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How to Create Email Domain Exclusions in Pardot


The domain in an email address can provide useful information about a lead and contribute to marketing enablement. In Marketing Cloud Account Engagement1, marketing operations can leverage this data to target and/or suppress certain groups as part of a comprehensive lead processing workflow.

Leveraging Email Domains in B2B Marketing Automation

Domain-based targeting and suppression isn’t a single platform setting, per se, but rather an approach. A person’s email domain often directly identifies their company, which opens up access to additional data points. The domain might be used to target marketing towards individuals at particular companies. However, within the marketing automation platform (MAP) such as Account Engagement, it may be more common to architect suppression processes based on domain. It can include preventing prospect records with an undesirable email domain from even entering the MAP database, or simply blocking them from being sent email content.

Reduce Costs and Increase Marketing Effectiveness

Many MAPs charge based on database size; in the case of Account Engagement, it’s based on mailable leads. Reduce low-value records taking up space in your database to keep platform subscription costs under control. It’s very likely there are organizations that offer products and services that compete with yours – and that you do not also sell to (which can sometimes be the case for large, multi-division organizations). Email suppression based on domain information can prevent competitors from seeing your marketing content even if they are in the database.

An ABM strategy might leverage domain information to identify people at target accounts for tailored messaging. This can help marketing and sales focus on the engagement activities that will bring the greatest ROI for the organization.

Proactively Address Database Issues

If your instance is quickly approaching the database limit, this can be a good time to implement domain exclusions if you haven’t already. Consider which domains you don’t care about; many B2B businesses find personal/free domain emails to be less useful in the sales process. In this situation, establishing domain-based exclusion processes can help with lead identification and allow the team to collect and use the most valuable leads and leave out what’s likely not worthwhile. When you start noticing competitors in your database, processes should be created/updated to block them, though it would be ideal to set up the logic before they start becoming an issue.

Form and Dynamic List Approaches

In terms of audience targeting with domains in mind, this may be more commonly done by associating the person as a contact on the account in the CRM. Using a data enrichment/account matching vendor can automatically convert leads to contacts on the corresponding accounts. Alternatively, a custom lookup field may be used to create an association with an account. However, as a low-tech interim solution just in Account Engagement, you can use Dynamic Lists. Create a Dynamic List with the match criteria of email contains [the domain(s) associated with the target account, such as].

To limit what email addresses can be submitted on an Account Engagement form, select a validation option on a form’s settings for the email field. “Email with valid mail server” will verify that the email address syntax is correct, the domain is active and the email server is listed in the domain’s DNS records. “Email not from ISPs and free email providers” will expand upon the previous option, also requiring the email address to not be from a known ISP (such as Comcast) or free email provider (such as Gmail). This setting is more relevant for B2B companies that would want to collect an individual’s corporate email address rather than a personal one. However, take into consideration whether your prospects may be at companies that block most external emails and might require employees to use their personal email address to submit inquiries or access content. If a visitor tries to submit a form with a value that doesn’t meet the validation requirements, they will see an error message that you configured on the form. If you wanted more granular control over the domains allowed/blocked, you could potentially use JavaScript in the Look and Feel > Below Form section of form settings, but this requires more advanced development skills.

If an undesirable email domain won’t be stopped by the form validation option you select, you can still suppress them from emails. Create a Dynamic List with the match criteria of email contains [each of the domains you want to restrict, such as, separated by a semicolon]. Keep in mind that there is a 250-character limit per rule, so you may need to use multiple rules with a “Match any” match type. Set this dynamic list as a Suppression List on every email send or engagement studio program.

Alternatively, you can set up an automation rule following this criteria, and use it to set a field such as Do Not Email. This will block any marketing emails without relying on a marketing campaign manager to update the Suppression List every time. However, many organizations find themselves up against the automation rule limit, so the Dynamic List method may be more feasible.

Implementing Domain Exclusions

The marketing operations team can configure the Account Engagement settings and establish work processes to target or suppress certain domains. However, close collaboration with the sales team will be necessary to keep the target and/or exclusion domain list(s) up to date. A cross-department governance team to periodically review existing targeting and suppression criteria could facilitate maintenance.


Domain exclusions in Account Engagement can aid in marketing ops maturity. By developing automated processes based on email domains, teams can keep the database tidier and be more intentional with their email marketing audiences.

1In April 2022, Salesforce renamed Pardot to Marketing Cloud Account Engagement.

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