Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Developer Exam Guide

The Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Developer exam is considered to be the most challenging of the four Marketing Cloud exams: Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Administrator, Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Consultant, and Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Email Specialist. You’ll need to pass the Email Specialist exam first before taking this Marketing Cloud Developer exam. In this study guide, I’ll walk you through what to study for to help you pass the Marketing Cloud Developer exam.

Similar to the other Marketing Cloud certification exam, the structure follows the same format:

  • 60 multiple choice questions
  • 105 minutes to take the exam (note that you have more time to take this)
  • 63% needed to pass (get at least 38 questions correct) — A lower passing grade is needed compared to the other Marketing Cloud exams
  • $200 to take the exam
  • $100 to retake the exam if you don’t pass the first time


Take the time to immerse yourself in Trailhead and get some SFMC badges under your belt to get the general basic knowledge of the tool. Use the Official Salesforce Marketing Cloud Exam Guide as a studying outline which I will also cover below. Although the material can be dry, the Salesforce official documentation is a great resource and you will be coming back to the documentation even after you get the certification. And lastly, Salesforce StackExchange is a great resource to ask questions to other people in the community if you get stuck on something.

You’ll have 15 minutes more to take this exam (105 minutes versus 90 minutes) when compared to the Email Specialist exam, but it is the same amount of time as the Marketing Cloud Consultant exam. The main differences between this exam and other Marketing Cloud exams is that you’ll be answering questions which involve actual SQL statements, actual AMPscript that you will need to debug, and an understanding of the API.

Exam Outline

The exam outline is what is provided by Salesforce and covers everything that will be on the Marketing Cloud Developer exam.

  • Data Modeling: 14%
  • Programmatic Languages: 35%
  • API: 22%
  • Data Management: 22%
  • Security: 7%

API and Data Management are both equally weighted at 22%, and the bulk of the exam will be focused on Programmatic Languages of AMPscript and SSJS. There will also be Data Modeling questions and a sprinkle of questions revolving around Security.

Data Modeling: 14%

  • Configure account Contact model in Marketing Cloud.
  • Given a scenario, differentiate the various types and uses of data extensions in Marketing Cloud.
  • Describe how Contact Records relate across channels.
  • Explain the Contact Delete process.

The Contact model is configured through Contact Builder. The exam touches on creating attribute groups in Contact Builder and linking or creating a data extension. I remember a specific question asking about cardinality — one-to-one, many-to-one, or many-to-many relationships.

When linking data extensions, you need to select the cardinality of the relationship. You can specify one-to-one, many-to-one, or many-to-many relationships. These relationships define how attributes within the data extensions relate to each other.

The Contact model questions in this exam also cover Data Designer and Populations.

Populations represent a master set of contacts within your Marketing Cloud account joined by an overarching theme.

Very specifically, I recall a question around not creating more than three populations per account to avoid performance issues with the data model.

For the exam, you should be able to distinguish the different types of Data Extensions:

  1. Standard Data Extension
    1. Sendable Data Extension
    2. Non-Sendable Data Extension
    3. Testable Data Extension
    4. Template-Based Data Extension — Send Log Data Extension, Triggered Send Data Extension
  2. Filtered Data Extension
  3. Random Data Extension
  4. Synchronized Data Extension
  5. Salesforce Data Extension

Understand Contact Builder best practices such as using a single Contact Key across multiple channels — mobile SMS phone numbers and email addresses. The subscriber key should be used as your unique contact key in Contact Builder. For Salesforce Connector, this would be the ContactId, LeadId, or PersonContactId.

You’ll need to understand how Contact Deletion works in SFMC. There is a 3-step process: (1) Deletion process initiated (by selecting the data extension to delete from), (2) Waiting for the suppression period (default is 14 days), and (3) Final deletion after the suppression period has passed. There is also a Trailhead specific to Delete Contacts in Contact Builder that is helpful.

Programmatic Languages: 35%

  • Given a scenario, demonstrate knowledge of AMPscript and SSJS language syntax and functions.
  • Implement standard development best practices using Marketing Cloud programming languages.
  • Describe how Marketing Cloud handles AMPscript processing.
  • Given a customer scenario, determine how to programmatically exclude a subscriber at email send time.

On this exam, you will be asked to debug some AMPscript code. The good news is that it is still multiple choice so you can start by eliminating the wrong answers. If you are new to AMPscript, you can start with some AMPscript basics. From experience, the exam covers more AMPscript than it does SSJS. If I had to break it down, I would focus on:

  1. Setting and creating variables from sendable data extensions and printing those values to the email content
  2. Using If/Else statements with the If Function
  3. Using Lookup or LookupRows based on a unique row in a data extension and populating multiple fields with content
  4. Using FOR loops as part of an email send

You won’t need to memorize all AMPscript functions, but a couple of areas of focus would be specifically around Content, Data Extension, Date/Time, String, and Utilities.

For SSJS, you’ll need to understand proper syntax such as declaring a Server-Side JavaScript Block:


< script runat="server" >
    [Insert JavaScript Here]
< /script>


For me, I had a question about Platform Object Support. Note that your exam questions may vary as it depends on what set of questions you get. For example, here is how to load the Core server-side JavaScript library:




Please reference the SSJS posts here as it will give you a few examples of using SSJS in Marketing Cloud.

