Last Updated on January 25, 2022 by Rakesh Gupta

After dreading, and delaying a couple of times, last week, finally, I mustered the courage to appear for the certification exam. And, oh yes, I managed to pass it on my first attempt. So, follow along on the ‘ Marketing Cloud Administrator Yellow Brick Road ‘!


I’ve approximately 1.6 years of experience in managing Marketing Cloud for a few Financial Institutions. The experience, without a doubt, helped me to easily pass this exam. But, what if, you wonder, an opportunity to gain experience on the Marketing Cloud Platform? So, let us take a minute’s pause and think about how someone – who did not get an opportunity to work on the Marketing Cloud Implementation – can appear and pass the exam? If you fall in this category then, welcome to the right blog at the right time! For, by reading from the beginning to end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of – and would be able to devise a plan and a strategy for – how to pass the Marketing Cloud Administrator exam.

So, Who is an Ideal Candidate for the exam?

Salesforce offers various certifications for Marketing Cloud candidates – Marketing Cloud Administrator is just one of them. Ideally, a Salesforce Marketing Cloud Administrator should have at least 3-6 months of experience administering a Marketing Cloud org. Candidates should be able to maintain the Marketing Cloud platform, respond to common business requirements, and perform administrative functions within Marketing Cloud.

For instance, the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Administrator should be able to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, and experience in the following areas:

  • Knowledge of governance and compliance with reference to digital marketing
  • Identify security best practices for data management, users, and permissions
  • Implementation of account configuration including business unit structure, permissions, and security
  • Management of subscriber data
  • Evaluate data quality
  • Configure Marketing Cloud products (builders, studios)
  • Troubleshoot account configuration and user request
  • Account (Super Messages, Users, Activities) monitoring (auditing, reporting, notifications)
  • Knowledge of Marketing Cloud extension products and features (Datorama, Interaction Studio, Audience Builder, etc.)
  • Knowledge of Marketing Cloud integration offerings (FTP, API, MC Connect)

A Marketing Cloud Admin Certification would boost your career by several folds – because, it will demonstrate your Marketing Cloud knowledge along with your Salesforce experience!

Yellow Brick Road – Set a Strict Exam Preparation Timeline!

After deciding to appear for the exam, it is time to gather information about the exam and think about what steps you will put in place in order to ace it. Once you have a concrete timeline, begin to think about how you will integrate a sound study plan around the rest of your responsibilities – work/home balance, etc. Having a concrete date to study towards will help you stay motivated.

Learning styles differ widely – so, there is no magic formula that one can follow to clear an exam. The best practice is to study for a few hours daily – rain or shine! Below are some details about the exam and study materials:

60 multiple-choice/multiple-select questions – 105 mins

If you do not have previous experience with Marketing Cloud then, follow the exam guides mentioned below in the order they are listed:

If you are offered a project, or a task, that involves – setting up marketing cloud, integrating it with Salesforce, or creating data extension or setting up FTP user, Setting up Mobile Studio or Email Studio – then, by all means, accept it! Nothing is better than real-world experience.

What you Need to Know to Smoothen your Journey

On a very high level, you have to understand the following topics to clear the exam:

  1. Digital Marketing Proficiency (13%)
    1. Familiarize yourself with governance and compliance in relation to digital marketing.
        For example,

        1. Can Marketing Cloud be used to send unsolicited bulk emails? Answer – No you can’t.
        2. What is the consequence for not putting the physical mailing address of your business and Unsubscribe link in commercial emails originating from Marketing Cloud? Answer – Your email may fall under the SPAM/Junk or Promotion folder in the recipient mailbox.
        3. Understand data privacy compliances like GDPR, CCPA, PIPA, HIPAA, etc.
    2. Understand security best practices for data, permissions, and PII.
        For example,

        1. What Steps are Needed to Setup Session Timeout?
        2. How to Set Up Minimum Username length?
        3. How to prevent a user from logging in to Marketing Cloud after not logging in for several days?
        4. Different options for Invalid Logins Before Lockout.
        5. Make sure that you have explorer password policies settings
        6. What is the use case of using Tokenized Sending? Answer – It is used to transmit contact data which is too sensitive information (PII, PHI data) to store in your Marketing Cloud.
    3. Explorer Marketing Cloud product inventory and product offerings.
        For example,

