I recently took the Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Certification exam and passed! In this post I will share my experiences. I’ll cover the exam format, resources used and a few helpful tips. Hopefully, this will help your learning journey. Ok, let’s get started!
About the Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Exam
The exam covers the skills needed for effective Marketing Cloud email campaigns. Whilst there are technical ‘how-to’ questions, it goes beyond this. You need to apply best practices to scenarios. If you have prior experience, you’ll have a head start. If not, do not worry. There are resources to help.
You do not need to learn all of Marketing Cloud. However, you will appreciate its breadth. During my study, I found the following noteworthy:
- Data Structure. Lists & Data Extensions. How data is structured impacts other areas of Marketing Cloud.
- How to capture and manage data. Manual or automated imports, interactive email forms, etc.
- Email Deliverability. Email design best practices and tools such as Content Detective. Pay attention to legal obligations, such as CAN-SPAM and GDPR.
- Content Builder and Email Studio. Create personalised and dynamic emails. Manage approvals within your team and share across Business Units.
- Automation. How and when to use Automation Studio and Journey Builder.
- Preference and Unsubscribe management. How to honour customer requests.
- Analytics. Reports vs Datorama Reports. Key metrics and strategies to manage them, such as bounces, opens, click rates, unsubscribes etc. For example, how would you address a high unsubscribe rate?
- Einstein in Marketing Cloud. Various tools, such as Content Selection, Copy Insights, Engagement Scoring, Send Time Optimization, Engagement Frequency & Messaging Insights, etc
At the time of writing (Spring ’22 Release), the Marketing Cloud Email Specialist exam consists of:
- 60 multi-choice questions. There can also be 5 additional unscored questions
- Duration: 90 minutes
- Pass mark: 67%
- Registration Fee: USD $200, with a retake fee of USD $100
The exam guide recommends a Trailmix: Prepare for Your Salesforce Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Credential. This is a fantastic free resource. There is approx. 30h of content. I found setting aside sometime each day the best strategy. Before I knew it, the Trailmix was complete!
The modules include many images, videos and additional info. However, they do not (currently) give access to Marketing Cloud itself. If you prefer to be ‘hands-on’, you may find this challenging. That said, there are modules (e.g. Quick Start: Create and Send an Email with Marketing Cloud) which have a simulator. If you learn by ‘doing’, you may wish to use other resources alongside Trailhead.
Independent Training Courses
Following on from the last point, I wanted hands-on experience. As such, I signed up for a 4-week instructor led course by Cloud Scouts. There are lessons 4 nights a week (each approx. 1 hour). These cover topics from the Marketing Cloud Email Specialist and Administrator certifications. The content covered is clear; allowing you to get an in-depth understanding of the subject. You are also given practical assignments to be completed in a real Marketing Cloud org. I found this course invaluable.
Information on pricing, availability and course content at the time of reading can be found here.
I am a big fan of Salesforce Certification Days. They are free half-day webinars, provided by Salesforce, to help you prepare for the certification. At the end of the webinar, you receive a code for a discounted exam. A win-win!
The webinar was very helpful, covering all of the main topics clearly. Whilst you should not solely rely on this (unless you have prior knowledge/experience!), it is a great resource. It helped me with my final preparation for the exam. Be sure to check it out!
Official Practice Exam
Finding good quality practice questions can be challenging for Salesforce Certifications. Whilst there are online quizzes / exams available, consider if they are credible and up to date. If not, they can do more harm than good.
For this certification, Salesforce offers an official Practice Exam for USD $20 on Web Assessor. Retakes are available at USD $20. This has the same format and question difficulty as the actual exam. Upon completion, you will receive section-level scores. Whilst you will not get question specific feedback, you can use the section scores to prioritise areas for further study.
Other resources available
The above is not an exhaustive list of resources available. For example, alongside the Certification Day, Salesforce offers an official, 5 day workshop.
Studying for a Certification is a journey. Before you start, understand your motivation. Learning for a certification takes time and if self-funded, a financial commitment too. You need to make sure it is the right one for you.
Understanding your motivation will help you remain focused. Here are some tips to help you navigate the certification.
Before starting, consider:
- What is your preferred learning style?
- What resources do you want to use?
- How much time can you realistically commit to study?
- When do you want to take the exam?
Understand the challenges and goals of Marketing Teams
When studying for this exam, pay attention to:
- Email marketing terminology (and product terminology)
- Marketing Team challenges (e.g. content creation and management, data management, improving customer journeys)
- Recommended best practices
If possible, get hands-on with Marketing Cloud
If you can, I would recommend getting hands-on with Marketing Cloud. This will make you better prepared for working with a ‘live’ system, as well as tackling the more detailed scenario-based questions.
Here are some tips on exam technique:
- Exam weightings. For example, Subscriber and Data Management and Marketing Automation alone account for 52% of the available marks. The pass mark for the exam itself is 67%. Ensure you are comfortable in areas which have high weightings.
- Process of elimination. The exam is multi-choice, usually with 3 or 4 options. Usually, one option can be ruled out easily. This helps you focus on the remaining options.
- Read the question carefully. The questions are arguably not as wordy as other Salesforce Certifications. Nonetheless, they are carefully constructed and will test your understanding. Read them carefully.
Once you’ve passed the exam, be sure to celebrate your achievement! If this blog has helped you in any way, please do feel free to @ mention on LinkedIn and Twitter. It would be great to celebrate with you!
However, if you do not succeed first time, do not worry. It is all part of the learning process. Do not give up; refocus. Keep going and you will succeed .
The Marketing Cloud Email Specialist certification covers the key topics needed to make effective email campaigns. There is a lot to learn, but also resources to help. Consider what works best for you and enjoy the journey!
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