A few months ago, Solomon Solution boasted our proven methodology for helping you become a Marketo Certified Expert in as little as six weeks. Shortly thereafter, Marketo completely revised their certification exam and preparation material. Like everyone else, we’re still testing and learning about the new process, but we’d like to share what we’ve found out so far and how we’re gearing for a new method to achieve Marketo Certified Expert status in as little as six weeks.
Since the Marketo Certification Exam was first released, it has undergone a few revisions. Those of us who took the test before the first half of 2015 remember how the original was a piece of cake. Then around May of that year, Marketo re-launched their exam to raise the bar and offered a practice exam to help prep for it. The majority of test-takers at the Summit that year were surprised when they failed on their first attempt and then realized the importance of the practice exam. Since then, we’ve seen articles written by experts (including those at Solomon Solution) on best practices for passing. Marketo – looking to improve the testing experience and raise the standards for certified experts even higher – launched a new certification process in late February 2017.
Why Become a Marketo Certified Expert?
Holding the title of Marketo Certified Expert has numerous perks. For starters:
- A digital certificate of achievement
- Serious community cred and the respect of your peers
- Unique Marketo Certified Expert swag at the annual Marketo Summit
- A plaque on your Marketo Community profile
- The privilege of using Marketo branding in your portfolio
- Inclusion in the exclusive Marketo Certification LinkedIn group.
Becoming an MCE is a rite of passage for many in the Marketo community. Being a certified expert is also a prerequisite for some of the best (and highest paying) Marketo jobs out there. Trust us. It’s worth getting.
Marketo has always recommended a person have at least a year’s worth of experience before taking the certification exam. The new exam emphasizes questions that should be easy to answer for a person who’s been in the tool for a while. It also includes questions on how to use Marketo to implement marketing best practices, an interesting new approach that clearly favors more seasoned marketers. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it’s considerably harder for people with no experience to ramp up and pass in a short amount of time. However, we still believe it’s possible to pass the exam in about six weeks — if you can dedicate yourself to the process. Then you get to reap the sweet rewards of the now extended 2-year certification.
What’s Changing on the Exam?
Before the latest update to the process, the only exam preparation you needed was to take the basic training Marketo provided, practice with the tool for a month or two, and take the practice exam a few times. The biggest change for the new exam is that there is no more practice exam, limiting the ability to test if you’re truly ready or not. And since the test isn’t free, this means it’s exceedingly important that you prepare before going in.
Instead of a practice exam, Marketo now provides training courses and preparation documents. In the last few months, we’ve seen resources come and go, but it looks like things are finally stabilizing. The new documents offer sample questions, tutorials, and topics to expect on the exam. There’s tremendous value in doing the newly provided preparation material. To Marketo’s credit, these new pieces do a better job than the practice exam of teaching you about the tool and not just how to pass the test.
What to Expect
The exam contents are a guarded secret, but we have study tips for the latest round of preparation resources that will help you join the ranks of the elite.
Use the Provided Material
Consume the given materials and pay close attention. The new and improved Marketo University courses are a particularly good resource to get you started on your journey. For newbies, it is the first step. For more experienced people, it will mostly be review, but there may be a few things you’ve forgotten. After you knock out all the courses, you’re a solid 25% of the way there!
Next, you’ll want to digest all of the content on Marketo’s MCE Preparation page.
- Absorb the exam topic list to get an understanding of what you need to know and how well.
- Take a look at the sample questions to get a feel for what to expect on the exam.
- Digest all of the additional study aid resources, which mostly consist of short help articles that will familiarize you with the tool.
- If you are new and have $375 to spend, it’s a good idea to take the preparation course. The ability to ask questions about the test and interact with the instructor are hard to pass by. The class is worth the money just for the fact that it will get you at least 50% of the way toward passing the exam.
Spend Time in Marketo
With a stated requirement of 800 – 1,000 hours of experience in the tool, this new exam puts a solid line in the sand for who will pass and who will not. Take spending time exploring in the tool as a matter of fact. If you’re diligent about it and really take the preparation material to heart, you may not need the full 800 – 1,000 hours. However, you do still need time. As mentioned before, this isn’t about just rote memorization. It’s about knowing the tool’s terms and functions, how you set up campaigns, and how to solve real problems.
The best way to learn how to use the tool is by digging into it. It’s highly important that you pay attention to how things are named and where they’re located. Put special emphasis in memorizing how triggers and filters are worded for smart campaigns and smart lists.
Test to Your Heart’s Content
Since program fundamentals comprise 30% of the test, it’s important to really delve into Marketing Activities and the Design Studio. If you have a more experienced Marketo expert on hand, have them set up a sandbox or developer work space in your Marketo instance. That way, you can test everything without affecting real programs or leads. If this isn’t possible, create a testing/training folder and set up a dummy program to train with. Then, set up a training user role and account so you can’t break things even if you wanted to.
Does no one on your team know how to set up a sandbox or training user role? Get in touch! We’d be happy to help.
Like a fine wine or whiskey, Marketo has quirks, personality, and complexity. Most questions on the new test rely on you knowing not just the facts about the tool but how particular drop-downs are worded. When you have built a smart list 20 times, those little things start to click in your brain. How exactly do you search for the constraint you want, to make it do what you need? The exam questions are exceptionally good at probing for this.
The questions aren’t worded in the fashion of “in ‘x’ dropdown, does it say ‘is’ or ‘was.'” Instead, it gives you a scenario about how a marketer wants to reach ‘x’ group AND people who did ‘y,’ but not if they saw ‘z’ OR received ‘w.’ Then you are given a multiple choice with some options of how to build it.
This is a prime example of memorization vs. experience. If you memorize how to build a smart campaign, you will know how to create it, but will you know Marketo’s specific wording and how to set it up? While proper study can significantly reduce the amount of time you spend exploring the tool, you do still need time to train and explore in the tool on your own.
If you still have questions about becoming a Marketo Certified Expert or about the exam, check on the Marketo Community, or reach out to us at Solomon. Marketo’s community is very engaged, and it consists of both experts and newbies willing to ask questions and give answers. If you need help, it is a great first stop to see if anyone has had the same questions or problems and how they solved them. If that doesn’t give you the answers you need, Solomon is always here to help.
Check back in a few months for more updates on the new Marketo certification process and what you can do to complete the exam in the most efficient and least time-consuming manner, while truly learning the material. Still have questions? Need help with something big and just don’t have the time to get certified? Drop us a line. We’d love to help broaden your reach, strengthen your customer relationships, or even just get up and running with the right strategies in place.
Interested in working with a first-class team of experts as we push the boundaries of Marketo’s use cases? Good news! We’re hiring.