Preparing for the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Developer certification

Last week I passed the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Developer exam. Afterwards, I received a lot of questions about preparing for it and the test itself. That’s why I’ve decided to share how I prepared, what helped me pass it on the first attempt and hopefully will help you too.

Resources

First, familiarize yourself with the official exam guide. The exam guide suggests that you need at least a year of experience developing for Marketing Cloud. In particular, developing dynamic, personalized marketing assets such as emails, landing pages, and forms leveraging HTML, CSS, and AMPscript. You also need to be proficient in SQL and have experience in using Marketing Cloud APIs. I agree with that and hands-on experience with the platform, scripting and debugging is essential.

When it comes to online resources, you can start with the Develop for Marketing Cloud trail on Trailhead. There is official documentation available for AMPscript and SSJS, but I found Eliot Harper’s and Adam Spriggs’ AMPscript guide much more helpful. To learn about Marketing Cloud data architecture, download a free copy of The Data Handbook. It’s also worth reading Jeremy Garcia’s article about preparing for the exam. And of course, there’s the indispensable Salesforce Stack Exchange, where you will find tons of script examples, useful tips for debugging and Marketing Cloud development best practices.

Training

Currently, there are no official Salesforce training offerings for Marketing Cloud developers. Fortunately, from time to time, unofficial workshops and classes are organized. Keep track of the various communication channels, like the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Developer Groups on LinkedIn or Facebook to stay up to date.

Eliot Harper
Eliot Harper during the Marketing Cloud Developer training in Munich

I have been able to attend an intensive one-day Marketing Cloud Developer Masterclass organized by Eliot Harper in Munich this year. The scope of this training was much broader and advanced than what is needed for this exam, so do not be discouraged if you did not attend the training – hands-on experience with the platform is what counts the most for this exam.

Now let’s take a closer look at each of the five areas outlined in the exam guide. 

Data Modeling: 14%

For this part, you will need to fully understand Contact Builder, the various types and uses of data extensions and how to link them. You will need to be able to describe how Contact Records relate across channels. Make sure you know how Contact Deletion in Contact Builder works – all the possible methods and how they are processed by the system. Learn about Contact Delete Best Practices and how to track statuses of contacts during the deletion process. You also need to be familiar with a legacy Contact Builder feature called Channel Address Order.

Programmatic Languages: 35%

This is probably the most important part of the exam, and you will see questions not only related to AMPscript and SSJS syntax but also their performance and processing.

You can start with reading about AMPscript syntax and best practices. Even if you already have experience with scripting, it’s worth a thorough read before taking the exam. Make sure you fully understand the AMPscript Data Modification Functions and how Marketing Cloud processes them. Familiarize yourself with Date and Time FormattingOrder of Operationsand Personalization Strings in Email Studio. You need to know the most important Data Extension Functions by heart and be able to use them without looking at the documentation, so memorize all the required parameters. Make sure you know how to use the most common Content FunctionsDate & Time Functions, HTTP FunctionsMath FunctionsString Functions and Utility Functions. Read about some of the Site-Based Functions, like CloudPagesURLRequestParameter and QueryParameter. Understand where and how to use Exclusion Scripts and the RaiseError function. You also need to fully understand if/else statements and loops. The official guide clearly states that a candidate for this exam is not expected to know how to configure Marketing Cloud Connect, so you don’t need to worry about the Sales & Service Cloud Functions.

Familiarize yourself with Server-Side JavaScript syntax and the most common Core and Platform functions. Make sure you understand what is possible with SSJS and when, where and how to use it. Learn how AMPscript and SSJS talk to each other and how to combine them for debugging.

You will see all types of questions in this part of the exam, for example: which function to use for ABC use case; which of the following is the correct way to use XYZ function; or what the outcome of a script snippet will be.

API: 22%

Same as with scripting, you will need hands-on experience with API. You can use free software like POSTMAN to interact with your instance of Marketing Cloud and download the SFMC Postman collection or the Salesforce Marketing Cloud Enhanced API Collection.

First of all, you will need to know how to Create an installed package in your Marketing Cloud account, about Subdomains and Tenant’s Endpointsauthentication and how to use the access token in SOAP and REST calls.

Learn about the use cases for REST and SOAP API and memorize the most common routes,methods and objects – I was surprised how specific some of the questions were. Familiarize yourself with Errors in REST APISOAP Error Codes and how to resolve them.

Learn how to Optimize API Calls and Data Structures to Improve Performance.

Data Management: 22%

There were quite a few SQL questions on the exam, and similarly to the Programmatic Languages, you will need to know not only the correct syntax but also about the performance and processing, so start with reading about Query Activities Best Practices. You need to be proficient in using all the statements from the SQL Reference and to know the different kinds of JoinsString Functions and Date Functions. Take a look at the Query Examples in the official documentation and read how to Optimize the Query Activity. Pay attention to Data Views, think about the most common use cases and familiarize yourself with column names for the most frequently used data views. Learn how to Troubleshoot SQL Queries in Marketing Cloud.

Read about Send Logging – you will need to know how send logging works, how to Create an Email Send Logging Data Extension and about Send Logging Best Practices and Tips.

You also need to be familiar with importingtransferring and extracting data from Marketing Cloud.

Security: 7%

For the Security portion of the exam, you will need to learn about the different methods to secure data in Marketing Cloud, for example, Field-Level EncryptionTokenized SendingTransparent Data EncryptionKey Management and AMPscript Encryption and Encoding Functions. Read about API Integration Securityfile transfer security and SSL Certificationfor Cloud Pages. Understand data security best practices.

Conclusion

Overall, I found this exam a bit easier than the Certified Marketing Cloud Consultant one, as there was less room for ambiguity. For example, a lot of questions contained a script or a query snippet, and you simply had to choose the correct outcome.

Thank you for reading and good luck with your exam!

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