          Understand when to use products like

            Google Analytics 360 , Product Demo
  2. Subscriber Data Management
    1. Given a scenario, describe the contact model.
        For example,

          Understand the use case of Contact Builder

          1. It is used to provide access to contact data within your Marketing Cloud and the relationship designed to help you use that data. You can reach Contact Builder via Audience Builder.
          2. How to use Data Designer to consolidate and organize data from any source.
          3. Understand the difference between Contact and Subscribers.
          4. Understand Contact Key and Contact ID
          5. Understand Marketing Cloud Connect and Subscriber Key
    2. Given a scenario, evaluate data quality.
        Send Log Data Extensions – It is an ongoing record accessible to users within Marketing Cloud that stores Send-Time data specified by the Admin User, including subscriber-specific Attribute data or Unique Use-Case Data Extension row data.

          To set up a SendLog Data Extension

          1. Create a Data Extension using the SendLog Data Extension template
          2. Create a Data Extension using Standard Data Extension and use Query Activity
    3. Explain preference and profile center concepts.
        Familiarize yourself with Profile Center vs Subscription Center

          For example, you have created a custom field in the Contact object, how could you bring it over to the profile center?
  3. Setup
    1. Given a scenario, implement the configuration of business units, users/permissions, and security/passwords.
      1. Familiarize yourself with the user setup process.
        1. Create userAssign user to BU(s)Assign roles to user → Email credentials to the user(s)
        2. Remember, an admin can disable, but not delete, a user
      2. Understand Role and Permissions.
        1. Remember Standard Marketing Cloud Roles
          1. Marketing Cloud Administrator
          2. Marketing Cloud Viewer
          3. Marketing Cloud Channel Manager
          4. Marketing Cloud Security Administrator
          5. Marketing Cloud Content Editor/Publisher
        2. Understand when to use custom role
      3. Go through the following topics
        1. Session Settings
        2. Password Policies
        3. Username & Logins
        4. Login IP Allowlisting
        5. Identify Verification
        6. Connection Security
        7. Data Export Settings
        8. Audit Trail
    2. Given a scenario, determine how to configure integrations.
        How to configure an FTP Account?

          Limit is three FTP per MID
    3. Describe the features in Setup Home.
    4. Learn about the following Marketing Cloud extension products.
  4. Channel Management
    1. Given a scenario, describe the configuration of Mobile Studio.
    2. Given a scenario, describe the configuration of Email Studio.
    3. Given a scenario, describe the configuration of Social Studio and Advertising Studio.
    4. Explain the concepts and typical use cases of Journey Builder.
      1. Identify different entry sources for Journey Builder
      2. Different options available under Journey Builder Canvas
      3. Different options under Message Activities
      4. Understand Journey Data vs Contact Data
      5. Setting a Goal in Journey Builder
  5. Maintenance
    1. Given a scenario, describe solutions for data extraction and report generation.
      1. Explorer standard reports
      2. Contact Count Reports
      3. Learning and Sharing Reports
    2. Given a scenario, monitor a Marketing Cloud account and provide system availability.
        Options available under Notification Settings

        1. Import Activity
        2. Automations
        3. Query Activities
        4. Trust notifications
    3. Given a scenario, evaluate the benefits of additional Marketing Cloud products.

–> Do not forget to check the study guide – it contains a complete syllabus of the Marketing Cloud Administrator exam.

If you have good hands-on experience with all the above topics, passing the exam will be a cinch; and, you will be able to earn the much-coveted Marketing Cloud Administrator certification! However, if you do not have enough experience with the Marketing Cloud, and you plan to become a Marketing Cloud Certified Administrator, then, I suggest you draw a 2-3 months plan (finish the above Trailhead and Instructor-led training) to prepare for it.

I hope that you find these tips and resources useful. If you do put the time and effort in, you are certain to succeed. Happy studying and good luck!

Formative Assessment:

I want to hear from you!

Have you taken the Marketing Cloud Administrator exam? Are you preparing for the exam now? Share your tips in the comments!

Let me know by Tweeting me at @automationchamp, or find me on LinkedIn.

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