Marketing Cloud Automation Studio: Quick Overview

By Shibu Abraham

Automation Studio is a module of Salesforce Marketing Cloud where you can create marketing automation and data management activities, then add them to a canvas to make multi-step automated workflows. Activities that you can automate include send email, import file, file transfer, data extract, SQL query, filter, and script.

Here is a high-level overview of Automation Studio’s two tabs: ‘overview’ and ‘activities’.

A note about the post & author: This post has been adapted from “Introduction to Automation Studio”, the first video in the SFMC Automation Studio video series. Since there’s no free Marketing Cloud developer org available for community members, this series aims to help those who are new to Automation Studio – especially if you are planning on taking any of the Marketing Cloud certification exams.

Shibu also has a great collection of ‘tidbits’ on his blog, designed to be shorter digestible posts on specific subjects.

Getting Started with Automation Studio

The Marketing Cloud dashboard – you may be already familiar with it? This is what it looks like when you log in. At the top, you will see the various studios and builders that are available based on your Marketing Cloud edition.

Find Automation Studio under the ‘Journey Builder’.

Inside Automation Studio there are two primary tabs – the overview, and the activities.

  • Overview tab: where you will actually see all the automations that you have configured, what’s the progress, which is ones that have been run last and if there’s any errors.
  • Activities tab: define activities here that you can reuse in multiple automation workflows (more on this later).

One more thing. You will (or should) have a folder structure and you can store automations under the various folders.

Create a New Automation

When you want to create a new automation, you click the ‘new automation’ button (top right hand side). Then, you can define the workflow.

As you will see, the left side will show the different building blocks that you have for the automation workflow. You have the starting sources which are schedule and file drop. The first step in building automation is to choose one of the starting sources, either schedule or file drop.

Note: don’t be alarmed – there are future videos in the series where we will go into each in detail, and explain when to use which starting source.

Then, there are a bunch of activities that you can use as you build the workflow, which you can drag and drop to build the different parts of the workflow.

Create Automation Studio Activities

Now, let’s look at the ‘activities’ tab.

We saw those building blocks earlier on the ‘overview’ tab. You’ll find there are common ones, like send email, import file, file transfer, data extract, SQL query, filter, and script.

Note: In the ‘overview’ tab, you would have seen multiple types of activities, but the ones I just mentioned are the major ones you will be using.

You can define activities here. For example, if you want to import a specific file, you can create activities for each of them here, so that you can reuse them in multiple automation workflows.

Create once, and then reference the activity multiple times in your automation.


We are now at the end of my Automation Studio high-level overview.

Watch the rest of the videos in my series, where we will look at the entry sources in detail, as well as a few examples of how you use some of the common activities that you’ve seen so far in a full end-to-end automation workflow.

The Author

Shibu Abraham

Shibu is a Salesforce Certified Application Architect and a Marketing Champion, and currently leads the Malaysia B2C Marketers Trailblazer Community Group.

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