Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Email Specialist Exam Guide

The Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Email Specialist exam is a prerequisite for the Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Administrator exam. You’ll need to pass the Email Specialist exam first. If you’re interested in other exams, the Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Consultant exam guide is also available, in addition to the Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Developer Exam. In this study guide, I’ll walk you through what to study for to help you pass the Email Specialist exam.

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

  • 60 multiple choice questions
  • 90 minutes to take the exam (note that you have less time to take this)
  • 65% needed to pass (get at least 39 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 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.

Exam Outline

The exam outline is what is provided by Salesforce and covers everything that will be on the Email Specialist exam.

  • Email Marketing Best Practices: 15%
  • Email Message Design: 13%
  • Content Creation and Delivery: 18%
  • Marketing Automation: 19%
  • Subscriber and Data Management: 28%
  • Tracking and Reporting: 7%

The first four bullets are evenly weighted and Subscriber and Data Management is heavily weighted at 28%. Even though tracking and reporting is at 7%, you should still cover the basics of reporting as you’ll definitely see questions around tracking on the exam. The exam outline percentages look similar to the weighting on the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Administrator exam.

Email Marketing Best Practices: 15%

  • Given a customer scenario, evaluate the elements and techniques of email marketing to design an effective email campaign.
  • Given a customer scenario, recognize situations where legal compliance may be an issue during an email campaign.
  • Given a customer scenario, differentiate elements of an email that can impact message deliverability.
  • Given a customer scenario, demonstrate appropriate and effective subscriber acquisition methodologies.
  • Given a customer scenario, apply best practices of communicating with a population.

When designing marketing emails there are a number of things to consider to make sure your message is as effective as can be. For example, starting with the Subject Line, you’ll need something compelling enough for the audience to open the email (for higher open rates). It should be informative and offer something of value and the context of the email should match the subject line.

Aside from the subject line, the preheader text is important to grab the end-user’s attention and used to try and improve open rates. The Sender Name and Sender Email Address should match your brand and company and the type of message that is being sent.

The Preview View is the first glance of what your email may look like depending on what platform and email service provider that is used. You may also want to consider header and a navigation bar in the design of the email. More on design in the next section.

In terms of legal compliance, CAN-SPAM compliance is extremely important as it follows under U.S. Federal standards. Understand the CAN-SPAN requirements as there will be at least one question on the exam about it.

Related to CAN-SPAM, an email should have a Privacy Policy link, unsubscribe link, and a physical mailing address.

For Email Deliverability, there are a number of things that will be asked on the exam such as IP Warming and sending to engaged customers, using a clean list where everyone has opted-in, and also use segments towards audiences so that you are marketing to the right people and sending relevant content.

On the exam, there will be one or two scenario based questions about email acquisition and growth. Always choose the answer where the list is obtained by means where the subscribers are opt-in and have consented to receive emails. There will be also one question around frequency of how often your subscribers are contacted.

Email Message Design: 13%

  • Given a customer scenario, recommend email design best practices to implement.
  • Given the desired output functionality, recommend methods for creating responsive emails.
  • Given the desired output requirements, recommend strategies to A/B test email elements.
  • Given a desired sending process, recommend Marketing Cloud tools to use when preparing an email for send.
  • Given an email message design, determine the correct use of Approvals.

All of the questions related to this section will be scenario-based questions on the exam. For example, there will be a fictitious client called Cloudy Computing and they are designing an email using mobile responsive CSS. What device-width should they aim for in the design? The image below from is a good resource.

In addition to the best practices mentioned in the previous section, some design best practices involve including your Call-to-Action (CTA) above the fold of the email, using mobile responsive design (with a focus on mobile design), and designing for different email clients.

The questions on the exam about A/B testing are relatively straight-forward. For example, if you are performing A/B testing on opens, you will be testing the subject line and pre-header text. Suppose your list that you are sending has a total of 20,000 subscribers. The A/B testing will test a random 10% per condition and apply the winner to the rest of the list. If you have more than 50,000 subscribers, it is recommended to test 5% per condition. Also if you have a small audience of 500, your results will likely not be statistically significant.

Before sending the email, you can perform a subscriber preview and test send to make sure that your email is rendering correctly. There are two more resources on the help page that go into detail on the Subscriber Preview and Test Send and specifics on Perform Send Preview.

Note that Campaign Approvals have been retired in the January 2020 release, so the questions on the exam will be centered around Content Builder Approvals. The Content Builder approval process requires different roles set up as a team: Submitter, Reviewer, and Approver. There are two different processes: a Standard process (with 5 statuses) and a Two-Step process (which really has 4 statuses).

Standard Process
– Pending Submission
– Submitted
– Reviewed
– Pending Re-submission
– Approved

Two-Step Process
– Pending Submission
– Pending Approval
– Pending Resubmission
– Approved

One question that I do remember around approvals is that all existing Content Builder emails in the account are automatically approved once you enable Approvals.

