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8 Tips for Passing the Marketing Cloud Administrator Exam

8 Tips for Passing the Marketing Cloud Administrator Exam

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Passing the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Administrator exam demonstrates that you have the skills to configure and administer Marketing Cloud products using industry and product best practices. And having that distinction puts you in a position where employers will compete to welcome you to their team.

That’s because people with Marketing Cloud skills are among the most difficult to find and retain, according to research by 10K. Based on supply and demand, there are great opportunities for those who put in the time and energy to develop these skills.  

Use these tips to pass the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Administrator exam

There are a lot of Salesforce-approved exam prep resources available. So, we’re not going to dive too deeply into them (we’ll touch on them a bit in tip #3). 

This post will instead focus on eight tips that helped me pass the Marketing Cloud administrator exam — and I hope they will help you too.

Tip #1: Pregame with the Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Certification 

While there is not an official practice exam for the Salesforce Marketing Administrator exam, the Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Certification is a worthy stand-in. There’s a fair amount of crossover between the email specialist and administrator exams. Sure, the weights are different and the admin exam goes into more depth, but the overall concepts are similar.

There are different schools of thought as to the order in which the marketing cloud exams should be taken. But I firmly believe you should not take the Marketing Cloud Administrator exam until you’ve passed the specialist exam. It will ensure that you have a solid foundation in place and it will let you beef up your LinkedIn profile with another cool certification!

Tip #2: Setup is king in the Marketing Cloud admin exam

Setup is a whopping 38% percent of the Marketing Cloud Administrator exam. The next closest section is  Subscriber Data Management at 18%. This is basically make it or break it territory. Ace the Setup section, and you are well on your way to adding a new credential to your collection. 

With that said, I take a very methodical approach to exam preparation. I study the exam guide, make sure I understand the weight of each section, and then budget my study time accordingly. This may seem like common sense, but I see people stressing over sections with low weighting all too often.

Tip #3: Don’t trust the internet

We all know the policy about exam dumps and questions floating around on the internet. In short, don’t use them. If you have any questions about this topic, be sure to review the Salesforce Credential Code of Conduct.

Not only is the use of exam dumps and non-approved study materials in violation of the code of conduct, they are often wrong. The only thing worse than studying for hours is studying the wrong information for hours! 

Do yourself a favor (and the right thing) and stick to Salesforce-approved materials.

Here are Salesforce-approved resources I found to be helpful.

Tip #4: Focus on key Marketing Cloud terminology 

I’ve taken my share of Salesforce exams, and I would classify the Marketing Cloud Administrator Exam to be more straightforward than most. If you’ve taken any of the Salesforce Administrator certification exams, you’ve no doubt seen the scenario based questions that are about a paragraph long! 

The questions on the Marketing Cloud Administrator Exam are pretty simple and to the point. The point of confusion lies in the list of answers provided. Outside of a random term here and there, most are terms that you’ve seen in Marketing Cloud. This tends to lead to second guessing as you’ll be telling yourself “Yeh. I remember that one.”

 My advice is to create a list of key terms and know it like the back of your hand. These questions become VERY easy — if you know the terminology and can quickly eliminate the wrong answers.

Here’s a list of terms I made for myself. I compiled these from a variety of Salesforce-approved resources. This list is NOT inclusive of all the terms you’ll see on the exam. Use this as a starting point and add more terms based on your experience level with Marketing Cloud.

Access LogList of non-allowlisted IP addresses and login names logged into Marketing Cloud accounts for network.
Audit TrailAllows security admin users to view Marketing Cloud access and activity records.
Burst SendingBurst Sending allows you to send emails fast. The audience is locked down and the emails are built when the schedule send time is set. Use this feature for flash sales or emergency messaging.
ContactIn Contact Builder, it is an individual added to any contact database. A contact is also any other individual to whom you sent a message via any channel using Marketing Cloud.
Contact IDA system defined, unique identifier representing a Contact.
Contact KeyA user defined attribute that is used as a unique identifier for the contact model, and other models (Journey Builder) except Email Studio.
Content DetectiveTool in Email Studio that will identify spam triggers in your email content. Scans the preheader, the subject line, the body copy for words, patterns, and phrases that it views as spam.
Delivery ProfilesSpecifies the delivery information for a message (Company, IP Address, Header and Footer).
Domain AllowlistTrust all email addresses within that domain to receive your data.
Export Email AllowlistIndividual email addresses that can receive exports via email from your Marketing Cloud account.
Identity VerificationRequires you to authenticate the browser or app used to access the application.
IP AllowlistRange of IP addresses who can access your account to prevent unauthorized logins.
Multi-factor AuthenticationAnother layer of protection so users must provide two factors when logging in.
Primary KeyA unique field on a data extension that identifies a specific and unique data point. Often this is the contact key, but it can be something unique to that data.
Reply Address DefinitionConfigure reply-to info like email display name, reply subdomain, and email reply address.
Reply RulesHow reply mail management identifies and responds to the replies that subscribers send.
Routing AddressEmail address that replies are sent to when the reply is not defined in the Reply Rules.
SafehouseDecrypt or encrypt files before import or extract without exposing these files to the Enhanced FTP directories. Only authenticated users can access the Safehouse, which resides on highly redundant, highly available central storage servers.
Send ClassificationComposed of Sender Profile, Delivery Profile, and CAN-SPAM classification
Sender Authentication Package (SAP)Purchased from Salesforce and includes a collection of products, including a private domain with link and image wrapping, a dedicated IP address, and reply mail management (RMM).
Sender ProfileSpecifies the From information for a send in a central location (from name).
SFTPA secure method for transferring data from one computer to another over the Internet.
SubscriberA person who opted in to receive communications from your organization.
Subscriber IDA system defined, unique identifier representing a Subscriber.
Subscriber KeyA user defined text field that contains a value that uniquely identifies a subscriber. Shouldn’t contain email addresses.
Tokenized SendingUsed to send contact data that is too sensitive to store in your Marketing Cloud account database. Instead of storing sensitive information in your Marketing Cloud account database, your account stores a single token per send attribute. Support must activate this feature.
Web Analytics Connector (WAC)Free feature that appends a ‘string’ to every Email Studio email link. Simply put, it adds data to the end of your links for tracking purposes. The string is typically used to add Google Analytics UTM Parameters, but it can really be used for anything you want.

