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Which Salesforce Marketing Cloud Certification Should I Pass First?

By Lucy Mazalon

Each Salesforce Marketing Cloud certification could help you to prove your knowledge. There are four Marketing Cloud certifications, each tailored to specialists with different role responsibilities and years of experience.

Which Salesforce Marketing Cloud certification should you take first? Looking at the Marketing Cloud certification pathway, it may seem obvious, but don’t take it at face value!

What do the Marketing Cloud specialists think? Even with the recent change to the prerequisites (explained shortly), is the Marketing Cloud Administrator really the best starting point on the certification pathway? I wanted to hear from Kerry Townsend, a Marketing Cloud expert, and evangelist, about her recommendations.

Marketing Cloud Certifications – Background

When the Marketing Cloud Administrator certification was announced, many jumped at the chance to add it to their credentials list. As a certification targeting professionals with 3-6 months experience, it joined the Marketing Cloud Email Specialist exam (which has been around for a number of years) in the ‘entry-level’ section of the certification pathway.

Recent news announced a change in the pre-requisites for the Marketing Cloud Consultant certification (one of the two more ‘advanced’ credentials). Previously, a specialist had to have passed the Marketing Cloud Email Specialist certification first before considering the Consultant. Now, the Marketing Cloud Administrator has become the pre-requisite; anyone who is not a certified administrator cannot become a certified consultant.

I want to start by saying how great it is to see the number of Salesforce Marketing Cloud certifications increasing. For many years, the only certifications available for us SFMC specialists were Marketing Cloud Email Specialist and Marketing Cloud Consultant. The challenge was that there is a big leap between using one Studio and advancing on to advise others on how to implement the full platform. – Kerry Townsend

Marketing Cloud Administrator vs. Marketing Cloud Email Specialist

Marketing Cloud AdministratorMarketing Cloud Email Specialist
Studying with breadth, mastering all foundational knowledge of Marketing Cloud’s ‘studios’ and account administration. Studying in-depth, focused on one ‘studio’ (Email Studio).
3-6 months experience
(recommended by Salesforce)
6-12 months experience
(recommended by Salesforce)
Is a prerequisite for the Marketing Cloud Consultant certification. Is a prerequisite for the Marketing Cloud Developer certification.

Why You Should Become a Marketing Cloud Email Specialist First

Kerry recommends that the Email Specialist is the best starting point, providing a solid foundation. By focusing on the capability of only one Marketing Cloud Studio, the exam content is manageable for someone new to the platform.

She friendly challenged the certification pathway infographic, saying that the Marketing Cloud Admin positioned as the starting point may not be the best order in reality.

1. Companies start with email automation

Email marketing is at the core of every marketing automation platform and is the functionality universally used by organisations. When an organisation becomes a Marketing Cloud customer, it’s safe to assume they will use Email Studio! Shortly after, or after some time, they will then move into other channels.

2. Relevant to most marketing roles

The Email Specialist will be relevant for non-technical marketers too, that is, those marketing roles that centre upon building and executing campaigns without being knowledgeable about the details of the integration, security, and data compliance, and how it’s set up and should be monitored in the system.

For people who work in marketing automation, it is just about learning the flow and specifics of the platform. For Admin knowledge from other platforms is less transferable and may hinder when it comes to making assumptions.

Likewise, the principles of email marketing are transferable from most marketing automation platforms to the next. This means that most marketers will have a much lower learning curve in order to grasp Email Studio.

People who are not email professionals, still are far more familiar to have sent a mass email for a family event, fundraising activity or local sports club so it is in their frame of reference. This is more familiar when SMS, Facebook Advertising or using an sFTP site.

3. Marketing Cloud Admin requires broader experience

Her reasoning lies in the breadth of Marketing Cloud Administrator content, most likely requiring more studying than some may expect: “it depends on which studios you use. If you use them all it is easier to get the breadth of experience. If you only use one, you are going to need to do more book learning.”

4. More learning materials

She also pointed out that having been around for a number of years, there are plenty more learning resources available to use in your study, including a Preparation Trailmix that pulls together a mixture of resources.

Reasons to Take the Marketing Cloud Administrator Exam

So, why should you consider the Marketing Cloud Administrator exam? There is value in this certification, no doubt about that, and so we don’t want this post to be misinterpreted!

As we heard earlier, Kerry welcomed the Marketing Cloud Administrator exam because it bridges a large gap between the Email Specialist, in-depth on one ‘studio’ (Email Studio), and the broad consultant exam, which is notoriously demanding.

“[the other certifications] had with no mention of other foundational components of Marketing Cloud (like Mobile Studio). While it was great to have these, they did not give the opportunity to illustrate broad knowledge of the platform….Marketing Cloud Admin is definitely the rightful prerequisite to the Marketing Cloud Consultant”

Read more about taking the Marketing Cloud Administrator exam in Kerry’s study guide.

The Author

Lucy Mazalon

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

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