The AMPscript Order of Operations is in this order:

  1. HTML Body (Preheader values reside at the beginning of the body)
  2. Text Body
  3. Subject Line

Understand how to use an Exclusion Script in emails. You’ll be using AMPscript in the exclusion script with a RowCount function and LookupRows.

Not to be confused with exclusion lists in Marketing Cloud and excluding subscribers from a send who previously received a Marketing Cloud email.

API: 22%

  • Given a scenario, describe API objects, methods, and routes.
  • Describe the OAuth authentication flow and how an access token is used in SOAP and REST headers.
  • Given a scenario, evaluate the significance of response handling.

Marketing Cloud uses two APIs: REST API and SOAP API — read this intro to Marketing Cloud APIs for more background information. You’ll need to understand when to use REST API and when to use Web Services SOAP API.

- Contacts
- Content Builder
- Journey Builder
- Mobile Connect
- MobilePush
- Campaigns
- Triggered Sends (may also use SOAP)
Web Services SOAP API
- Tracking
- Subscribers and lists
- Automations
- Triggered Sends (may also use REST)
- Content
- Most other email activities

Understand the caveats when using API in SFMC such as how many API calls you are allowed per year and rate limiting.

If I recall correctly, I had a question about when to use asynchronous processing, so take a couple minutes to review this section.

Take a look at this example of using postman to test API Access Token Request as you’ll need to understand how the OAuth process works (see image below). Also take a good look at the OAuth 2.0 API Integration Considerations.

Server-to-Server Integrations with Client Credentials Grant Type

Understand the standard responses such as status code 200 (OK) and 400 (Bad Request) and some of these API error codes when handling errors in REST API. There are also Rate Limiting Errors like Error Code: 50100 for “Too Many Requests” when the rate limit is exceeded and Error Code: 50200 for when “your requests are temporarily blocked.”

Data Management: 22%

  • Configure import activity using various file formats within Marketing Cloud.
  • Given a scenario, apply SQL to produce the desired results.
  • Given a scenario, explain the different ways to extract data from Marketing Cloud.
  • Describe SQL best practices for managing data in Marketing Cloud.
  • Given a scenario, apply best practices for send logs.
  • Given a scenario, describe how data is affected by the Contact delete process.

You will be asked scenario based questions when using the Import Activity in Automation Studio, specifically around the File Naming Patterns. For example, Cloudy Computing has a file that they need to import subscriber2020052110023.csv, what could be the reasons why it is not importing? Hint: it has something to do with the minute/second personalization strings.

Regarding SQL, you’ll need to have a basic understanding of SQL to pass the section on SQL. I won’t get into SQL much in this exam guide as there are many resources on the internet to learn basic SQL. I found that the SQL questions were all relatively easy. Also consider that you can eliminate wrong answers as it is all multiple choice.

Make sure you cover Data Extract Activity and the Extract Types available as you’ll be asked a couple of questions around that.

Also understand Send Logging in Marketing Cloud and the process on setting that up. There may have been a question or two regarding creating a SendLog data extension from a template data extension.

Security: 7%

  • Identify different options to secure data in Marketing Cloud.
  • Describe security best practices in Marketing Cloud.

Understand the two options for Encryption in Marketing Cloud — Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) and Field-Level Encryption (FLE).

There will be a few questions regarding the security beset practices below:

  • Session Settings:
    • 20-minute Session Timeout
    • Enable require Secure Connections (https) checkbox
  • Username and Logins:
    • Login Expires After Inactivity of 90 days or fewer
    • Value of 3 Invalid Logins Before Lockout
    • Usernames require at least 8 characters
  • Password Policies:
    • Set Minimum Password Length to at least 8 characters
    • Enforce Password History value to 8
    • User Password Expires in 90 days
    • Do not select Exclude FTP Users from Password Expiration
    • Always enable Send Password Change Confirmation Email
  • Data Export Settings:
    • Enforce Export Email Whitelist


Focus on the topics in the official exam guide as your starting point. When test taking, the best method is to eliminate the wrong answers to increase your chances of getting the answer correct — especially with the AMPscript and SQL questions there is usually at least one answer that is totally off. This increases your chances of getting the question right from 25% to 33%.

Check out other guides for the Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Administrator exam, Salesforce Certified Email Specialist exam, Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Consultant exam, and Salesforce Certified Pardot Specialist Exam.

Also be sure to check out the Salesforce Certification Coupon Codes page to see if there are any current discounts. Good luck and let me know in the comments if you have passed the exam!


  1. Thank you for this. I’ve been looking into Salesforce Marketing certification as a way to get back into the market after becoming redundant from my previous role a few months ago. I understand that it might take some time to grasp all the learnings to be able to take the exam but what I can’t find is if I would need to have access to the software in order to study or could I study using the tools you describe yet not having access to Salesforce. Can you help? I’ve just started my search so I don’t know a lot yet and apologies if my question is too basic.

  2. Thankyou Jackson for taking time and providing useful insights for MC Dev certification, I am preparing for it, this is a good reference for me to start with.

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