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 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?”

Top 6 Salesforce Marketing Cloud Features from January 18 Release

Salesforce Marketing Cloud welcomed 2018 by releasing lots of new features on January 26. Marketing Cloud has planned 5 releases for this year and we just got the first one.

I just got promoted to newbie Dad of an Angel in February and hence delay in publishing this blog.

I can see that Marketing Cloud product team is working hard towards their goal of making marketing cloud a configurable product rather than AMPScript / coding heavy one. This is exciting and I am sure we will see more features in upcoming releases.

Here are my top 6 picks from January 2018 Release. Which are your favorite ones?

top 6 picks

1. Journey Templates

Journey Templates are accessible from Marketing Cloud dashboard or from “Templates” tab in Journey Builder. It’s an exciting feature which enables marketers to quickly create a journey by choosing a pre-defined, partially configured journey.

The best thing about journey templates is that it comes with a guided wizard which walks you through the steps to configure journeys.

Journey Template Screen in Marketing Cloud Dashboard

Journey Template Screen in Marketing Cloud Dashboard.png

6 Journey Templates available now

6 Journey Templates available now

Guided Screen from “Welcome Journey with Engagement” journey template.

Guided Screen from “Welcome Journey with Engagement” journey template.

2. Distributed Marketing

Distributed Marketing, the new product from Salesforce is Generally Available with this release. This product helps organizations (like retail chains, franchises etc) to streamline their marketing and branding experience to all their customers. I am still waiting to get hands on to the package so I can write a detailed blog on the same.

The Building blocks of distributed marketing are below.

  1. A managed package which must be installed in Salesforce CRM.
  2. Marketing Cloud Journeys which gets associated with Salesforce CRM campaigns.
  3. Content Builder to create content with consistent branding
  4. Salesforce CRM Standard Objects (Campaign, Contact, Lead, Person Accounts)

Distributed Marketing Flow

Distributed Marketing Flow.png

3. Live Image Block

This feature gives us an option to send a template email with Image A that changes to Image B based on a user-defined trigger.  Think about a scenario where we send an email with a Limited time promotion image and after the due date of promotion, the image changes to show promotion expired image.

The available triggers for Live Image Block are

  • Date and time
  • Number of days after send
  • Number of impressions
  • Number of clicks
  • A user manually switches image without defining a trigger

4. Mobile Push to a Data Extension

Just like Mobile Connect, Mobile Push was using “list” data model till now. Hereafter you can send push notifications directly to a Data Extension.

This is a great feature because now we can configure push notifications much easier and quicker. This feature will also reduce a lot of backend automation which transfers data from a data extension to a contact list for push notifications.

I hope we get the same feature for Mobile Connect as well.

mobile push


5. Delete Contacts from Contact Builder

Deleting Contacts from Contact Builder was pain till now. We ran into issues especially while deleting Mobile Contacts. You should contact your Account Executive to enable this feature. This feature will allow you to delete contacts from sendable data extensions, Mobile Connect lists and email studio list at the enterprise level.

6. Email Studio Domain Verification

This is one of the best feature which enforces deliverability in Marketing Cloud. I have seen many clients who use different email addresses than the authenticated ones in their sender profiles. This affects the deliverability of the emails. This feature verifies all sending email addresses before its used for an email send.

We have a new section within Admin > Account Settings which displays all the Authenticated Domains for the BU. This is cool because we have clients with multiple BU with different sending domains. Now we can easily see which are the authenticated domains in each BU.

authenticated domains

Verify option in Sender Profile for From Email Address

Verify option in Sender Profile for From Email Address

Verify option in Account Settings for Email Reply Address

Verify option in Account Settings for Email Reply Address

Other interesting updates:

  1. Content Builder Officially Replaces Classic Content – Classic Content is Dead. Long Live Content Builder! The classic Content End-of-Life date is scheduled for July 2019 and no longer supported starting in January 2019.
  2. New Login Page – You will have a new login page experience like Salesforce CRM from now onwards and marketing cloud has made it easier to use forgot your password option.
  3. Marketing Cloud Help – Marketing Cloud help is moved to
  4. More Web Safe Font Options – Calibri is one of my favorite font and now its supported in the content builder. Other web safe fonts supported are listed below.
    1. Palatino Linotype
    2. Arial Black
    3. Impact
    4. Lucida Console
    5. Calibri
  5. Query Suspension – If a SQL query fails for 24 times consecutively, then the query is suspended and the user is notified. Once the query is updated and saved, then the suspension is removed.
  6. Show Full HTML Option in Content Builder – Using “Code View” option, now we can quickly switch to a full complied html view for a template based email. This makes editing template based emails much easier.

