Salesforce Marketing Cloud is a hot topic right now, especially as Salesforce reported 36% year-on-year revenue growth in this particular product. Combine this with the value companies have for digital marketing, the rise in demand for Marketing Cloud talent is easily explained. Marketing Cloud is a complex tool that needs knowledge for best practice administration & usage which makes the hiring process for Marketing Cloud professionals a critical job – the right questions need to be asked to identify the right candidates.
As a certified Marketing Cloud Consultant, I have been working on Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC) for more than 2 years now, designing digital marketing solutions and running personalized journeys for clients from various domains and diverse customer bases. In this post, I will share 30 questions you can expect in your next interview for a Marketing Cloud related role. The first topics relate to day-to-day campaign building, then go into more in-depth technical questions, in the following order:
- Email Studio
- Email A/B Testing
- Journey Builder
- Data Manipulation
- Data Structure
- Data Integration
- Career/Personal Development
Email Studio Questions
1) What are the different Content Blocks you have at your disposal?
Different types of content blocks can be created in the Marketing Cloud’s Content Builder, which a prospective employee would be interested in you using, for variety in your email template design. They are:
- Free form
- Dynamic content blocks.
2) How does Dynamic Email work?
You can define a dynamic content block in an email to display (render) information based on the subscriber’s attributes, data extension values, or audiences. For example, instead of building 2 emails for a Male and Female customer, you can build a dynamic content block that can render the content based on Gender.
3) What is the difference between the Sender Profile & Delivery Profile?
A sender profile specifies the from information for a send ie., ‘From Name’ and ‘From Email Address’, in a central location which can be used across multiple sends without the user needing to select it each time.
In a delivery profile, you specify the IP address and choose the header and footer to be used for a send. A delivery profile, similar to the sender profile, can be reused across multiple sends.
4) What are the different Email sending options in SFMC?
There are a few different ways to send emails via SFMC, which you should be aware of to maximise the usage of the tool in an organisation (and more likely for the organisation to get value out of their investment they put into the tool):
- Single Email Send: Single send is a straightforward way of sending an email. You open the email, click on send, choose the audience and other email send configuration, and send straight away.
- User-Initiated Send: In a User-initiated send, you create a definition of an email send, and send it right away or schedule to send in the future. In a user-initiated send, you select the email, audience, and time of the send.
- Triggered Email Send: A triggered email is a message that Marketing Cloud sends to an individual subscriber in response to a subscriber action. Use triggered emails to provide automated, personalized responses to your customers’ activities on your website. Emails are trackable, targeted, and sent in real-time.
Email A/B Testing Questions
5) What components of an email can be tested in A/B Test?
A/B Testing is one of the most common send strategies implemented by Marketers to know which version of their emails is better for their subscribers. SFMC offers this as a standard feature and is important for candidates to be aware of the various features involved with in A/B Testing. To answer the question, A/B Testing for an email can be done for Email Subject Line, Email Preheader, From Name, Emails, Content Area, and Send Time.
6) How is the winning email selected in A/B Testing?
In the A/B Testing configuration, you get to set the criteria to decide the winning email. You can choose the winner by 2 options:
- Highest unique open rate: the version with the highest unique open rate.
- Highest unique click-through rate (CTR): the version with the highest unique click-through rate.
7) Can a particular customer be placed in a specific distribution in an A/B Test?
You can choose the test distribution of audience for an A/B Test by “number of subscribers” or “percentage of subscribers”. A/B testing works by random split once you define the test distribution. Which customer enters which grouping is not in our control.
Journey Builder Questions
8) What are the different data sources for Journey Builder?
Journey Builder in SFMC helps in designing customer-centric cross-channel automated marketing campaigns. SFMC campaigns is all about Journey Builder and how it can be utilized fully to build these targeted campaigns. The starting point of a Journey Builder is the source as in the source of ‘segmented customers’.
The entry source for a Journey can be any one of the following:
- Data Extension: contacts in a sendable data extension enter a journey
- Lists (or Audience): like a MobileConnect list
- Salesforce Data: your Salesforce contact database
- API: by configuring an integration to admit contacts into a journey
- Events: Landing Pages submission or a date based event, eg. any one who fills out the contact form or a survey form (landing page) on your website can be chosen to enter this journey.
9) What Message actions can be performed in Journey Builder?
