Demonstrate your knowledge on email marketing best practices using the Marketing Cloud Email application (Email Studio).
An essential certification before progressing further on the Marketing Cloud certification pathway.
Here’s what you need to know ahead of the exam:
- Mid-level certification
- 6-12 months of experience required
- No prerequisites in terms of other qualifications
- $200 fee
The exam will test your knowledge on:
- Subscriber Lists and Data Extensions
- Data import data into Marketing Cloud
- Segmentation tools (apply to subscribers and data)
- Marketing unsubscribe/subscription management solutions
- Marketing automation solutions – recommending the best SFMC option
- Email Campaigns: email messaging, deploying campaigns, managing content, sending options, A/B testing, responsive design
- Email reporting metrics, running ad hoc and automated reports in Marketing Cloud
- Legal compliance, deliverability (high-level understanding)
- Subscriber acquisition methodologies
Just like many other Marketing Automation fanatics, I got the idea to take the Marketing Cloud Email Specialist exam the same year I first encountered the world of Salesforce Marketing Automation.
This certification is definitely one to take seriously if you are planning on going further along the Marketing Cloud path towards ‘Consultant’ or ‘Developer’. Even though this certification is no longer a prerequisite to the two advanced certifications, the Email Specialist is still a solid starting point, as Kerry points out: “I recommend starting with the Email Specialist exam, which focuses on the capability of only one Marketing Cloud Studio” (vs. the Marketing Cloud Administrator exam)
The two Marketing Automation platforms Salesforce offer (Marketing Cloud & Pardot) are of two different breeds – which causes confusion! After taking this exam, you will be able to give in-depth answers about their differences and what organisations should use which to anyone who asks for your opinion.
Even if you are not working directly with Marketing Cloud (eg. you’re a Pardot Consultant), it can be beneficial to understand Marketing Cloud’s core elements — email, data management, and segmentation. Personally, this has been the biggest plus for taking this certification, which has paid itself in dividends over the years.
Who’s the Ideal Candidate?
You should take this exam if you can comfortably:
- Navigate the Marketing Cloud email application,
- Know the steps for creating, testing and sending an email campaign,
- Know about Content Builder,
- Understand the differences between Lists and Data Extensions, and some best practice on how to manage those.
- Have a baseline understanding of email metrics and general marketing automation concepts.
From my memory, there were some topics that you could learn just by reading online material, however, other topics required you to be hands-on with the tool.
Another observation was that quite a few of the questions in this exam dragged in elements from more than one topic into a single question – for example Automation Studio functionality in relation to different subscriber list scenarios.
Subscriber Lists vs. Data Extensions
This is the largest chunk of the exam, and perhaps the hardest to wrap your head around! (I remember finding this the toughest topic!)
Know what a subscriber key, primary key, send relationship is and how they relate to each other, and how they relate with regard to the All Subscribers list. Know this like the words to your favourite song.
In order to launch an email campaign end-to-end in Marketing Cloud, you’ll learn that Email Studio relies on other features to get from creating the template, right through to pressing ‘send’. I’m a visual person, so I made a rough mapping of the whole process, like this:
Deliverability & Other Email Marketing Common Knowledge
If you’re not new to email marketing, then you are definitely at an advantage, as a large bulk of the exam is made up of topics that are second nature to you. I found this helped me free up my time and attention for the trickier topics (Data Extensions!)
Although you may be tempted to skim over these questions in the exam — think twice! Tread carefully on the multi-select questions on this topic, which caught me out in the practice rounds!
The exam is multiple choice, but I noticed there’s a greater proportion of multi-select questions on this exam vs. others. Multi-select means you have to select 2 or 3 answers out of 5 or 6 options. There’s more scope for error!
As I mentioned before, be aware that a few of the questions dragged in elements from more than one topic into a single question — for example Automation Studio functionality in relation to different subscriber list scenarios.
I personally use Cram.com (a virtual study cards web-app) to grasp terminology for every exam. An example of one of my Cram cards is:
When exam day finally hits, there are a few things you can do to give yourself the best chance of passing with flying colours.
Firstly, if there are any concepts that you are struggling to get to grips with, then print off a cheat sheet and memorize just before the exam, so they are fresh in your memory.
When taking the exam, pay particular attention to the question, and read it through a few times.
When deciding on the answer, be sure to use the process of elimination to get rid of the answers that are definitely incorrect. Salesforce likes to throw in answers that are made up! They also like to throw in curveballs, of features that appear to be correct but aren’t best practice. You can often worm these out.
You also have a the “Mark for review” feature at your disposal. On each question, it’s a checkbox that you can mark if you cannot think of an answer right at that moment, or if you doubt your answer. At the end of the exam, you will have a chance to review these questions. Depending on the amount you have selected, this will give you a good idea of how likely you are to have passed the test! Regardless of the questions marked for review, I would always recommend to go through every question again.
- Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Certification Study Notes (Ben Edwards): Although these notes are dated, the information is laid out in a simple way — take what is relevant.
- Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Email Specialist: Trailhead Exam Guide
- Prepare for your Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Credential: Trailmix
- Email Marketing Common Sense: some topics will be second nature to anyone with a background in email marketing. Free up your time and energy for the tougher topics instead.
- Multi-select minefield: be prepared to really have your knowledge tested by questions that require two or three answers out of a possible five or six!
This certification finds its way on to many Trailblazers’ wish lists, being a foundation for those who want to progress on to consultant or developer specialisations.
Be logical with how you approach the study guide, and be selective about where you focus your attention; that way, you will get good coverage and know how to think on your feet.