You can read the complete release notes here.

How to Sync Marketing Cloud Email tracking events with Sales Cloud Camapign Members?

Are you using Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud in your organization for executing Email Campaigns, and often wonder how to sync email campaign tracking results back to sales cloud campaign member status?

It’s a standard feature within Marketing Cloud Connect to sync Marketing Cloud Email tracking events with sales cloud campaign member status. Instead of exporting the campaign tracking from Marketing Cloud, we can run salesforce campaign member report to find campaign performance.

This is one of the cool feature available in Marketing Cloud Connect and I am a great fan of this feature. Once Implemented your campaign member status will be automatically updated based on the email tracking results from Marketing Cloud.

Campaign Member Status.png

Let’s see how it’s done.


  1. Sales Cloud integrated with Marketing Cloud using Marketing Cloud Connect.
  2. Create a Sales Cloud Campaign with below Status
    • Sent
    • Soft Bounce
    • Hard Bounce
    • Opened
    • Clicked
    • Unsubscribed
  3. Enable and Configure “Campaign Member Tracking” in Sales Cloud

I won’t be explaining sales cloud and marketing cloud integration here, but you can refer the documentation here.

Now create a sales cloud campaign with the following status (Sent, Soft Bounce, Hard Bounce, Opened, Clicked, Unsubscribed). As you may notice, these status are nothing but different email tracking outcomes within Marketing Cloud. After creating a campaign,, you can click on “Advanced Setup” button and add all the campaign member status.

Email Campaign Advanced Setup

Use “Add More” link to enter the all the status and save.

Email Campaign Member Status

Step 3 is to configure the Marketing Cloud Connect.

  • Login as Integration User in sales cloud (Admin user used to integrate with Marketing Cloud) and Navigate to Marketing Cloud Tab.
  • Click on “Configure Marketing Cloud Connector”

Configure Marketing Cloud Connector

  • Scroll all the way down to Tracking Section
  • Click “Configure” link for Campaign Member Tracking

Tracking Menu

  • For The Tracking Event will be mapped to the following field:, choose “Campaign Member Status”
  • From the drop-down, select the right campaign member status value (created in step 2) for each tracking event.

Marketing Cloud Connect COnfiguration for Campaign Member Status.PNG

Note: In above example, I am tracking Soft Bounce and Hard Bounce as different status. you can even map both events to a single campaign member status called “Bounce”.

Now the configurations are done, its time to test it.

Email Campaign Execution from Sales Cloud.

  1. Add contacts or leads to the campaign which you created earlier. If you want to know how to add members to the campaign, please refer here. Please note, always make sure your campaign has all the email tracking events as campaign member status.
  2. Go to Email Sends Tab in sales cloud and initiate email send to the campaign
  3. once the email is sent, wait for an hour to get tracking results back in sales cloud campaign member status.

Are you using this feature in your organization? Please let me know your thoughts about this feature.

Send Throttling in Salesforce Marketing Cloud

Before we understand what’s Salesforce Marketing Cloud Send Throttling feature, we should know Why we should use Send Throttling?

One of the common use case for Send Throttling is to control the traffic from your email or sms communications CTA (Call to Action).

Most of the Email or SMS communications will have a CTA to either call or complete an online form or visit an app or webpage.

Let’s think about a scenario where you have to send emails to 100,000 customers about a brand new exclusive offer and CTA is to Call your toll free number. If you send the email in one shot and most of your customers calling your customer care as soon as they receive email. Its gonna be chaos in call center, there will be a huge waiting time to attend all your customers or in worst case scenario, your telephony systems may face issues in handling the huge traffic and it may be down.

If we have to avoid scenarios like above, we can use Salesforce Marketing Cloud Send Throttling feature.

What is Send Throttling?

Send Throttling is a feature available in Salesforce Marketing Cloud which allows you to control the number of email or sms send within a time period.

This feature will send emails or sms during the time range which you specify every day, starting the day you send email or sms, till all your emails or sms are sent.

You have to define below options for sending email or sms using Send Throttling feature.

  1. Delivery Window – The range of hours between which you would like to send emails or sms to your subscribers.
  2. Hourly Threshold –  Maximum number of emails or sms which can be send within an hour.

