Certifications / Marketers / Marketing Cloud

Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Certification Guide & Tips

By Lucy Mazalon

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

Exam Topics

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
  • Approvals

My Story

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.

Where Marketing Cloud Email Specialist falls on the certification pathway for Marketing

Key Topics

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. 

Email Studio

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!

Question Format

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: 

Exam Strategy

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. 



  • 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!

Final Thoughts

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. 

The Author

Lucy Mazalon

Lucy is the Operations Director at Salesforce Ben. She is a 10x certified Marketing Champion and founder of The DRIP.


    Mona Caro
    October 25, 2016 4:05 pm
    Link to follow you on Twitter is not working, Lucy. :)
    October 26, 2016 5:14 am
    Few and far between is the expression. Thanks for the post
    Francis Pindar
    October 26, 2016 7:33 am
    I would give a warning on Quizlet. I've found the questions on there are only as good as when they were created and some haven't been updated for YEARS. I've found quite a few questions with wrong answers because the platform has just evolved since they were written. Also some answers that have never been correct. So when I use quizlet and if I don't know the answer looking at the question I look the answer up myself.
    January 17, 2017 4:11 am
    Thanks much for pointing to Ben Edwards’ study guide here - (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1f0bcZLJW9vPh5u8U7KnlOK2iCnvj5ClqquXxxvzdzpY/). This helped way more than the online training and partner site trainings, that are available. Very much recommended!
    January 17, 2017 4:00 pm
    Good Stuff
    masooma c
    January 23, 2017 1:06 pm
    Thanks Lucy for the informative blog. Thanks for sharing Ben Edward's guide... it is a treasure! Any chance you would like to share your Cram flashcards?
    February 10, 2017 5:13 pm
    I cleared Email Specialist last week. The notes were a great help to study for the exam. Thanks Ben!
    Kush Patel
    February 19, 2017 3:59 pm
    Great job, Maneesh! I am taking the exam tomorrow!
    June 23, 2017 2:16 pm
    So, did you pass?
    Giovanni Mora
    December 06, 2017 7:30 pm
    Sharing my experience with the Exam (on site) : - Several questions have similar answers, Proof Read each one - In some cases choose 3 of 5 options to pass 1 question - Real case scenarios used on some questions, required some experience using SFMC - Use your provided blank paper to understand and layout the questions in case the redaction is too deep or hard to understand - They check everything, glasses, pocket contents, and watch or cellphones are being stored in a locker before entering. Good Luck
    May 18, 2018 7:03 am
    I attempted the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Exam on 14th May 2018. Sadly I was not able to clear by some 2-3 marks. There were some random 5 unscored questions also which may be the correct ones got picked up. The questions were very tricky. Please can you clear some of my doubts. 1. A new employee is using Salesforce Marketing cloud and wants to send emails without any mistakes. he has no prior knowledge of SQL. Which tool he would use: 1. Scheduled Send Emails 2. Predictive Email 3. Journey Builder 4. Automation Studio
    August 15, 2018 6:33 pm
    Hello, I would like to know what do you use for testing purposes when you do not have any marketing cloud org/license? I am a Pardot specialist and I am very keen on obtaining Email Specialist as well, but I am not sure if this is possible only by studying without any hands-on practice. Also, could you please share once again Ben Edwards` notes. It seems the shared file is broken. Thanks
    Akanksha Patel
    November 05, 2018 8:47 pm
    Answer should be automation studio because it does not involve writing SQL script.
    July 31, 2019 11:43 pm
    A lot of the study guides for this certification include outdated functionality. Does anyone know if the exam has been updated to reflect Classic and Playbooks going away?
    November 25, 2019 8:01 pm
    Hi I want prepare my self for Marketing Cloud Email Specialist certificate Can you tell me any useful material or link Thanks a lot
    January 22, 2020 9:00 am
    Took a courses for 700EU with live salesforce certified instructor, passed exam, amazing, company is working with the same certified instructor like Authorized Providers, follow the link https://neuneto.com/salesforce_marketing_cloud_eeb101
    Lucy Mazalon
    January 23, 2020 1:46 pm
    Hi Akanksha, you can check out the two mock exams on our members area.
    Logesh Siva
    February 18, 2020 4:49 pm
    Hi, The study guide like in messed up, I can find only symbols. Someone please help on this please https://docs.google.com/document/d/1f0bcZLJW9vPh5u8U7KnlOK2iCnvj5ClqquXxxvzdzpY/edit
    February 25, 2020 7:53 am
    Hi Lucy Can you please provide the exact links for the mock tests as I am not able to find them in here. Thanks
    Lucy Mazalon
    February 28, 2020 1:15 pm
    Hi Tata, the mock questions are available to SalesforceBen members.
    Lucy Mazalon
    March 10, 2020 12:20 pm
    Hi Logesh, I got in touch with the author Ben Edwards, and looks like he has fixed it! Enjoy this amazing resource Ben provided to the community :)
    May 23, 2020 9:48 pm
    The link provided with Ben's notes is from Winter 2016. Does anyone know if the content is up-to-date? https://docs.google.com/document/d/1f0bcZLJW9vPh5u8U7KnlOK2iCnvj5ClqquXxxvzdzpY/edit#heading=h.gjdgxs Thank you!
    Lucy Mazalon
    May 27, 2020 11:30 am
    Hi, the linked document is a resource put together for the community by Ben Edwards, and I believe that the content of the exam has not changed a lot since then. I can ask around to double-check and will let you know.
    Ric Faust
    November 08, 2020 12:57 am
    Been using SFMC for 6 years and have coded emails for 13 and I failed this test. Salesforce is creating tests that require people to memorize answers, not prove that they know the application. You don't have any access to Marketing Cloud when taking the test so you have to rely on memory. At this stage, everything I do is muscle memory and I failed the test. I have no interest in taking it again as I don't think it really proves your knowledge of the platform.
    July 12, 2021 5:15 pm
    Great information, thank you for your time.
    November 30, 2021 5:00 pm
    I feel the same way. i've been doing this for a long time and I failed the test as well. Any advice for someone that just wants this certification for their resume on what to stud?
    Muhammad Ali Rizwan
    June 01, 2022 3:08 pm
    Just keep going to be honest! you'll smash it one day ;)
    July 26, 2022 11:49 pm
    Can I pass the exam just by looking at the dump file?
    Christine Marshall
    July 27, 2022 11:14 am
    Exam dumps are cheating and a violation of your agreement with Salesforce. Whenever you take an exam, you accept T&C's with Salesforce that prohibit the use of exam dumps. If you are discovered to have used them, there are penalties, including having your certification removed. https://www.salesforceben.com/salesforce-certification-exam-dumps-are-they-worth-it/
    December 20, 2022 5:12 pm
    How do I become a member to access the practice exams? I've signed up for the newsletter and created an account on the job board but couldn't find where to create a membership that allows me to sign into this site and access the practice exams for the email marketing specialist certification. Thank you in advance.
    December 20, 2022 6:00 pm
    How do I become a member?
    June 27, 2023 1:52 pm
    Is this still relevant today, and how can we become members?

Leave a Reply