Tip #5: The devil is in the details 

Pay attention to details when taking your exam, and be sure to read all options before selecting your answer. I noticed several questions on the exam that had several answers that were seemingly correct.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about.

How would a Marketing Cloud Administrator add new users in EMEA to the correct business unit?

  1. Setup > Users > Edit Business Units
  2. Setup > Business Units > Manage Business Units
  3. Setup > Users > Manage Business Units

There are a couple things to note when looking at this question. The first is the navigation path. Can you add users to BUs under Business Units? Nope! This is where you would go to set up your business units. We can now cross answer B off the list.

The second thing to note is the action referenced in the answer. “Edit Business Units” and “Manage Business Units” both sound correct, but you have to choose one. This is where paying attention to details is really important. Inside Marketing Cloud, “Manage” is the action that’s used to add users to business units (and roles).  

So the answer to our relatively straightforward looking question is “C”. You would add users to the EMEA business unit by navigating to Setup > Users > Manage Business Units

Tip #6: Pay attention to product names  — new and old

Salesforce recently updated the names of several products, and Marketing Cloud was impacted (Salesforce Name Changes: Pardot & Marketing Cloud Get A Rebrand). When I took the Marketing Cloud Administrator exam, these changes had not yet been integrated. I’m sure this will be addressed quickly in the next release, but it’s worth mentioning as every question counts! Don’t be too surprised if you see something like this.

The Marketing team would like to be able to pick the next best action based on real-time interaction data. Which Marketing Cloud add-on best addresses this purpose?

  1. Journey Builder
  2. Interaction Studio
  3. Automation Studio
  4. None of the above

So where’s Personalization? We all know that the correct answer is Marketing Cloud Personalization, but it’s not included in the list. The first instinct would be to select answer D “None of the above,” but that would be incorrect. 

The correct answer is B “Interaction Studio.” This was the name of that add-on at the time the exam was written. Be sure to know the new and old names — just in case!

Tip #7: Activate those Einstein features 

Salesforce is really excited about the Einstein features in Marketing Cloud (as they should be). A lot of time and effort has gone into enabling marketers with AI, and you are going to be asked about these features.

To make sure that you understand the capabilities of Einstein, activate ALL the features available in your account. I guarantee that you’ll learn something you didn’t know! 

Keep in mind that data is not instantly available in your account after activation. Depending on the feature, it could take 24 to 72 hours.

Tip #8: Get hands-on practice! 

This exam focuses a lot on how to DO things in Marketing Cloud. If you are anything like me, the best way to learn is by doing. There are a lot of great Trailhead modules on Marketing Cloud, but no hand-on challenges. It’s really easy to read the content and answer a couple of questions to get your badge, but did you really learn anything?

My advice is to make those modules hands-on. Login to your Marketing Cloud account and follow along. You don’t need to save all your work in your account, but the act of navigating to the correct sections and clicking the buttons will reinforce your learning. Sure, it’s going to take you a lot longer to complete the modules, but it’s not a race!

As I said  in tip #4, the devil is in the details. You are going to need to know how to navigate Marketing Cloud to pass this exam. If you don’t know your way around (very well), save your $200 and don’t take the exam until you have more hands-on experience.

You can do it — now go pass the Marketing Cloud admin exam!

I would not rate the Marketing Cloud Administrator Exam as one of the toughest Salesforce exams that I’ve taken (that honor goes to the Salesforce Advanced Administrator exam). But it should not be taken lightly.  

You’ll have 105 minutes to take the exam, which I found to be very generous. Don’t rush and take the time to read the question and all the answers before making your selection. With adequate preparation and a good amount of hands-on experience, you’ll pass this exam.

If you don’t pass on your first try, don’t be discouraged. Look at it as a learning opportunity. While exam results don’t show results by individual questions, the section level scoring is a great way to see your strengths and areas for improvement.

If you have any specific questions about the exam or just want to talk Marketing Cloud, drop a note in the comments section or hit me up on LinkedIn.

Good luck — you got this!

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  • Mike Morris is a 9x Salesforce-certified consultant who joined Sercante in 2019. He has over 20 years marketing experience from previous roles leading internal marketing departments and collaborating with large sales organizations. His strong interest in marketing operations and technology led him to the Salesforce platform and to his current role at Sercante. When not working, he enjoys staying active by running, biking, and getting outside as much as possible.

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