Content Creation and Delivery: 18%

  • Given a scenario, create and customize an email message to meet a customer’s need.
  • Given a scenario, send and deploy an email campaign to meet the customer requirement.
  • Given a scenario, know how to manage content needed to deploy a customer’s email campaign.
  • Describe various send capabilities in the Email application.

Most of the questions in this section are heavily around Content Builder. You will benefit from having experience and knowledge in the following:

  1. The types of emails that can be created when you Create Emails such as Template, HTML, Text Only, or copy from Existing Email
  2. Creating Templates using HTML paste or using the WYSIWYG layout tool
  3. Using Content Builder to create Mobile Messages such as LINE, Push Notifications, SMS messages, and In-App Messages
  4. Being able to create reusable modular content will be asked in the exam so review the section on Creating Content Blocks
  5. Code Snippets will also be on the exam as you’ll be asked scenario-based questions on reusing bits of HTML and AMPscript

For email sends, know the difference between a User-Initiated Email send and a Guided Send and when to use one over the other. You’ll use User-Initiated sends for emails that you will reuse over and over again whereas a Guided Send or more of a one-off or ad-hoc send.

Marketing Automation: 19%

  • Given a customer scenario, recommend the appropriate marketing automation solution.
  • Given a scenario to manage customer data, configure the appropriate marketing automation tools.

All the questions in this exam about Marketing Automation is centered around Automation Studio and the different activities within Automation Studio. There were two scenario-based questions on how to start an automation: either using a File Drop automation or a Scheduled Automation. If I recall correctly, the question was specifically on the Filename Pattern for the File Drop (note that your version of the test may be different).

You will benefit from knowing all of the Automation Studio Activities below:

  1. The Send Email activity allows you to configure and send the email out of Automation Studio
  2. The SQL Query activity lets you run SQL statements within Automation Studio. This exam does not go into too much detail on specific SQL as it does with the Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Consultant Exam or the Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Developer Exam
  3. The Import File activity allow you to import a file from the Marketing Cloud Enhanced FTP
  4. Using the Script activity, you can run Server-Side JavaScript to give you a bit more flexibility within the application
  5. With the Filter activity, data filters that are created in Email Studio can be automatically run so that your data extension is populated with the most up-to-date data
  6. With the Data Extract activity, you can extract a data extension or tracking extract and drop it into the Marketing Cloud Enhanced FTP
  7. The Verification activity is useful to stop the automation from running if the resulting step before that is not expected. For example, if the count is 0 for a data extension after you run a SQL query, then the automation can be stopped.
  8. Lastly, the Wait activity allows you to wait for a specific duration or an amount of time before moving on to the next step

Subscriber and Data Management: 28%

  • Given the desired output requirements, set up Subscriber Lists and Data Extensions in the Marketing Cloud.
  • Given a customer’s business requirements, determine how to import data into Marketing Cloud as per best practices.
  • Given a customer’s business requirements, configure segmentation tools to accurately model subscribers and data.
  • Given a customer scenario, recommend the marketing unsubscribe subscription management solution that meets the requirement based on customer frequency, permission, and preferences.

The largest weighted category in this exam is about the subscriber management and data management. This involves not only everything under the Subscribers tab but also Automation Studio activities that involve updating data extensions such as SQL queries and imports.

Spend some time on this page about using Lists versus Data Extensions. Know the advantages and disadvantages of using data extensions over lists. For example, the flexibility of using data extensions as sendable data extensions or relational data, but with the disadvantage of having to set up each field and data type. You’ll be asked a question or two about Publication Lists and how to have those displayed in the out-of-the-box preference center/subscription center.

When importing data into a data extension in Marketing Cloud, know some of the best practices including using the correct data extension data type as using the wrong data types can cause your import to error.

In terms of segmenting, I don’t recall questions on Audience Builder, but it doesn’t hurt to understand the tool and learn about functionality. There were a number of questions on filtering by creating filters in Marketing Cloud and creating a data filter definition. You will want to spend some time in the data filters with enhanced subscriber features in Marketing Cloud.

For subscriber preferences and profile center, understand the two out-of-the-box features for both and also Publication Lists mentioned above.

Tracking and Reporting: 7%

  • Given a customer scenario, explain the different metrics available for email campaigns and what each one means.
  • Given an email campaign, describe the steps involved to analyze the performance results.
  • Given a need to run reports, configure and run Marketing Cloud ad hoc and automated reports.

I must admit, I likely missed the few questions on this section tracking and reporting. There were a number of questions that asked you what report to use and I just didn’t spend enough time memorizing the types of reports available. Refer to the Email Studio Reports in Analytics Builder for the differences in reports. There may have been a question or two on Discover Reporting available in Analytics Builder and I’m fairly certain I missed that one too. Luckily this section is only lightly weighted, but you should still understand the different reports for the exam.


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. Check out other guides for the Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Administrator exam. You’ll need to pass this Email Specialist exam first before you can take the Salesforce Certified Marketing Cloud Consultant 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!

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