Messaging activities in a Journey include Email, SMS, LINE message, mobile push notification, inbox messages, in-app message, or any other form of content sent to contacts. Content must be created before designing a journey for some messaging activities.
10) What is the difference between Engagement Split & Decision Split?
Split activities divide contacts into separate cohorts that follow different paths.
By placing a Decision Split in a journey, Journey Builder evaluates the data of that contact and makes them flow in the path they are eligible for. The decision split is purely done by checking the data of the customer.
Based on whether a customer opens an email, clicks a link in the email, or the email bounces, the Engagement Split activity sends customers down that path as defined in the split.
11) Can customers re-enter a Journey?
In Journey settings, you can choose from these 3 options for when contact can enter a journey:
- No re-entry
- Re-entry anytime
- Re-entry after exiting
To answer the question, can customers re-enter a Journey, yes provided the settings are configured correctly.
12) Explain different Wait controls available in Journey Builder?
A Wait Activity is a period of time that contacts are held between other activities. There are three types of wait activity:
- Wait by Duration: waits for specified hours, days etc
- Wait Until Date: waits until the specified end day and time
- Wait by Attribute: waits until the day and time stored in a date field is reached
Data Manipulation Questions
13) What are the different ways to filter data from Data Extensions?
You can create Data Filters in SFMC to filter data from a data extension (this is more of a point-and-click approach). SQL can also be used to filter data from data extensions.
Further reading: Salesforce Marketing Cloud Segmentation Cheat Sheet
14) How can you merge two Data Extensions?
Using SQL Joins, 2 data extensions can be merged easily. SQL Activities can be created in Automation Studio in SFMC.
15) What activities can be performed in the Automation studio?
There are a number of activities that can be performed in an Automation Studio like:
- Send Email Activity: choose and configure an email message to be sent
- SQL Query Activity: retrieve or store data extension or data view information.
- Data Extract Activity: create zipped files for your use outside the SFMC and also to convert an XML file into other formats to import into SFMC.
- Wait Activity: to wait for a specific duration or until a specific time before performing the next step
For more activities, refer to the Activities in Automation Studio documentation.
Data Structures Questions
16) What are the different data models available in SFMC and what is the difference between them?
There are basically 2 types of data models or data structures in SFMC: Lists and Data Extensions.
A list is a collection of subscribers that receive your communications whereas a Data extension is a table within the database that contains your data. You could use a data extension to store subscriber data like lists or just any other relational data.
Lists contain less than 500,000 subscribers, less import speed and a limited number of subscriber attributes. Data extensions, on the other hand, can hold greater than 500,000 subscribers, great import speed, and can be used for SOAP and REST APIs.
For more differences, refer to Lists vs Data Extensions
17) What are publication lists, and when would you use them?
Publication lists are used to manage opt-ins for your email account in Email Studio and also to control how subscribers receive the sends. A Publication list needs to be selected when sending email messages and SMS messages to a sendable data extension.
Example: Create a separate publication list for each category like newsletters, advertisements, and alerts. Each list has its own subscription status of the customers for that category.
18) What is the difference between the All Subscribers List and a Publication List?
The All Subscribers list is the master list of records in SFMC. Every email subscriber appears in the All Subscribers list. Subscribers added to a Publication list join the All Subscribers list at the same time.
A Publication List (as explained earlier) is like a subset of subscribers from the All Subscribers List. All Subscribers List holds the master opt-in status of a subscriber. If a subscriber is unsubscribed in the All Subscribers list, the subscriber is unsubscribed from all Publication Lists.
Data Integration Questions
19) What Data Integration options are available in Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC)?
To import or export data from SFMC, you have 4 options: FTP, API, CloudPages, and Manual Import.
- FTP: Every SFMC org comes with an SFTP account. Marketing Cloud creates Import, Export and Reports folders in your SFTP folder. Use these SFTP folders to import data into lists and data extensions or to put an updated subscriber list in the folder in the FTP server.
- API: SFMC supports both REST and SOAP APIs to import or export data from SFMC. The REST API exposes more extensive access to Marketing Cloud capabilities, while the SOAP API provides comprehensive access to most email functionality.
- Cloud Pages: A Cloud Page landing page is a web page that you can view from a browser or link to other websites and emails. You can build these pages in SFMC to display data from your data extensions or lists. You can also use AMPscript to write data into lists or data extensions from the cloud page.
