I remember the day that I first saw Pardot in action — not in a demo, not in a video, but connected and working with MY company!

I ran into the sales manager’s office, breathless with excitement (and exertion — I’m not a runner!), and pointed to the Pardot dashboard.

“Look! Look!” I gasped, pointing frantically at his computer monitor. “It’s working! Pardot is working!”

He instant messaged the other sales guys and told all of them to “check it out!” with the same enthusiasm that one might point out a meteor shower.

There … on the Pardot dashboard … down in the right corner …

Oooooooh!! Aaaaaaaah!! Pardot is tracking visitors on our website!

Look, there’s one! And there’s another one!

And then … could it be?? Someone from a REALLY IMPORTANT COMPANY was on OUR website — right now!! High fives all around!

Fast forward several minutes…

The visitors were still coming, and a few more companies’ names popped up. But the mood had quieted a bit. Why? Because as excited as the sales team was to see companies they drooled over visiting our website, what were they supposed to do with that information?

Naturally, they wanted to pick up the phone, send an email, reach them on LinkedIn — whatever they could do to begin reeling in that dream customer to make the big sale. But they couldn’t, because visitors are anonymous.

Let that sink in. Visitors are nameless, faceless shadows that tease us with their presence, knowing that we can look but not touch, not connect, not engage. They’re eye candy, and a shallow way to boost our egos.

So what’s the point of tracking visitors if we can’t see who they are?

Those visitors are the seeds that are being planted, and our job is to help them grow so the sales team can harvest them. How we care for those visitors is what determines the value of visitor tracking.

First, we need to be sure our website is easily found when people are looking for the goods and services we offer, and that it’s easy to navigate, providing relevant and interesting content.

Then, we harness the power of Pardot to inspire those visitors to step out of the shadows, slap a name tag on their shirts, and join in the conversation. In marketing-speak, we get them to “convert” by completing a form and providing, at the very least, their names and email addresses.

From there, we can use Pardot to automate the delivery of meaningful content, track their activities, introduce them to sales, and hold their hands until they sign on the dotted line.

And when it’s time to toast the big sale, the kudos begin with Pardot’s visitor tracking. Knowing those visitors are stopping by — especially when Pardot is showing that they’re visiting multiple pages on your website — is powerful motivation to do whatever it takes to engage them, entice them, inspire them to give us their contact information.

And as an added reward for getting those visitors to convert, Pardot connects all of their anonymous activity with their newly identified credentials so you retain all of that intelligence. How amazing is that?

The challenge is educating those executives who are obsessed with website traffic and visitor reporting that their priorities are misplaced. Watching visitors is nothing more than watching the crop being planted. As long as it’s under the dirt, it’s not helping anyone. Try introducing those report-hungry executives to conversion statistics instead. That’s a much better conversation to have, and the eventual harvest is real payoff.