a given list, including those who have opted out of marketing emails. This feature also disables the unsubscribe/email preference page link requirement from your list email (the unsubscribe or email preference page link will still be required in all marketing emails).

This feature is intended only for use with non-marketing emails. Pardot's permission-based marketing policy requires that all prospects who are sent marketing emails through Pardot have opted in to receiving marketing emails from you. Misuse of this feature can result in account suspension.

What counts as a marketing email?

This table gives a few examples of what does and doesn't count as a marketing email in the industry.

Is non-Marketing Is Marketing
Critical system changes that require users to take action in order to keep using the product Product updates and improvement announcements
Shipping info, invoices Webinar invites and reminders
Terms of service changes Permission Passes
Order confirmations Holiday card emails
System status notices Blog content updates
Legally required notifications Surveys
Internal company emails Event reminders


Sending operational emails is an optional account feature that is not turned on by default. To turn this feature on, your account administrator must contact the Pardot Support Team . Once enabled, Pardot admins can send operational emails.

To create an operational email:

  1. Navigate to Marketing > Emails > Send New List Email.
  2. In Basic Email Information, mark Operational Email as the Content Type: Operational Emails
  3. In the popup window, click OK to acknowledge that you are using operational email appropriately.
  4. Finish building your email normally. See Creating Emails with Email Flow for more help.

Any prospect on the recipient list for this email will still be sent the email, even if they are marked as "opted out" on their prospect record.

Note: Unsubscribe and email preference page variable tags are not required for operational emails.


Will this feature still send emails to prospects who have hard bounced before? No, this feature will only send your non-marketing list email to prospects who previously elected to opt out of your marketing emails via the %%unsubscribe%% tag or email preference pages, were imported and opted out, or who clicked "spam" in their email client.

Is this feature available for non-list emails, like drip emails? No, this feature is only available for list emails. Emails driven by drip programs and automation rules will continue to obey a prospect's opt out status.

What about my autoresponders? Will prospects still receive those? Yes! Any email sent as a form or form handler autoresponder already bypasses a prospect's opt out status (regardless of whether "operational emails" is a feature enabled in your account), since filling out a form is a clear indication that someone wants to be in contact with you! Please note that autoresponder emails will contain an unsubscribe link — they use email templates and email templates must include the unsubscribe link.

How can I tell if someone is opted out? Every prospect record has two fields: Opted Out and Do Not Email. Anyone with Opted Out checked constitutes someone who is opted out of marketing emails (and is someone who would still receive a non-marketing list email, as described here). This article contains a helpful guide to understanding the difference between these two fields.

How does Opted Out and DNE affect Operational Emails? If a prospect opts out, they will still receive operational emails. If a prospect is marked as Do Not Email, they may still receive operational emails, depending on whether they've opted out or not. The table below outlines whether a prospect will achieve operational emails in several different scenarios.

If Opted out is If DNE is Then Email...
True False Will Send
True True Will Send
False False Will Send
False True Won't Send

Need more? Start a conversation with other Pardot users in our Success Community