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  • Writer's pictureAna Laura Zain

When to use a form handler? Pardot forms explained

Marketers that are new to Pardot are usually confronted with terms and concepts that are not shared across all marketing automation platforms. A common one that I usually hear from clients that are not familiar with the tool is the concept of a form handler.

Form handlers
Illustration by Ivan Orlandini

Other marketing automation platforms like Eloqua or Marketo don’t use this term and this is where most of us marketeers get a bit lost. In this blog post we are going to cover the very basics of Pardot forms and form handlers, including:

  • What’s the difference between a Pardot form and a form handler

  • When to use a form handler?

  • When is it best to use a Pardot form?

What’s the difference between a Pardot form and a form handler

Before we begin, the Pardot Glossary, it’s a very useful list of the most common terms you encounter while using Pardot.

Pardot offers two ways to have forms on your website or landing pages: Either embedding the Pardot form using an iframe or using a form handler.

Pardot forms

These Pardot built forms are designed and managed completely in Pardot. Forms in Pardot are basically a collector of information that helps you turn an anonymous visitor into a prospect in your database. These forms are like buckets that will capture all these prospects and where you choose which information you want to collect.

How to set up a Pardot form?

Navigate through Marketing > Forms > Forms and click on Add form.

Create a Pardot Form
Pardot Forms

There are five steps needed to complete your form in the form wizard:

  1. Name and basic form information including campaign

  2. Fields and advanced field set up including progressive profiling, hidden, and dependent fields

  3. Look and feel: By default you will get the standard template that you can customise, but If you choose the layout template in Pardot, you can directly add HTML + CSS in the editor.

  4. Completion actions: What happens after a form is submitted? Thank you message and other actions can be set up in this step

  5. Confirm and save

You should use the form iframe code if you want to add this form to your website. Simply add the iframe on your page code.

Form handler

Form handlers connect Pardot to your external forms. This means that if you already have forms on your website, you can create form handlers to capture that information by mapping the fields.

How to set up a form handler?

  1. Create a form handler in Pardot: Marketing > Forms > Form Handlers > Add Form Handler

  2. Map fields in your existing forms to fields in your form handler

  3. Add a piece of code to your website or landing page HTML to create a post-to URL, a path for your webpage to send data to Pardot.

When to use a form handler? When is it best to use a Pardot form?

The best summarised way to visualise the differences between both can be found below. This is actually part of the Salesforce Pardot documentation and I find it very helpful while explaining to clients what are the main differences between the two options.

Differences between Pardot Forms and Form Handlers
Pardot Form Vs Form Handler

One of the main advantages of using Pardot forms is Progressive profiling: this feature allows you to gradually build up a profile of your prospects each time they interact with your forms.

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to which form to use. However, if you work for an organisation that meets some of the criteria below, it might be worth exploring form handlers instead of using Pardot forms.

  1. Forms have a custom logic, they are connected to a database via API, or they are simply quite complex to use a Pardot form.

  2. Extremely strict design requirements.

  3. All the forms are already existing on the website and the company prefers to keep the HTML as it is and just push the information to Pardot.

This is just an introduction to the very basics of forms in Pardot. If you want to learn more about how to create forms in Pardot please connect with us or subscribe to our newsletter.

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