Send Throttling in Email Studio

Send Throttling

Send Throttling in Mobile Connect

Send Throttling SMS

Let’s take a scenario where you have to send 100,000 emails and you schedule to send 5000 emails per hour from 10.00 AM to 8.00 PM using Send Throttling feature.

Day 1 –  5000 emails per hour will be sent from 10.00 AM to 8.00 PM.  Total of 50,000 emails will be send on Day 1 out of 100,000

Day 2 – Send throttling feature will resume sending 5000 emails per hour from 10.00 AM to 8.00 PM. Total of 50,000 emails will be send on Day 2.

So this feature will complete sending your total 100,000 emails in 2 days by sending 5000 emails per hour.

How to activate Send Throttling?

Most of the time Send Throttling is not enabled by default in your Salesforce Marketing Cloud org. If you dont see the option, please log a case with Marketing Cloud support team to enable the same. Within a day it will be turned on and you can use it.

Is your organization using Salesforce Marketing Cloud Send Throttling Feature?

Top 6 Salesforce Marketing Cloud Features from August 17 Release

Salesforce Marketing Cloud August Release was on August 25 and as usual came with lot of new features.

This is the 4th release from SFMC this year and is power packed with some awesome features and enhancements.It shows us that SFMC is investing a lot in the new features and at the same time, focussing more on usability by enabling configurations rather than scripting or workarounds.

Here are my top 6 picks from August 2017 Release.

  1. Journey Builder SMS Activity Enhancement
  2. Journey Builder Mobile Entry Source
  3. Content Builder Personalization Data Source Selector
  4. Journey Builder Wait Enhancement 
  5. Journey Builder Exit Criteria
  6. Einstein Vision for Social Studio

Lets have a quick look at each one of them.

Journey Builder SMS Activity Enhancement

Previously, when you configure a SMS activity in journey builder, you have the ability only select the SMS template name and you don’t get to see any other details in there. But with new enhancement, you can

  • Select the SMS Template and preview the actual message

Select SMS Template

  • Select the Subscription Opt In.

Subscription Opt In

  • Configure Black Out Window

Configure Black Out Window

I am particularly interested in the option where we can “Subscribe all contacts to a keyword”. Previously, we used to create import and subscribe to keywords, before setting up journeys and automate that process. This simplifies the whole SMS journey configurations.


Journey Builder Mobile Entry Source

Just like email source, now we have an option to setup mobile data source.

It will be easier if we have the mobile number within entry source data extension. If not we can also choose the mobile number from contact model. Please make sure you have the country code enabled in your entry source table.

Example: The column “Mobile Number” in your DE should store the mobile number as “61415xxxxxx”  instead of “415xxxxxx”. When i tested, if we dont give country code, sms were not sent.

Mobile Entry Source.png

Content Builder Personalization Data Source Selector

This is a simple feature and one of my favourite. I created this idea a year back for Classic Content and good to see this coming up now for Content Builder.

We always had to type in personalisation strings for emails other than the subscriber attributes.

Now we get to select the Data Extension which we are using for sending and can easily configure personalisation’s.

Click on the “Choose New Data Source” and select your Data Extension. How cool is that? no more typos and typing personalization.

content builder personalisation.png


Journey Builder Wait Enhancement

Now you can set a wait to end on a specific day and time, or at a time specified by an attribute value for each contact.

This is so powerful because we can set different wait time for each contact. Imagine we can wait till 7 days before subscription end date of a customer or on renewal date which can be different for each one of our customers in the journey.

  • Wait by Duration

wait by duration

  • Wait by Attribute

wait by attribute.png


Journey Exit Criteria

We had many scenarios where we configure Journey Goals only to make sure certain contacts exit the journey when a condition is met and this was not the intended use for journey goals.

Now we have journey exit criteria, which is different from goals. We can configure exit criteria and contacts will exit the journey once they meet the criteria. You can also configure a goal different from exit criteria and focus on the actual goal of the journey.

journey exit criteria.png

Einstein Vision for Social Studio

Einstein vision is generally available in Social Studio now. This is a powerful feature for digital marketers, which enables you to discover images that features your brand. So you can listen to those social media conversations where there are no mention about your brand or a specific keyword is used, but am image is posted with your brand logo.

sfmc Einstein vision

Check out the release notes if you would like to know more about Salesforce Marketing Cloud August 2017 release.

What is your favourite feature in August 2017 release?

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.