Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Certification

Last week I got Marketing Cloud Email Specialist certified with approx 94% score.

How do I know its 94%? Thanks to the section level scores provided by Salesforce University.

My Section-Level Scores Below:
Email Marketing Best Practices : 100%
Email Message Design : 77%
Content Creation and Delivery: 90%
Marketing Automation: 100%
Subscriber and Data Management : 96%
Tracking and Reporting: 100%
External Email Integrations: 100%

So I  have to concentrate more on Email Message Design.

Its really an easy exam and I learned a lot of concepts while preparing for the exam.

Exam Format:
Content: 60 multiple-choice/multiple-select questions
Time allotted to complete the exam: 90 minutes
Passing Score: 60% (Minimum 36 Correct answers)

Exam Sections with Weightage:

Subscriber and Data Management : 42%
Content Creation and Delivery: 18%
Email Message Design : 15%
Email Marketing Best Practices : 12%
Tracking and Reporting: 7%
Marketing Automation: 5%
External Email Integrations: 1%

First Step towards your certification is to download the study guide from here and understand about the exam.

If you don’t have any experience with Marketing Cloud, first complete the marketing cloud trail to understand about Marketing Cloud. Also have a look at my blog “What is Salesforce Marketing Cloud“.

If you are a salesforce partner, there are lot of study materials available for you. The perks of being a Salesforce Partner!

If you have access to the salesforce partner community, follow below steps.

  1. Join MC Email Specialist – HowTo chatter group. Go over webinar recorded videos where Vlad had explained many important concepts of Email Studio.
  2. Then Complete Marketing Cloud Partner Product Training learning path.

If you are in a hurry and if you just want to get the certification, the shortcut is to refer study notes prepared by the legend Ben Edwards.

You have to go through each section, read the summary and also refer to the links provided there.

Once you are done with study notes, go over the flashcards to understand the exam question format. I cannot guarantee the answers of these questions, this helped me to understand the question format and also did some more study based on those questions. I do agree that some questions mentioned in the flashcard was there in the exam.

Some Hints about the exam.

  • The key to clear exam is to keep calm and understand the question. Think about it for few seconds and then read the answers.
  • I always try to find the wrong answers first so that we can easily eliminate them and confirm the right ones.
  • The exam is all about Email Studio, so forget about other advanced modules like Journey Builder. I did get a question related to Audience Builder.
  • Questions related to email design will have answers related to email deliverability and vice versa. So read questions carefully and pick your answers.
  • Marketing Cloud uses List & Data Extensions data model, you will get questions around them.
  • Understand the difference between Primary Key & Subscriber Key. Multiple questions in different scenarios are there based on this topic.
  • A data extension will always have a primary key (multiple in some scenarios) and its not mandatory to be the Subscriber Key.
  • Group is only relevant for Lists and not for Data extensions.
  • CAN-SPAM law and time frames about unsubscription.
  • Send Classifications (Sender Profile + Delivery Profile)
  • What is List, Master and Global Unsubscriptions. Remember Global is handled by Marketing Cloud themselves.
  • How to refresh data manually or automatically
  • Capability of Send Preview & Test Email Send. this can be done even if email is not approved.
  • Why we use Validate & Content Detective?
  • Where can we find the documentation for API?
  • What type of email templates are available for Mobile Responsiveness?
  • Media Queries will be used for mobile responsive email design.
  • Also had a tricky question which asks how do we run SQL queries for a specific scenario using Automation Studio.
  • Questions were there related to reporting. How to get certain reports to the Manager. So have a look at the report extraction options ike CSV, Email , FTP etc.

Hope this helps with your certification preparation and feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Test Approaches

There are 3 different types of test approaches in Salesforce Marketing Cloud.

  1. Single Production Enterprise Account
  2. Single Production Enterprise Account + Sandbox
  3. Multiple Production Enterprise Accounts

Based on the approach, you can understand how many SFMC accounts you need and how much effort is required for an implementation.

Unlike Sales Cloud, SFMC doesn’t come with a free sandbox (AKA Production support). To be frank, there was no sandbox concept till recent past within SFMC. To know more about SFMC sandbox, refer to my blog Salesforce Marketing Cloud Sandbox!.

Single Production Enterprise Account

The customer purchases a enterprise org with multiple Business Units. Create a Test Business Unit (BU) and develop and test everything in Test BU. After testing, its shared with Production BU.

This is a quick and dirty approach.


  • you get access to all the features purchased.
  • Minimum cost (You don’t have to pay for sandbox)
  • Easily share Data Extensions, emails , contents etc with Production Business unit
  • If using Multi-org you can connect a BU with a sales org
  • Easily switch between production & test BU


  • Limited to Email Studio. cant share other channel configurations
  • Multi-org is new feature and comes with its own limitation.
  • Some configurations has to be manually replicated. Not everything can be shared from Test BU to production BU
  • If not multi org, only 1 sales cloud can be connected at a time.
  • If only 1 sales cloud is connected, only 1 Data Stream is available.
  • All Subscribers will be shred with all BU, hence test data gets into All Subscribers
  • Once a change is required, it has to be done in Test BU and then has to updated manually in production
  • After go live, you cannot switch sales cloud connection
  • After go live, future enhancement or bug fixing  (with sales cloud integration) will be complex

Single Production Enterprise Account + Sandbox

Th Customer purchases a enterprise org and a sandbox org. All the development related to Email (sandbox is only for Email Studio) is done in the sandbox and after testing, its manually replicated in production.

