Pardot Knowledge Base

Automation Rule Troubleshooting and FAQ

Last Updated: Jun 29, 2017 | Print this Article

If I make changes to my automation rule, will these new criteria and actions apply to already matched prospects?

It depends. Once a prospect matches an automation rule, all of the actions that are defined at that time in the rule are applied to that prospect and it is flagged as matching. If the rule isn't set to repeat, and you add new actions later, they will not be applied to prospects who have already matched. If you add new criteria to the rule, the rule will not "unapply" actions to prospects who no longer match.

If your rule is set to repeat, criteria and action changes will be applied to prospects who match the new criteria, regardless of whether they matched previously.

Will an automation rule ever match a prospect more than once?

An automation rule can match a prospect more than once if you enable Repeat Rule. Otherwise, an automation rule will only affect a prospect one time. Rules don't "un-match" prospects when they no longer meet a rule's criteria.

Are automation rules retroactive?

Sort of. When automation rules are created, or an existing rule's criteria is edited, and the rule is unpaused, the rule will search through all prospects in your account to find matches. In this way, rules are retroactive -- a prospect could have begun meeting the criteria last week, but if the automation rule is created today the rule will still find them and match them. If you edit criteria, it will not retroactively unmatch prospects.

How many automation rules can I have in my account?

Standard Edition accounts can have up to 50 automation rules at any given time. Pro Edition accounts can have up to 100 automation rules and Ultimate Edition accounts can have up to 150 automation rules. Automation rules that have been deleted and are in the recycling bin don't count towards this number. Additional automation rules can be added to your account in 50 rule batches for $200.

I just unpaused my automation rule. How long before it starts matching prospects?

Automation rules are constantly running in the background, searching for prospects by their updated timestamp and comparing them to the rule's criteria to see if they're a match. When you first unpause your rule, Pardot starts two simultaneous processes: first, it must search through all prospects -- regardless of the last time they were updated -- to see if they are a match for the rule. This usually takes up to an hour (depending how many prospects are in your account) to do this first "run" of a rule. Second, we're on the lookout for prospects that are updated and now match the rule.

It's not uncommon for you to see a few prospects match your rule, then a few more, then get a rush of matches after about an hour or so. This is because the "first run" process has completed, while the search for updated prospects is ongoing. Please keep in mind that the complexity of your rule and the size of your database can affect how long the "first run" takes -- it will take longer to run a complex rule on 500,000 prospects than it will to run a simple rule on 5,000 prospects.

I need to delete an automation rule — is that ok?

Deleting an automation rule will stop it from running, but the actions it has already applied to prospects will not be undone. An automation rule will resume if the rule is ever undeleted from the Recycle Bin and unpaused.

How do I use an automation rule to add prospects to an Unsubscribed list?

To create a list of unsubscribed prospects you will want to use the following setup:
  • Rules: Prospect default field | Do Not Email | is Do Not Email
  • Action: Add prospect to list | Unsubscribe List

It is not necessary to add both Do Not Email field and Unsubscribe field to your criteria, because if a prospect unsubscribes or is imported as an opt-out, the Do Not Email field is marked.

Note that, strictly speaking, an Unsubscribed List is not necessary, as Pardot will only send mail to prospects that are not opted out. In addition, on the prospect table under Prospects > Prospect List there is a View filter to show unsubscribed prospects. From there, you can make lists, add tags, using table actions, or export prospects using the Tools option at the upper-right corner of the table.

How do I use an automation rule to opt out prospects?

To mark prospects as unmailable using an automation rule, you will want to set the following actions on your prospects:

  • Change prospect field value: 'Do Not Email' to 'Do Not Email.

See this article for more information on the difference between "Prospect Opted Out" and "Do Not Email".

How do the rule/rule group criteria work with negative operators like 'doesn't contain' or 'isn't'?

Using the "doesn't contain" or "isn't" operator with OR logic ("Match Any") is the same as saying not (A and B) while using the "doesn't contain" or "isn't" operator with AND logic ("Match All") is the same as saying not (A or B). In other words, "Match Any" criteria with a negative operator will exclude all prospects who meet both pieces of criteria in conjunction. "Match all" will exclude all prospect who match either piece of criteria.

Example: Prospect default field — First Name — does not contain — A OR Prospect default field — First Name — does not contain — B

"Match Any" criteria matches all prospects whose First Names don't contain both A and B. So Abby and Brian would not match, but Bill and Alice would. Presuming you want this rule to return no prospects with A or B in their names, use "Match All" instead.

Example: Prospect default field — First Name — does not contain — A AND Prospect default field — First Name — does not contain — B

The "Match All" criteria above would exclude Abby, Brian, Alice and Bill.

You can find more examples and help with the negative operators in this article.

How does the 'isn't' operator work with Account and Opportunity fields?

The "isn't" operator will match prospects that have a blank value for the selected field. It will also match prospects with a value other than the value listed on the rule.

Example: Prospect opportunity default field — stage — isn't closed/won.

This will match prospects that have a blank value for stage on an associated opportunity. This will also match prospects that have a value other than closed/won on an associated opportunity.

Note: When using the account or opportunity criteria, the rule will ONLY match prospects that have an associated opportunity or account. Prospects without an opportunity or account would not be considered a match.

I have a massive rule. Is there any way to condense this down to one line?

You know how annoying it is to have a massive rule with a lot of "ands" or a lot of "ors" for the same condition (e.g. state is Georgia, Florida, or North Carolina)? You can simply separate those values with a semicolon and add many rule conditions all on one line.

Can I preview/test matches for automation rules?

When you first create your automation rule, it will save in paused mode. Using the automation preview ensures that automation rules will only take action on the prospects that you intend for it to effect. If you adjust criteria on existing automation rules, please note that automation previews will identify only prospects who have not already had the rule's actions applied to them.

When should I use a real-time automation rule?

Automation rules check every prospect in your account every time their record updates to see if they could match. Real-time automation rules, on the other hand, check for prospect matches in the time between when a form submits and when the form's actions execute. Because of this, intensive real-time rules could cause slower load times for forms and landing pages--use them with caution!Keep in mind that real-time rules are only available in older accounts.

When should I use an automation rule versus a segmentation rule?

Although similar to segmentation rules, completion actions and prospect table actions, automation rules have unique functionality and are best used in certain scenarios. If you are unsure which action to use, review our Prospect Actions comparison table.

Will an automation rule change a prospect's owner?

Automation rules will not reassign prospects who already have an owner, even if they meet the criteria for the rule. Assigning actions will assign "Reviewed" prospects.

Why isn't my automation rule working when someone completes a form or landing page?

There are a few reasons that this could happen. This article walks you through detailed troubleshooting steps to get to the root of the issue.

What happens if I have multiple prospects with the same email address, and my automation rule has a "Send Prospect Email" action?

If the rule's actions include Send prospect email, all prospects with the same email will match the rule, but all of the rule's actions will be applied only to the first prospect the rule finds — not necessarily the record with the most recent activity. If the rule is set to repeat, the first prospect that the rule finds will have all actions applied once the prospect is eligible to match again.

The prospect records that didn't have the actions applied will show Not Applied: Duplicate Email instead of a timestamp in the Applied At column in prospect audits and the automation rule's prospect table.

Need more? Start a conversation with other Pardot users in the Trailblazer Community