How to use Pardot as Your Digital Bouncer

"Sorry sir, you're not on the guest list"

Have you ever wanted to create an event RSVP form but wanted to control who can actually fill it out? Here's a method to build a pre-approved guest list and a form as "gatekeeper" to control who can find the full event RSVP form.


We're going to use conditional HML (Handlebar Merge Language) as our gatekeeper for the RSVP page.

This method uses one custom field, two forms and at least one landing page (two, if your gatekeeper form is on your website and not a landing page).


First, create a custom text field in Pardot as your "approval" field. Call this anything you like, like "Event Approved". This field doesn't necessarily need to be connected to Salesforce. The key here is that you are going to control access to the RSVP page based on if this field is populated or blank.


What you want to now is to get that field populated on anyone that's approved for your event. It doesn't matter what's in the field, just that it's not blank. Let's say if they're approved, it's Yes.


Now, you want to populate that field with Yes for anyone who you want to allow to sign up. There's any number of ways to do this, from automation rules to an import against existing records to set the field. I'm going to assume you know how to get that field populated. The key here is that everyone else (including anyone new) is blank.


Now, we create our "gatekeeper" Pardot form. All you need for this is an email address. We don't want to annoy folks who aren't on the guest list by making them fill out a bunch of fields if they aren't on the guest list.


The key to this is using conditional HML in the thank you message of the form. The conditional is looking up the Pardot record of the email address just entered to see if Event Approved has something in it, and then it shows a link to continue to the full registration page. If Event Approved is blank, it will show a "Sorry, no event for you" message.


{{#if Recipient.Event_Approved}} Continue to Registration Registration Page Link {{else}} Sorry, you're not approved to attend. {{/if}}


The beauty of this approach is that the thank you message is dynamic, even an inspection of the code on the form will not show you what the "approved" message is if you're not approved.


The link in your conditional statement can go to a Pardot Landing page with a noindex command for search engines with your full event RSVP form. The email address should carry over from the prior entry, so there's no need to re-enter it.


Now, if you were the type who tried to sneak your friends into the club via a side door may be saying: "wait a minute-- can't someone just copy the RSVP page address and share it?" Yes, that's true. However, since you still have that "Event Approved" field, and the act of filling out the RSVP doesn't populate it. So for the side door sneaks, add an automation rule to look for RSVP form fills where "Event Approved" is blank, and take actions such as and send a notification email to one of your internal users to investigate, or send an autoresponder that says "we see you trying to sneak in, but sorry, you're not on the guest list", and so on.


There you have it, your very own Pardot bouncer!


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*As of April 2022, Pardot has been renamed Marketing Cloud Account Engagement, as part of Salesforce's effort to organize all the marketing products under the same platform umbrella. "MCAE" is simply the same Pardot we know and love under a new name. The product is temporarily being referred to as "Marketing Cloud Account Engagement powered by Pardot."   

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