This approach is recommended only for Email Studio features without sales cloud integration.


  • Get access to new features early and test it in sandbox
  • Production data is separated from sandbox (especially All Subscriber data)
  • Initial production configurations are copied to sandbox


  • response time is not good with sandbox (delay in loading and navigation)
  • Sandbox are not reliable (experiences server issues)
  • only Email application is supported (No journey builder, automation, mobile push etc)
  • sandbox has a separate endpoint (
  • sandbox doesn’t support Sales cloud integration
  • sandbox doesn’t support Data Stream
  • Everything has to be replicated manually in production
  • Double effort required since everything is manually created in production
  • Extra cost is involved for sandbox
  • Emails sent will be deducted from existing usage volumes
  • 3rd party integrations like Inbox Tools are not available.
  • custom features like data export are not supported

Multiple Production Enterprise Accounts

This is my favourite and recommended approach for Salesforce Marketing Cloud implementation.

The customer has to purchase 2 identical production Enterprise accounts. One will be the production and other one will be used as sandbox. we call it as Production Sandbox Account.


  • Production environments have good response times and are very stable
  • All channels except premier features will be supported since its a production
  • Data is separate from account to account
  • Can connect with different sales cloud (SFMC production account with SFDC production org. SFMC production sandbox account with SFDC sandbox org)
  • Data Streams can be used from different sales cloud org
  • Easier and faster to develop


  • High cost is involved (if you have good relationship with Salesforce, try to get this for free)
  • Premium products will be activated only in a single account
  • You cannot push configurations or contents from one account to another. this has to be manually replicated in each account
  • Account configurations cannot be copied

I will highly recommend using third approach. Higher cost is involved, however its the best and neat way for implementing Marketing Cloud.

Just in case, if you are wondering that do customers go with this approach?,  trust me, I know a few of them and have worked on the same. End of the day more than money, we will have to look for delivering the value to our customers.

Salesforce Marketing Cloud Sandbox!

Is there a Sandbox for SFMC? Really!


Until recently the myth was Salesforce Marketing Cloud (Email, Mobile & Web aka ExactTarget previously) doesn’t have a sandbox. But the truth is that SFMC does have sandbox instance which comes with a cost.


Is it worth buying a Marketing Cloud sandbox? that should be the real question!


What is SFMC Sandbox?
Its a test environment ( Internally they call it Production Support ) provided by SFMC. Its used for testing Email Production Account configurations and  integrations.


You must be wondering, whats the big deal about it. We do this all the time with Salesforce sandboxes.Here are the key differences.


  • Sandbox copy is initiated from back end and you don’t have an option to create one within SFMC UI
  • Salesforce support copies all configuration from back end and notifies you once its ready
    • Production configurations are copied
    • Business Units are also copied
  • It doesn’t copy your contents or lists or data
  • You CANNOT push changes from sandbox to production
    • It cannot be linked to production using change sets (huge disadvantage comparing to Salesforce sandbox)
    • We recreate everything in every single org 
  • Unlike Salesforce sandboxes, it doesn’t support all the features available in production.
    • Non Email products are not supported
      • Audience Builder
      • Contact Builder
      • Journey Builder
      • Mobile Push
    • Sales Cloud integration is not supported
      • You can integrate, but SFMC support will not troubleshoot the issues
      • Data Stream issues wont be handled by support
    • 3rd party integrations like Inbox tools are not available
    • Custom features in production is not available in sandbox
  • Emails send via sandbox is deducted from existing email volume
  • Slow performance comparing to production


So is it worth to buy a sandbox? Answer is, Yes, It depends on your testing approach. If you are planning to use only Email related tools, please go ahead and buy one, else I wouldn’t suggest it.


There are 3 testing approaches within SFMC and one of them use sandbox.


  1. Single Production Enterprise Account
  2. Single Production Enterprise Account + Sandbox “Production Support”  Account
  3. Multiple Production Enterprise Accounts


I will shortly write a blog on testing approaches recommended by Salesforce and you can decide by yourself.

What is Salesforce Marketing Cloud?

I am sure you must have been hearing a lot about Salesforce Marketing Cloud and thinks its just another cloud like Sales or Service Cloud. Well, Its not!


Salesforce Marketing Cloud AKA SFMC is a set of automation tools for Modern Day Marketers which Salesforce lined up by series of acquisition. ExactTarget with Pardot being the costlier one, Salesforce also acquired Radian 6 and Buddy Media.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud allows you to personalize the experiences for your customer across various channels. Just like Salesforce, its a SaaS offering and it has got very powerful automation capabilities.
Salesforce Marketing Cloud itself is a powerful tool and most of it can be used without a CRM. If you integrate SFMC (ExactTarget ) with a CRM ( Think Salesforce and I just love it), its a powerful beast and you better know what you are doing with it.


Predominantly SFMC is a B2C tool and it also have an Marketing Automation tool for B2B called Pardot. I personally believe its a must have for every B2B Marketer and just love it. #PardotLove


There are people who refers SFMC as ExactTarget and I prefer not to do that because SFMC is not just about ExactTarget or Emailing capabilities. Its way beyond emails!

There are 5 major Channels within Salesforce Marketing Cloud .

5 Studios

Continue reading “What is Salesforce Marketing Cloud?”