- Manual Import: There’s always a manual import option to directly import CSV files into SFMC lists or data extensions.
20) How can Sales Cloud or Service Cloud connect to Marketing Cloud?
Salesforce provides a connector called ‘Marketing Cloud Connect’ to sync data from Sales or Service cloud into Marketing Cloud. The data flows from Sales or Service cloud into the Marketing Cloud into Data Extensions called Synchronized DEs.
21) How is data shared between 2 Business Units (BU) within SFMC?
To share a data extension from a parent BU to a child BU, place the data extension (DE) in the Shared folder in the parent BU. Now, switch to the child BU to view the shared data extension in the ‘Shared’ folder. You can use the data in this DE in the child BU.
22) What other communication channels can be used/supported in SFMC to target your customers?
Apart from Email, SFMC has Mobile Studio which has 3 core features:
- MobileConnect: to Create, send, receive, and track SMS and MMS text messages,
- GroupConnect: to send messages via messaging apps LINE and Facebook Messenger,
- MobilePush: to create and send notifications to a mobile app.
23) Can links in an Email be changed after the email is sent out to the customers?
Yes! Use the Update Job Links feature to edit links in an email after an email send completes. Open the send from tracking and update the URL. Note that the original email does not change.
24) When a customer is unsubscribed from the Parent BU, will the customer be unsubscribed from the Child BU too?
When the business unit is set as ‘Unsubscribe from this Business Unit Only’, the Active/Unsubscribed status in ‘All Subscribers’ is maintained separately across BUs and so the customer will not be unsubscribed from the child BU with this setting enabled. You can always change the setting to have customers unsubscribe from all BUs when unsubscribed from the parent BU.
25) How can you change the branding of the standard Preference Centre page?
BrandBuilder allows you to customize the color scheme used in your Marketing Cloud account. This must be enabled by raising a support ticket. The color scheme applies to the following components in SFMC:
- Logo and header background color on every screen
- Primary navigation buttons
- The look of the login screen
- Survey landing page
- Forward to a Friend landing page
- Profile Center and Subscription Center
26) What are some of the standard SFMC Email reports?
Here are some of the standard Email reports:
- Account Send Summary: displays all response counts for an account organized by send.
- Email Performance by Domain: displays email sends results for each domain sent to for a single send.
- Email Send: displays how many emails have been sent from the account.
- Subscriber Engagement: displays which subscribers are most or least engaged with emails
For a comprehensive list, refer to Email Studio Reports
27) What other Salesforce products or other technologies do you have experience working with?
It is of utmost importance to be honest while answering personal or your experience related questions like these, as it sets the right expectations for the employer hiring you.
While answering this question do not miss out to highlight any of the technologies or tools you have worked in the past, as even having a decent experience on basic HTML/CSS is very advantageous for a Marketing Cloud role (as it is required in building emails in SFMC).
28) How would you prepare for the Marketing Cloud Consultant certification or other Salesforce certification*?
(*if you’re not already certified!)
This question is generally asked to understand and analyze the learning/working style of the candidate. There’s no wrong answer or single right answer for this – everyone has their own way of doing things that they have developed over the years.
In addition, you also need to highlight where and how would you find the learning resources for Marketing Cloud certification like Trailhead, online courses, blogs, taking help from already certified people etc. It’s also a good time to sneak in your question about how the company would help you in getting trained!
29) What prior experience do you have with Digital Marketing?
Companies do understand that it is not very common to have Marketing Cloud experience and hence they would like to know your experience or understanding of digital marketing in general. Even if you are not from a digital marketing background it is important to highlight at least your understanding of digital marketing as an end-user.
30) What are you looking for in terms of career development?
As a candidate you should be glad that if this question is asked as it shows the company is keen to listen to your career growth plans.
Whether you are new to Marketing Cloud or not, you should highlight if you prefer to be in a consultant role or you are keen on becoming a Technical Architect and ask a follow-up question if the company is willing and flexible to assign projects that align with your career goals and preferences.
Marketing Cloud tool is complex, and requires good understanding of the different studios and builders in it to enable your potential employer to excel. The interview questions above will be more than helpful in preparing you for your next Marketing Cloud interview and (fingers crossed) your new role.
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